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For the Love of PIE

Assessing critical needs and coordinating therapy for kids, the City of Alexandria's PIE Program holds a special place in my heart.

My almost 2-year-old daughter is little miss personality. She is expressive, incredibly affectionate, mischievous, focused and full of curiosity. Although she knows how to get her point across, it usually doesn’t come in the form of words.  

At her 18-month appointment, our pediatrician voiced some mild concerns about her speech development. Although 18 months is pretty early to start diagnosing language delays, she suggested further evaluation by specialists with the City of Alexandria’s Parent Infant Education Program, more commonly known as PIE.

I quickly discovered that this is the city’s hidden gem. The small team of case workers and specialists manage an incredible load and provide a personalized and thorough evaluation of kids' needs.

Long story short: Our daughter was matched with an amazing speech therapist from The Chesapeake Center, who now visits our home once a week.     

We have been doing speech therapy for about two months now, and couldn’t be happier.

Our first goal was to help her communicate to alleviate frustration, and then gradually build her verbal skills. Through purposeful games, songs, props and lots of fun, I have witnessed a huge shift in my daughter’s awareness of language. By pairing American Sign Language with words or word approximations, our daughter finally has the traction she needs to start exploring and developing communication. 

Is she speaking yet? Well, yes and no.

Her speech still sounds very primitive. However, she has a solid repertoire of baby signs and a constantly expanding collection of words and approximations. More importantly, she is finally babbling with sounds that developmentally precipitate words.   

To top the cake, she started saying “Mama” two weeks ago. Although this sounds minor, for me it was monumental. I feel claimed. I have a name!

PIE co-runs free playgroups for all Alexandria children from birth to age 4. No pre-registration is necessary, and they're fun! 

  • Monday: 10 to 11 a.m., Tower 2000 Apartments (5800 Quantrell Ave.)
  • Tuesday: 10 to 11:30 a.m.,
  • Wednesday: 
    • 10 to 11:30 a.m., Nannie Lee Recreation Center
    • 10:15 and 11:15 a.m., Beatley Library
  • Thursday: 10 to 11:30 a.m., Center for Alexandria's Children
  • Friday: 
    • 10 a.m. to noon, Community Lodgings (612 Notabene Dr.)
    • 10 a.m. to noon (September through June),

For parents wanting to explore sign language for hearing infants and toddlers, Little Hands Speech Therapy has two upcoming beginner workshops in Kingstowne (5775 Barclay Drive, Alexandria, 22315). Register here.

  • Saturday, April 21 10 to 11:30 a.m. — Basic and Mealtime Signs
  • Saturday, May 19 10 to 11:30 a.m. — Bedtime and Animal Signs

I am also a big fan of the "Baby Signing Time" videos, several of which we borrowed from a friend. Both my girls and I enjoy watching them and found them really easy to learn from.

Have you worked with PIE?  Do you have a late talker?  Do you use baby sign language? Tell us in the comments.

Joanna Serth April 09, 2012 at 11:17 AM
My second son was a late talker but has an incredible knack for timing. Not 24 hours after we spent a few hundred dollars to have his speech evaluated at the insistence of his physician, he said his first four-word sentence with absolute clarity.
Liz Parry April 10, 2012 at 01:25 PM
My six month old daughter has mild hearing loss in both ears, so we're just starting to work with PIE. It's great to hear that you've had such a positive experience.

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