My youngest daughter was a late talker and by the age of two, she could barely say a word. We always thought that one day it would just click but as she approached her fourth birthday although she was talking, it was clear that she had some difficulties with her speech. Some sounds she couldn’t form at all and she also had a habit of missing the ends off most words. Her nursery were amazing and with their help, we had her assessed by an NHS speech therapist. So when she started school last September, they were already aware of her difficulties and she was registered as having Special Educational Needs which all sounds much scarier than it is really. It basically means that she gets that extra help that she needs.
She has one-to-one sessions on an almost daily basis with her amazing SEN assistant who happens to be a specialist in speech therapy work and the progress that she has made since September has been staggering. There is no doubt that it is down to her SEN assistant who clearly goes that extra mile. Obviously we do exercises with her at home and she still sees the NHS speech therapist (although cutbacks mean that she is seen for maybe half an hour less than once a month, which doesn’t actually come close to giving her the help she needs) But thanks to the enthusiasm of her SEN assistant in school and of course buckets of her own hard work and bloody minded determination, she is really starting to get somewhere.
Obviously her difficulties impact many areas of learning not to mention her confidence so it is vital that she gets that assistance and the school have been excellent. Starting school made my daughter very aware that she didn’t talk the same as everyone else and it made her very self conscious so rather than risk people not understanding her, she just wouldn’t speak. I’m pleased to say though that this is no longer the case and in the last couple of months, her teachers have seen huge changes as her confidence grows. Now she will happily put up her hand to answer a question in front of the whole class which is just amazing. I’m so proud of how far she has come.
Obviously things that are seen as basic learning in Reception like reading and writing, are so much more difficult for her. Not being able to physically make the sounds of letters means that she can’t sound out words out so this has made learning to read and write a really slow process. She has to rely on memorised words at this point rather than sounding out but she has extra help with this too thanks to her SEN assistant and she is slowly getting there. It absolutely blows my mind that she can read a little now. I honestly didn’t think that that day would ever come!
Like I have said, the school have been fantastic throughout and we just wouldn’t be at this point without them. We have regular formal meetings keeping us updated with her progress and at the latest one yesterday, her teacher spoke about how happy they are with her progress. Cue big grins all round! But being classed as having Special Educational Needs means that there is an IEP (Individual Education Plan) in place and one of things that came up was the fact that when she moves up to Key Stage 1 this September, sadly she will no longer be able to work with the same SEN assistant. I must admit that my heart sank at the thought of what will be such a huge change. Obviously there will be a consultation period as they hand over but I still can’t help but worry that she might not get the same level of expert support that she has been getting this year.
Having come so far, I just can’t stand the thought of her slipping behind and it makes me realise what a delicate balance this whole year has been. Speech therapy is such a long and gentle process and although my daughter has made huge progress, there is still a long long way to go. The good thing is that I wouldn’t think twice about going to school with any worries should they arise but it is a worry all the same. I guess we’ll have to cross that bridge if we get to it.