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.

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.