Thursday, April 4, 2013

Speech and Language Therapy - our experience

When Mr. J was 11 months old, he said his first word - "bye".  He came out with a few more words over the next few months, and by the time he was 2 years old, he had about 15-20 words.  I wasn't overly concerned, kids learn and develop at their own pace. Even though he had these "words" they were not clear. "B" = ball, "Buh" = bus, "pu" = puppy etc.

At 2.5, he had his first word explosion, I credit it to nursery school and being surrounded by the other children. At 3, he had his next word explosion. Great, right. He is talking, everything should be awesome. However, for us it was not.  His vocabulary was there, he had many, many words (and lots of words you wouldn't expect a 3 year old to have - hydrated being one of them!) However, most of his speech was un-intelligible to outsiders.

Even my husband had a difficult time making out the words. Most likely because he was away from him all day. Again, we knew he had been slightly delayed  with his words, so figured that the proper sounds would come in time.

Fast forward to Junior Kindergarten and we were told that he should be screened through the First Words clinic (it is a provincially funded program for speech and language issues). We went to a screening clinic and it was recommended he be placed on the list for therapy.

Great - we were getting the ball rolling. In no time, he would be good to go. WRONG - the wait list JUST for the parent information night was 6-8 months long.  We were put on the list in October, and didn't get a call for the night until March.  Once there, we were told that they only see children until they are 5 years old, and then the care gets transferred to CCAC, and is done through the school (although still OHIP funded). So, we were fast tracked through to an assessment because of his age, and then once the assessment was done he was put on the transfer of care list to CCAC and began his speech therapy with them in November of this year. 13 months AFTER being put on the list.

We, however are very lucky and have private coverage, so we were able to seek speech therapy for him with a private licensed speech and language pathologist.  He has been seeing her since October of 2011, and has come such a long way.

Of course, speech delays can lead to other issues, and now we are faced with him having difficulty in the reading department.  Another area that SLP's work on.  One of the tools which she uses in her practice is an IPAD. It is amazing the apps that are available to help with speech and language.

They are, however expensive. We were saving for one, but hadn't been able to put much of a dent into the cost (with me at home, living off of hubby's income we manage to make our bills every month, but there isn't a lot left over for extra's)  We do have wonderful family though, and hubby's parents were able to get an IPAD for Mr. J, and we have started using it at home with him.  We haven't had it for very long, but I have already noticed that he is interested in working with me using the app's. He knows he is working on his speech, but it's like playing a fun game for him.

If you have any app recommendations for me, I would love to hear them.  Right now we are using the free ones, I don't want to spend money on one when I am not sure what the outcome of it will be.

It is really difficult having a child with speech issues.  Not only was it difficult for us to understand him, but to think how frustrated HE must have been not being able to communicate.  Always having people ask him to repeat things and saying they didn't understand, then looking to us for an explanation.

As he has grown, he became very sensitive to it.  Often shutting down if asked to repeat something.  In the fall of this year, he started getting tummy aches.  He didn't want to go to school, but he would never tell me why.  I didn't want to push too hard, so I would ask every so often if things were ok at school, if he had a fight with a friend etc.  I made sure he knew he could tell me if something was bother him.

One day (a few months later), pretty much out of nowhere he told me that a little boy on the bus had been teasing him. I asked why, and he said because of the way he talked.  It absolutely broke my heart.  He hadn't wanted to go to school because of this little boy on the bus.

I delved a little deeper and found out that Mr. J couldn't say this little boys name.  I still am unsure whether or not the boy was teasing him because of the way he talks, or if he was just upset that his name was pronounced wrong (we all know that it's annoying when people call us the wrong name, even as adults it is a pet peeve for a lot of people).

I sent a note to the teacher, and she called me.  She had spoken to the little boy and made him aware that Mr. J knew that he couldn't pronounce the sounds correctly, and that he was working on it.  That it is not nice or kind to point out things that people can't do properly.  She also mentioned that she was going to have a general talk to the kids about being kind, not teasing etc.
I also worked with him at home on learning the boys name (I couldn't even get what it was when Mr. J was saying it) and now he can say it properly.

When I spoke with Mr. J to tell him, the look of relief on his face was instantaneous.  The tummy aches stopped, and he loved going to school again. As far as I know, things have been good since then.

I try so hard to teach the kids to be nice, to be kind and considerate of others.  I am still unsure (as are the teachers) whether or not this little boy meant to be hurtful or not.  We all can relate I am sure to kids not having a filter, and just blurting things out.


  1. Oh my goodness Ashley we should talk. My daughter was approved four years ago by CCAC for help through special services at home. But there is no funding so hundreds of kids sit on the wait list annually in Ontario. London is a particular bad spot. It's not easy alright not is it remotely okay to make kids and families wait that long!!!

    1. Oh my, so she hasn't received any care? That is awful. The list is long here too - I don't really know what the answer is (I understand why they have it through health, but if you can't communicate you can't learn, so I think it should be done through both Health AND Education)

  2. My little guy will be 2 next month and he only says a handful of words. The doctor recommended that we see a specialist but the specialist said that we could hold off for a while until he's a little older to see if he progresses a little later. Thanks for the information!

  3. I'm shocked at that waiting list. If you don't have private coverage then you just have to tough it out? If a kid needs help, especially with their speech, you have to get right on it. Having a Waiting list that is 6-8 months long is not okay.

    My sister just signed my niece up for speech therapy maybe about a week and a half ago. She lives in California and is still waiting on a call back. She wasn't given a time frame yet, but I told her to keep calling so she at least has a time frame. I'm hoping it's not that long of a wait.

  4. I can't believe they make kids and families wait for so long. I have no experience with this but, I can only imagine the frustration.

  5. It is very sad to hear about these waiting lists being so LONG. My sister was in speech therapy as a child, which was one small difficulty she faces. Waiting lists are a huge problem in Ontario for all avenues and spectrum's related to development, it is very sad.


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