speech therapy, paperwork, denial, and a plea for advice

My boys have just eight more days of preschool until summer break, and they’ll start kindergarten in September, right after their 6th birthday.

This hit me like a punch in the gut last week – not because my babies are growing up, but because I cannot understand most of what they say without significant effort, and I guess I’d been holding out hope that:

a)      Preschool would tremendously influence their speech patterns, or

b)      The school district would start therapy before fall, which would tremendously influence their speech patterns.

My overall reaction to the end of the school year is a panicked, “But that’s it??

They were referred for speech therapy by their pediatrician, at their 4-year well child visit. I guess I mostly thought the doctor was overreacting. I understood them well, at that time — their expanded vocabularies and life experiences have not helped me – and I felt they’d grow out of it.

Also, my husband had just lost his job and we had no income, which made it easy for me to decide they’d grow out of it.

But I found myself examining everything else about the boys — their behavior, mannerisms, muscle tone, coordination, emotions, etc. — in the light of what their pediatrician had said. By their 5th birthday, I had placed a handful of calls, and we had started and stopped the overwhelming pile of district registration paperwork several times. Those of you with triplets and more, my heart goes out to you regarding the amounts of paperwork you must complete in order to accomplish anything at all.

We managed to get everything completed, just in time for kindergarten registration in March. I received the boys’ assessment papers back in the mail, and had a mini-freakout over how the assessor went out of her way to list that P wouldn’t identify purple, brown, or black by name (he calls them all “dark”) but failed to note that he cannot use appropriate developmental speech sounds. That was duly noted on G’s assessment, although the boys pronounce nearly everything the same way. This oversight inspired me to call the school, which led to the discovery that more than a year ago, they’d filed my requests for assistance as though I had been offered but declined assistance.

I would have cried, but I was just so excited by all the district therapists who were suddenly returning my phone calls. We were fast-tracked through phase 1 of the assessments, and then communication has fizzled… sigh.

What I do know is that they are set to start therapy immediately when school begins in September, waiving the usual six-week in-class assessment period. I am fearful for them, because the combination of looking just alike/no one knowing who is who, plus being unable to express themselves clearly, seems like a difficult way to leap into full-day kindergarten. They’ve made great strides recently regarding their ability to overcome anxiety in the situations that upset them, but I don’t think their articulation is going to improve in the next four months. I’m bummed.

Our insurance doesn’t cover speech therapy, and we looked into private programs but the hourly rate x2 is… well, once again, I really feel for those of you with triplets and more in these situations.

Have any of you run into similar problems? Any ideas? I’m open to any suggestions.  Thanks in advance!
Jen is a work-from-home mom of twins + 2. She also blogs at Diagnosis: Urine.

8 thoughts on “speech therapy, paperwork, denial, and a plea for advice

  1. We haven’t dealt with speech (we had concerns about Alex but he tested at low normal for his age) but we have dealt with the whole lack of communication when it comes to care for the kids. All I can say is you need to be your kids’ advocate and be that irritating pushy parent who asks when things are happen, when you can schedule them, what the plan is. I HATED being that parent but it got results and more importantly, it got me peace of mind. Plus you can deal with it via email or phone instead of being confrontational in person, big plus for me :)

    The nice thing about speech is there are so many free programs through the school district and they can stay there as long as they need.
    .-= LauraC´s last blog ..My fountains =-.

  2. First of all, I was complaining about filling out the paperwork to register my twins so…I do feel your pain about filling out every form multiple times!!

    Second, I am particularly struck by your comment on the assessor noting the colors but not the lack of proper pronunciation. It just proves how processes like this are so subject to one person’s opinion (the assessor) and how their failure to note something could possibly prevent your child from qualifying for services they need.

    Third, I’m with LauraC. You just have to be THAT parent and follow up, follow up, follow up. The squeeky wheel does get the grease. We are having a bit of a “thing” with one of our EI speech therapists. Since my husband deals with them face-to-face on a weekly basis, I’m the one making the calls all the time with my concerns to the director. That way he is not “the annoying parent” and they don’t give him attitude when they see him. But, my constant calling gets stuff done.

    Hang in there. Transitioning to kindergarten is hard anyway. But with three children, trying to each establish their own identity in a new place and having trouble communicating….I hear ALL your concerns. Keep us posted!

