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Speech Therapy and Feeding Issues

Posted Mar 18 2010 12:00am

A lot of people have asked me why, at 20 months old, Finn doesn't qualify for speech therapy.

I know, it's crazy, huh?

It seems like pretty much everywhere else in the country (from what I've gathered reading other blogs), babies with Ds typically receive ST from birth, addressing oral-motor issues and development before speech begins to emerge. This make complete sense; a SLP is trained and educated to address oral-motor issues and development which, it would seem indisputable, impact both feeding and speech development.

Here in California, though - or at least in my part of California (as I understand it, EI varies widely even from county to county - why, oh, why isn't there a universal standard?), feeding issues are addressed by occupational therapy. And Finn's OT actually is working with us to address Finn's feeding issues (he is still on purees only; he doesn't seem to know how to chew; he has pretty serious texture aversions and a highly active gag reflex). She's good, and very patient, and seems to have all kinds of tricks up her sleeve. However, it's not really her area of expertise. She's a trained OT, originally from Chicago, where feeding issues are addressed by SLPs. It was only when she moved to California a handful of years ago that she began addressing feeding issues, because that's one of the things OTs here are expected to address.

What I was told by our service coordinator a long time ago was that Finn wouldn't even be evaluated for ST until he was 18 months old. So when we had his last IFSP meeting and eval last month when he was 19 months, he was deemed not ready for ST because he's apparently "not cognitively ready to benefit" from ST. Despite the fact that all over the IFSP paperwork that came out of that meeting, it says, "Mom's main concerns are speech and feeding."

Even Emily, our OT, wants to see him receive ST . . . now. And if I put up a big fight, I might be able to get it for him. Maybe. But part of my problem currently, too, is that there are no SLPs available to do in-home therapy right now in my area, and with the chaotic and very full schedule I already have with all of the kids, it's not feasible for me to travel across town for center-based therapy. When my other kids are out of school this summer and our schedule opens up, it might be more feasible, although I'd really rather receive in-home therapy. But anyway, I do plan on going after ST for Finn more aggressively this summer.
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