Friday, January 29th, 2010
22-month speech update
A lot has happened, and not happened, in the past month. To recap, our 22-month-old son isn’t talking. We’re still waiting.
Insurance doesn’t cover developmental delays, but our state has a network of regional offices that will help any parent with these issues through age 3. Great, right?
Two specialists assessed our son. The office held a case conference to review its latest applicants and at that meeting – which we were told we could attend, but that it wasn’t necessary — our son was denied treatment.
It turns out a behavioral expert said our 20-month-old son’s speech was at a 6 month level. A speech pathologist said his speech was at 14 months.
Yeah, umm, we filed an appeal and requested a reevaluation by a different speech pathologist.
Ding! Our retest was approved, this time using a pathologist we’d started seeing and paying out-of-pocket while this bureaucratic nonsense dragged on.
In our re-test at 22 months, our son’s expressiveness ranked equivalent to a 10-month-old. Mmm hmm. We were right, thankyouverymuch.
But, there was still a problem. We began to understand state law and how it seemed stacked against us.
Our son needs at least a 33 percent communication delay to be found eligible.
His receptive speech is normal, meaning he understands what we say to him. However, in the reevaluation, his expressive speech was more than 50% delayed.
So, we’re eligible, right? Wrong. The office folks are probably going to combine his super bad score with his good score, producing a figure below 33 percent – finding him ineligible.
That’s what they did the first time, and that’s what they’ll probably do again. Our reading of the applicable state law made us feel screwed.
Then, the week before our hearing, my uncle got us in contact with a friend who works at a different regional office, a person whom I’ll heretofore refer to as the Super Savior from Far Away (SSFA).
The Super Savior was confident the state department that handles all of this stuff was on our side.
We learned we “may,” but not “must” be found eligible. The office is allowed to selectively consider my son’s horribly delayed speech and provide treatment.
Super Savior thought our local office might not be up-to-speed on the latest official interpretations of the law.
Wow, well, that was news to us. We now had an argument to make at the hearing. We would let them know that we know it’s within their power to grant us eligibility.
When I spoke to the office a few days later, I might have even *cough* said something about it.
Oh, but it gets better. Our Super Savior’s boss, whom I’ll refer to as Far Away Super Person of Amazing Kindness (FASPAK), knows someone at our regional office very well, and would be seeing said person at a meeting the day before our hearing.
And, FASPAK would be more than happy to clarify the issue with the person from our local office. I wonder how that conversation went.
Anyhow, fast forward to the day of our appeal. My wife and I both plan to attend the hearing. We have our son with us too. We have our arguments prepared. We have specific issue-clarifying statements typed out to use in defense of our son. We’re ready to rumble.
The person who greets us in the waiting room to escort us to the hearing mentions, on the way, that our son has been deemed eligible.
Uuhh, say what? Booya! We fought the law, and we won.
The hearing itself had a brief review of the test results and friendly discussion of our son. We set up an appointment to process paperwork, and pfffft, that’s was it.
Now, not to make this sound purely like an intervention by two Super People, there is a technically plausible alternate explanation.
Namely, our first speech pathologist ranked our son as being at a 14 month level, but two months later—with still no speech progress made — a different pathologist ranked him at 10 months, in closer agreement to the original behaviorist who thought he was at a 6 month level. They seemed interested in there being a full year’s difference between his receptive and expressive skills.
Maybe they just thought, yeah, the kid has a serious problem after all. Maybe not. It was just nice to not feel helpless when dealing with a state agency.
(Talk to me some time about my wife’s employer—a hospital no less—expecting her to return to work 2 weeks after our son’s birth, despite state and federal laws that seem to guarantee family leave time. That was an expensive grievance to pursue, and lose.)
But ya know, I don’t even care anymore. We’re finally going to receive some degree of counseling aside from the one specialist we’ve been paying.
Now, as for our son’s actual progress… he’s still not talking. He says “Mama” now either to refer to anyone in a time of distress, or to make chatter.
In some cases we’ve been able to coax “Papa” out of him, or “Mmm” (moo – we’ve been practicing animal sounds)… but it’s a rarity, and has always been in response to a question. He exhibits no desire for verbal communication beyond pointing and grunting. He makes no pretend sounds when playing.
We’ve begun learning sign language, having limited success with “more,” “eat,” and “please” – words expressed around the dinner table. There’s a direct causal relationship possible where he asks and receives. It’s still a mostly prompted occurrence, but he has reached out to us through sign a few times.
That’s where we are now, in a verbose nutshell. To be continued…