  3. We’re currently going through the speech therapy struggle. All four of my girls received speech this past year at preschool. Our IEP review is this week and the speech therapist told me that three of the girls will no longer need speech next year. The one who still needs it has some issues, but she’s definitely improving. I decided to contact our local children’s hospital to see if I could get her speech therapy during the summer. They’re all for it… but our insurance won’t pay for it because it’s not medically necessary. Here are the solutions our children’s hospital offers: (I have no idea if you live near a children’s hospital, but if you can find a hospital/clinic that offers speech, see if any of these options are available)
    *Prepay… if we prepay they will cut the payments by 50%. That’s all well and good… but if we go every week it adds up, so I’m not a huge fan of this option
    *Scottish Rite Funding… I have no idea if this is offered locally or nationally, but the Shriners have scholarships set up specifically for speech therapy patients. You apply through your provider and indicate how much you think you could pay (think of it as a copay). If you are approved, you pay your designated amount (which may not be what you request) and the Scottish Rite fund covers the rest.
    *Hospital scholarship… our hospital has an income-based assistance program. I don’t have the details on it, but I’m looking into it.
    Again, I don’t know if any of these options will help you, but it’s worth asking about.
    .-= Quadmama´s last blog ..Achoo!!!! =-.

  4. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. My twinks were diagnosed with mild/moderate high frequency hearing loss when they were only several months old (they are 19-months now), and we’ve been wearing hearing aids since 4 months, in the hopes that we prevent any speech delays. Because of their disability, we are eligible for a state program, similar to most state’s “early intervention.” I think many multiples qualify for this program, especially if there are any prematurity issues. I know this probably won’t help you, because for us at least, EI only carries us through until age 5.

    I guess I’m just posting this comment in the hopes that other MOMs, who may have younger children, will look into state or county-funded programs that are FREE or much lower cost than private speech therapists.

    Our insurance doesn’t cover multiple hearing tests per year (we go every six months), hearing aids (EXPENSIVE) or speech evaluations (every three months.) We’d be up a creek without this assistance.

    If anybody else is going through this (hearing loss) and you have any questions, feel free to email me at tvano1991 at gmail dot com.

  5. I feel for you! I agree with the others – you just have to be that mother :) Thank goodness for email, right?

    I’m actually so envious – in South Africa, we don’t have state-assisted programmes like that, except for really, really poor people at poverty level. Even then those poor (literally) people have to queue at the clinics for hours and hours waiting to be seen.

    I am so thankful my 8-weeks prem twins have no medical issues. Of course we really don’t know developmentally until it’s supposed to happen but they look fine to me. They’re sassy as all get out so I assume they’re fine LOL
    .-= Leigh from 123 blog´s last blog ..Procrastination by blog carnival :) =-.

  6. As a speech therapist, I have to say that assessment seems a bit ‘off.’ However, we SLP’s are often stuck dealing with the state laws, with which we often do not agree. I hope you are happy with the services the boys receive next year. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to e-mail me!! :)

  7. How stressful.

    Do they have an IEP? Because IEP’s give you certain power—the school is under an obligation to follow them. If not, did they not qualify? There are education advocates out there whose job it is to, well, advocate for you and that can be money well spent. I wouldn’t think you would have to pay for private speech—that should come through the school system.

  8. We’ve been there, kind of. Fortunately, we have insurance that covers speech completely. Zero co-pay, zero deductible, zero premiums. Before you get too jealous, please understand that my husband gets shot at for a living.

    Anyhow, we had our girls evaluated at age 3. Melody tested at the 43rd percentile and was declared ineligible for speech therapy, while Jessica tested at the 13th percentile, and qualified. The thing is, Jess is WAY easier to understand than Melody. We talked to Jessica’s evaluator about our concerns that Mel’s evaluation was off, and she and the admin worked with our insurance to get Melody re-evaluated, but time by the therapist who’d seen Jessica. (We were willing to pay out of pocket, but didn’t have to.) The second time around, Mel came up in the 2nd percentile. The problem is purely articulation. Both girls are off the charts in the other aspects of language development.

    The practice convinced insurance to cover a joint hour session for both girls weekly. They don’t have the same goals, but their therapist makes it fun, and Jessica’s successes just make Melody work harder. Jessica will probably be released from therapy within a couple of months, since she’s close to meeting all her goals.

    Have you considered shopping around speech therapy practices to find someone who will give you a two-for-one deal on group sessions? Once you’re in, ask for homework and exercises you can do at home, if they’re not offered. Beth, my daughters’ therapist, has given us a lot of exercises that really help the girls make the most of their sessions.
    .-= Sadia´s last blog ..Never a dull moment =-.

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