14 October 2012

Bennett's speech therapy. Update!

It's been about two months since we had Bennett's speech evaluation, which qualified him for early intervention speech therapy through a program called SKIP (funded through the state).

We started his speech therapy shortly after his evaluation and up to this point, we've had 7 sessions. Bennett's therapist's name is Erin. She is absolutely adorable and she is so so so good with him and Bennett LOVES her.

{erin and bennett}
The great thing is that the sessions super laid back. We can schedule them every week, or other other week. And Erin is really flexible and works with our schedule. The best part about them is that they take place in our home, which I love!

I will be honest, though - when we started, I was kind of expecting her to pull out a magic wand and have all of these tricks to get him to start talking more/better. But the truth is, the speech therapists work more with the parents than with the children. Erin's job is to get to know Bennett and his learning style, so that she can better help Philip & I find ways to help him communicate.

A typical therapy session usually goes something like this:

Bennett waits eagerly by the window until Erin arrives on our doorstep. When she comes in, he usually excitedly drags her over to whatever it was he was playing with before she got to our house. We usually sit down and talk about the previous week and go over improvements that he's made and also set backs. We will discuss the different techniques and coping methods and how they have or haven't been working in his speech development. From there, we usually just have play time. His therapist has been really stressing how important it is to always give him choices. This is an area that I struggle with. I just got so used to giving him what I knew he wanted and never making him ask for things... which really didn't encourage him to have to use his words.
Erin has also really been focusing on getting Bennett to complete tasks and follow through with an activity. Generally, he just moves from thing to thing to thing faster than you can blink. He doesn't stay in one place long and never finishes anything he starts. I've just gotten used to him doing this, but Erin has discussed how important it is to make sure that he's always finishing what he's doing, and cleaning up afterward. I've mentioned before that he has a super short attention span, like 10 times worse than any other toddler I've ever seen. And in turn, it hinders his ability to listen well - therefore he's not absorbing the information he needs to learn good communication skills. SO, she's been finding ways to slowly, but surely, increase his attention span.

At the end of the session, she goes over the things that she saw that day - both positive and negative. She is very creative in her approach to finding techniques that will suit Bennett's learning style. She always gives me new things to try and ways to work with him. But I guess that's her job, aye?

So have I seen a difference in just 7 weeks of speech therapy? Absolutely!! Erin has helped me really think outside the box, and has opened my eyes to some underlying issues that need to be addressed.

In just 7 weeks, Bennett has been talking a lot more. His speech has a long way to go, but his effort has improved tremendously. And that's the thing I was most concerned about from the start - was that he didn't even seem interested in trying to talk. But now, he's imitating everything we say to him and he's being a lot more decisive with what he wants- which really helps cut back on the epic tantrums we were experiencing. Overall, I have been really happy with speech therapy and the progress we've been seeing! It's been a really good experience.

Bennett turns 3 at the end of January, and at this point, he will no longer qualify for early intervention at SKIP (they only service birth to 3 y/o). But, after he turns 3, he can transition to a preschool through the school district, that will incorporate the speech therapy in his class. We have a meeting with our family resources coordinator and a school district representative next week and I'm excited to find out more information!

Will write another update in a few weeks once I have more info on the preschool! :)


MamaMandolin said...

Glad to see he is making improvements! The boys are doing great in the class setting. It's a little bit tough for them now but even after only 3 classes, they've learned 5-6 new words in the past 2 weeks.

I just met last week with our coordinator (through the state) and a rep from the school district. (The boys don't turn 3 until March). From what the rep said, here they'll need to be in the bottom 6% to qualify at that point. She said a reference is if they're not combining 2 words together regularly that could be an indicator they'd need help still. I sure hope we don't qualify then!

I'm also looking at, while doing class therapy, getting a therapist through our insurance to come to our house fo help the boys once a week, just to focus more on speech than the group exposure they're working on at class. I'm going to give it probably 10 more sessions before I see if they're making improvements in not being so scared when I leave. I know they're not really talking much in class at all because they're so scared in general.

ANYWHO! So glad Bennett is making improvements!

Christy said...

I am super excited to take this journey with you. James who is 4 day solder than Bennett has a severe speech delay as well as Autism. He has had intensive home therapy (4 hours M-F) since July and has made wonderful progress. He too will be going to the school district preschool for special needs kids. I hate the title "special needs" but that is what its called I guess.

Bea, OT said...

My son started Speech Therapy too and has made great improvement! Way to go Bennett!

waterlooheather said...

So glad to hear he's making improvements! Great job, pretty mama on encouraging Bennett!

Angie said...

This is so great!

Casey Martinez said...

yeah for improvement!!! You know what they say about kids who are slower to become chatter boxes...they are brilliant:). THey are doing all of their processing internally and evaluating more. hehe. Oh and Daisy is never willing to do anything for more than a second or two. It has concerned me at times and worn me ragged. I feel you there!

Amber said...

I am so glad to read of his progress. It is easy to take language/speech for granted, but you really realize how vital it is when you have to interact with someone who doesn't have it.

Mindi said...

I'm so happy to hear of his progress. It's wonderful that your early intervention program has really worked for you! It can be a hit or miss program with each state. Yes choices are very important mama! As a Speech Language Pathologist I'm always telling parents this again and again. It's hard though when you just get into a routine and don't even realize it. Keep up the great work with him. It's hard work for sure!!

Holly Lynne said...

Mandy, Thank you for this post, my little guy and I are going for our first speech therapy appointment tomorrow. This has put me at ease! I hope ours goes as well!

Tara said...

This sounds like such a great program! Go Bennett! :) looking forward to hearing more about it when he is 3 and with the new program!