Speech Therapy- What to Expect?

Updated on October 30, 2012
E.M. asks from Phoenix, AZ
12 answers

So we have been referred to a speech therapist for our older son, who is nearly 5. His vocab and syntax are great, it is just some sounds that he has a hard time pronouncing. Half of me is kind of freaking out, but the rational side knows that this is not a big deal. So for moms who have done speech therapy with their kiddos, what should I expect? Is this going to be something he has to go to weekly, multiple times a week, monthly? How do I find a good therapist? How do I know if they are any good?? Any info would be appreciated!!

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answers from Austin on

The sooner this gets addressed, the better..... I work in a middle school and we still have a number of students that are listed as special education students, but only because of speech issues.

One student I know of was released because they could no longer help her...(at least that is what the student said... I don't know what the actual records say, or whether her parents/guardian refused assistance) ..... she still has an obvious speech impediment, but apparently what they were doing was not helping... so it is IMPERATIVE that you do the homework every day, especially at the early age. It is much easier to correct if you work on it early.

5 moms found this helpful

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answers from Springfield on

My son was evaluated at 18 months, 24 months and 30 months before he began (because, there's not a whole lot they can do for you except give Mommy homework). He began seeing the therapist bi-weekly for about 9 months and then weekly. Just before he turned 3 he was evaluated by our local school district, and it was recommended that he receive about 30 minutes each week. For the remainder of the school year (he turned 3 in March) I took him once a week for 30 minutes. He is now in the PreK program, so he goes to speech twice a week for 15 minutes. I think that's good for him. More often makes it more consistent, and 15 minutes is good for his attention span.

You probably need to check with your insurance and see if this is even covered for a 5 year old. Many, many insurance companies do not cover services once the child is 3 years old. Although ours does, so maybe I'm wrong about that. Either way, find out for sure. Also, if they do cover it, make sure you know which therapists you are authorized to go to.

At 3 years old, the school district has an obligation to your child. You could simply call your local school district and ask them for an evaluation. They are required by law to evaluate him if you ask for it! (My SIL is a Speech Pathologist, and she said that this is required by law. Any parent who wishes to have their child evaluated needs only request it, and the school must provide this service.)

An evaluation is just a series of activities, usually pictures. Your son would be asked questions about the pictures. This is to see which sounds he is making correctly, which he needs to work on, whether or not comprehension is an issue, etc. The therapist will make notes and score everything. At a later date the therapist will sit down with you and explain the findings - what he did well, what he was not able to do, what is recommended based on that. It could be once a month, it could be twice a week, it could be wait and see and evaluate again in 3 months. Just depends on what they notice and what is "age appropriate."

It really isn't a big deal at all!!! The only thing that was a challenge for me was finding a time that fit around my work schedule. But let's face it, that's life as a parent!

I would really consider calling the school. This year has been so wonderful for me with my son's speech therapy just being a part of his school week. And I know that even if next year he has a different therapist (and some schools only have one), at least he will be familiar with the room and the procedure and just be so much more relaxed. This is his school and will be for 8 years, so it's great to get him started there. I was so happy that I was able to come to his school for an hour last week and was able to meet with his speech therapist. So great to meet her and see how he's doing and how they are together! Made me feel so much better about everything.

My son is 3 1/2 now. He is doing amazing! He still has work to do, but it's coming along. He's happy in school, and his speech is just so much clearer.

Try not to worry. This is really important. The sooner he corrects these errors, the better. This can effect his comprehension, his ability to effectively communicate. As he learns letters and phoenix, this will effect his ability to learn to read and to learn how to spell. My oldest had to work on the "th" sound, and he tells me how he used to thing the number 3 was spelled "free." Makes sense since he didn't realize that there was a "th" sound.

This is a good thing! Try not to worry.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on

What exactly is it that you are freaking out about? If I understood that, I could give you a better answer. You have known all along that he doesn't pronounce things correctly, so that's not what you're freaking about, right? Is it just because you are worried about how long it will take? Or that they said he needed it (though surely you knew he needed it...)

Having gone through speech therapy with one of my sons for 7 years due to a submucous cleft palate, I will recommend to you that instead of being upset about it, that you learn as much as you can and advocate for your son. You need an evaluation first - a children's hospital is a good place to start - even the United Way can do an eval. I appreciated that my son's first evaluation was done by a team. I liked the team approach.

When you read the evaluation, you need to learn what all the terms mean so that you can understand what the professionals are saying to you. The school can assign him to the inhouse speech therapist, but to be honest, I would want to use a private therapist at least for a while.

You must watch the therapy sessions and do a home program EVERY DAY. Without fail. The home therapy is critical to his success. If you don't do it at home, it won't help.

My son went to speech therapy twice a week. I would hope that your doctor has some people with very good credentials that he or she can recommend to you.

Good luck,

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Yep, this is not a big deal at all. Two of my children received speech therapy through the school district. My oldest started at age 4, we saw immediate improvement, and she only needed it for one year. My son started at age 2 and continued with it through kindergarten.

