I should not have left that last post up for so long. We have been extraordinarily busy, and while the list of blog ideas is rapidly growing in my mind, I just haven't had time to write. I shared with you this struggle we are going through for several reasons, but mostly because someone reading may encounter a similar situation in the future. We have created such a valuable support network through this blog, complete with your help in the comments, that we hope to help someone else in the future.
Drew's Dad and I decided to have a meeting with the manager of our speech therapist, to discuss the concerns we shared with you in my last post. We decided to do this quickly, as we didn't want to go much longer without sufficient resources. Drew was without therapy much of the summer, and the first month of the fall was not good. So instead of waiting, and leaving Drew in a poor situation, we decided to voice our concerns. Our talking points were:
- We were left without services for two months, waiting on a replacement therapist, which we were told would have significant experience with hearing impaired children following an AVT approach. Our expectation is that we are provided with a therapist equal to the level of service we were receiving.
- Drew's current level of listening and speech is irrelevant to the conversation.
- The new therapist clearly did not review information on Drew prior to our first appointment. She had no knowledge of his current language skills, implant history or current goals. She did not develop any goals with me.
- Therapy is needed to provide me with techniques that will facilitate higher order thinking and advance language. I need her to coach me on listening and language techniques and provide “homework material” that will enforce key concepts. Drew is awake an average of 84 hours a week, but only spends one hour in therapy.
- I need to see a clear lesson plan for Drew, with age and language appropriate activities that will push Drew to the next level in his listening and learning. I expect a session to have an observation period where we discuss things that are going well and things that we need to work on. This should be followed by a period of action, where specific techniques and activities are introduced to help Drew reach the next level in his listening and spoken language development. Finally, the session should include a period of reflection where we decide if this activity elicited the response we were looking for, and then a summary of what we did today with discussion on how we can incorporate into daily play.
- Provide homework and written notes from the session within 24 hours.
Your comments and suggestions were very helpful to me in establishing this outline for our meeting, so I thank you. I think many of you would be surprised by the way our therapy sessions have been structured, and I use that term loosely. There has been no discussion, no plan for the session, no notes, no homework and the list goes on. Our concerns, however, are going to be addressed in a timely manner, which we hope will bring back the left of service to which we are accustom. Many changes should be in place by our session this week.
The most immediate change will be to follow the typical session agenda, as presented above. The manager we spoke with thought this was the way the sessions were being run, and seemed quite surprised that the sessions actually had no structure or focus. In addition, we will be provided session notes within 24 hours of the session. I am very pleased with all of this.
In addition, we discussed the need for a more experience based therapy. Drew really enjoys activities, and it seems fitting to provide him with activities that would enrich his language while doing something fun. For example, one we did in the past, when he was a bit young to really take a lot from it, was to glue different objects with different textures to a piece of paper. We used words like soft, hard, fuzzy, prickly, tough, slick, just by using simple items off of the shelf of a Jo Ann Fabric store. It was an excellent activity, where Drew didn't even know he was learning! The goal is to establish a theme each month that will incorporate these types of activities. For example, October will be "All About Fall," with a pumpkin carving, leaf project and spooky story. We are really looking forward to seeing this implemented, as Drew is at the perfect age to enjoy these activities!
Overall, we feel very positive that the level of service will be improved. I would encourage anyone going through a similar situation to discuss their concerns. Our experience is that they generally want to provide the best service possible for our children, and with constructive feedback, they can make them better for all of our children.