Speech therapy can be an enormous benefit for kids who need a bit of extra help in getting their words sorted. I myself had some assistance when I was 5 years of age and was about to enter primary school. I had my own unique vocabulary. How could those around me not understand that “woggie” meant dog and “weetie biccy” was my favourite cereal? I made perfect sense to me!
Son number two, Bailey, was still extremely difficult to understand at four so we looked to speech therapy. The assessment process highlighted a number of issues including the fact that everyone was a “he” regardless of their gender. Bailey also had difficulty with the letter “p” and even though “teetza” was his favourite food, very few people would interpret it that way. Correct pronunciation is particularly important as a child reaches school age and they learn to spell they way they speak. I thought it was cute getting birthday cards that said "I Yuv You". As much as I liked it, he probably wouldn't extra points for "cute" in a Naplan Test.
The initial sessions were one on one and lasted two school terms, about 16 weeks. Once he had mastered “p”, “c” and “th” sounds, and that girls were “she’s” he then progressed to social skill classes; which proved to be much more challenging to master.
Putting your hand up before speaking was interpreted by Bailey as “wave and yell”. Taking turns at games seemed impossible unless every turn was his. Sitting still for more than 1 minute was like torture for him. Essentially, the result of social skills classes was that my son was the only one to fail. He was officially not socially skillful!
During his first year of school the Vice Principal decided to apply for funding for yet more social skill classes for Bailey. It may have been the “principal butt slapping incident” or the “mooning the entire teacher lunch room” incident that prompted the application, but I can’t really be sure.
He was very proud of the fact that he knew how to make friends, how to take turns and how to be a gracious looser. Knowing the theory was one thing, but putting it into practice was an entirely different matter. His brain and body were moving at such an out of control pace that he couldn’t slow himself down enough to think before he acted.
When our private speech therapist suggested we should further investigate his impulsive and hyperactive behaviour she gave us the biggest help we could ask for. The prompting we need to see a psychologist and get an assessment and diagnosis of ADHD. The new diagnosis meant new approaches to Bailey's behaviour, which then allowed him to apply the thousands of dollars we had spent on social skill classes.
Archie, our four year old, is now regularly attending speech therapy as he gets ready to start school next year. The first letter he's managed to master is "f" as he quickly learnt that if he kept asking to borrow Mummy's "bone", he got nowhere. For an Aspie who loves his iPhone games and apps, that was all the inspiration he needed. He was very happy to practice making "bunny teeth" f sounds for the reward of my phone. The phone, of course, is only loaded with "educational" games and "social skill" apps!