View Full Version : Verbal Dyspraxia, Preschoolers, and School Districts

03-25-2015, 01:38 AM
My baby (DS3) is transitioning from our county's early toddler intervention, to the local school district's preschool program. In the next couple weeks I have meetings scheduled for evaluation and talking about IEPs. The district's main plan (if DS qualifies) is a 4 day/week preschool starting at 8am. Which doesnt sit well at all with me.

Do the wise people who have dealt with school districts and IEPs (and non-talking kids) have any pointers for going in to deal with the school district? Things to avoid, insist on, ask for, etc?

Are there compelling reasons I might want to put my kid in the preschool, which havent occurred to me? One of my few rules of homeschooling is that I will not wake my kids up to begin schooling. And 4 days a week! We have a SLP that is great, we visit her and OT twice a week already. (It was just last week that DS was able to make the *oh* sound! I nearly cried. But its not a mild issue. Next month is our neurology appointment finally (made last year), so we might get a label then.

Any wisdom from BTDT?
Thanks in advance!

03-25-2015, 03:14 AM
No advice. But definitely will be thinking of you guys and hoping for good outcomes.

03-25-2015, 04:05 AM
We sent my middle son (oral and verbal dyspraxia) to preschool. He's now homeschooled. He had a teacher aide.

It was great in terms of giving him a sense of following routines and simple instructions. It was absolutely useless socially. It depends what you are thinking of. It was a break for me from the intensive therapy!

03-26-2015, 03:32 PM
Alexsmom - take this with a huge grain of salt, b/c obviously your son could have a very different issue / experience than mine...but

My son did not talk at 3. He had lots of 1 words. He used those some, not a lot. He did not put two words together. From 3 - 4 he started that. Probably well into 4 before he was really speaking in full phrases and sentences. Probably 6-ish before his speech was not noticeably behind. Now, at 7.5, I'd say he's 'normal' with verbal expression ability - sometimes he still gets frustrated retrieving the right word - but it might be a big one! Ha! Like 'demoted' or something. We took him to a ped neurologist and slp and honestly, did not find the slp much help. We went for about 4-6 months, I don't remember now...We also put him in part-time day care, a really good one - but not a special early intervention preschool - at least partly b/c we thought the environment might help. It might have, with trying to express himself, but it also was the beginning of lots of problems, too. And a lot of those problems were partly the stress, I think, of not being able to express himself to other kids/teachers. That stress would have been a lot less at home/small group play I arranged, etc. Those problems might have come anyways, who knows? But I now think he would've started progressing on his speech in his own time anyways.

I guess my point here is I am skeptical that SLP are really able to *know* that a non-talking kiddo at 3 will continue to have major problems, requiring therapy, at 4, 5, 6, etc. And if you are planning to HS then you are not worried about the drumbeat of age/grade related skills requirements - which most therapists are thinking about trying to help your kiddo meet, or at least deal with...So this is my usual long-winded post to suggest *maybe* have the courage to believe that HS'ing your kiddo (not going to the preschool program with an IEP) will work out just fine. Sure, maybe he will turn out to have a lasting issue that requires therapy....but you can handle that while HS'ing. I wouldn't send him to preschool just for that. Again, their goal with the preschool/early intervention is to get kids who might not otherwise be school-ready. And we both know that's totally unnecessary for homeschoolers not worried about the school system's pre-defined schedule for skipping,sitting, reading, writing, etc. etc.

Finally, big hugs. I remember the days when I was worried about my little guy talking. They were not fun, in that respect, the worry part. And again, you know your kiddo best, so please don't take this as a know it all telling you what you should do. I just feel for anyone trying to navigate the experts when so often the experts' 'school' frame is so off from ours and what is really good for kids in general, imho.

03-26-2015, 09:37 PM
Thanks, guys, for this. I think I will go with my gut that 4day/week preschool starting at 8am isnt going to work for us. I think his stress will be lower at home... hes a very mellow, joyful and happy non-talker, I would hate to lose that for no real gain. Its not as though its an upgrade from daycare.

pdpele, thank you for your post! It answered questions I didnt even realise I had. And I think you understand that worry and fear about how these things resolve. We lucked out in picking a really good SLP, who has also done more than I would expect in terms of coordinating and working with the county and insurance company. Almost every session has been really productive, so Im grateful for that.

