Speech therapy needed for Oakland preschooler

Hello all,

My 3-year-old's pediatrician recently referred us to speech therapy for him (she said he can be understood only 50% of the time, and it should be at least 75%). He was referred to Alta Bates, but they quoted us $800 for the evaluation alone (our insurance has a high deductible) with a 6-8 month waitlist. Are there any other resources we can use?  I have read about OUSD's general early intervention program, but am having trouble connecting with the right person (if there is one). Does anyone have any suggestions or recommendations for preschool speech therapy that we could look into? I really want to get this assessed and make progress soon, but am feeling lost. Thank you in advance. 

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My son is 17 now, so things might have changed, but at the time he turned 3 we requested an IEP from our school district and as the result he got speech therapy services from them for free until age 5 and their speech therapist was amazing. I am not sure if it's the same thing as an early intervention program, but they should be able to do an IEP for you. If you are in OUSD, check with them about how to submit an IEP request.  Your local public school may be a resource for that, if you are having trouble finding the right person (maybe their principal or admin or special ed person on site). 

3 is the age when kids are eligible for an IEP, and they can get it done regardless of whether they are in preschool/daycare of any kind or not.  Starting with school age, they are only eligible for an IEP if they attend a public school, so it's best to get an IEP before they start school, just in case you don't go the public school route.  We have submitted the evaluations from his pediatrician (one on hearing, and another one regarding speech), along with the request letter for an IEP (individual education plan).  There are sample IEP request letters online, so you can modify one of those to make it specific to your child's situation.  We've listed our own concerns, along with those outlined by the doctor and our kid's daycare, and the school district provided an IEP for us.  The recommendation in the IEP was for our son to have both speech and physical therapy.  The school district provided speech therapy, because speech affects school readiness and ability to perform once the child starts school.  However, they almost never provide physical therapy (only when a child is severely disabled), since they can argue the mild forms don't affect their ability to learn.  So, we had to pay for physical therapy out of pocket, but it doesn't sound like that's your concern anyway.

My son had speech therapy from the Berkeley School district for free for 2 years, all they way until he started kindergarten. Good luck!  Things will work out, it just takes time.


Basically, on the day a child turns 3, he falls under school umbrella, not the Alta Bates.

1) You need the letter from your doctor stating that HE thinks your child needs speech not YOU.

2) Based on which school district you are in, you need to approach, IN PERSON, the special education department.

3) School will most likely will require a) vision test b) hearing test-both of these things need referral/assessment from the pediatrician.

They will put you in line for the assessment (free).

It is very time consuming.

In Berkeley, I had to complete and proof all the residency requirements and then do it again for the special education.

After all, first floor (admissions) dos not talk to the third floor (special education)-silly and wasteful, but what can you do...

Keep at it with the public school program.  They really do a good job once you find the right contact, you just have to keep bugging them.  A lot.  Right now is the best time to start as their program runs on a school year schedule and is just getting up and running now.  Plus, it's free.  :-)

I would go to your local elementary school and request a speech assessment. Most school districts offer preschool services, including speech therapy, but it's not always clear where to start. Either go in person or call your local school:


You need to do a formal written request for an IEP assessment for a speech disability for your child. Until you do a formal written request, with a copy of the request that is stamped RECEIVED, you wlll continue to get the runaround from OUSD.  Contact DREDF to get knowledge & help on this. Once you finally get speech services, they will be free & very helpful!

Do not give up on the school district.We went through WCCUSD starting at age three and are still using them in kindergarten-all for free.Hate to think what it would have cost elsewhere and it is a good program.


My son had the same issue so luckily I was able to get him private speech therapy through my insurance after a 2 month wait. In the mean time, I applied for services through OUSD. I called the Burbank Preschool Diagnostic Center to pick up an intake form packet for Speech Therapy, OT, and Psych. There is a 60 day waiting period after you turn in your intake forms. Then they will call you to do an assessment over the phone and interview with your child in person at your home then at the center. I would start by calling the Diagnostic Center at 510-729-7771. Ask to speak with Sylvia the receptionist to get the intake forms. After the 60 days, you can expect a call from Brigetta who will do the intake assessment. PM me for their emails if you can’t contact by phone if interested. Good luck!

Why not go through the school district?  My kid got speech services here in West Contra Costa when he was 4.

I think it is important to get help now.  My grandsons were able to receive help from their local school speech therapist (in another district) when they were three years old.  They continued to receive help when they began kindergarten.  At some points their parents also provided private therapy.  If you put in writing that you want your child tested for an IEP (Individual Education Program) the clock begins to tick and the district is legally required to do this in 60 days.  If OUSD is not responding to your efforts to start the process in a timely way, you might contact Alameda County Office of Education for advice:  https://www.acoe.org/page/275

If you live in the OUSD area, you can refer your child for an evaluation with the district. Call the special education department (510-879-8176). If you don't get anyone, stop by their office (1101 Union st, Oakland) and email (the director is Neena Bawa, neena.bawa [at] ousd.org). You'll need to give them a written dated letter explaining your concerns and asking for an evaluation. They need to contact you within 15 days to give you an assessment plan. Once you return that, signed, they have 60 days to complete the assessment and develop an Individualized Education Program if he qualifies.

You'll probably also want to pursue speech therapy through your insurance, since the school district only provides educationally necessary services. Call your insurance company to determine what therapists they cover.

Hello! Fellow SLP here. I don’t work for Oakland but do know special ed law. As your son is three he is entitled to an evaluation by the school district’s speech therapist. Write a letter requesting a speech evaluation. I looked up Oakland’s website and looks like the director of related services is katherine.duffy-sherr [at] ousd.org . (There are templates online you could use)I would send your request to her and to your local elementary school of residence (they should have a speech therapist assigned to that school and if a special preschool department is to the assessment that therapist would be the one to know as well). They are required to acknowledge and respond at least with a phone call within 3 days.  Just be aware that no mattered what it is a wait no matter which route you go. Private insurance is normally 4-6 month wait and school based has timelines (3 days to respond, 60 days from time you sign assessment plan to date of IEP meeting, and usually therapy starts As soon as you sign the IEP). Things you can do now at home: engage your child in lots of phonological awareness activities such as rhyming, reading , singing songs. Model appropriate production of sounds by over exaggerating sounds and speaking slowly. You don’t have to make your child repeat but simply restate whatever (especially if they are easily frustrated) they said incorrectly, correctly . If you really wanna do above and beyond play a scavenger hunt where you find things that being with blank letter/sound they are having a hard time with. Hope this helps!