So, we know Allie has a significant speech delay in regards to articulation. Allie talks non-stop but you can only understand about 10% of what she says. There is no doubt she gets frustrated because we don't always understand her. To be honest, big sister Chloe understands her the best out of everyone. There are many times when I'll say, "Chloe, what is your sister trying to tell me?".
Allie has been in speech therapy for the past year and a half. We have been addressing this issue the whole time. There is no doubt that Allie is making great progress. When Allie was a year old, her speech was developing normally, however due to the fact that she was so malnourished at 1 1/2 years old, her brain stopped developing and she stopped talking completely. I remember there were times when Allie would be playing in the living room and I wouldn't hear her make a sound for over an hour. We used to joke that it was easy to forget Allie was in the house because she was so quiet. Once she got her feeding tube and started to receive the proper nutrition, her speech slowly came back. However, when she did start speaking again, she started with babbling like a baby. So, thinking back to where we started with her speech, Allie is making huge progress and I'm very proud of her.
Unfortunately, while talking to our current speech therapist this week, she said that typically kids have until the age of 3 1/2 to fix articulation problems. If they don't fix the problems by then, it's possible they will mis-pronounce some words wrong for a very long time. Basically this means we have 6 months to get all of Allie's articulation issues resolved. Don't get me wrong, articulation can be corrected after the age of 3 1/2 but it's much harder to correct. So, our goal is to work real hard and get Allie talking better.
Of course I immediately started making Allie pronounce words correctly but she's having nothing of it. When I ask her to repeat a word, she just says "no". She is having a lot of problems with dropping off the beginning of the word so I repeat the word slowly and ask her to say it again. She's a little stinker and doesn't like the fact that we are correcting her. I think this is going to be a struggle :)
As I mentioned in my previous post, Allie qualifies for speech therapy through the school system. She will get one 30 minute session a week. Is this enough? I'm not sure. My other issue is that they don't teach speech therapy during the summer -so are we expected to take those months off or what? There will be no rest in speech therapy for little Allie - if we only have 6 months to get her articulation corrected, we need to work very hard with her.
So, I'm currently in the process of contacting several different organizations and trying to figure out what we have to do to get private speech therapy. We plan to utilize the school system therapy until the summer and then hire private for the summer. Once school starts in the fall of 2011, we may go back to the school system or stay with private - depends how everything goes. The kicker is at this point, I don't think our insurance will pay for private speech therapy because it's offered by the school system. I'm still working with our insurance company but it's not looking good. Either way, we will do what is best for Allie and she will get the therapy she needs.
In looking for a private speech therapist, I'm also looking for a speech therapist that will work on her oral therapy for eating. It would be nice to have one therapist that works on both issues. We meet with our GI & Allergist the end of April and if neither one has additional testing, I'm really thinking about starting to wean Allie off her feeding tube. I know Allie has to be at a healthy weight, actually she needs to be able to lose about 5 pounds during the wean. So, we have a way's to go with that issue but since being on the blenderized diet, she's gaining great. Slow and steady!!!
Allie continues to do great with all of her feedings and I'm loving the fact that I'm feeding her whole food. I won't lie - there are some nights where I wish I didn't have to make her food, however I trudge along and do it. Making her blend everyday doesn't take long - I think cleanup is the worst part.
We leave for vacation this afternoon so if you don't hear from me for a couple weeks you know that we are living it up with Mickey Mouse, Minnie and all the Princesses. We are eating lunch at Cinderella's Castle for Chloe's 5th Birthday. The girls are so excited about it. This is our first "big" trip with Allie being on a blenderized diet and also traveling with her food allergies. I won't lie - I'm nervous about it but it will either go good or it will not - and we won't know until we try it.