Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Test driving a Speech Therapist

Matt has become more vocal in the last few months and has recently shown signs of understanding that he can communicate. He certainly understands us when we talk to him, e.g. if we ask him “where is doll?” he will crawl to it, or if we say “lets go to Matt’s chair” he will crawl to his feeding chair. Since RTS sweeties tend to struggle most with speech we think it is time for Matt to receive help from a speech therapist who focuses on language and communication. Our current speech therapist has a special interest in feeding issues, not language.

But where to begin??? I wish finding a speech therapist was a straight forward as buying a car. With cars (and most other commodities) one can research many things – what does Car A do in comparison to Car B; how is Car C more suited to my needs than Car D. I can read reviews by others on what Car A does. I can find out about its engine, its safety system and other such things - I can even test drive the car. So when I finally buy the car I know it is the right one for me.
Isn't finding someone who can help my child to talk more imporant than finding the right car???

I wish that when it came to finding a speech therapist (or any other therapist or medical professional) one could do research too. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a place where one could compare all the CV’s of the various speech therapists in one’s town? Add to that a personality test of each so one could ensure that the therapist would connect with one’s kid. And how about a review of each therapist written by present and past patients, giving them a score out of 10? Lastly wouldn’t it be wonderful if one could have a “test drive”, a free first session to check out if their manner, experience, paradigm and method is the best for one’s child.

Instead - one is reliant on another medical professional referring you to someone they know. One doesn’t get to “check out” what the therapist is like before therapy begins. And unless one is lucky enough to meet a parent who has used this therapist, there are no “reviews by other users” available. On top of that, one has to pay double for the first session because that’s when the therapist “assesses” one’s child. The whole process feels a bit back-to-front.

So I am asking your prayers to help us find the right speech therapist for Matt. I feel like I need intervention from the Lord on this one, because there is only so much that I can do to control the process. And this person is going to be really important in Matt’s development, and will have to journey with us for a good while.

In addition to LOTS OF PRAYER I have decided on the following:
1. I have asked the current Speech Therapist, my Occupational Therapist friend, and Matt’s current physiotherapist to all refer me to the speech therapist that they think will best suit Matt’s needs.

2. I then intend to turn things on their head – I will ask each Speech Therapist if I could meet them and chat to them about their experience and paradigm of working, before they start “assessing” or doing anything with Matt.

3. With great humility, recognizing I haven’t specialized in Speech Therapy, I have started making a list of essential characteristics I need in a Speech Therapist:

  • Someone who has experience with children who are non-verbal.
  • Someone who is open to using any method to help Matt communicate rather than be fixed on using one method only.
  • Someone who is more interested in what Matt can do and is getting ready to do, rather than focus on what he can’t do.
  • Someone who truly believes that children like Matt have potential and can understand a LOT more than they can express.
  • Someone who is eager to work according to Matt’s readiness and interests rather than her own set agenda/programme.
  • Someone who sees me (mother) as a vital and equal partner in helping Matt to develop his communication skills.
  • Someone who connects with me and Matt – someone we just "click" with.

4. After the “interviews” I will take Matt to meet those who I felt had potential to work with Matt, and see which has the best connection with him. I would be happy to pay for their time to do this. And then finally chose the one who fits best with Matt.

I hope this works! Gulp!


carina said...

Watch this space Jacqui! It is coming soon... We will be starting a consultancy service early next year to do exactly that (and a few other things of course). We will find them for only need to test drive.

Anonymous said...

Will pray Jax. Matt is blessed to have parents who are so 100% committed to his every step. Keep us posted. Love LInds