Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Admitting You Need Help Is The First Step

Uncle! I'm ready to admit it. I've been sort of in denial about it for awhile and realize now that help is likely needed. No, I'm not an alcoholic or drug abuser, although that would make for a more interesting and tantalizing post. Sorry to disappoint. I'm talking about getting speech therapy started for Lauren.

She's 3 months shy of her 3rd birthday and still the majority of people who meet or know her have trouble understanding what she's saying. She's a non-stop chatterbox, but few can follow what she's talking about. Mostly just Nicholas and I. Progress has been made in recent months, most notably her ability to make the "ck" sound at the end of words ("milk" now sounds like it's supposed to vs. "mit", although "car" still sounds like "tar"), but the progress is slow. S-L-O-W. Agonizingly slow. And so I'm ready to admit that she likely needs some help in this area.

Never having needed to access these types of resources before, I wasn't sure where to begin. I checked with our insurance and found a place that accepts our particular coverage and specializes in speech therapy for kids. I called them first. They were more than happy to make an appointment for an initial evaluation next week(!), but we'd need to meet our medical deductible first. To the tune of $200. Just for the evaluation. Ongoing therapy, if necessary, would be on top of that. Up to $1000, our deductible, and then insurance would kick in. So while we're not starving or behind on our bills, this was more than we were hoping to spend right now.

A friend mentioned that various speech therapy services were available through the school district. I checked their website but found no such resource. Thankfully, a casual conversation with another friend revealed to me my mistake: resources are available through the county in connection with the various schools. Silly me. So more checking online and a few more phone calls (why is this stuff never easy?? Why are there never links to the specific stuff you're looking for??) and I finally was able to talk to someone who could help me. A very nice someone who spoke my language and wasn't trying to rush me off the phone government-style. Going through the ESD (educational services district, for those of you not in the know) is free, paid for by my taxes, but a much slower process than private. Naturally. They have no possible openings for her to be evaluated until late September. But we're willing to wait.

Maybe she won't be too far off-track. Maybe the evaluation will show that she's doing ok overall and won't need much, if any, therapy after all.

Maybe I'm smoking crack.

But the deed is done. Packets are in the mail and we're in "the system" now. Navigating the murky waters of government run services isn't fun, but I'll persevere for my daughter. Because going through life unable to say words that begin with the "G" sound or the "ck" sound would suck. Sure, you could tell someone to fuck off, but you couldn't tell them to kiss your ass. And what kind of life would that be?

My little sister had to do speech therapy around 3rd grade. She had something wrong with the position of her tongue, so the typical way you teach children to say the "r" sound didn't work for her (everything came out with a "w" sound instead). My parents kept waiting for her to catch on and worked with her everyday when they noticed, but she just needed a few months with a speech pathologist to fix it. She's now 16 and has a beautiful speaking voice. Just a heads up from personal experience, when she was younger, she would slip back into the old speech pattern when she was tired or agitated.
My son was evaluated at about Lauren's age and ended up receiving services for about three years through the school system. It was a fabulous experience for him and for our family. The initial evaluation process was slow - it took a few months but once things got rolling, progress was quite rapid. You are doing the right thing!
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