When Thea was born, I wanted to know what she would need help with. I wanted to understand and prepare myself for what was going to come down the road as she started to get older. However, I never got those answers because the doctors didn’t have them. The only thing they could tell me was to wait and see. So, that is what I did.
Around the age of 2 or 3, I noticed that Thea seemed to be behind in her speech because she was not speaking as much as the other kids in her sunday school class. So, not really knowing what to do, I asked Thea’s doctor. He said he would refer me to the Langley Child Development Centre. And so began my journey to try and figure out what GOOD resources there were and how to get them for my child. Because sure, if I was rich, it would be easy. I could hire the best of the best and get private therapy for my daughter. Unfortunately, that was and is not the case. We are, I guess what you would call, a middle class family. My husband and I both have decent jobs, but we have bills to pay and not a lot of extra, well let’s be honest, NO extra money lying around to afford private speech therapy. So, here is what I have learned and experienced so far. I hope this will help you on your journey to finding the support your child needs.
Child Development Centres
I am not sure that every city or province has Child Development Centres in Canada. But I do know for Langley, Surrey, White Rock and Abbotsford, there are child development centres. These centres are non-profit societies which are partially being funded by the Ministry of Health. I think this was the governments way of helping families who cannot afford private therapies to have access to them for free.
These centres offer speech, physical and occupational therapy. They also offer classes that focus on a variety of developmental areas. For example, sentence stackers, which is targeted to help kids with their speech. Also, if your child is in preschool and needs extra support, (as long as they have the availability), they will offer a support worker to help your child.
This is a great program, however there are far more children then there are resources.
My advice would be, if you know your child will need therapy, make sure you get your doctor to refer them to this program right away. Everything takes time, so the faster you get referred, the faster you will be able to get your child on the waiting list to receive therapy.
At Home Program
This is a government run program for BC. I don’t know a lot about this program because I never tried to apply for it on behalf of Thea. The main reason I never did was because I heard and read from numerous people that it is very hard to get approved. Children with down syndrome and other disabilities far more severe than Thea were getting denied.
However, if you can get approved, it can be very beneficial. In order to be approved they look at four things. Weather or not your child can eat, bath, get dressed and go to the bathroom independently. If they can do three out of the four things independently, then they are likely not going to get approved.
The program, if eligible, offers medical and respite benefits.
Here is the link to the site that explains the program and has the application http://www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/at_home/
I was looking into my benefits from work in order to claim my husbands eye exam, when I saw the category of speech therapy. This was right around the time when I started to realize that Thea needed extra help. I never thought to look into my extended medical before. Some people may call it lucky, but I know better. I know that that was God pointing me in the right direction. Anyways, after I called my benefits provider, I realized I was going to be able to hire a private speech therapist for at least 8 sessions. Although that is not a lot in the world of speech therapy, it was a start.
I never thought of myself as ever needing to apply to a charity, but during a conversation I had with Thea’s speech therapist (the one I was able to hire for a few months thanks to my extended medical plan), I was convinced to try. She said that you would be surprised at the number of parents, who have good careers, apply for and receive money from charities. Sure, you make a good wage, but by the time you pay your mortgage, car loan, and other expenses, you don’t have the extra money to pay for speech therapy. As I have found out, speech therapy runs around $120-$150 per hour. If you are doing it once a week, that’s an extra $600 a month.
So, in an effort to exhaust all options, I looked into the charities that she suggested. Some of them did have a limit, in terms of how much you make in a year. If you make more than their limit, they will not consider you. However, there were a few that did not. After applying to three, I was able to get a bit of money from one of the charities. This was going to give me an extra month of speech therapy for Thea. So, even though it required some effort to apply and get the paperwork together, it was worth it.
Here is the list of charities that I was told about:
- President’s Choice Children’s Charity http://www.presidentschoice.ca/en_CA/community/pccc.html
- CKNW Orphan’s Fund https://www.cknworphansfund.com/
- Variety Children’s Charity http://www.variety.bc.ca/
- The Jo Dickey Foundation http://www.jodickeyfoundation.ca/grant.shtml
Canada Revenue Agency Medical Expenses
If you are able to afford, up front, some speech therapy (for other therapy you would need to look into this) for your child, you can claim it on your taxes under medical expenses. However, as I understand it, you only end up getting about 16% of it back. So for example, if you paid $6000 in speech therapy, you would get around $1000 of that back on your tax return.
OK well that’s it for now. Hopefully, this information will help you as it has me.