Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) help children improve engagement and achievement so that they meet the academic and social performance standards of their environment. SLPs do so through interventions that increase functional communication skills, as it relates to fluency, speech production, language, cognition, voice, resonance, and auditory habilitation/rehabilitation. Services are provided to increase the student’s functional communication of wants and needs within the school environment.
AIS-provided SLPs will assist and provide students, as well as their parents or guardians, with ways in which to augment and enhance the necessary communication skills for the student’s meaningful participation in the academic environment, as well as achieve and maintain quality of life.
According to the Virginia Regulations governing Special Education Programs for children with Disabilities (8 VAC 20-8010 et al), defines speech-language pathology services as: identification of children with speech-language impairments, appraisal and diagnosis of the impairment, referral for medical or other professional attention, provision of speech-language services for prevention or habilitation of communication impairments, and counseling and guidance for parents, children and teachers regarding speech and/or language impairments .
Speech-Language pathology services are both special education and a related service and may also be provided as part of a general education initiative.
According to the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA), the focus of school-based Speech-Language Pathologists is the communication abilities of students . The school-based Speech-Language Pathologist’s goal is to remediate, improve, or alleviate student communication and swallowing problems within the educational environment. To meet this goal, school-based Speech-Language Pathologists:
A referral for an assessment is made either thorough the results of state mandated speech and language screenings performed on all new, Kindergarten, 3rd, 7th, and 10th grade students. Or the referral can be made by a parent, teachers, or the members of the special education team.
Following assessment by an SLP, the educational team will meet to consider the results of the assessment and determine whether it is educationally necessary to add SLP services to the student’s plan.
The difference between medically-based and school-based SLP is the scope of the focus of services. A clinic or hospital-based therapist will evaluate, recommend services, treat and monitor progress for any impairments that can be measured. For example, a clinic-based SLP may work with a student who has some articulation errors that alter, but do not impede the child’s intelligibility. They may address auditory processing activities that make following directions within the household challenging for the child. Feeding and swallowing therapy are also typically treated in a medical/clinical setting.
Within the school setting, however, SLPs address disabilities, skill deficits, and/or injuries that directly impact that student’s ability to participate in and benefit from school-related tasks and roles. In the above examples, the students may qualify for Special Educational services due to learning differences, but may still not qualify for school-based OT. They do not need to be able to play guitar or soccer or tolerate a bath to be able to benefit from their educational setting. The skill deficits would need to be such that their educational performance or participation is significantly impacted.