Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thoughts on "Speech Therapy"

While we're only two weeks into AJ's sessions with the speech therapist, I feel like we've been on this road for a lot longer. AJ's pediatrician recommended a call to early intervention for a speech eval at his well baby exam in DECEMBER! Between now and then we've met with a social worker, an early ed teacher, an early ed teacher WITH the speech therapist, the early ed teacher again, and now finally we've begun sessions with the speech therapist.

Which brings me to my first random observation about the process: they don't want us to call it "speech therapy." Why? Well, according to the early ed teacher, therapy has a negative connotation. Um, okay. Except I am willingly going through this process under the assumption that THERAPY is HELPFUL! I was so dumbfounded by the "we don't call it therapy" that I forgot to ask what exactly I should be calling it. After sharing the story with my stepdad who is perhaps one of my very favorite smart*sses in the world, we decided AJ's sessions will henceforth be called...wait for it...speech coaching! If for some reason the word coaching has a negative connotation, please don't tell me. I don't have time to find another name for it.

So, onto the coaching. Our first session was last week. After chatting for a few minutes about the nice weather, etc. we sat down to get to play. Because really, that's all that speech therapy is when you're dealing with a 21 month old. And on that particular day, AJ wasn't in the mood to really sit down and play. So what he did was run circles around the room, stopping briefly to interact with us for about 2 seconds at a time.

Today's session wasn't much different. Except for the part where AJ got really mad and spoke! I wish I had captured it on video, because it was seriously a classic moment. AJ has this thing where he drags people around the house by the finger. It's about the only effective form of communication he has. So he wanted to take Kelly somewhere, but she was sitting on the floor. So he pulls and he pulls and she clearly isn't getting up.

Kelly: "AJ, do you want me to get up?"
AJ: pulls on her finger again and grunts
Kelly: "Do you want me to get up, AJ? Up?"
AJ: starts running circles around the room gesturing wildly and grunting.
Kelly: "AJ, I know you want me to get up but you're going to have to tell me to get up."
AJ: runs across the room, pushes his entire weight into her shoulders and shouts, "UPPPPPPPP!"

So apparently the key to speech coaching my kid is making him really really mad. He didn't say another discernible word for the rest of the time Kelly was here, but the "up" was unmistakeable!

I've heard many, many success stories about the speech "coaching" process. I'm hoping AJ will turn out to be one of those stories, even if it means ticking him off every now and then!


em said...

Whatever works, I suppose! ;) It is really interesting to watch what they do. Sometimes it just seems so basic, but it seems to be effective!!

Barb said...

Well, I can certainly come over and make him angry any time you'd like me to.