For Sindy Ramirez, mother of Gaël, 4, finding services for her language-impaired son is a real challenge.
“At first, we thought that Gaël was taking longer to speak because he was learning two languages at once. I’m from Mexico and was talking to him in French and Spanish. But when he turned 3, we really started to worry. He couldn’t say more than 20 words and still wasn’t making short sentences.
A social worker from the CLSC suggested we look into a speech-language assessment for Gaël. Since there was a waiting list to see the CLSC’s speech-language pathologist, my husband and I decided to go to a private clinic. We wanted to be sure our son got the help he needed quickly. The assessment took three sessions at $90 apiece!
The SLP told us that it was very likely Gaël had dysphasia, but that a firm diagnosis couldn’t be made until he was 5 or 6 years old. We sent in a request to the language development services department at the Jewish Rehabilitation Hospital in Laval. We had to wait another six months before we were accepted. To help Gaël in the meantime, we signed up for language stimulation workshops offered by Dysphasie Plus.
At the Jewish Rehabilitation Hospital, speech-language services are free. But since there aren’t enough professionals to meet the demand, services are offered in 10-week blocks of meetings followed by a 10-week break.
It’s like a puzzle—the resources are all there but you have to piece them together!
During these breaks, we’ve decided to have Gaël see a private speech-language therapist every two weeks. It’s a lot of money, but our son needs the help! Fortunately, the child disability benefit we receive through the federal government gives us about $2,000 a year.
The waiting lists and fees are discouraging, but the hardest part has been accepting my son’s condition. The learning disorder institute in Montreal has been a big help. I’ve also attended meetings with other parents to talk about our experience and share tips and resources. That’s how I learned about kindergarten language classes. Space is limited, but hopefully Gaël will get in next September—fingers crossed!”
Source : Naître et grandir magazine, May–June 2017
Interview by Julie Leduc
Photo : Maxim Morin