What did he say?

Early Intervention: the beginning of the processI hear that often. W will get excited and words will tumble out of his mouth. While it is clear that he is saying something, what he is saying can sometimes be a mystery. Getting him to calm down a bit and then repeat what he is saying helps. But not always.

A few weeks ago I sat down with one of W’s teachers to go over a routine progress report that all students in his school have. It was pretty cool to see all of the things that W has learned. However, one of the glaring problems was language. In addition to lack of clarity there is a side effect of not being understood by others and being asked to repeat words. It is frustrating. And a frustrated three year old who is the size of a five year old is not so great.

W’s teacher brought up that she believed W would benefit from speech therapy. I was relieved. Seriously.

I mentioned that I had W’s dentist check out his (no longer) attached upper frenulum. Since it is no longer attached it should not be a problem for his speech. HOWEVER, while it was attached it could very well have contributed to how W learned to form words. This is not to say that I am looking for a reason for any issues, but possibly a starting point in the area to work on.

At W’s teacher’s suggestion, I called the local early intervention specialists and started the process to get him evaluated. Earlier this week the thick stack of paperwork arrived. There is a ton of paperwork for me to complete as well as lots of stuff for W’s school and teacher’s to complete. I am (once again!) so very thankful that W is in such an amazing preschool program. We are lucky.

This is all the beginning of this process.

I wasn’t sure if I would write about this, but then I realized that if I was a parent about to embark on this journey it would be helpful to know what was ahead. (and obviously at this point I have no idea!)

As a side note:

The post I recently wrote about Princess Culture is a lead story in the parenting section of Huffington Post right now. I am honored to have had the piece shared on other sites online.

I know very well how cruel some of the comments on some of the larger online magazine sites can be. I still cringe thinking about the comments made on a post that my Mom was featured in during her job search. Heck, it was THE reason I let go of my alias so that I could address some of the comments made. I honestly don’t know if the comments on my post are all mean. Soon after it was published I checked out what people were saying but once I saw something obnoxious I closed my web browser.

Now let’s talk early intervention. What can I expect the evaluation process to be like?


  1. I have had both my kids evaluated for EI, for different reasons. My daughter was a late walker, and qualified for EI for gross motor. The eval was actually kind of fun, because they evaluate them on I think 4 things…gross motor, fine motor, receptive language and spoken language…no matter what their issue is. Was fun to see where she fell on the other items. She loved her OT and learned to walk several months later.
    Then had my son evaluated for speech when he was a late talker. He didn’t qualify [with funding issues it’s much harder to qualify than it used to be, apparently] but again, I enjoyed having him evaluated. The people who do it are really good with kids and engage them well…both my kids seemed to have fun doing it. Hope it goes smoothly and that he qualifies for speech therapy, if that’s what you want, which it sounds like you do. Hugs!

    • So good to know that the eval process was fun! If W qualifies for help I want him to get it. :)

      • I needed EI for gross motor when I was a preschooler. My mother called it “balance class” and we treated it like any other music class, library outing, playgroup or Mommy & Me activity. It was a place where I went with nice grownups who had me do fun stuff that felt like playing to me- jumping on a trampoline, playing on large bouncy balls, crawling across this balance beam type thing. I had no idea that I was experiencing developmental delays; I just really liked the huge fish tank full of turtles in the waiting room. My point is, if you treat it like it’s fun, W will think it’s fun, too. Good luck!

  2. We went through it all on the private end. It was expensive, and that was my only complaint. Well, shlepping there twice a week after school was not exactly thrilling, either. BUT it totally worked and Beckett loved his speech therapist and it was all good.

  3. As a teacher, I applaud you for recognize and acknowledging that your son may benefit from services. Often times we get children in K, 1st, 2nd, 3rd grade who obviously need a little bit of support but whose parents can’t/don’t/won’t see it. Unfortunately, by 3rd grade, it’s often “too late” to change any ingrained habits (speech or otherwise). So, thank you, for taking your job as parent seriously. It is your right to get your son the help and support he needs to be successful!

  4. You may not want to read all the comments on your post at Huffington Post – but you should be proud of the fact that there are hundreds of them. You obviously got people thinking…and the writing kept them interested.

