Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Speech Update and the Downside of Turning 3

So today was our first speech therapy appointment since The Boy turned 3 years old.  That might not seem significant to most people, but to those of us "in the system," we know it means that he is no longer covered by SARC.  For all that don't know, that is the state funded early start program that has meant that The Boy has had twice a week speech therapy completely paid for by the state!  Lovely thing, that SARC is.  I mean, I sincerely hope your child does not need it, but if it is a given that they are going to need services, it sure is nice to not have to pay for it out of pocket.

When I was leaving today I was filling out new papers and giving them my credit card information so that I can start to be billed for his services again when the ladies sitting behind me overheard me talking...  "Yesterday was his birthday, so today's therapy will be the first one..."

"Oh no!  Did your son just turn 3?" one of them asked me? (I love how they can recognize the bad side of turning three...)

"Yes, yesterday..." I replied.

"They should offer a support group for the adults who have to transition out of SARC...we need a SARC graduation therapy group..."

They then proceeded to tell me how horrific dealing with the school district had been for their children.  Once the child turns 3, they leave SARC and then have to try to get coverage from the school districts.  Even if they qualify, which is MUCH harder than it seems, once they get into the system, apparently they soon realize how horrific the actual therapies are compared to what we are used to.  Great, that is so comforting.

We had been told by our therapists that there was very little chance that The Boy was going to qualify under the strict guidelines of the school district.  On paper, The Boy is much better than he is in "real life."  When they ask him any sort of receptive language questions, he rules.  He has NO issues with understanding whatsoever.  In fact, he seems to understand and comprehend on a level of a 4 year, 8 month old.  So clearly, no coverage there.  But we know his issues are with expressive language as opposed to receptive.  And again, on that level he is complicated.  When asked to say single words, he does fine.  Most of the time he is clear and you can totally understand what he is saying.  However when he just starts talking on his own, and goes into any sort of sentence, he loses that pronunciation.  It becomes very difficult for anyone, besides myself and my mother, to understand him.  But most of the time they don't test for this.  They ask them to express single words and judge him on that.  So we really didn't have any expectation that he would qualify for therapy through the school district.  Is was clear to me, and really anyone who has attempted to have a conversation with him, that he still needs help in the pronunciation department.  So I had resolved myself that I would keep him in his current therapy, but cut it down to once a week instead of twice, and just pay out of pocket for the services and begin my battle with his health insurance to reimburse for the charges.

So imagine my surprise when we went to our assessment with the school district and were told that he would qualify for a half an hour of services a week.  I was shocked.  But we got lucky.  Very lucky.  This therapist not only did the standard assessment (which he passed with flying colors), but she decided that she would use the last half an hour to just sit with him and try and have some conversations with him.  You see, at age three you should be able to understand about 80% of what a child is saying.  That is normal for a three year old.  But after hanging out with The Boy for a while she deduced that she could only understand about 15% of what he is saying.  So it appears that he is going to qualify.  We were shocked.  We have a meeting with them on Friday the 16th after we get back from Hawaii to do the "intake" and find out exactly what will be covered.  It also appears that he will be meeting with the same woman who did his assessment, which is GREAT because she was not only a great therapist, but she seemed to be a lovely person.

After chatting with the other mothers at therapy today I realized how lucky we really are.  We are in a different school district than that two moms I spoke with today.  According to them, the fact that she took the time to listen to him actually talk (imagine!!), is completely out of the ordinary.  I told them that the woman who did the assessment was lovely and they said something to the effect that "so was the person who did our assessment," but that they actual therapist was someone entirely different.  And I believe they referred to their speech therapists as people who were as effective as traffic lights.  Case in point, they were still sitting in the private therapists office, and not sitting in the office of the school district.

So I am cautiously optimistic for The Boy at this point.  I am going to continue to keep him in his private therapy on Thursday mornings.  I will pay out of pocket for the services and then attempt to collect from the insurance company (wish me luck on that one).  Then if everything goes smoothly he should have another half hour session with the woman from the school district on Tuesday afternoons with one other child.

It would be lovely if my child didn't need any services at all, but I have to say, if it is a given that he needs a little extra help...I am going to get it for him.  Poor little pumpkin is teeny tiny, has bright red hair, and doesn't talk so well.  As I mom I would have to kill any child that dares to make fun of my child when he goes to school, so I have to do all I can to make sure that he isn't different to the point of being made fun of.  And like I said, he might be adorable in my eyes, but kids can be mean.  I can't help the red hair (and I even contributed to it--sorry Boy!), and I am doing my best to help the growing thing, but the speech?  That I can do.  So even if it sends me to the poor house, my boy is going to talk pretty one day!


Billy said...

How frustrating to have such an arbitrary bounary. I understand they probably have to have a limit somewhere, but the age of 3 sounds a bit young for that.
And to limit the tests done as in not to look into all speech issues.. arg....
Happy you fell on a lovely lady who not only tested in on free speech, but will also be his therapist.

gwendomama said...

"When asked to say single words, he does fine. Most of the time he is clear and you can totally understand what he is saying. However when he just starts talking on his own, and goes into any sort of sentence, he loses that pronunciation. It becomes very difficult for anyone, besides myself and my mother, to understand him. But most of the time they don't test for this. They ask them to express single words and judge him on that."

OKAY WHOA! There is so much here to which I want to respond - have kept this window open for days hoping for more words to flow...
I strongly suggest you ask for an apraxia assessment! what you describe is not typical of a 'typical developmental speech or articulation disorder' - and traditional articulation therapy will not work! 1/2 hour doesn't seem like nearly enough. do you know Sam, the handsome man from SARC?
So sad to leave SARC - We went through it!
But your district should offer more if he has apraxia, and i notice some similarities in what you describe and what Bubbles has.

Feel free to email me - we should chat. I mean in person!