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Time Out for crying at speech therapy? (A little long)

Posted by on Mar. 17, 2010 at 11:05 AM
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A little background:
My daughter, Alyssa, is turning 4 this Saturday. She was diagnosed with apraxia at around 26 months, and has been in speech therapy ever since. When she turned 3, the early intervention program in my area turned her case over to the public school system, and from that point on, she's been having speech therapy at a public school twice per week for 1/2 and hour each session.

Alyssa also started full days of preschool at a Catholic school nearby this past August. Since then, she has had bus transportation from her school to the public school on days she has ST. Because of lack of resources, her bus trip TO the public school (2 miles away) was 45-60 minutes long, and her return trip was only 10 minutes. It was really hard on Alyssa, as it would be on anyone to ride the bus that long, so last month I decided to drop her off at the public school myself, and let her ride the bus back to preschool.

Since then, we've experienced a lot of separation anxiety. Alyssa starts crying the night before and tells me she doesn't want to go to ST. Then, when the therapist comes to walk her back to the classroom, Alyssa tries to latch herself onto me and starts bawling. Sometimes, Alyssa would spend the entire session crying about how she missed her mommy. :-(

The situation:
Last week, another little girl started ST at the public school with Alyssa. Alyssa was sad to leave me, but didn't cry at all. Yesterday, Alyssa seemed fine as she walked down the hall to ST, but that afternoon, the therapist  called me. She said the therapist was reading a book to the 2 girls, and when she looked up, Alyssa had tears in her eyes. So she told Alyssa, "Alyssa, don't cry now," and that's when Alyssa started bawling. So she sent Alyssa away from the table and made her sit on the floor.

When I picked up Alyssa from preschool that afternoon, she told me "Miss Erica put me in time out today because I was crying and she couldn't hear what Elizabeth was saying."

What are your thoughts on this? I know the therapist was just trying to keep Alyssa from disrupting her work with the other little girl, but putting a not-quite 4-year-old in time out for crying seems a little excessive to me.

I mean, Alyssa wasn't making any noise until the therapist told her NOT to cry (which always has a reverse effect on me, too). Maybe I'm just being a defensive Mama Bear, but it seems harsh to punish a child for being overly sensitive.

Should I pull Alyssa out of the program? Wait it out for the remainder of the school year and hope there's another therapist next year?

I've already talked to the therapist and suggested that next time she try to distract Alyssa by asking her about some of her favorite things or something, rather than calling attention to her tears.

by on Mar. 17, 2010 at 11:05 AM
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by on Mar. 17, 2010 at 11:34 AM

Brandon is 4 (5 in Oct) and he too transitioned from EI to the public school.  I can't even begin to tell you how lucky we have been with this experience.  We're going to be moving soon and we will dearly miss our ST.  She's been great.

Has she always disliked ST with this therapist? Brandon acted shy and was somewhat uncooperative for the ST at the school at first but it didn't take too long for them to build such a great relationship that it's now never an issue.

Scratch that.  Things were great through the summer. Then this past fall we put him in a new & really cool preschool program that our Public school started offering.  She decided she'd just pull him out of there instead of having me bring him separately for speech.  He was SOOOOOO not having that.  It took him a while to become cooperative again.  He got to where he would cry as soon as he saw her.  She & I discussed how it should be handled because he was always fine after they got to the speech room for a few minutes.

It boiled down to him not wanting to leave his friends and the fun behind in the classroom even for speech.  He was having a lot of trouble transitioning so they started talking about it and letting him know before hand that she'd be there to get him, etc.  He's since gotten over it and she can read his cues if it's 'bad timing.' 

I'm not sure if there is a way for you to get to the root of her problem or not.  Does she really dislike the ST or does she just dislike having to leave the friends and classroom to have to go to speech?  If it's the first I'd start by talking to the ST and seeing what could be done to build a better relationship between them and if that won't work I'd be talking to the school to see if there is another option for the ST.  It seems to me that at this rate it could even be counterproductive for her.

Also was it a time out where she had to sit alone and have no interaction for a certain time or was she removed to another part of the classroom to keep from being distracting?  Maybe she's not ready for speech with more than one person either just yet either.  

