By Guest Blogger Michelle Barson
May is “Better Speech and Hearing Month,” and as the mother of a son with severe speech delays, this month is extremely important to me. Why? Because it’s thanks to the talented, educated and enthusiastic speech pathologists of SpeakEasy Therapy, PLLC that my son has gained confidence, made friends and excelled in kindergarten.
I make it sound simple and sweet here, but this has been a long journey and one that is not over yet. In fact, he is six-and-a-half years old and still working hard with SpeakEasy Therapy twice a week to get to where his speech sound skills are within normal limits for his age and others are able to easily understand him. We started working with SpeakEasy Therapy when my son was just three years old. We added their therapy assistance at that time as a complement to the therapy he was already receiving through his Individual Education Plan (IEP) by the public school system’s speech therapist.
Let me take a step further back in time to when Beckett was just two years old and exhibited poor communication skills by no longer speaking and began acting out-of-character by biting other children and clinging to me.
“Behavior issues are a common first sign for parents with young children, and can definitely be a child’s form of communication, although not always one that we as parents love,” said Julie Casey, owner of SpeakEasy Therapy and a practicing speech pathologist herself. “It’s so important that we recognize these behaviors as a sign that our children need assistance in communicating their needs and wants in a way that is effective and beneficial for all and at the same time, socially appropriate.”
Parents need to trust their instincts. “Often, parents tell me that they go to their pediatrician’s office seeking answers and direction regarding their concerns for their child’s ability to communicate and are told that, ‘he will grow out of it’ without a recommendation for speech-language intervention. While this can be true for some children, this is not true for all. Too many parents share this same story: They have children who struggle with speech delays at a young age and don’t come to me until the child is struggling in other ways,” Julie shared. “And often, these same parents, in discussing it with me, have taken the important first step of diagnosing a very treatable speech-language disorder.”
Julie added that if your school-age child is struggling at school because of a communication barrier with adults, having difficulty making friends because he struggles to express himself to peers, is using disfluent or disjointed speech, or demonstrating weaknesses compared to peers with learning to read or write, your child may have a speech-language disorder.
As a parent to two boys herself in addition to being a speech pathologist, Julie recommends doing the following if you have concerns about speech progress:
- Talk to your child’s preschool workers or teachers in addition to the pediatrician to get an idea of how your child’s communication skills relate to his peers.
- Keep a log of any behavioral, academic, or social concerns you have noted for your child.
- Visit the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) website to review standards for children at different ages.
And, after that, she says, “Call or email our office so that we can talk through these concerns and determine if the next best step is to set up a speech-language screening and possible evaluation. It’s a small investment that can provide answers to your questions and will either help to eliminate a concern or put you on the path towards resolving one.”
COVID has changed many aspects of our lives and one them is how often, and how closely, we interact with those outside of our immediate family. As a result, SpeakEasy Therapy offers speech evaluations and therapy via Zoom as an option for families. My son was five when we had to add virtual sessions into the mix in 2020, and while I was scared of his speech skills regressing by not receiving services, I also questioned the efficacy of a five-year-old on a Zoom call. Julie convinced me to give it a try, and I’m so glad that I did! My son was actually MORE focused during sessions than ever before, and I felt like my money was going even further. Even now, with looser restrictions, my son enjoys doing one Zoom session and one in-person session each week.
Prior to COVID, my son received his services at his preschool. SpeakEasy Therapy was so easy to work with and our preschool loved them, too. The convenience of not having to schedule another appointment or drive to another place or figure out one more logistical item was such a relief and my son loved getting to see his speech pathologist during his time at school. He felt special and got to do fun crafts, activities and games that his classmates didn’t. Not to mention, he was always able to receive individual speech sessions without his therapy time being split between several children.
Since COVID, we have done a mix of in-person home therapy and virtual. What I’ve loved about it is that my son can share even more of his life with someone who has been such a big part of his. Ms. Julie gets to see what makes him who he is within his home setting. Not to mention, she and I can do a quick de-briefing of progress, goals and parental “homework” each time. It helps keep me accountable for my part in my son’s progress.
SpeakEasy Therapy has openings for new children and is the perfect solution to:
~ The summer-time dilemma of continuing services
~ Supplementing your child’s public school speech therapy with private therapy for faster progress
~ Learning more about your child’s speech-language strengths and needs through conversation and evaluation
If speech therapy is in your future, I highly recommend SpeakEasy Therapy. It took many, many months and phone calls in our community before I could find the speech pathologist that fit my expectations and my son’s needs, as well as one that could be flexible with where, when and how my son received services. SpeakEasy Therapy offers speech therapy in every form imaginable, which is important now more than ever.
SpeakEasy Therapy, PLLC has been in operation for ten years and Julie Casey, Owner and Speech Pathologist, has been certified and practicing for over twenty. SpeakEasy Therapy, PLLC is a member of the North Carolina Board of Examiners for Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). To learn more, visit their Facebook page or contact Julie Casey directly at (336) 946-2493 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Sponsored by SpeakEasy Therapy PLLC