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6 Things I Learned From Speech Therapy

"Does 'Go, Diego, go!' count?" was my answer when the pediatrician asked me if my 2-year old son was making two- to three-word sentences. "I mean, that's three words right?" I asked laughing. Although she was laughing with me, she shook her head.

When I talked to some of my friends about it I got the "boys start speaking later than girls" and "my brother spoke when he was five" and quite a few "he is just too consentido. Stop spoiling him and he'll start speaking."

After three months of no improvement, we headed back to the pediatrician and left with prescriptions for a hearing test and a speech and language evaluation.

I had no idea what that prescription was going to teach me about speech therapists, insurance, my son and most importantly myself.

Patience is a virtue

It took more than four months from the moment we got the prescription to the day my son walked into his first speech session. Let's just say waiting lists are the name of the game. We went with the pediatrician's recommendation—a large hospital system that no matter how desperately I fought or cried placed me on a waiting list. I have since learned that are great independent speech therapists that could have made the process quicker. Ask your friends or your child's school for recommendations.

Be kind to yourself

When the day of the speech evaluation finally arrived we went into a little room where my boy was questioned about many things for about an hour. As he was shown books and objects and asked to point to certain things or follow directions, I wanted to jump in and help when he didn't know. Every time he missed something I felt like a terrible mother, like I should have spent more time teaching him, like I had failed him.

He was diagnosed with a severe speech delay. Hearing those first results was hard. He was two and a half but his receptive and expressive language levels were at a 1-year-old level and yes, part of me felt it was my fault. Was it really? Probably not and honestly a pity party was not going to help anyone. Acting quickly and moving forward is what is important.

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Your pocket might hurt

Needless to say the phone calls to the insurance started. I was happy to hear my insurance company paid for speech therapy. I was disappointed when they told me they wouldn't cover it if a developmental delay or autism diagnosis existed. I still don't understand their reasoning—but that's a completely different story. What I learned from this is that speech therapists will work with you and you will find the way of making it happen. Be prepared for your priorities to change.

Sometimes you have to be a witch

The first day of speech therapy was hard, he didn't want to leave my side and there was a lot of crying. By the second week things were better and by the third he was excited to see his therapist. The excitement wore off a couple of weeks later and for some time there I had to be the witch that drove him to a place where he did not want to be.

You might also be a meanie when you ask him to practice and do the homework the speech therapist assigns. You will be a complete witch when you push him to speak, say you don't understand and ask him to use his words.

You know your child

When I mentioned to some people that he had started speech therapy I still got the "but boys talk later than girls" bit from quite a few people. Perhaps that's true. I don't know. I only have one boy and this is our reality. What I do know is that we stopped comparing him to other children. If you feel your child should get an evaluation ask for one. If you feel your child needs to be challenged tell the speech therapy. If you feel the speech therapist is not the right match for your child find someone else. You know your child better than anyone else.

Don't underestimate your child

There will be periods when you won't see (or hear) changes. Did I mention you have to be patient? In the day to day you might not notice the improvements but be sure they are happening. My son is now 5 years old, and his receptive language is at level. His expressive is almost there. When I tell people he goes to speech therapy I get "but he doesn't stop talking".

The most important thing I've learned? Celebrate every success 'cause in the end I'm the one cheering "Go, Baby, go!"

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