Keep us posted and good luck!

Amie, SAHM to 3 handsome little guys.

by on Mar. 17, 2010 at 1:21 PM

 Thanks for the reply, Amie!

I've been racking my brain trying to figure out what the problem is. Alyssa went to the same public school for ST at the end of the school year last year for a little while. (She turned 3 in March and started group ST in May.) At the time, she was not in preschool, so my husband would drop her off  in the mornings, and I would pick her up 1/2 an hour later. It was a different therapist, still a group setting, but whenever I waited for Alyssa in the main office, I would hear her saying "Hi! Hi! Hi!" down the hall, while the therapist commented, "Well, there's not a shy bone in your body is there? You say hi to everyone!" Not a single tear was shed.

This year, the previous speech therapist had been fired from the school, so this new therapist stepped in and Alyssa started riding the bus to ST. On days she has speech therapy, she doesn't go to her preschool until after ST, so it's not like her play time is being interrupted.

There are so many variables, I hate to say that it's the therapist that is causing her such stress, but it's the way I'm leaning right now, in addition to just having an overly sensitive child. Alyssa had begun crying long before the other little girl joined the sessions. Alyssa had been the only one in the classroom until now, and was crying even months ago when we were putting her on the bus in the mornings.

I talked to Alyssa's preschool teacher, because sometimes Alyssa cries when her daddy drops her off from school and I wanted to see how the teacher handled it. She said that the regular school days when Alyssa cries at being drop off are few, but that "speech therapy days are much harder for Alyssa. She's usually crying when she gets off the bus, so I tell her to go get a drink of water and calm herself down, then come back with a smile."

I guess I need to see if there's any way possible to get a speech therapist over to Alyssa's preschool, instead of making Alyssa change schools 2 mornings a week. Private therapy is way too expensive, but maybe there's SOMETHING I can get to help her out. I just don't know. It's really hard to be a mommy sometimes! :-(

by on Mar. 18, 2010 at 11:25 PM

   That was very inappropriate.  If I had a child cry I asked what was wrong.  Sometimes thes kids needed help, real help. sometimes they needed a hug (like the boy who's grandmother had died that morning and they sent him to school anyway). 

  You need to talk to the Speech therapist with her supervisor present.  the 3 of you need to find a way to help her adjust to all of the changes.  she needs assistance not isolation.


by on Mar. 19, 2010 at 3:13 PM

It's really hard to be a mommy sometimes! :-(

It can be especially hard when your child has so much difficulty expressing what's going on in their life, their day to day activities, how they're feeling etc.  For me it was much harder to leave Brandon with someone because he had no way to tell me what was going on.  I HATED IT.  

And it's okay for her to be so sensitive.  It's something that the ST should recognize and deal with appropriately.  The more you describe it does seem more and more to me that she is probably not liking the ST.  I mean, if you're already struggling and upset and then you're essentially punished it's not going to make the situation any better.  

I don't know how you feel about a heart to heart with that ST but either that or a new one is definitely in order.  Good Luck!!

by on Mar. 20, 2010 at 8:31 AM

No WAY!  this woman doesn't know what she's doing or how to handle kids.  talk to her, and then talk to your director of special services.  she is not handling this situation right.  don't let her get away with this, bec her next step will be to punish your child -- worse.  cry foul.  bec this is foul.  she is wrong.  also, ask for some homework so that her ST is not always "the bad guy" -- "mommy makes me 'work' too."  document this, also.  everybody you talked to, what was said, etc.  keep good notes!  you might need them!!

by on Mar. 21, 2010 at 6:54 PM

 Thanks, ladies!

I'm working very hard at trying to get Alyssa a different speech therapist. I spoke again to Alyssa's preschool teacher, and it turns out that there is already a speech therapist from the public school system at Alyssa's school!!??!

I can't believe the school system is bussing my 3-year-old to a different school, when there's a therapist already at her school working with two 5-year-olds! Unbelievable! Alyssa's preschool teacher gave me the ST's phone number and email address, and I've already left her a message on both. Monday, I'm going to call my contact in the school system and ask that Alyssa be allowed to do therapy with the ST at her school instead. Wish me luck!

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