The other day I was hanging out with a good friend of mine and she mentioned her daughter might need speech therapy. I told her we’d had a really awesome experience, but I knew instantly I should write a blog post about it. We get asked about speech therapy a lot by friends and readers email us when they notice my mentioning my son’s speech problem. So, I wanted to create a blog post with my tips as a mother for what to do when you’re worried that your toddler or preschooler may be a little delayed with their speech. (Disclaimer: I’m not an expert, just a mom sharing about my experience.)
Remind yourself that kids develop at different rates. There is no one size fits all schedule for kids. I know it can be easy to compare our kids to those of our friends. Whose speaking in full sentences? Walking? Reading? Be patient.
Talk to your pediatrician. The pediatrician is a great resource, and can usually give you some insight on speech therapists and help you get any necessary referrals for initial evaluations.
Research early intervention programs in your state. These vary state by state, but your child may be eligible to get reduced or free services! (and most of these ARE NOT INCOME BASED, like I’d previously thought) I would not have known about this program if my pediatrician hadn’t told us, so I’m sharing it here. It is different state by state, but our state had a sliding fee scale. So, kids up to the age of three could get significantly reduced or free speech therapy! (along with other services provided.) We were very impressed, we got to choose from several providers in the community as well. I really appreciated that, because it didn’t feel like such a one size fits all situation. Another perk, for us, was that this service came to our homes (again, I can’t say this is the case in every state, but it was in Indiana!) which was so helpful for us, because we also had a newborn.
Find out if your kid is eligible for an IEP even before Kindergarten age. This is another thing that, well, blew my mind. It turned my son even as a three year old could qualify for services at our local public school. Again, this varies depending on where you live, but definitely something to check into to.
Stay off Google. Google will have you worried to death, so avoid it.
Read a lot. Truth be told, you’re already doing this, but step it up a little bit in this area. I found reading the same books over and over with short words to be super helpful in vocabulary building.
Don’t be ashamed. Shame was a huge struggle for me. I perpetually felt like I could have done more or done something differently to make sure my son wasn’t living with this. No parent wants to see their kid struggling, but don’t beat yourself up.
Talk with other mothers whose kids went through speech therapy. I actually met a mother whose son was a teenager and in speech therapy. He was happy and fine, he played sports, he had friends. It was really important for me to see that in that season of life, because I was so gloom and doom.
Above all, I hope you’re able to give yourself more grace than I was able to during that season of life. I look back and just want to shake myself and say “girl, chill” Our family learned so much during those three years of speech therapy appointments, we made great friends, and I’ve even overheard Liam giving speech therapy to his brother’s friends. It’s just so second nature to him, he doesn’t even realize no one else does that. Don’t be afraid to ask for help: you aren’t wasting anyone’s time and your concerns are valid. If you’d like a more in depth perspective from that season of life for us check out this post I wrote two years ago.