When my son turned 18 months old, I spoke to his pediatrician about the potential for a speech delay. She told me his words would come and not to worry. However, once he hit two, the fact that he was still non-verbal was suddenly a big problem. This became even more of an issue when he started school. Needless to say, I was scrambling to find a solution.

What I didn't realize is that many parents were going through the same struggle. In fact, in February of this year, the Centers for Disease Control actually updated their guidelines for when kids should hit certain developmental milestones. This is, in part, due to the impact that COVID has had on our children's socialization in their formative years. Now they recommend that your toddler should be saying at least 50 words by 30 months of age. Previously, they wanted this to be achieved by two years old.

A Fantastic Resource is Available to South Plains Residents

Thankfully, we have an amazing resource here on the South Plains that provides kids between the ages zero and three with the tools they need to succeed. Bryan Sessom, Director of Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) for the Lubbock Independent School District, urges parents to act on their intuitions. If you notice a potential delay, reach out and get an evaluation.

"Every child develops differently, but parents have internal voice when it comes to their kids. Waiting to see if improvements happen down the line is not always the best approach because there's a lot we can do beforehand to head it off at the pass. Get it checked out. We do evaluations at no cost to families, all families. It's always worth a phone call," Sessom stressed.

Best of all, this spectacular service is all done in the comfort of your home. They do an initial evaluation to see if your child qualifies (they must have a 25% delay in five different domains -- Communication, Social-Emotional, Adaptive Behavior, Gross and Fine Motor Skills, and Cognitive). However, if your child has a documented medical diagnosis, such as hearing or vision loss, they automatically qualify.

Kids Playing
Photo by Paige Cody on Unsplash


Based on the results, ECI will then create an individualized plan to get your child back on track. Better yet, this is all done through purposeful play. This makes it incredibly fun for your child. They will likely not even realize that they are learning!

Types of Therapy

ECI has three types of licensed therapists on staff to help address the various developmental delays that your child may have -- physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists. "Physical therapy focuses on the gross motor movement -- babies rolling over, learning to crawl, walk, and cruising. Occupational Therapists deals with fine motor skills such as using their hands, learning how to feed themselves, how to put stuff in a drawer, and other tasks that require more refined skills. Finally, Speech Therapists works on several different areas," Sessom said.

These include expressive communication (what the child says and if they are forming their words correctly) and receptive communication (Can the child understand what they're being told?). The latter can be brought on by hearing issues that may be as simple as draining fluid from their ears or as drastic as the need for hearing aids. If this appears to be a possible issue, ECI makes sure that parents are connected with an audiologist to address these types of concerns. Finally, they also work with kids who have trouble swallowing and eating.

The Cost is Minimal, But the Outcomes are Astonishing

"The state of Texas and Health & Human Services have done a good job to build a system that's affordable for almost all families. If your child is on Medicaid, Medicaid covers the cost of the services at 100%. If you don't, we take CHIP, we take insurance, all those kind of third party benefits. If you don't have insurance, we have a sliding scale -- we take the number of members in the family's home and their gross household income. We then determine a maximum monthly family cost," Sessom stated.

They also take into consideration your healthcare and childcare costs when determining your specific rate. This makes ECI an extremely affordable and beneficial service.

Still on the Fence?

Photo by luis arias on Unsplash

Therapy is always a scary word for parents. However, it is important to provide our children with every possible resource that they need to thrive. Most importantly, these are the skills that are setting them up for future success.

"Every child is different. Every child develops in their own way. We are just here to help them. The earlier you can get those interventions put in place, the easier a time the family will have with helping them transition to school and transition to other daily activities," Sessom said.

From my personal experience, it only took a handful of sessions to see extraordinary results. These therapists give you the tools to help your kids during their therapy sessions as well as during your child's regular daily activities. This is an invaluable program that is staffed with caring individuals who only want what is best for your child.

If you are interested in getting your child evaluated, check out their website or give them a call at 806-219-0500. Remember that parents can refer their own children, so take advantage of this great community resource!

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