Parents naturally think their children are amazing, talented, smart, and generally above average. But as a mom, I know that if there is something my child struggles with, I want to give him every tool he needs to succeed. When my son was slow to start talking, I wanted to do everything I could to help him.
I told my doctor I was concerned that my son was only saying about 15 words at his two-year checkup. The doctor said some kids talk later than others. She wasn’t worried about his speech, but she said if I wanted to be proactive I could contact Early ACCESS Iowa to see if he qualified for services.
At first, my husband and I were a little unsure about working with a tutor. We didn’t think there was anything “wrong” with our son. He was intelligent, happy, and outgoing. But we also knew he wasn’t talking nearly as much as his peers. He communicated with signs and gestures, but we wanted him to talk! The older he got the more frustrating it was that he wasn’t talking. He didn’t repeat things we said or try to say new words.
Early ACCESS is a state-funded program and the services we used were free. When I called, the first step was to have our son evaluated to see if he qualified for services. First, we had his hearing tested to make sure the reason he wasn’t talking wasn’t linked to any hearing problems. He passed the hearing test. Then, we had a language and cognitive evaluation. While they said he was very social and did a great job interacting with others, his low scores in the speech category made him eligible for tutoring.
We worked with two tutors for a little over six months. One was a speech-language pathologist and the other was a special education teacher. They came to our home, which made it really convenient! They were also really flexible and found times that worked best with our schedule. We met with them 2-3 times a month for about 45 minutes each time.
There wasn’t a set curriculum for us to follow. Instead they offered many tools and suggestions to integrate into our daily routine. I told them one area that it was hardest for my son to not be able to communicate was at meals. They took pictures of foods we commonly ate and my son used them to tell us what he wanted until he learned how to say the words.
Once he was saying more words, we started working on two-word phrases with action words. Again, they took pictures and made a book for us to practice the words with my son.
When they were at our house they sat on the floor with my son, played with his toys, and had fun interacting with him. A two-year-old doesn’t have a very long attention span, but they were great at working with him and making all the activities fun.
I also appreciated how encouraging they were, both to my son and to me. They never made me feel like I had done something wrong as a mom or that I should have been doing more to help my son talk. They affirmed everything I was already doing.
After six months we had a second evaluation and the change was dramatic! I highly recommend the service to anyone who is interested. It’s possible my son would have started talking on his own, but I am very thankful we were able to work with Early ACCESS to give him a boost.
If you have any concerns about your infant or toddler’s development, I highly recommend contacting Early ACCESS for an evaluation. As a parent you are your child’s biggest advocate!
Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way for reviewing our services from the AEA. All opinions expressed are my own.
Meet Guest Blogger Andrea Cooley
Andrea is a coffee drinking, Jesus following, book loving, boy mom. She spends her days reading books about trucks and trains with her two-year-old, tickling her almost one-year-old, and freelance writing. She blogs about her journey as a wife, mom, and sometimes decorator at EverAfterBlueprint.com.