Does my kid really need speech therapy?

As Jase has grown older, he has developed what I call a word stutter. It isn’t so much the repeating of letters such as “W-w-we are g-g-going to the s-s-store,” but a repeating of words often like he is searching for what the next word should be. “Ms. Ramirez, well, she, she, she called on me and um, I, I, I wasn’t sure….what to say.”

This word stuttering comes out when he is very excited as if his mind can’t decide what to say first. Sometimes he gets so frustrated he doesn’t want to finish what he is saying. Or perhaps he is embarrassed by it.

Now, I call it word stuttering, but the school speech therapist who evaluated him said it isn’t a stutter. She called it a word finding issue.

Jase’s first-grade teacher sent him to see the school speech therapist because she was concerned about him repeating words and sometimes mixing up words. But that speech therapist ruled that he didn’t have a problem what interfered with his learning.

Fast forward to last spring when his third-grade teacher also recommended he be evaluated by the school speech therapist. (Not the same one as before.) She had all sorts of things to say about Jase’s speech.

First, she mentioned a slight tremor in his voice as if his voice was shaky (like when you are cold.) She said it could be nothing, but if we were concerned, we could have an Ear-Nose-and-Throat (ENT) specialist check it out.  She made a note of several other issues with his voice such as pitch, slight hoarseness and poor breath support.

Second, she noticed a small lisp when he said his Ss and Zs.

And last, she noticed what she referred to as the word finding problem but when she further tested him on it, he passed their test, which basically means it doesn’t prohibit his education.

But the school did decide the lisp was a greater concern and affected his learning. They set up a plan for him to attend speech therapy twice a week this year.  At the initial parent meeting where they go over their plan, again the speech therapist mentioned taking him to an ENT.

So I discussed it with his pediatrician at his appointment in July. She saw no harm in sending him to an ENT and recommended one. The ENT, on the other hand, looked at me like I was crazy for bringing him in. In his opinion, his hoarseness was so minor and the other issues pretty much inconsequential that he didn’t know why we brought him in. He shared with me his views on speech therapists who seem to focus on minute details that don’t really affect Jase or his learning.

Of course since I don’t hear this shakiness and don’t think he sounds hoarse, I was inclined to agree with the doctor. I also think the breathlessness quality she hears is due to him rushing in his speech because he is nervous about speaking in front of others.

The ENT seemed against speech therapy in such a minor case and certainly didn’t want to subject Jase to having a tube down his nose, so they could look at his voice box. I agreed to do nothing and left feeling slightly silly for bringing him in.

It made me wonder if he really is in need of speech therapy. I can’t believe they have him listed as special educational needs based on a slight lisp that I don’t see as interfering with his education. But we are still letting him go to speech therapy this year. After all, the speech therapist originally did say this should be corrected within the school year. But I also hate that he is missing learning with his class to fix this small problem.



2 thoughts on “Does my kid really need speech therapy?

  1. Joan Lindgren says:

    As a former teacher, I dislike having children removed from the classroom during instruction time. I feel they miss so much and it sounds as in Jase’s case, it may not necessary. You did your due diligence by taking him to the ENT and if you feel that it’s appropriate, you can remove him from the speech therapy sessions.

  2. […] said this tightness could cause problems with his speech (he has had speech therapy before) as well as the development of his mouth and jaw. She referred us to Mira, a therapist who […]

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