My youngest child, Charlie, has always been very bright and he’s such a joy in our lives. Unlike my oldest, he was a slightly more difficult baby. By one years old, he was reaching every milestone except for speech. By two years old, we knew he had a delay and missed some important speech milestones. This our personal story of using the Georgia Babies Can’t Wait program for speech. They offer in-home speech therapy for toddlers under the age of three, amongst other special needs services (like occupational or physical therapies).
The following is my own reflection of the service, how we got started with the program, the cost information and my overall thoughts. These are my own opinions and NOT those of Babies Can’t Wait. When I was looking at speech options for my son, I needed an article like this one and couldn’t find it. Hopefully, it serves your family well!
Early Signs My Son Needed Speech Therapy
Every parent lives to hear their child’s first words, like “mama” or “dada.” I never knew that the early babble sounds and small words, before the age of one, were so important. Before my son’s first birthday, I started to ask other parents, who had kids of the same age, if their child was speaking yet. It was a struggle to get the basic first words out.
I spoke with my pediatrician about my concern, but they assured me to give it more time. Apparently, your child needs to miss a couple of milestones before it becomes a “red flag” issue. At the playground, other kids his age were communicating better with their parents. By the time we got to two years old, I knew he was having a speech delay issue. Temper tantrums are awful when kids can’t communicate what they want to you.
By that time, my pediatrician agreed. We discussed speech therapy options: private vs. public programs. Private speech therapy can cost up to $300 per hour – depending on where you go. A friend recommended Georgia Babies Can’t Wait program to me and I asked my pediatrician about it.
Georgia Babies Can’t Wait: Speech Therapy For Toddlers
Once your Pediatrician has determined your child has a need for a speech evaluation, an office coordinator reaches out to Babies Can’t Wait on your behalf to set up an evaluation. The Georgia Babies Can’t Wait Service Coordinator will reach out to you to schedule the initial evaluation.
Initial Developmental Assessment
The initial evaluation takes place at your local county health department. Keep an open mind and try to schedule a time where your child is alert and energized. I always find these appointments to be a bigger struggle during nap times. The purpose of the assessment is to determine if your child is eligible for services.
The assessment identifies their current abilities and participation in everyday activities, through a variety of tests. They’ll spend about an hour working with your child through play activities. They’re looking at the following categories to determine what type of services the family might need:
- Social Emotional
After the assessment, families receive a summary report that shows how the child scores compared to average percentiles, plus their “age equivalency in months” for each category. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your Service Coordinator to ask them for a breakdown of what the summary means. On the bottom of the summary, it’ll inform you if your child is eligible for services.
Next Steps After The Initial Assessment
If your child doesn’t qualify for Georgia Babies Can’t Wait, don’t be discouraged. You can reach out to price out private speech therapy. Or it means that based upon their professional opinion, your child doesn’t have the developmental delays your Pediatrician thought they had. You have a right to ask for a second opinion too!
If your child does qualify for the program, all future services are held in your home. Your speech therapist reaches out to schedule their evaluation. This one is to determine the number of visits and frequency (that’s called your “IFSP” – individual family service plan). That’s when Charlie received his official “Expressive Language Disorder” diagnosis.
Working With Georgia Babies Can’t Wait For Speech Services
The speech therapist’s evaluation, which is done in-home, gives a deeper look into your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Once again, this evaluation just feels like playtime for the kids. The speech therapist also sets up six month goals and long-term goals. It’s a great opportunity to break the ice with your therapist and discuss the upcoming therapy sessions.
Charlie has been working with his therapist for almost six months and we’ve seen huge improvements. When we started, he had less than twenty words total. Now, he can speak in short sentences and we’re working on his articulation. He’s been doing one session per week for 30 minutes – that’s been a huge benefit to us!
Every week, we have our 30 minute planned session. It involves interactive playtime where he’s forced to use words to communicate what he wants. We’ve applied those lessons to our everyday family life and that’s where improvements have been made.
If you don’t feel like your assigned speech therapist is a good fit for your family, feel free to speak up. The Service Coordinator will reach out to see how your therapy is going and you have parental rights if you feel there’s a need for change.
Georgia Babies Can’t Wait Costs
After your initial assessment, the Service Coordinator will reach out to your Pediatrician to request an official prescription for services. The program does accept private insurance. Depending on what percentage your private insurance pays, will determine your family’s cost. If you don’t have private insurance, or your private insurance doesn’t cover the costs, your payment per session is determined by your income. You submit your W-2’s to Babies Can’t Wait and they’ll determine your cost per session. I promise that’s its far more cost-effective than a private route.
What’s Next After Babies Can’t Wait Program?
When your child turns three, they graduate from the program. Your Service Coordinator will help your child transition to a Head Start program, day care center or your local school district. The transition process actually happens between 24 months and 33 months of age. Babies Can’t Wait will contact your local school district to notify them that your child is turning 3. They may do testing to determine if your child is eligible for their services.
That’s the point where we are now – leaving Babies Can’t Wait and working with the local school system. Then, they’ll receive their IEP (Individual Education Plan).
I don’t know what Charlie’s future holds, but I feel very confident that he’ll be able to rehabilitate from his speech delay. Babies Can’t Wait has been a huge help to our family and I recommend their services to any Georgia family with a struggling toddler. Earliest prevention is always beneficial and I love that we’ve had a positive experience with the program.