Fair question and one we had to face with our son after he transitioned out of early intervention and into our school district’s special education program. As any parent(s) would question, we could not help but wonder if we could do more for our son than only the services our school district is providing. Should we seek private speech therapy in addition to the school district provided speech therapy.
In short, yes. If you want to give your child every opportunity to advance in all areas of their development, both school and private therapy can be essential. Remember, school services will address areas related to educational needs where private speech therapy services will address more than the educational needs of your child. So lets discuss more of the details about this below.
There are circumstances where your child may not qualify for services provided by the school district but will clearly benefit from private speech therapy. It is important for parents to know that if your school district said your child does not qualify for speech services it only means your child is not demonstrating an educational need at this time. However, know that your child may qualify for services in the future (e.g. your child’s delay could become a bigger issue with time to the point of qualifying in the future).
Your school district has a specific set of qualification standards, levels of service and goals which drive their decision on how much and what types of services your child will receive from the school district. Qualification for services are based on clinical research, district/state standards, district budgets and the therapists professional judgement. These services are specifically geared towards helping your child achieve academic success, social and emotional well-being.
Alternatively, private speech therapy will treat the same disorders as in your school district, but it is done from a standpoint of medical necessity and academic success, not just the academic success component. Private speech therapy is not bound by any state or school district standard.
If my child could benefit from private therapy in addition to the school district's services, why hasn't the school district recommend that we seek out private speech therapy?
This unfortunately comes down to the school district's liability of having to cover the cost of private therapy if they were to recommend it depending on how it is worded in their IEP or some other written document. Because of this fine line many school districts have a policy of staying silent on this topic or always saying "no". As a parent do not be afraid of asking your district therapist(s) this question. You are your child's advocate and there is no question that should not be asked.
Time, Distance and Cost
Time – What can be more important? The time your child spends with their therapist(s) is critical, but so is the time you spend at home working with them on the goals your therapist provides. One, two or three therapy sessions a week is a lot of time, but it pales in comparison to the amount of time you get to spend as a parent with your child. We encourage you to use every opportunity to work on your child’s goals.
District provided services are typically limited to school hours. Depending on your child’s age, you might only be eligible for “drop-in” services during the school day. Older children will receive services at school during the day. But what if you felt your child needed more services but have other child care responsibilities or a full time job with a rigorous schedule?
Private therapy is not limited to the school day or any time for that matter. You and your therapist(s) can work out a time before, during or after work hours which works with your schedule.
Distance – Private therapy is not limited to being provided in the school district. In fact, therapy can be provided in your home, in a park, day care or any other convenient location. In fact, receiving therapy in other locations besides the school can drastically improve your child’s progress towards their goals.
Depending on how you choose to pay for services, there can be some limitations on where services can be provided based on your insurance. The trick is finding a great provider which is willing to educate you on your options and work with you no matter your situation.
Cost – Therapy services provided to you by the district are not billed to you like a doctor’s office, but they are not free. We should recognize that those services are paid for through your local, state and federal taxes and grants which your school districts receives.
Private Therapy can be paid for a number of different ways. The most common is through your insurance. Each insurance company and each plan within that insurance company may or may not cover the therapies you need, your child’s diagnosis and/or where you’d like to receive services. This can be a frustrating process, but a great provider will be able to walk you through this process and provide you all the necessary information to help you maximize the benefits you may have through your insurance company to cover services.
For many of us, the reality of high deductible insurance plans are unavoidable. Not to worry. There are a number of options for you to explore to help curb the cost of private therapy and get the additional services for your child. We offer multiple options to help reduce these costs. Therapy Care takes many insurances and has discounted cash pay packages, multiple services discount and offers 0% financing for 12 months through CareCredit. More information is available at https://www.therapycare.com/patient-information or call us at 630-761-0900.