Caring for Young Voices: Navigating Your Child’s Speech Delay

Imagine this scene: you are at your child’s two year check-up, and are given a side eye from the doctor because you dared to say: “Oh, no – they aren’t doing that just yet.” The pediatrician will likely give you a very brief rundown of pediatric speech delays, then write you a referral for speech therapy. That’s it. Over the course of 60 seconds, they managed to open the floodgates of “what if,” without giving you so much as a life raft to cling to as you walk out of the door.

You get to your car, buckle your precious nugget into their seat, call your spouse, and begin to question everything you know. 

If this is your story please understand that you are not alone! This scenario plays out over and over again – and while it can be scary, it doesn’t have to be. In the San Antonio area there are so many options for you and your family to help overcome a speech delay. Even with so much help available, it can be confusing to know where to start. 

With that in mind: let’s talk about speech therapy! First things first, while I don’t know everything, I can certainly help you find the answers! I currently work at a clinic where we see kids from birth to aged 18, with various skills and abilities. Professionally speaking, I’ve treated a little bit of everything – but I still have to look things up all the time! Every single parent that has walked through our doors was once in your shoes, trying to navigate what was best for their child and their family as a whole. While this period in their life may be one you are keen to forget, it’s important right now to remember that you have options available to you. 

Let’s dive into therapy settings. There are several service delivery options available in the area to meet your needs. Depending on your child’s needs, age, and location in town there are a variety of options to best serve you. Here are a few options that are the most popular in San Antonio: Early Childhood Intervention (ECI), Home Health, Outpatient Clinics, Teletherapy, Schools, Hospitals, and Universities. 

Once you have an idea of what kind of setting works best for your child, it’s time to make the appointment. Chances are your pediatrician sent their referral to a specific location of their choosing. However, if you find somewhere else that you’re interested in receiving services from, you can always request that the referral be sent to your preferred care provider. Some settings have waitlists, while others don’t. If you feel good about waiting to get into your preferred location (or don’t have another choice), then chances are it will be more than worth it.

Appointments for speech therapy are typically made like they are with any other healthcare provider, so you’ll schedule the evaluation as a starting point. Most likely you’ll have some paperwork to complete about your concerns, a complete medical history, and a comprehensive survey of developmental skills your child currently has. This is all very important information for the evaluating therapist, so they can throughly evaluate all aspects of your child and make the appropriate recommendations. 

After waiting what seems like forever, your speech therapy evaluation date has arrived. Hurray! Many parents experience a plethora of emotions at this point. Relief that you’re getting answers. Nervousness about what the results may be. Confusion at what the therapist is telling you. Grief that something may be going on with your child that you can’t help them with. Happiness that you have found a place to help. These, and so many other emotions, are all normal! Your child will complete various tasks with the therapist and there will be lots of questions for your child and you to answer. All the information is pulled together to help create a complete picture of what your child’s skills and areas of need may be. You’ll hear recommendations and possible diagnoses during this time. It can be overwhelming, so don’t hesitate to ask your questions. Most importantly, you’ll leave the evaluation with answers and a plan for moving forward. 

So, you’ve put in the work to get here and now it’s your child’s turn to take the reins. Therapy can take on many different forms, with some sessions looking more like play, and others liks school. The speech therapy setting you chose plays an important role in what kind of therapy is provided. Be sure to do your research and visit the company website and social media pages to get a better idea of what goes on in their sessions. It is also important to remember that, just because your child is starting therapy, doesn’t mean they will catch up to their peers in a few short weeks or months. Therapy can be a long process and that’s both OK and normal. If you have concerns that goals aren’t being met, or that there isn’t carryover from the therapy to home setting, then talk to your therapist. They are on your team, and they want your child to thrive almost as much as you do! 

You are your baby’s biggest advocate! You know them best. You want the world for them, but you don’t have to do it alone. Ask questions when you have them, then build the team and support system you need to help you to learn what is best for your child – and achieve it. 

I think I speak for many SLP’s in town when I say that we love your kids and are excited to be a part of your team! We are here to celebrate the victories and cry with you on the hard days. We don’t know everything, but we will be there to help while you figure it out. For a parent’s perspective on navigating the process of speech therapy check out this ACM article by Natalie – Help! My Toddler Has a Speech Delay.

Now, let’s talk!

-Tayler

Florida born and Boerne raised - with a little west Texas small town living thrown in the middle. Tayler loves the Alamo city and is thrilled to experience all things SA with her family. Tayler is a mom to Clara (2020) and wife to her high school sweetheart Zach. She has a Masters in Communication Sciences and Disorders and considers herself a "silky" mom with a little crunch. When she is not running around momming she is a pediatric speech-language pathologist. She loves her fur-babies, books, and craft beer. Favorite Restaurant: Ladino Favorite Landmark: Pearl Brewery Favorite San Antonio Tradition: Boerne's Dickens on Main