School Administrators: Don’t Lose it Before the Year Even Begins!

Getting Ready?

Now that the new school year is nearly upon us, school administrators are determined to ensure that things get off to a great start.  Sometimes resolving underlying uncertainties helps to reduce that sense of being overwhelmed.  When it comes to speech language therapy, ASHA (American Speech-Hearing-Language Association) has helpful answers to some of those questions.

1 – What do speech-language pathologists (SLPs) do in the schools?

According to ASHA, school SLPs play an integral role in a student’s education and are considered an essential part of school faculties. They help students meet the performance standards established by their school district, and their responsibilities include:

  • partnering with other professionals in assisting in meeting students’ needs
  • play an instrumental role in defining students’ roles and responsibilities
  • assuming responsibility to ensure that students receive appropriate services

2 – Does the SLP serve a function in the student’s literacy (reading and writing)?

Students who are challenged in developing proper language skills are more vulnerable than their counterparts when it comes to learning to read and write. Literacy is central to success in many areas, whether it be academic, economic, or social. SLPs’ expertise in the processes that are required for successful communication, as well as an understanding of disorders,  provides them the ability to address problems related to literacy.

According to ASHA, the practice of speech-language pathology includes “comprehension and expression in oral, written, graphic, and manual modalities; language processing; pre literacy and language-based literacy skills, including phonological awareness.”

3 – Is it permissible for a school district to deny speech-language pathology services to children with “mild” articulation disorders providing that the district decides that the particular disability does not “adversely affect educational performance”?

There is room for both the state and local education agencies to interpret the phrase “adversely affects educational performance.”  However, it is evident they cannot deny IDEA-mandated services to students with a speech or language impairment merely because that student’s problem is not severe enough to cause a discrepancy in age/grade performance in an academic subject-matter area.

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It is clear though that if acquiring adequate and appropriate communication skills is necessary for a child to be successfully meet your school’s academic standards and curriculum, then those skills are considered a necessity for the child to attend school.  In such a case, the student’s language deficit is adversely affecting educational performance and requires services.

 4 – What are essential elements of IDEA 2004 legislation and regulations vis a vis providing speech-language services in the schools?

Key features related to SLP services to consider in the legislation and regulations include:

  • qualified related service providers
  • changes to the IEP
  • changes to the identification of specific learning disabilities
  • early intervening services

Some Peace of Mind

Surely you must have enough on your plate without seeking answers to some of these questions.  While perhaps not the most critical, without being armed with the information that you need, you risk unnecessary complications, maybe even risking non-compliance. Knowledge is power, and now you have the basics to serve your students that need speech therapy.

school administrators financial assistance

School Administrators: Do You Need Some Financial Assistance?

Shortage

As reported by The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “there is a considerable national shortage of Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs) projected over next few years. An additional 28,800 SLPs will be needed to fill the demand between 2010 and 2020—a 23% increase in job openings.”

As a result of the worsening national shortage, schools are increasingly unable to provide sorely needed SLPs adequately. Inflated costs press upon overstrained budgets, and school personnel is forced to devote inordinate amounts of time and effort hunting down scarce resources.

Not Enough Money

Let’s suppose for a moment that there was no SLP shortage. Let’s even imagine that there was a healthy surplus. Would that make the problem disappear? The answer is no! That’s because of an equally imposing hurdle– money, or not enough of it.

Aside from budget shortfalls, there are the higher recruitment fees charged by staffing agencies to find “distant and elusive” SLPs, and then once SLP is found, there are the reimbursements for transportation expenses.  The heartbreaking reality is this: there is less money available to provide the children the services they need.

The Optimal Solution

Online speech therapy, or “teletherapy,” is an innovative, cost effective solution that offers maximum flexibility by overcoming barriers of distance, unavailability of specialists, and impaired mobility. By extending top-quality clinical services to remote, rural, and underserved populations, Teletherapy may significantly reduce the SLP shortage, and alleviate severely strained school budgets allowing administrators to focus on other educational priorities.

Teletherapy in many ways is similar face-to-face therapy, but instead of sitting in the same room, the therapist and student communicate via high-resolution, live video conferencing. During therapy sessions, the student and therapist can see, hear, and interact with one another in real time, using webcams, headsets, and a live, synchronous online learning environment.

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Save Money

Telepractice has exceptional value and is affordable. There is a mistaken perception that telepractice is more costly than traditional onsite therapy due to the additional expenses associated with clinical services, equipment, and adding a paraprofessional and technology.

In fact, the opposite is true. The online speech therapy provider, save for the computer, generally covers technology-related costs and, even after factoring in a paraprofessional, can be less expensive than what a traditional staffing agency would charge. And the fee for an online speech therapist is comparable to that of an on-site therapist.

Savings:  Let Me Count The Ways

  1. Traveling expenses for the therapist are eliminated.
  2. Traditional staffing agencies often charge a premium fee to find a therapist who will travel, which of course with teletherapy is irrelevant.
  3. Relieves schools of other administrative issues and expenses by streamlining scheduling, easing tracking and reporting, simplifying, auditing and organizing accurate instantly retrievable records through the digital services provided.

No Compromise on Quality

Best of all, there is no compromise needed when it comes to quality.  Teletherapy affords schools access to top-notch ASHA certified SLPs, as they are no longer limited to locally-based SLPs, but can draw from a nationwide network of highly qualified, certified therapists.

Teletherapy has been used successfully since the late 1990’s in hundreds of thousands of therapy sessions across the United States, according to leading teletherapy providers. It has been found to be an effective and appropriate therapeutic delivery mode in 20 years of research by over 40 academic published studies, beginning with the Mayo Clinic’s 1997 landmark paper.

