Ava: “It boings.” (speech evaluation)

I’ve written in the past a little bit about our concerns over Ava’s speech. She’s had difficulty pronouncing certain sounds – S, TH, J, R, F, Z. I mentioned it to her doctor at her 3 year check-up (ooh, that reminds me, I still need to get Julian in for his 9 month chk-up. He’ll be 10 mos. in 4 days.) and she suggested that I get her hearing and speech tested. Her hearing test was normal and covered by insurance. The speech test was not going to be covered by insurance so I set out to find a free or low-cost testing alternative.

I discovered a program called “Child Find” which is free (paid by tax dollars) that is actually operated through our school district. A friend of mine had her daughter assessed a while back and it took a couple of months to have her seen. When I called last week to schedule an appointment for Ava, I figured we wouldn’t get in until November. I about fell off my chair when she said they had an opening for a week hence – today, and I took it. Jody made plans to stay home from work for the morning to take care of Julian so I could take Ava to her appointment.

The testing, developmental tests including sight and speech, only took about 45 minutes and it all went quite well. Ava was shy at first, but it didn’t take long for her to warm up and she cooperated very well. I admit that it was hard for me to sit there and observe and not try to help Ava answer some of the questions or give her prompts in some way. But I didn’t want to interfere with the diagnosis (or get kicked out) so I kept my mouth shut. ;)

One of the tests involved placing different objects in front of Ava and the woman giving the test asked her to “tell me everything you can about this.” It was so interesting to hear her responses. The first object was a red ball. Did Ava say, “It’s a red ball?” No. She said, “You can bounce it.” And then, “It boings” :) and “you can kick it.” And then the woman asked her what color it was, what it was called and what shape it was and she answered all of those correctly. It was cool to me that her first response was not, “It’s a red ball” as mine would have been, but instead she described what you can do with the ball. :) It’s so cool the way kids’ brains work – so vastly different from us as adults.

Next came a blue button. This time the first thing Ava said this time was, “It’s a button.” And then something about it can be on your shirt or on your shoes. When asked what shape it is she said, “It’s a circle as well.” The woman got a kick out of “as well.” She’s been saying “as well” a lot lately at home. hehe.

Lastly, when she was shown a yellow car, she said, “It drives.” And then, “It crashes into other cars if it goes too fast.” LOL Wonder where she picked that up? ;)

Anyway, Ava tested normally for everything, with the exception of being assessed as having a “possible delay” for speech. The woman who did her testing said that she did well with repeating back when she had her watch her mouth when she slowly said the sound or word, so she thinks we just need to work more with her at home and have her watch us and repeat back to us. And I think she’s probably right. Just in the past couple of weeks I asked her to repeat back some F sounds for me and she did it. And now she’s saying most of her F words (well, not *that* F word) correctly. So I guess it’s just going to take some work and practicing.

I admit I kind of shied away from asking her to repeat sounds back to me in the past because I didn’t want her to get a complex and think that she wasn’t speaking correctly or something, even though that is the case. But I think maybe if we don’t do it all the time and aren’t constantly correcting her, she should be OK. Right? Or should we be consistent and correct her all the time? Anyone else go through something similar and have any advice for me?

I’m glad that I went ahead and scheduled the testing even though I had my initial fears of “Oh no. Is there something wrong with my child? How could she not be perfect?” The thing this has helped me realize is, of course, that none of us are perfect. Even our children, as hard as it can be for us to admit it, have their quirks.

I think it’s important to have these types of things assessed so that help or treatment can be sought if needed. In our case, it doesn’t look like Ava needs extra outside help, but we are aware now that we should start working with her to help her get a handle on these sounds. If for some reason she’s not showing improvement in 6 months, I can take her back to be evaluated again. And I will if that’s the case, because I’d rather get her the help she needs now than have her suffer or be teased or have trouble communicating later because we didn’t.

Here’s a link to Child Find which operates in six states – Connecticut, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, New Hampshire, and Vermont. If you aren’t in any of those states and are in need of a similar assessment program, my advice is to call your local school district. They should be able to tell you what is available in your area.