Thanks again! I feel I can now articulate better why I dont need to preschool my darling.

03-27-2015, 12:36 AM
From experience with my two boys, they should be able to accomplish whatever they are going to accomplish with the 2x/week service. I am sure your boy has a different diagnosis, so just look at all of your options and consider advice from medical professionals, not necessarily school officials.

It is stressful. I still get stressed when I hear DS3's language ability, but DS9 was the exact same at the exact age. We have family DVDs, so it is not poor memory nor wishful thinking; DS9 was the same. DS9 was three when I finally heard daddy. I cried. DS3 said daddy a few months ago. I cried again.

The skeptic in me points out that preK often gets separate funding. Funding comes from head counts.

03-27-2015, 11:59 PM
Alexsmom I feel for you. I can especially relate to the happy joyful non-talker - hug the boy close! Happy and growing, way more important, right, than meeting any particular milestones. Not to dismiss the concerns.

03-28-2015, 01:30 AM
Alexsmom, I am sorry that you are dealing with all this. For my son, the preschool that he went to worked absolute wonders. It was run by a SLP and had an special ed teacher in the room and then had OT in at least twice per week. Yes it was actually run in the PS. I miss Freeport, ME. Anyhoo if this is the set up then I would definitely recommend it. If it is just regular preschool with an aide, not so much. DS was initially tested at 3.5 yrs and had receptive language at 18 mo and expressive language at 22 months and by kindergarten with that preschool along with OT and SLP once per week, he tested at normal speech for kindergarten. Now of course his autism is still a huge issue and what not, but at least the speech was improved on. But at this time I was working full time and he was in daycare or getting kicked out of daycares for biting, so you know what will work best for your family, we did switch to a nanny given the getting kicked out all the time.

03-28-2015, 09:24 AM
Thanks, I will inquire about exactly what goes on, how many kids are there, how many caregivers. If it really seems to be worthwhile, I will consider it. and maybe just show up an hour and half late. I do worry that it may be too much stress for him, or that this is just an alternative to day care. My kids have never even had a babysitter - it is always Grandparents if we need to do something without them.

If they just want the money for attendance, what should they care if I dont show up on time? What are they going to do, give DS a F in preschool? Call the truancy office?
DS isnt considered ASD - if he was, he would have been eligible for more services from the County. Because he wasnt using any words or signs at all to communicate, when he was tested last year, the lovely (anything but) ASD evaluator said his expressive was at that of a 9month old (for a 2.5 yr old). Thank goodness our SLP said it clearly wasnt appropriate to use that scale for his expressive, since he clearly was communicating and making his needs known. Who likes hearing from a Dr that their kid who seems perfectly *normal* other than not talking is as expressive as a 9month old!

I sort of feel lke Im gaming the system, teaching him signs for useless things, like farm animals - because expressing those words is on the tests.
At least ASL is easy to learn - and it works at improving his fine motor skills.

This weeks triumph - trying to coax the O sound out, yesterday I asked him to say ooooopen.... and he said *open*. He has done it twice more, so Im really excited! (He still doesnt like making the sounds.... and i ask him for O whenever it comes up - open, close, go, more, orange (bought extras for this purpose) - and he only gives me the sound a small percent of the time.)

