'Let's Talk Tuesday' is a bi-weekly post series with ideas on how you can help your child of any ability, but especially those with Apraxia, Autism, speech disorders or late talkers. These are meant to be simple ways to encourage speech. I am not a speech therapist, but I am a mom of an Apraxic child, I am just sharing these ideas in hopes that they will help someone else.
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Today I am excited to welcome Amber from Myth Busting Mommy! She has a child that has been in Early Intervention & I was excited when I learned that she wanted to share a little bit about her experience with us!
When I heard the words “Early Intervention” for the first time, I was too overwhelmed to take it in. After all, my son was only six months old at the time, the first two of those months spent in the hospital. I was only just wrapping my head around all of the specialists, medicines, and treatments he needed that I nearly collapsed when I heard that we had to add one more thing to our already full schedule.
But he was not rolling over yet. The doctors and I were starting to get worried. So I sucked it up and arranged for the evaluation.
Now we have been in the program for nearly a year and my little guy is showing huge improvements. And being involved in EI as a parent has allowed me to learn a great deal, some of which I’d like to share with you.
What is Early Intervention?
It’s a program that helps children from birth to 3 years old with delays. It includes physical therapy (gross motor skills), occupational therapy (fine motor skills), speech therapy, and developmental therapy. It is optional and is subsidized by the state. (Your monthly payment is based on your income.) Someone can receive services from all types of therapy or, if a child is only delayed in certain areas, receive only specific therapies.
You get involved with Early Intervention usually through your child’s doctor or other medical personnel. Once your little one is in their system, they do an evaluation, determine what, if any, therapy is needed, and begin the services. If your child meets his goals or if you choose to stop, your child will be discharged. If he continues to need therapy past age 3, he will get it through the public school system.
What To Know As A Parent
1. Don’t compare your child’s development to any other child’s. It is so easy to compare our kids to others. Sometimes when I see a child around my son’s age running when my little guy is barely walking, I get discouraged. But the therapists keep reminding me that my son is on his own schedule. For what he’s been dealing with, barely walking is just what he should be doing.
Even those who are on a more “normal” schedule develop at different rates. For example, the PT says that kids who start walking between 9 and 18 months are considered within normal range. That’s a huge variable!
So, I try focus on my son’s achievements rather than his delays. When I do, I realize just how far he has come.
2. Trust your instincts. That being said, if you think your child is delayed, speak up. Both therapists we work with have stories of patients who noticed their children were behind but either didn’t bring it up or didn’t push it with the doctor. The result was that they didn’t get the Early Intervention that they needed. It’s called Early Intervention for a reason - if they catch delays early enough, they can often help the child from falling further behind.
So, know your milestones. There are a thousand books and websites that say what your child should be doing at what age. If your child is drastically behind (it says they should be speaking two word sentences and your child has yet to say her first word) talk to the doctor. If the doctor doesn’t seem concerned, get a second opinion. Sometimes you have to fight to get your child the care that he or she needs.
3. Find a therapist that you and your child gel with. With Early Intervention (at least in my experience) the therapists are independent contractors. This means that there are lots of therapists your EI contact can choose from to work with you. So if the therapist that your child is assigned is not working out, call your contact and request another. It may take a few weeks to find someone who works with your schedule, but it’s worth it to find the therapist who will work best with your child.
4. Know your goals. To know if your therapist is working out, you need to have goals for your child. In fact, during the EI evaluation process, they will ask you about your concerns and, you guessed it, goals.
Think short term and long term. When my son started speech therapy, my short-term goal was to have him eating from a spoon (he had been on an NG tube and was reluctant to eat by mouth) and my long-term goal was to have him start talking. This gives the therapist something to work with and me a way to gauge how he is progressing.
If you have no idea what your long-term goals should be, discuss it with the therapists. They will be able to determine what are realistic future goals for your child.
5. Clean your bathroom. Now for a silly one. Usually Early Intervention therapists come to your home for therapy. So on the day the therapists arrive each week, I pick up toys, vacuum, and sometimes wash the floors. I clean up the mail that is sitting out on the front table and hang up backpacks and my purse.
But every time that I neglect to clean the bathroom is always the day that one of the therapists needs to use it. I show them to the bathroom door and hope that they ignore the bath toys on the sink and the spots on the mirror. So my advice to you (and something that I need to keep in mind too) is clean your bathroom on the days the therapists come. It will save you (me) a little embarrassment. (Or is it just me?)
No one ever dreams of having a little one in EI. For me, the thought of it was overwhelming a little scary. Little did I know that the therapists’ visits were something we would all enjoy. And, most importantly, my son would be doing so well because of their help.
Amber Schultz is a freelance blogger and social media consultant specializing in everything “mom”. When she’s not writing, she’s engineering block towers, hiding veggies in macaroni, and singing “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” repeatedly for her two little ones. Amber blogs at Myth Busting Mommy where she shares the latest parenting news, tips for modern moms, and blogging know-how. You can also find her sharing on Facebook or pinning pretty things on Pinterest.