  5. At 3 my daughter was talking but most of it you couldn’t understand. A lot of the time I would say show me which worked for most things but not everything. At 3 1/2 I had my daughter in speech which she did for about a year. Oh my gosh she did great and now talks ALL the time! I also had her retested in Kindergarten and then again in 2nd grade just to make sure she was on track. She is!!!! Also she has some problems with school, learning, sitting still and reading. I didn’t want to see it but I knew someone else was going on. I spoke with her teacher and her Doctor. I took her in to the doctor and she does have HDAD. I wasn’t keen on meds but I gave it a try and WOW what a difference it has made. She went from below grade level in reading to advanced in less than three months. Almost all the problems she had in school are gone. I am still not huge on giving her meds but I do it.

  6. We did not have to deal with speech therapy but I do deal with the Child Study Team at my daughter’s school due to ADD. The only advice I can ever offer is – Be your child’s advocate. School districts and organizations often make decisions based on numbers, graphs and studies. I want them to always remember my child is an individual and deserves to be respected in that way. I had to really fight to get certain services I thought were necessary. It was worth every letter, every call and every meeting I attended.

    Good luck! I am sure W will do splendidly!

  7. My son had a GREAT experience with early intervention, and continued until he was past 5 years old. Mostly it was his speech issues (he had a suck/chew/swallow issue when he was little and couldn’t swallow a cheerio at a year old…), but also some low muscle tone issues. Point is, my experience with early intervention could not have been better. I had some less-than-stellar experiences once he aged out of early intervention and into the public school system, but I chose to keep him at his private therapy (like Briar says, super expensive, but worth every penny) at that point. I am sure this will be nothing but a positive experience to both you AND W. :)

  8. My twins (age 2.5) are both in EI Speech Therapy. At their 2 year check-up, their pediatrician recommended an evaluation. I did not hesitate. If it could help them prepare for school, I was all for it! I have nothing but good things to say about the past 4 months that they have been enrolled. They had an evaluation on speech as well as occupational just as routine and then I received detail reports and a follow-up meeting in person. They were classified as “severely delayed” and qualified for 1 hour each per week which their therapist (who I love) split into 2 one-hour sessions of them together per week. It is all therapy by play and she started by coming to our house and now goes to daycare since the boys have been there full-time since January. For me, the cost is covered 100% and they will be re-evaluated before they turn 3 because at that time, while it stays paid for in full, the program switches to the responsibility of the school district instead of the county. I hope this helps. It has been nothing but a positive experience all the way around.

  9. I’m proud of you for writing such a great article. You are definitely the best.

    I am sure that W will rock EI.

  10. So cool to even have had one article in the Huffington Post, let alone to have had two! And just remember when people say stupid things… They are stupid. No worries :-)
    W. was diagnosed with severe dysadesic dyslexia in 3rd grade. He always mixed up his b’s and d’s. No one really thought much of it until his 3rd grade teacher realized he should be “growing out” of that mix up by then. She had me take him to a specialist and sure enough he diagnosed him after an hour of cool games and tricks. What was really interesting about W is that he had already taught himself how to compensate for the learning disability and is one of the top reader/ comprehension achievers in his class for 5th grade. Spelling is still and forever will be an issue. It has to do with the disconnect between brain, eyes, and hands. But he tries really hard and is in advanced spelling/reading group. With support and attention there is nothing any child can’t do!!!!
    I’m glad you are excited about getting him help. I know W and I were both so excited because it feels like once you know what you are dealing with then you can plot a course of action. :-). Much luck and much love!!!!
    Ps- now he is being labeled an anti-establishment trouble maker. Why? Because he dares to see injustice and speak out about it. Could his delivery be better, yes, he is 11. We are working on that. But to label him? Love my school system :-(

  11. Congratulations on being featured on Huff Post!!! That’s awesome!

  12. There are a lot of shit heads on that site, take the commentary with a grain of salt.

  13. Burrito and Tamale had EI evals when they were 6 months old just because they had been preemies, then Tamale had services for the next year and a half (county plus private since I was unhappy with the county services). They’ve also had shorter screenings more recently. W will probably have a detailed speech eval by a speech therapist plus a briefer check on more general development, maybe by someone else like an OT or teacher or maybe by the speech therapist. Since speech is the issue, a hearing eval should be part of it, either as part of that eval or separately. The evaluators/therapists usually specialize in little kids so they are typically quite good at engaging kids W’s age, and they always have various toys and objects that the kid hasn’t seen before, which my kids have liked at every age.