03-28-2015, 04:30 PM
I will give you our version of this same situation, sort of. We are dealing with apraxia due to a an in utero stroke. Last summer when our son was 2 1/2 we did a speech program. The SLP worked for the scool disctrict and like everyone else around us wanted us to put him into preschool last fall before he turned three so we would have the SLP the school offered because the other services stopped at three. We intend to homeschool so I told them there had to be other options for speech and started calling around. After four different people insist we go into preschool our OT said they had a new speech person on staff that had some openings.
We now see this person once a week and did not go into preschool nor will we. Now at 3 1/2 we have a lot of single words and are starting to build some 2 and 3 word combinations. We like the SLP. Hubby and I work a lot with our son. I read and he repeats after me. I do not push him. I ask him to repeat, if he does great, if he says mom, the. I continue reading and we try again another time.
We do preschool time at the library and he has several friends there,but they do not understand him well and I think putting him around other kids that cannot understand would be detrimental. Mostly I think kids can be mean. We lost another teenager to bulling in a nearby town. So I do not want him to feel stressed. His friends have grown up with him, so they are accepting and can figure out some of what he means.
IF you plan to homeschool anyways, then go ahead. Do what works for you because you sound like you are already doing what you need to for him.

04-20-2015, 10:37 AM
Update: We had our *evaluatory meeting* last week, it was horrible.

These were professionals? We arrived, one of the evaluators tried shaming DS for not wearing shoes! *YOU forgot your shoes!*
No, I corrected, I carried him from bed to the car, you cant blame him for me not putting shoes on him.
Then an hour and a half of going through all the standard developmental games / activities.... pushing me off to another part of the room to fill out paperwork.

He needs a break, I told them, a few times. *No, we understand hes getting tired, but we need to keep going.*
I finally took him, told them we were going to go for a walk so he could calm down, one of the evaluators CHASED us around the room with a ball trying to get him to play with her.
The last straw was when they had him playing with a Thomas set (he loves), then wanted him to look at a Clifford book (not his thing).
The baby thats so mellow, so easygoing and helpful, that literally cannot fuss, was brought to tears.

Ok, hes done. I said. Would you like to offer him the Thomas again so he can end on a happy note?

They did that, then one of the ladies got in his face (he doesnt do really close), tried making him clap his hands. DS was avoiding eye contact with her, trying to play with the train. She was then shoving toys in his face trying to make him clap them together - it was gross.

I know these people have a schedule and things they need to do, but they really didnt seem to have my babys best interests in mind at any time.

So then I asked what sort of programs other than the preschoolfromhell they had. And was told that would be discussed at our next meeting. I said I just wanted to know what was a possibility! She said she couldnt discuss that.

They treat my kid that callously and want me to trust them with his daily care?

Im so angry for my baby! If it wasnt for wanting other speech therapy assistance, Id never speak to them again. We have had 3 OTs, 1 SLP, and other evaluators, none of them treated him like that.

Im also ashamed of myself for letting them bring him to tears.


Anyways, my advice for anyone taking their kids in for evaluation for any delays is 1) dont let them carry on for more than a half hour / 45 minutes, 2) if they make your child upset, stop them, and 3) if your kid has a significant delay in one area, those stupid little behavioral assessment forms arent appropriate for determining developmental age. (example, at 2.5 DS didnt say a single word, according to the scale, his expressive language development was 9 months. So many of the other questions are predicated on a child being able to speak.)

04-20-2015, 09:40 PM

My DS was recommended for speech and we had the option of 2X/ week at one facility or 4X/week at Head Start. We went with Head Start because we thought all the additional interaction would be just what he needed. This isn't a regular Head Start classroom either 10 students 3 or 4 teachers (plus one boy has a personal aide). Our son is super laidback and even shares! Now 5 months later he's a mess. Partly it is his age. But even his teachers suggested that his change was from watching his classmates. He still gets bit and hit -at those child:teacher ratios! He has had terrible luck making friends and we'd hoped this would be a place for that, but, um, no. And his teachers are great and they work speech into the days etc but we are not convinced this has really been what we'd hoped for. I think he has gotten better, some days if you listen just right and the sun is angled just right.

04-20-2015, 10:05 PM
Thanks for sharing! Its so helpful to me!

Do you get individual sessions, too?

My SLP has been strongly encouraging me to push for the school district to get him a tablet and this conversational speaking app (where he constructs the sentences). Thats what Im hoping for, and if they will cover more weekly sessions, that would be great. She also pushes that she can be a vendor for the school district, so they will foot the bill for his therapy. Shes very optimistic and resourceful about making the system work for us.

