Watching your child’s communication skills develop is both fascinating and adorable! As a mom and an SLP (Speech Language Pathologist), I am very passionate about early communication development. This is the second post in a series I have started to support my fellow parents as you navigate your children’s speech and language development. I know that it can be tricky to sift through all of the different options for finding speech therapy services. In this post, I want to help point you in the right direction if you have concerns.
May is “Better Speech and Hearing Month,” which aims to build awareness of communication skills and disorders (sponsored by ASHA, the national organization for Speech Pathology and Audiology). If you have concerns about your child’s speech and language development, check out ASHA’s “Identify the Signs” campaign. This website lists possible areas of concern and provides additional guidance. Early intervention can support children who are having difficulties because this is a pivotal time of rapid brain development.
Below, I am breaking down some of the options for parents who have concerns about their child’s speech and language development:
Schedule an appointment with your pediatrician
Jot down some notes about your concerns and bring them to your child’s appointment. It never hurts to ask your pediatrician even if it is just one concern.
Note: Ask for your child’s hearing to be screened. If they do not pass the hearing screening, ask for a referral to an audiologist. When you are consulting with your pediatrician, keep in mind that they may not know all of the signs of communication disorders – just as SLPs don’t know how to diagnose the flu. Even if they are not familiar with all of the communication milestones, they can be a wonderful resource and can refer you to an SLP. Feel free to ask for a referral even if the pediatrician hasn’t recommended it.
Consult directly with a local Speech Language Pathologist
To find a speech pathologist in your area, visit this link. You can usually ask to schedule a consultation or a screening to see how to proceed.
Note: Not all SLP’s take insurance, so be sure to ask about this before your child is evaluated.You might also call your insurance company to find out if there are speech and language services and providers that are in-network for your plan. My personal favorite local speech clinics are The Clubhouse & Pediatric Speech and Language Specialists.
3. Therapy options offered through the state of Arizona (for children who qualify for services)
AzEIP: For Children from Birth- 2 years 10 1/2 months.
Offers home-based services to children who qualify. Visit this site or call (602) 532-9960, to find out if your child is eligible for services through AzEIP. Visit this link to find early intervention programs in other states.
DDD: For children over age 3
Visit the Department on Developmental Disabilities website to see if your child/teen might be eligible for home-based services. My favorite company for home-based services is Theracare/ Heartland (Note: I do currently work for this company but I have worked for a few other home-based companies and objectively speaking, I truly believe the services they offer are the best).
Special Education services offered through the school system
Contact your local school district or the charter school your child attends and ask for your child to be screened or evaluated. Visit http://www.azed.gov/specialeducation/parents/az-find/ for more information.
Note: If your child is not yet attending school or attending private school, contact your school’s principal to find out which local public school would provide services, if eligible. All children residing within district boundaries are entitled to services, not just those attending public school.
Trust your gut and don’t be afraid to advocate for your child
You know your child better than anyone and I believe that parents are their children’s best experts. If you have concerns, don’t let anyone discourage you from getting your child evaluated or seeking more information. Don’t ever feel silly for asking questions. Remember that your child is perfect just the way they are, even if they do need support. Every person has areas of strength and areas of need and this makes us unique and special (ok- warm fuzzy tangent over, lol).
Note: If you are feeling stressed out about this process (which is totally normal), reach out for help from friends, family or a therapist. Your health & wellbeing is so important!
I know this is a lot of information so please feel free to comment below with questions and I’d be happy to answer them! 🙂
Here is the first post in the speech and language development series if you want more information about speech and language and what an SLP does: Speech and Language Development Series from an SLP
Stay tuned next month for a post on fun tips to encourage toddler communication skills!
This post is for informational purposes only and is not a replacement for assessment and/or treatment from a certified Speech-Language Pathologist.