From e-mail regarding 4-year old boy with speech delay.
We talked on the phone with boy's mother but I decided to write down my answers and whatever else came to my mind later - there are many small boys with speech/development delay out there and there are many worried parents.
1. My son had speech, fine motor and gross motor delay. We were aware of speech delay but only Special Ed evaluation revealed other types of delay. He was very good with puzzles and LEGO, it was hard for parents to notice his fine motor problems. His gross motor problems were first with balance, he was afraid of being held upside down or climbing rope stairs, and with hand-eye coordination (e.g. throwing / catching a ball).
2. It was hard to figure whether he had trouble understanding because he had significant trouble expressing himself. He understood simple instructions but by 4+ you expect your child to understand more than a trained dog does. Since communication was not two-way it became frustrating and scary at that point. Annual evaluations suggested he was behind in comprehension. Regress & Progress
3. He did not go to special pre-school. There was no such option. He attended special ed session 2 times a week and attended regular daycare center full time.
4. I believe everything - Special Ed, going to daycare, piano lessons, his grandparents, sister and parents talking and reading to him - everything contributed to his development. Special Ed teachers were very helpful giving feedback, suggesting ideas for home use, providing learning material for a student I hired to spend an hour doing stuff with my son and a couple of his classmates at daycare center. Thoughts re IEP, grade 3.
5. School. How was the progress? There was progress, that's for sure. A slow one. Late start -- Kindergarten  --  -- 1st grade  --  -- Grade 2.
6. I became sure there was an improvement when my son at age 9 1/2 started telling stories, chatting about his life - willingly. He was taken off IEP a year later. I know it's disappointing to hear that it takes so long. It actually takes longer.
My son starts middle school next year. And yes, I'm worried that there will be issues associated with his speech/language peculiarities. I'm certain that his personality is bigger than his speech problems (something hard to tell when your child is 3-4 years old and not talking), I know he can do a lot of things well and compensate for these issues but still - I'm worried.