I've been waiting to do an update on the boys' speech therapy progress until we got further into actual therapy (we've only had 3 classes so far) but they've already made so many changes in what feels like no time at all.
Testing and Placement
Before I tell you where we're going, I'll let you know we've been. We had the boys tested through San Andreas Regional Center (San Francisco Bay Area) in September. They tested behind in expressive speech, ending up at about a 10 month age level, a significant delay. Both speech and behavioral therapists assessed them on multiple levels, including comprehension, motor skills, etc. to see where they were in all areas of development. We have a coordinator through the center who connected us with ALLS, who does the boys' speech therapy class. Because we went through the state for their evaluation and they qualified, their class is state funded. This isn't true in all cases, there has to be a significant delay to qualify. They'll have therapy class until they're 3, then will be re-evaluated through the school district to determine if they qualify for therapy through the district after that. I'm crossing my fingers that we don't!
As for structure, the boys have class twice a week for 1 1/2 hrs with about 4-5 other kids their age, all with some sort of delay speech delay. The class is taught by speech and behavioral therapists and really is like a mini preschool. They start with circle time, usually do some arts and crafts, will go to the little gymnasium once a week for motor skill development, have snack time and sing songs.
We were advised to have them in a class based setting because as twins, they get most of their socialization with each other and in group settings twins can tend to stick with each other more. It's also helpful for them to be in a group setting to get interaction with other kids and maybe a little peer pressure to vocalize more often. So far, this has been the most challenging part of school for them (and me). This is their first time being with someone they don't know, in a place they're not familiar with...and then mommy leaves. Needless to say, there are tears when mommy leaves and they can't get to the door fast enough when it's time to leave.
After class starts they eventually calm down and enjoy themselves playing (for the most part). I'm told they love snack time and lots of learning and progress is made while they're stuffing their faces. They love going to the gymnasium to play and run around. They hate circle time. The teachers were a little confounded by this, as most kids like the structure it provides but I guess the boys just would rather do their own thing!
Just because there are tears at the door doesn't mean there isn't progress when we leave. When we get out of class, the boys are in full-on talk mode. They've learned you get responses from people when you say things to them. They are more willing to TRY. This is so huge. Last week, Isaiah was babbling something incoherent, not just ba-ba-ba-ba as usual but like he was speaking another language. This is also huge.
One of the biggest changes is that they now talk about things and initiate conversation using words without us asking them to say things. They're learning how to talk! In the past 3 weeks (3 classes, no class last week) the boys have started saying the following new words:
- hi/bye (to everyone they see)
- buddy (Isaiah's dog) oh "bud-da" is what Julian says.
- Joan "dun" (their teacher)
- Angel "ee-ee"
- Obama "mama"
- gobble (Isaiah has been babbling this a lot)
I feel like we're enjoying the boys on a whole new level. They're interacting with us in a way they never have and it's amazing to be able to see them TRY more often. The one main hurdle we're focusing on getting over in the coming weeks is getting them more comfortable with the schedule and with being away from me without being scared. This will be a huge benefit of therapy class in addition to speech improvements and will help prepare them for preschool.
I look forward to posting in the coming months about how much progress the boys have made. If you're concerned about your child's speech or think they may have a delay, having them evaluated never hurts. Visit the American Speech Language Hearing Association for more information about what programs and evaluations are available in your area.
If you have any questions about the process we went through or what we're doing with the boys please let me know-I'd be glad to answer!