Ready, Set… Go!
By Leetal Cuperman, MCH Speech-Language Pathologist
Montreal Children’s Hospital
Do you know a child with a language delay or disorder?
Have you tried to access services in the public system but given up because of waiting lists?
Are you interested in taking an active role in improving communication healthcare in Quebec?
We have good news for you!
There are speech-language pathologists who are working to improve the quality of services for children. They are part of a group called Ready, Set… Go! whose aims include :
- Decreasing the waiting list time without impairing the quality of communication services.
- Uncovering solutions to the root causes of the long waiting list times through ongoing brainstorming sessions.
- Raising awareness of this issue in politicians.
The most effective way to raise awareness of this situation is for you (parents, professionals) to speak out about children they know and share their experiences in the public system.
We encourage you to do this in two ways :
1) Write a letter telling your story.
( see under sample parent letter to help you )
2) Email this letter to Ready, Set… Go! email@example.com for the group to share the letter with the politicians with whom they speak.
Our goals are :
· To collect 300 parent letters by the end of July 2009.
· To have a famous spokesperson for Ready Set Go (if you know anyone who may be interested, let us know).
· To have 3 news stories published in newspapers, 2 radio stories and 1 TV story (if you have any contacts in the media, please let us know).
· To collaborate with other disciplines who work with these children such as psychologists, occupational therapists, resource teachers, educators specializing in language development, or anyone else who you feel may be implicated in this cause.
We are looking for people who want to make a difference. If you are such a person, or know of any people who would be interested, then please contact Leetal Cuperman at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your support and for taking a stand for our children!
Ready, Set… Go!
Sample parent letter
To Whom it May Concern,
I am writing to tell you my child’s story. I first started to be concerned about my son Matthew’s language when he was a year and a half old. Whereas my older son was talking in short sentences at that age, Matthew was communicating by pointing or screaming. Also, he never babbled.
I shared these concerns with my pediatrician about this at Matthew’s second year check-up, but she convinced me to wait and see what happened, as Matthew was still quite young and boys are often later speaking than girls. Although I disagreed, and wanted my son to be seen at a children’s hospital, I needed my pediatrician to do the referral, and so I waited. In the next year, I spoke with many parents with children the same age. All had stories about how they knew someone whose child was late in speaking, and that child was now fine and doing well. My son himself showed very little progress that year, despite my efforts to teach him to talk.
At Matthew’s 3-year checkup, my pediatrician finally agreed to refer him to the local children’s hospital in their speech-language department. When I called the hospital, I was told I needed to wait a year and a half for the evaluation. I was early in tears. I had already waited so long, how can I be expected to wait again? I came to an important decision. While waiting, I would seek out services in the private sector.
Much to my shock, I was put on more waiting lists. By the time the hospital called me back for my appointment, Matthew had already been evaluated in private and received therapy for 6 months. He had made some progress, but his language development was still far behind other children his age. The hospital speech-language pathologist diagnosed my son with a severe receptive and expressive language delay, with a suspicion of a language disorder. When I asked about therapy, I was told that my son’s name would be put on yet another waiting list, and she would see us again in 6 months time. At the 6-month follow-up, when my son continued to present with severe problems in his language, the hospital speech-language pathologist referred us to a rehabilitation centre, whose waiting list was one year.
By the time my son reached kindergarten, he had only received 2 months of therapy through the public system before his case was closed. He now attends a language class in 2nd grade, but he still has his problems. Although he speaks using simple sentences, the other children make fun of him and call him “baby”. It is also hard for Matthew to follow directions and he needs a buddy in the class. Despite his difficulties, he is smart enough to realize he is not like other children, and this breaks my heart. I am still quite worried about what will happen to him. Will he be able to graduate high school? Will he drop out? Will he get a job and be able to contribute to his community, his city, his country?
I can’t help but think – how would his life (and mine) have been different had he gotten the help he needed right away?