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.

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13 thoughts on “Ava: “It boings.” (speech evaluation)

  1. That’s cool you found a low cost alternative. Interesting the way they tested her too – well I always find such stuff interesting! LOL! I don’t have any advice but I do have a game you could do. If you print out some flash cards of stuff with the difficult sounds you could make her practice those words. That way you wouldn’t be correcting her as such, but getting her to use the right sounds. Maybe you could make a kind of memory game to play with them at the same time.

  2. Oh she is adorable. I love the one about the car crashing. hehe What would the world be like without kids? BORING!

    We just went through free testing with the school, too. Ours was much more extensive and we’re still waiting the results.

    My son is VERY behind in his speech. So, I am pretty confident he’ll qualify for therapy so long as they aren’t too strict with their guidelines to get in.

    Flash cards is a good idea, reading books might be a way to help her, I also believe there are videos you can buy to help with speech (although it doesnt sound like your girl needs that)…

    I bet she’ll be doing just fine in no time. Good for you for getting her checked out, though. I feel like I waited too long, but at least I ended up doing it.

  3. I’m so glad you found a low cost alternative for the testing and that things went well for the tests.

    I’m not sure what would be best with respect to the correcting. I guess my gut reaction is I would probably not do it EVERY time. I do think, though, that repition is just how they learn and I think the repeating process wouldn’t create a complex. It’s not like you’d preface everything with, “You are not saying that right, try again”. :)

    I like Penny’s game idea too.

    I’m sure you will find the best solution for Ava and your family!!!

  4. How fascinating to get a peek into her little mind! I love it that she identified the ball’s characteristics rather than just calling it “a ball.” She sounds like a clever little girl, with no problems with language but just needing a little time to master all the sounds. I can’t give any advice on how often to correct her pronunciation…I could justify either approach!

  5. I like the game idea too. My son had a little trouble with the “th” sound (it came out “f”). Our babysitter, who also happened to be a speech pathologist, spent just a few minutes correcting him and reminding him to say the words correctly and since then he has. She told me it often only takes a little correcting. What I’m trying to say is that you might find that it’s not constant correcting but that you will do it a little and then hardly even notice when she “gets it right” all the time…

  6. My daughter was never tested but has trouble with L’s…they sound like w’s it is pretty typical but now she is 4 1/2 so what we do is sing l’s songs,rhyms. She took a little singing class which helped her because she has a great memory ( as most kids do) so the Lalala sounds really helped. She is now getting it down. I really never corrected her, just played the L game. Ava sounds adorable! So much fun…you are an awesome momma!

  7. So glad you had Ava tested! As a Special Education teacher, the earlier you practice the strategies the better! I worked for a time in Early Intervention which offers free Developmental Assessments for babies all the way to age 3…I highly recommend early screening – even before 3 in language because in my state of (MA) services with a Speech Pathologist is free! Ava will be fine – she just needs some nifty strategies that a Speech Pathologist has in their handy repitroire :)

  8. I love that “It bounces!”. Children are so brilliant. I love listening to mine talk about the world in her eyes. Everything is different than I see it.

  9. Thanks for the link to ChildFind. I’m for the consistency option, as long as you can keep exasperation out of your voice and manner. Take a break before either one of you reaches that point. :)

  10. I had a foot that turned in as a child and walked a bit strangely because of it. My grandmother didn’t know how to handle the situation, and was embarressed to be seen with me when I walked like that.

    My thinking? If you treat it as a positive thing and help her improve, point out her success, and make her proud of it – no issue. What you don’t want to do (and you would never do anyways) is act like you are embarressed by how she speaks, especially in public. Kids know they still have a lot to learn and want to learn it, so I don’t think a little extra work to polish off her speaking skills will bother her.

  11. We’ve been doing the correcting (at home mostly) when it comes up. I’ve even shown him where his tongue goes when he makes the sound of the particular letter – usually the L sound. It really helped. We have both helped him improve his pronunciation of most letters very casually and he responds well to that. I think most little kids have some letters they have trouble with.

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