Even if you’re supermom, dealing with a toddler speech delay isn’t really something you can do on your own. I’ve know speech therapists who actually took their toddlers to OTHER speech therapists, just because it was too difficult to work with their own children in a professional capacity. I do have VERY good news for you, though: many resources for overcoming my son’s toddler speech delay didn’t cost me a single dime. Even better news: the resources I used are available to everyone, not just those in low income brackets. I’m going to share the free resources that I used for coping with a toddler speech delay, along with how to find help in your area.
Free Resources for Coping with a Toddler Speech Delay
Easter Seals Early Intervention Program: This was the first free resource that I used when I found out my toddler had a speech delay. My doctor actually recommended them. The Easter Seals has a variety of programs designed to help parents get an early start on coping with and, when possible, overcoming different types of disabilities. They came to my home and evaluated Jacob. Then they set me up with a wonderful woman who came out once a week to work with him. The services are covered either by insurance or by the state.
Educational Support Services- In Pennsylvania, we have something called Intermediate Units, or IU. The IU programs are educational support services that pick up after your child graduates out of Easter Seals services. They perform their own evaluation, then set you up with free services based on your child’s needs. Jacob did about a year of speech therapy with a licensed therapist through them. Again, it was once a week, but we met in her office. I’m not sure what it is called in other states, but if you contact your local school and ask them about services for special needs preschoolers, they should be able to help you. Many of these services are often carried through to elementary school.
Free Apps: iPads and smartphones weren’t around when Jacob was little. I did have a great Fisher Price keyboard and software for my computer that I started him on when he was about two that helped, though. Now, you have SO many options. Don’t limit yourself to toddler speech delay apps. Apps like Toddler Seek & Find or other interactive games give you the chance to get your toddler talking without the pressure of making it all about actually talking. Download a few cool ABC games, interactive books or other visually appealing apps that draw your toddler in.
Play Groups: Never underestimate the power of peers when it comes to helping overcome a toddler speech delay! I enrolled my son in preschool and it helped so much more than I can say. Obviously, that’s not free. Play groups, on the other hand, are free. Get your toddler around other kids his age and he’ll pick up their language skills. Trust me, it really does help.
Your Library: We shared some great books to help overcome a toddler speech delay, but you don’t have to rush out and buy all of them. Head to your local library and borrow instead. If they don’t have them, use your interlibrary loan system to request them from other libraries. You can also borrow fun books to read with your toddler to help develop his receptive language skills, something that really helped with my son.
These are just a few free resources to help cope with a toddler speech delay. Talk to your doctor or speech therapist about other options. One last resource that’s completely free: patience. It takes time for your toddler to overcome that speech delay, but it does happen. My son is nine and now he talks up a storm all the time. Usually it’s to ask me for money! So go ahead and use those free resources while you can, because kids just get more expensive as they get older!
Do you know of any free toddler speech delay resources that I missed? Also, if you know what the education support service is called in other states, I’d love you to share that in the comments for other readers!