I had been thinking that a small group setting, like head start, would be useful for more speech therapy and social interaction, but nobody so far seems to have had happier kids at the end of it.

We started therapy in October, didnt even get hand signs until Girl Scout Cookie season, and we really started consistently getting a couple of sounds until Easter.
Today I had my first *kiss* from him, as well as his first successful *clap*.
So for us, once it started coming, it has snowballed.

04-21-2015, 08:34 PM
Alexsmom - big hugs that sounds like it was really difficult. I hope the end result is helpful. I had an early intervention assessment end in a fail with a hearing test and apparently expensive equipment :confused: surely there was a better way? And why couldn't they skip that part but do the rest? IDK. We didn't go back. Love/hate relationship with evals/experts here (well, mostly hate, actually...). I know just what you mean about wishing you'd jumped in...but maybe you handled it just right, you know? Don't be too hard on yourself - you're there giving your all for your little guy!

07-02-2015, 05:43 AM
My son is also going through this situation and I think he is recovering, as I had also enrolled him to a preschool so that he can learn and can adjust with new people. Do not worry everything will be fine. To know more you can navigate here (http://www.callingallkidsagain.com/).

07-08-2015, 04:28 PM
My son was diagnosed as apraxic at age 3.5. Later diagnosis have downgraded that. He started his year with just doing speech, 1 hour per week, about 10 minutes of that the therapist explaining what I needed to do with him at home.

The next spring OT was added. And they wanted him in Head Start in the fall. I went and looked at it and the program was taught in Spanish. Now, learning another language is fine....I just wanted him to speak in the one that we spoke at home. I didn't see how that environment would actually help him. And...they would no longer have me sit in on the end of the speech sessions so that I could understand the homework because it would be done during the day. Also, the bus that picks up the migrant kids would not be able to pick up mine. Nope, didn't do it.

Did it make a difference? I don't know. He was frustrated from not speaking before therapy, so he probably would have been worse at preschool where not only could he not speak it, he couldn't understand what they wanted. My son is 13 and is still doing speech therapy, though I am thinking of stopping this year with the school district. Mostly because they want him to also do a writing class and I don't want to do it again. In WA, it is an all or none thing...I can't refuse parts I don't like. I think at this point I can do a better job with him anyhow....I have seen what they have him do, what he is practicing....and saw how much better he did when he did a competition and he had to give a speech that I had him practice over and over and over....and it spilled over to his regular speech. I think we can now, at 8th grade, do paragraphs that might be more enlightening or meaningful...like the Gettysburg Address instead of "Arnold sees armadillos near the Amarillo River."

When they have the meeting, agree to do the preschool after you have checked it out. Then go look at the preschool...without your child. Then maybe take your child and stay if you think it might be helpful. But if you see reluctance or not wanting to go....don't go. Do know what you are refusing as it will make it easier for you to say that you are doing more/better at home. Even in WA, I COULD do just part of the IEP, but my child has to be less than full time and he is doing a charter school type of homeschooling program and I want him to continue to do that.

07-08-2015, 05:18 PM
I hate our school district and IEP team. After our nightmare evaluation, they wasted our time with the official meeting, where they gave us 16 points that DS needed (only one of which was related to speaking). For example, one of the items was: needs to transition between activities. Their example (disregarding the hour and half he willingly changed activities) was his lack of interest to go from Thomas to reading a Clifford book.
Whatd they offer for speech? A *Language rich environment* where he would learn to speak by being around mainstream three year olds! Not even group speech therapy!
How is that more effective than me taking him to speech and working with him at home? Oh, apparently three year old peer pressure can accomplish what talented SLPs cannot.
They were bullying, and told me that there were no other options than the preschool one. And he could not attend it part-time - he must attend 4days / week from 8-11am, dont worry about transportation, they are happy to bus him from my house to their facility.

Oh, I have such rage and anger over this, still! I got the number of a special needs advocate, and I will tackle fighting with the school district some more once I make some headway battling with insurance. I do feel they bullied me into declining their services, even though i know im allowed to revisit it.
Oh, I had so much more fun buying a car and negotiating with those salespeople! At least there, I felt like I came out ahead, and had made a good deal.

