[pullquote_left] by Melody VanderWeide [/pullquote_left]
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Speech Therapy in Grand Rapids

It’s been over a year since I first wrote about my daughter’s speech delay. So much has happened since then that I wanted to give you an update.

A little recap: I noticed my daughter trying to speak but unable to produce sounds at about 18 months old. The pediatrician wasn’t too concerned, but I knew that something wasn’t right. The few words she had used, she lost. We were going backward instead of forward. The pediatrician told me I could have her evaluated if I wanted to: it was literally my choice.

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I put a line in the sand and said, “If she isn’t better by this date, I’m calling.” It took a bit of phone wrangling to find the right place to talk to, but in the end it was my school district that put the ball in motion. As it turns out, I did not need a doctor’s recommendation to get my daughter evaluated.

My school district put in a request for an evaluation to GRPS because they contract out for services in kids younger than age three. Your school district may or may not do the same. If you think your child has a developmental delay, you can call your school district’s administrative offices and ask them how they do evaluations. That is a great place to start.

Anyhow, my daughter qualified for services from Wellerwood. We had one day a week of in-home play therapy and one day a week of inclusive preschool (my daughter had an aide and participated in a class at Ada Village Preschool).

Every week we were given things to work on at home as a family to help her speech develop. We got the whole family involved. I taught the older kids the songs she was learning so they could sing with her. The older kids also had to work hard at NOT speaking for their younger sister.

For months, we noticed just little progression.

I was thrilled when she started saying the word “pop” instead of “pa.” I think I cried.

But then around February last year, something clicked. Every week that her speech therapist, Laura (who is amazing, by the way!!) came, we would just stare at each other in amazement at the amount of progress she had made.

She was blowing through her goals.

By the beginning of April Laura told me, “I just don’t know why I’m holding (sessions with) her anymore.”

We had to do a huge battery of tests to get her out of the special education program… just as many as it took to get her in and qualified for services. But at the end of the testing, the results showed that she was at or above where she should be for an almost-3-year-old.

She went from having zero words to having too many to count in just over 12 months.

Now she’s three and potty-trained and in regular preschool and you would never guess that she used to have a speech delay.

Some people say that she was just a late talker and that she would have caught up on her own without intervention.

Maybe so. But that was not a gamble I wanted to take with my child. Because just as probable is that the quality and timing of the intervention was so well done that it served its purpose.

I am so grateful for the special education/speech services available to us. If you are wondering about your child, call for an evaluation. If nothing else, it will give you peace of mind as you make decisions down the road.