Monday, February 11, 2013

Fun With Speech Therapy

Back in early September, Noah was eligible to switch to speech therapy through the local school district.  They did an evaluation of him we thought was pretty good, determined he was pretty much at appropriate levels except for expressive speech.  We agreed.  This started what we thought was a speech therapist coming to our house once a week for 45 minutes to work with Noah.  I've always sat in on the sessions both to learn how to help Noah and to help keep him on task.

Over time, I kept telling Nerdstar that although I didn't really think the therapy time was doing much for Noah's speech improving, he liked the therapist and it seemed good for him to interact with her and essentially "play".

From the original assessment, there were two stated simple goals given for the therapist and us to work toward.  About four weeks ago, I realized Noah had more than met and exceeded those goals, and felt we might could move things forward if we did another assessment and got new goals.

The therapist kept bringing up that she was concerned with Noah's inability to stay on task and that he had a short attention span.  She also kept bringing up things like day care and preschool.  My thought was always that she kept bringing activities there were always new and not very interesting, why would he stay engaged?  Nerdstar and I had no concerns about his ability to stay on task or pay attention.

The therapist had said a couple of times that she was having a hard time finding the right activities for Noah.  She works with several kids throughout the week from ages 2 to 4.  I'm under the impression most of those kids have at least some experience in formal education.  So she's trying to balance finding the right activities for everyone and still being individual.

My time with Noah during the days is the ultimate in informal.  We have a very loose routine of getting up, eating some breakfast, watching some movie or online videos, playing, running errands, eating, napping, playing, rinse and repeat.  And once the weather warms up, there will be a lot of outside time. Pretty much the whole point of me staying home with Noah is to completely avoid day care and preschool environments.  (If they work for you - fantastic!)  Our default position on school vs. home schooling is that we'd have to find some pretty compelling reason to put him in school.

Two weeks ago, for the last ten or so minutes of their session, the therapist broke out some "assessment activities" and I got rather frustrated.  I wasn't crazy about the idea she hadn't mentioned this was going to happen.  I asked how in the world Noah was supposed to be able to be assessed on activities he had never seen before, or even anything like it.  I said it was like putting me in a room with all the parts of an engine and asking me to assemble it.

Nerdstar and I spent a lot of time the next few days talking about all of it.

Fortunately, Nerdstar was able to sit in on the session last week, which was also the day before we all met with the principal of the school Noah is attached to.  She was in a much more calm place, and a fresh eyes place to ask questions than I was.

One thing we found out is that the therapist is a "developmental" therapist and not an actual "speech" therapist.  Apparently, he's too young, or not delayed enough, or something for "real" speech therapy.  Well, that certainly makes things make a little more sense in retrospect.  One of my biggest questions over time was "how do these activities help him talk more/better?"  I still don't really know the answer to that.  She says the main way for him to learn to talk is for us to repeat everything ad nauseum.  I'm working on that more.

So, we do have two new official goals going forward.  I'm going to work on at least getting him to sit at his "learning" table once a day and doing an "activity" with me - which just means something like stacking blocks, sorting them by color, counting them, putting them in rows, etc.  We'll see if that helps him stay on task a little better during therapy.  The therapist is also going to try bringing some activities more than once, so it's not something brand new every few minutes.

It was really frustrating feeling like the therapist and us were coming from such very different places.  We weren't sure it was a gap we could bridge.  For now we're still going to keep trying.

Noah is fine.  He's slowly but steadily learning new words.  He's got two or three phrases he's learning.  He understands just about everything anyone says to him.  He follows directions amazing well for a toddler.  He's also sweet and starting to be more outgoing.  Our biggest goal for the next ten to fifteen years is to make sure he stays happy and sweet.

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