07-08-2015, 05:21 PM
Oh, they also said I could observe the preschool, but not for more than 20 minutes, as it would be disruptive to the class. And they werent willing to tell me how many students were in the class, or how many adults were there.

I just think they're jerks. With their heads up their asses, no longer able to evaluate whats best for the kid.

07-08-2015, 05:28 PM
It sounds nightmarish. I don't know the context but I would honestly run for the hills. I had a language delayed preschooler and a good preschool. Did it magically fix him, no. Did it give me a break? Yes, kind of but I still had all the meetings and things.

07-08-2015, 06:45 PM
I'll spare you the long and sordid tale of DD's speech issues (which she's still working on), but we too did the whole hearing/speech/neuro eval with a variety of folks. The most important resource I found back then (about 8y ago) was the Natural Late Talkers site run by the Camaratas (through Vanderbilt U : https://www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/root/vumc.php?site=GHSS&doc=31493 ). Their work was awesome and they understood soooo much cause they lived it (Dr. Camarata was a late talker as were most of his children). Here is a possible resource for those struggling with speech-delayed children: https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/late-talking-children. His wife, Mary, is the one who steered us toward U of MD at College Park and to Kennedy Krieger Institute.

When it comes to speech therapy, it can be great. With the right therapist. And it's really important that the parents follow the lessons and directions. Having said that, I can honestly say that we'd NEVER use the county's resources even if they were available to us. Ick. At the start we started our speech journey, we were lucky enough to have private insurance that covered a private SLP. So that's one alternative to the county/state system. Another is Easter Seals. Our local office does SLP work, and they're okay...but I liked her private SLP better. Sadly, we don't have decent insurance anymore. Another option is Scottish Rite (Childhood Speech Evaluation Richmond VA, Pediatric Language Disorder (http://childspeech.org/)). And yet another is any college or university that has a speech/language grad program. They're often looking for subjects for their grad students to practice with, and a licensed SLP (who's the usually the instructor) oversees things. The fees are usually quite low (when compared to a private SLP) or nonexistent.

I can vouch for both UofMD at College Park and KKI...they were patient with DD, the testing was child-led, and they didn't do into it with an agenda. It's why we chose them and decided to pay out of pocket. We wanted a legit, unbiased opinion of what was going on with the girl. As a purely personal opinion, any time your parent radar goes off with testing professionals/processes, I vote that you follow your instincts. As with any profession, SLP's can be cream of the crop, or they can be bottom of the barrel. Having a string of letters after one's name does not mean that one walks on water. Trust your internal mom voice. And breath. :)

07-10-2015, 03:31 PM
Nope, you don't need their program. 20 minutes is not enough to even show you how they have the kids transition. If they can't have you sit in the back of the room and not have it be disruptive then 1, they have no control over the kids and you don't want your kid there with that, 2. they do not have any respect for the kids ability to do age appropriate things when they ask.

And besides, if they don't want you seeing what a whole day is like....they are hiding something. That recommendation that I gave you for sitting in is the recommendation that is given for choosing a daycare. If the daycare won't let you...they are hiding something. And from the school that my speech delayed son was going to attend that had even more restrictive policy, that is, that they won't let me sit in without having the speech therapist there, I know they had problems because my daughter had the problem teacher and I DID sit in her class. (The class that 8 kids left as soon as they could.)

And really...it sounds like they are grabbing at straws if they can't find anything in the area that you ASKED them to evaluate. Seeing Stars is a speech therapy program that you can get on Amazon....you might want to check it out. It is lightweight, but covers the basics. It can get you going until you can get in with insurance....if you want to.

Story time: My son was turning 3, had about 20 words that only I and sister could understand. He was angry that he was not understood. He had friend whose birthday was a week after my son's. He wasn't talking. His father had talked late. He was happy with things. My son's anger went away after teaching him some sign language and getting some speech therapy. The other boy was happy....and then just suddenly started talking in sentences. Basically...follow your gut. If your child is frustrated...get speech therapy. If not...wait a little longer.