Way back in March, Harry's nursery teacher told us she felt that he would benefit from a Speech and Language Therapy assessment (SLT). She asked our permission to refer him to which we agreed. Whilst we know what he says, she said that sometimes the staff struggle to understand what he is saying.
In all honesty, it came as a bit of a surprise to hear that they felt he needed it and we were told that it was more of a "just in case" measure, that it may well turn out that a SLT specialist would feel that there would be no need for intervention. Like most parents, we only want the best for our son, to feel that he is supported and so we agreed.
The teacher went on maternity leave and I was assured that there had been a smooth transition and open communication, having been present at a handover meeting involving both the outgoing teacher and incoming one. Months passed. Every few weeks one or the other of us checked in and an update was given, mainly that NHS resources in SLT are stretched, as they are across the service.
After chatting with Rachel from Confessions of a SAHM and hearing her experience of SLT, we decided to have a private assessment. Harry starts Reception in September and we wanted to be in a place to support him if needed. We felt frustrated that we were no further forward with regards to the school assessment.
After a bit of research, I contacted Child Speech. Within 24 hours I received an initial phone call and was advised that it sounded like Harry would benefit from an assessment at the very least. An appointment was made for the following week, which was yesterday.
Kate arrived promptly and immediately put all three of us at ease. She had a warm, friendly manner and we were quite impressed that Harry was not in the least bit shy as he has a tendency to take some time to warm to people usually. The assessment consisted of her showing Harry a series of pictures and asking him to tell her what was happening. As is usual for him, he adored being the centre of attention and every now and again deliberately said the wrong word to get a laugh out of us.
She was here for a good 1.5 hours and was really thorough. It would seem that Harry has a vast vocabulary and no issues at all with language and understanding, just as we thought but it's always nice to be reassured particularly if issues have been brought up. Whilst he does not say the "p" sound (even in isolation) he can say every other sound and clearly has the ability to say it since he makes similar sounds easily, albeit not always consistently. He also has a tendency to talk quickly, blending sounds together and making himself difficult to understand.
Kate suggested a few things we can do at home with Harry, such as placing items into a bag, pulling one out and getting him to tap out the number of sounds (and say them) in order to slow him down a little, putting sounds into context, picking a sound of the day to practise and a few other things. She is going to send us some resources to help, basically a series of pictures in which every word starts with the same sound. Effectively, it seems that Harry's brain simply needs a little re-training to use the correct sounds in context consistently.
She noted his willingness to learn, his extensive vocabulary and understanding and unusually long concentration span, even suggesting that he is a bright boy who just needs a little help in a small area.
I am so happy that we are currently in a position to be able to afford the assessment and any intervention sessions, had they been appropriate. I liked how we were advised that in Kate's opinion, there is no need for further sessions, although of course she would be happy to help if needed. As a private therapist, I am sure it would have been very easy for her to suggest differently. We will be sent a report early next week, with the school, Health Visitor, SLT team at the hospital and GP all being copied in.
We had such a positive experience and feel much more confident in our ability to support Harry as well as just a bit proud that someone had such nice things to say about him! Hopefully he will be talking as clearly as his peers before we know it!