If your insurance covers it, you can find a therapist through your insurance. Otherwise, contact your school district. They will arrange for a screening to determine his needs. My daughter had it Tuesdays and Thursdays for 20 mins. My son had it just once a week for 20 minutes.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Dawn and Gidget have explained about speech therapy very well. My grandson has been getting speech therapy since he was 2 1/2 thru the school district. He's now 9. He wasn't able to speak in an understandable way at all when he started.

As Gidget said, federal law requires that the school district evaluate and provide treatment when needed. This law requires that these services be provided from birth on up in age. So you can have the evaluation done without cost thru your school district even if your son is not registered in school. Call the district office for the phone number. They will explain the program to you at your first appointment.

I also encourage you to have an evaluation done thru your doctor if your insurance will cover it. His pediatrician can recommend who he can see. My grandson was evaluated by a developmental pediatrician and referred to other therapies by this pediatrician and it was all covered by his insurance.

Usually treatment provided by the district is twice a week. If he's in school the therapy is done at school. He may learn faster with more frequent treatment and this is where your insurance comes in. My grandson saw an independent therapist once a week, also.

As stated, you will be told ways to help him at home and it's important to do this daily.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Fort Myers on

This is my grandson's second year in the "communication club". He is in 1st grade. We didn't know that he had a hearing problem for a long time. He heard every word like it was underwater. That is how he learned to speak. After 2 surgeries, his hearing is great. Now he has speech at school 3 times a week. He loves Ms. Dani & feels very special that he gets to go to her class. After his first time, he asked his teacher if everyone in his class could go to because it was fun. He still has a problem with blended sounds (sh, th, etc) but everyone works with him at home. I found a book of tongue twisters & we try them, laughing together. Relax & have fun with it. He just might enjoy it. At 5, he knows when people look at you & ask.."what did he say?"

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Speech therapy at school is not enough. Don't totally rely on it as speech therapists are assigned to about 5 schools and can only see your child once a week at best, due to emergencies, IEPs, other meetings, and the usual sick day that we teachers are allowed. So, with that--search to see if your insurance can cover it--continue it at school, but don't totally rely on it either.

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answers from New York on

Speech theapy is a breeze. They play while they do the therapy. My son loved going becuase they played a few different games (dont' break the ice?) while he practiced. We had a notebook with home work (mouth exercises with peanut butter or marshmallow fluff) playing with a whistle, etc.

Don't they offer it in y our school? I know the threshold for school paid speech is high (I think in NY there must be 3 or more things needing correction or more than a 30% delay). See if that's possible first. If not then check with your health insurance company. Sometimes it's covered. Then ask your school special ed people for referrals. Un benowsnt to me there were about 4 speech therapist offices within 10 miles of my house. It think we went twice a week - about 30-45 minutes. Bring a book to read while you wait. The firrst time or two they bring you in to sit in a tiny chair in the corner as security blanket for your child. After that you sit in the waiting room (the chairs are much mroe comfortable). The speech therapist wil come out and tell you what they did, how your child participated (kids have good and bad days and some times they are not at their best - not a huge deal) and tell you the homework to be done.

Good luck mama. May this be one of the worst things you will have to handle as a parent!

I have always said I'd rather give my kid a leg up early if life if that will help.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

His IEP will detail all that info. You should have a meeting with a teacher and speech therapist. My son is only 3 but getting therapy 1x a week at the elementary school he will go to in two years for 30 minutes. They work on the letters/sounds he has a hard time making. He's been in it for two months now and can say so many words he couldn't before!! You WANT this for him...eliminate the speech impediment/issue/etc now before it becomes something that is too hard to break/fix!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Hi Erika, My son (now 14) had two different kinds of speech therapy outside of the school environment. The first was in our home and was basically play time and the therapist was working with him while teaching me what to do to help my son. This was once a week for about 45 min.

The second was through our local childrens hospital in a drs. office kind of environment (this was by far more beneficial). We went twice a week for an hour. My son (after an initial visit) went into the therapists office alone, but there was a viewing room where I could see and hear what was going on. They played also, but the therapy was some how more intense, she really kept him on track and expected him to work hard. She had a reward system to keep him motivated. I had to fight tooth and nail to get this service for my son and so far this is the "Mom accomplishment" I'm most proud of myself for, it made a HUGE difference in just 6 months.

Good Luck!

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answers from New York on

Go through school. I am assuming he is in K. He will get an IEP and get speech there. Does not sound like a big speech problem so it probably will not be for long.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I assume you got the referral from your pediatrician? Has he actually been assessed in speech, hearing, development yet? If not, your school district should offer Early Intervention testing for all children over 30 months of age. It's free and they will set you up with the proper therapists from there. I have the contact info for Scottsdale Unified, but if you're in Phoenix proper or another valley city, just call your local elementary school district and ask about Early Intervention testing. Usually, speech therapy is once a week and they come to your home. It's easier to work with the child in a familiar setting.

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