Friday, September 23, 2011

Speech Therapy Rant

I am quite aware that my son has Down syndrome. I have been aware of that for over five years. I also freely admit that he has a speech delay and may have other struggles down the road. It is no secret that he has Down syndrome and I took off my rose-colored glasses years ago.

I have never sent any of my children to pre-school or kindergarten. I am a SAHM and I have chosen to teach all of my children to read and do math so when they enter school in first grade they are prepared. My children enter school reading 2-4 years above grade level. I take my responsibility as a parent very seriously and want to make sure my children are life-long learners. Not all parents would make the same decision as we have regarding pre-school and kindergarten. We are fortunate that we have the opportunity and freedom in our country to make the decisions we feel best serve our individual children and it does no one any good to be judgmental of those decisions.

For the second day in a row, I was judged for my decision to homeschool my son. I was chastised by a professional today who has never met my son and knows nothing about him. I was calling to get information about speech therapy in my area and instead was treated like a horrible mother because I did not enroll my son in school at three years of age so he could receive all the services he needs. Umm, excuse me? How can someone who has never met my son decide what services he needs? Unless of course he's lumped into the "Down syndrome box" where every child with DS needs every available service. Any child that needs services should absolutely receive them, but I strongly disagree with the idea that all kids with Down syndrome are the same anymore than all kids without Down syndrome are the same. Not all kids with Down syndrome need all services. My son no longer needs physical therapy and has never needed occupational therapy (according to his doctor and previous therapists).

He does need speech therapy but because he is not enrolled in school he cannot receive it unless it is through a private speech therapist. The problem? Finding a private speech therapist is next to impossible. So, my taxes go to pay for these state services but my son cannot use any of them because he isn't in school. Did it occur to anyone that one of the determining factors for my husband and I to feel comfortable in sending him to school will be his ability to communicate verbally? The very service they are denying him is exactly what he needs to be able to attend school in the future.

My son is not ready for school away from home yet and we can make that decision because we are his parents and know him and his abilities better than anyone else. In fact, he is currently enrolled in a virtual kindergarten program we do every day at home and he's doing fine. He can match letters and recognizes all the letters of the alphabet. He understands "the same" but not "different" yet. He is also learning his numbers.

Don't get me wrong, he can totally communicate but he needs to be able to do so verbally. All I want to do is find a therapist that can help him do that.


Joan Sowards said...

Interesting post. I hope you find the solution to your problem to your speech therapy problem. We so often have to comply and do things in the order and in the way the system requires, even though we feel another way is better. You are an amazing woman, Rebecca! I admire all that you do. Best wishes.

Rebecca Talley said...

Thank you, Joan, that's very kind. I think I'm frustrated for two reasons: 1) that the government ties the hands of educators so often and demands they do things that aren't necessarily in the best interest of the children, and 2) that she treated me like she did. Even if she doesn't agree with me she can still be respectful. I don't like being treated as if I'm doing a disservice to my son if I choose something different. No one else is entitled to revelation for him except my husband and me.

I know that many educators are frustrated with laws and feel as if they can't truly educate kids. I think we need to reevaluate those laws so we can give teachers more freedom to teach because as a parent I feel frustrated that teachers can't teach.

And there's a way to treat people that creates good feelings.

Kaylee Baldwin said...


I can totally appreciate where you are coming from here and am impressed by your patience and skill to teach your children.

I have been chastised by several professionals about decisions we've made for our son with DS. Doctors want our kids to have tons of therapies. At one time my son was in 5 different therapies and I was driving him over an hour to get to appointments because we live in a rural area. It was becoming too stressful to haul all three kids to therapy, plus my son's whole life was becoming about therapy--because if we weren't there, then they had a ton of excersizes to do at home. Finally my husband and I had to ask ourselves: Between all of the work, when does he just get to be a little boy?

So against the wishes of others, we pulled him out of all but one of his therapies (he stil gets PT, OT, and Speech at school, so it was just the misc. therapies) and it's been so much better here at home since. I think that we have to go with our gut as parents and know what we are doing what's right for our kids, even if it's unpopular.

Nichole Giles said...

I'm so sorry you've had to deal with such narrow mindedness. That must be terribly frustrating.

Is it at all possible for you to petition the state on your son's behalf in order to get him the therapy? I'm just curious. I hope you find a solution soon.

You're a great mother and I know that whatever the outcome, your boy will have the best possible education and care. That's the most important thing.

Rebecca Talley said...

I think it's so important that we let our kids be kids. If all they ever do is therapy how can that be enjoyable? I'm glad you went with your gut and I think that's what we all need to do. We need to do what's right for our own children no matter who disagrees with us. And what's right for one family may not be right for another. I'd love to meet you little boy someday.

Thank you!! It is frustrating but I guess it's something I'll have to deal with for many, many years. The fact that he has DS doesn't bother me, it's how people treat him because of it. He'll be receiving speech therapy privately in another state. I'm not a fan of the state-run programs anyway so I'm glad we've found a private program for him.