    But, it depends on how the kid reacts to new people — Burrito often tests poorly because he refuses to do things on command for a stranger. Tamale usually tests better except at the first eval; one of the evaluators came up behind her and touched her and it freaked her out so much that from then on, that woman was her Enemy and she wouldn’t do anything for her. She did great for the two other evaluators who were there at the same time, but nothing but staring daggers in response to requests by her Enemy.

    Be sure that he’s eaten plenty beforehand (and bring snacks too) and rested well (i.e., don’t schedule it in the middle of nap time or anything). I’ve learned those lessons the hard way.

    It would be a good idea to come up with nomenclature ahead of time, for the eval and for the therapy — I usually refer to the eval as playing games with some new teachers. Speech therapy might be talking school or word lessons or whatever you think would resonate with W.

    Good luck and enjoy! At this age the process actually is genuinely fun, usually.

  14. First, congrat’s on the HuffPo piece. I loved it. I think it is SO well written, and contains such important points. Honestly, as the mother of two girls, I loathe the princess culture. It sends all of the wrong messages. Of course, we also own princesses, because it’s definitely a part of the world we live in. But I LOATHE it.

    I was fascinated (and frequently repulsed) by the comments to the piece (there are over 1000 now!). Some people are so threatened by the idea of a boy who plays with “girl” things that they actually missed the point of what you were saying. I don’t get it. I read my very masculine, burly, manly man husband your article, and he also loved it. He told me, by the way, that when he and his friend were 8 or 10, they used to play at a friend’s house. The mother ran a daycare, and had loads of princess clothes, makeup, etc. They used to have a blast playing dressup. Bet some of your commenters would have a field day with that, but I can assure you that my husband is loving, well-balanced, heterosexual, normal, has lots of friends, and has never needed therapy.

    Second, I am SO envious of your preschool. They sound amazingly proactive. Best of luck with W’s language skills. I’m sure it will all even out.

  15. The Huffington Post article was pretty great. A friend shared this song with me yesterday. I love it and just bawl at the last verse which talks about the male point of view. Dar Williams – “When I Was a Boy” http://youtu.be/8gIZt0hE1E0

    In my state, you no longer deal with EI after age three. At that point, we were sent to the school district, which said we didn’t qualify for their services. I hope you have a wonderful experience with EI. We really loved our therapists.

  16. My son was always difficult to understand as a toddler. We had him evaluated when he was 3 and they didn’t feel that he qualified for early intervention because he was not speech delayed. It wasn’t until he went to kindergarten and his teacher referred him to speech that he got therapy. Even then they had to prove that his speech issues were effecting his learning to qualify for special education. It was a long process but he was diagnosed with dysfluency, an articulation disorder and he speaks at a very rapid rate. He went to speech class thru sixth grade and it was helpful to him. Fourth grade on, he hated it, but cooperated…

    Good luck with the process.

  17. I dont think I’ve had specific experience with EI, as a state program anyway. My son did flunk his K screening at 4 and then the district did a lot of tests, and he qualifies for some services through his school (which have been absolutely fantastic, I think we got lucky with our district services). What I was going to specifically comment on is speech therapy though. At 2 his ped said he sure didn’t seem to say much. We had him evaluated and he just passed .. so she said keep an eye on it. At 3, same concern. His vocabulary hadn’t grown by leaps and bounds. So we actually started speech theray in earnest. It was through our private insurance and not exactly cheap, but worth every penny. By seven or eight months later he was talking much more. We also had PT and OT through the same organization which did wonders for his motor skills – which were behind but not seriously. For what its worth we called his therapy ‘mini school’ because he already went to pre-school which was ‘school’ and always kept the idea of going there as fun and easy. it mostly worked – at least he didnt seem to mind it, and it did him a world of good.

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