It’s a No Brainer

So, if you are a school administrator, and serious about getting that financial assistance without the sacrifice, your answer may be no further away than a few clicks.  Try it out, you have nothing to lose, but perhaps some of those financial headaches!

school administrators

School Administrators: Want to Avoid Unnecessary Problems This Year?

With the school year about to begin again, undoubtedly if you are a school administrator there is a good chance that you are already thinking about what problems are in store for you this year.  And you are not alone.

Unexpected Problems

Bullying, ADD, discipline problems, new teachers untried and untested are but a few things on your mind.  But did you ever stop to consider that a seemingly harmless issue such as a speech or language difficulty could easily mushroom into a much more serious problem requiring your attention?

To the casual observer, a child’s life seems carefree; but, appearances can be deceiving. The truth is that many children, in fact, struggle with anxiety, the “apprehension or excessive fear of real or imagined circumstances,” and it can be difficult to spot as it consists primarily of internal emotional upset.

Communication problems Trigger Anxiety?

What has been recently learned is that children who show signs of social and communication problems early on may be at risk of later development of social anxiety, according to a study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

The researchers analyzed reports of social and communication difficulties and anxiety symptoms in 9,491 children at 7, 10, and 13 years old. The researchers found that more social and communication difficulties were associated with heightened social anxiety symptoms across all ages.

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How do communication disorders present in a school setting?

Common Anxiety Symptoms and triggers

  • Refusal to go to school – Often children who are suffering from acute anxiety will tell their parents that they are sick or concoct some other excuse attempting to avoid going to school.
  • Avoidance of new settings – Children are born explorers. If the student is apprehensive about venturing to new places, it is quite likely anxiety issue that is holding him/her back.
  • Bullying – Children with communication disorders are often more prone to bullying as they are “easy prey.” And it becomes a vicious cycle as the communication deficiency makes the child vulnerable, and can then induce anxiety which only exacerbates the problem.
  • Socialization Struggles – Some students make friends quite quickly, while other, other children need to push themselves to socialize with other kids their age. If the child isn’t trying to make new friends, it may be anxiety related due to his/her communication disorder.
  • Participation Anxiety – The kid may shy away from participating in a class discussion out of the fear of exposing his/her communication deficiency.

Relieve The Suffering Before It Is Too Late

Armed with this insight, school administrators, when informed by the teacher of any of these symptoms, are poised to intervene and relieve the unnecessary suffering of these children.  And in so doing, they will be able to provide a relatively simple solution before the problem gets out of hand.

Speech Therapy is the Solution

Speech and Language therapy can correct every kind of communication problem, whether they are related to speaking (Speech), or related to understanding (Language).

And if a speech language therapist isn’t readily available, online speech therapy, teletherapy, is a proven, alternative gaining traction around the country.  Either way, helping the needy children is a necessity that cannot be overlooked without inviting potentially severe consequences.

 

speech therapy

An Administrator’s Headache: Speech Disorders in the Classroom

Challenges

It goes without saying that a student’s inability to communicate in the classroom setting saddles the teacher in numerous ways. And the problem left to its own will not only fester, but more than likely mushroom into other areas as well- academics, socialization, and low self-esteem to name but a few.

Stereotypes

How might a teacher describe students with a communication disorder?

  • Aggressive
  • Asocial
  • Confused
  • Disruptive
  • Impulsive
  • Frustrated
  • Immature
  • Stubborn
  • Submissive
  • Unmotivated
  • Characteristics

However, beyond the mere description, it is imperative for teachers not only to label how the child is “being experienced,” but to recognize exactly where the child is failing.  In other words, “What exactly is the problem”?  The teacher may be observing any of the following challenges:

1) Academic Performance:

  • failure to follow directions
  • difficulty organizing ideas
  • difficulty producing sounds or finding the “right words”
  • Responding slowly

2) Social Interaction:

  • hesitant to interact with other children
  • rejection or exclusion by other children
  • problem carrying on a conversation
  • difficulty negotiating rules for games

3) Behavior:

  • consistently frustrated
  • lots of arguments
  • frequently fighting with peers
  • the pattern of withdrawing from interactions

Implications

Often students suffering from speech and language disabilities become frustrated with school and begin to suffer emotionally. Teachers must attempt to assist these children in developing the requisite skills to become socially integrated and academically successful, not to mention to help to cultivate their self-esteem in the hope for them to lead healthy, productive lives.

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The Teacher Can Help

For example, assist the child with conversational and social skills in specific situations such as:

  • starting a conversation or learning how to greet people
  • asking and answering questions
  • asking for clarification or assistance
  • teaching skills necessary for social communication, such as how to read facial expressions and body language and expressions

Assessments

But sometimes despite the best of intentions, whatever the teacher tries just isn’t enough.  It could be that the child needs to be assessed.  The assessment process is multi-tiered, multidisciplinary and occurs in a continuous cycle—from planning through to final evaluation. Both parents and teachers provide valuable information and insight in the assessment process.

Speech Therapy

Often the assessment will show that the student’s challenges are beyond the teacher’s capacity to deal with it.  It is time for the intervention of a professional who will provide additional, precision-guided intervention to solve the child’s problem and put that student back on the road to academic and social success and increased self-esteem.

Teletherapy

However, there are school administrators that are at a loss to provide adequately for the speech therapy needs of all of their students.  Whether it’s cost, scheduling or just finding the right therapist for that particular child, school administrators, notwithstanding their concern for their students are increasingly becoming frustrated by the search.

An increasingly popular solution is online speech therapy or teletherapy as it has come to be known.  The wonders of technology have given new hope to school administrators and children alike by facilitating top quality, convenient and affordable speech therapy through video conferencing.  Whatever the venue of speech therapy delivery, the language and speech problems of children cannot be overlooked.  The potential cost is too high!