Parent Information

What Do Speech-Language Pathologists Do in the Public Schools?    

Speech-Language Pathology is the Assessment and Treatment of Communication Disorders in children and adults.  Speech therapy includes treatment of communication disorders characterized as Speech (which consists of Articulation (speech sounds), Fluency (stuttering), and Voice) or Language.  Sometimes children do not develop sounds (speech) and Language skills at the age-appropriate time in the developmental process.   Many instances children will develop those skills on their own with no intervention.  However, there are certain cases where there is a need for speech / language intervention.  After a child is identified as having speech and/or language difficulties, we begin intervention where we will work on specific goals in order to get that child at an age-appropriate level and allow him/her to be successful in the classroom as well as other settings.  Poor communication skills can interfere with children’s ability to understand and participate in classroom instruction and may impair their relationships with teachers and other children. Good communication is important for speaking, writing, thinking, reading and learning. Speech-Language Pathologists work with children in private and public schools that have communication problems that affect their success in classroom activities, social interaction, literacy, and learning. There are four general areas that speech therapists cover within the school systems.

  • Articulation is saying one sound for another, omitting a sound in a word, or distorting a sound (a sound that “sounds like” the correct sound).
  • Language disabilities include the slow development of vocabulary, concepts, grammar, and different communication styles for different situations – the “building blocks” for expressing or understanding ideas, social development, learning, reading and writing.
  • Fluency or stuttering problems include interruptions in the flow or rhythm of speech; can include hesitations, repetitions or prolongations of sounds, syllables, words or phrases. Some fluency problems are normal in children. Further evaluation will determine if those patterns are normal or if intervention is needed.
  • Voice Disorders consist of speech that is too high, low or monotonous in pitch; interrupted by breaks; too loud of too soft; or sounds harsh, hoarse, breathy or nasal. We must have clearance from an ENT before evaluating for a voice disorder.

Speech and Language disorders can be associated with other conditions, such as hearing loss, cleft palate, cerebral palsy, and other problems. Speech-Language Pathologists combine students’ communication goals with academic and social goals by integrating classroom objectives into speech and language activities. We help children understand and use basic language concepts related to classroom learning to become good readers and writers and to understand classroom lessons. Speech and Language therapy is a fun time to work with children on speech, language, fluency and/or voice.  We incorporate various games and fun activities to involve the child as much as possible.  It is very important to keep it short, fun and interesting.  I enjoy speech and language therapy and so do the students!  We have a good time in speech!

 How Can I Prevent Speech and Language Disorders?

Articulation

  • Have your child’s hearing checked (Chronic ear infections could affect your child’s hearing and speech and language development)
  • Play with your child and use correct speech (modeling is the best intervention)
  • Interaction with other children also help a child develop correct speech patterns
  • Take care of your child’s dental and oral health (badly decayed or missing teeth may affect your child’s speech development)

 

Language

  • Talk and read with your child
  • Learn about typical speech and language development
  • Have your child’s hearing checked
  • Participate in early identification programs (ex.- headstart or preschool)
  • Avoid drinking and substance abuse particularly during pregnancy
  • Use helmets and safety belts to prevent any brain damage in case of an accident

Fluency or Stuttering

  • As much as possible, read and speak at a normal or slow rate
  • Pause about 1 second before replying to your child’s statements or questions
  • Respond to what your child says rather than how he or she says it
  • Let your child choose what you talk about
  • Never say “Stop” or “Slow Down”; allow your child to say what is on his/her mind
  • Try to maintain eye contact during a stuttering moment – that lets your child know that you are interested in what he/she is trying to say - not how it is said

Voice

  • Avoid shouting or screaming
  • Drink 8 glasses of water daily
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and smoking
  • Seek medical attention for sinus infection and allergies


The Special Education Process

Because Speech and Language Therapy is a special service offered by Marshall County School System, it falls under our Special Education Umbrella.  According the State and Federal Special Education Laws, there is a certain process that we must follow when identifying, evaluating and placing a child in speech and language therapy.  Once a child is referred for speech and language testing whether by a teacher, a parent, doctor or other agency we must follow the special education process.  We will schedule a meeting with the parents to discuss the reason or need for a speech and/or language evaluation.  The TEAM of people attending the meeting will be the child’s Parents, Teacher(s), Principal, and Speech Therapist.  We as a TEAM will determine if the child requires an evaluation. If so, we will get permission from the parents to do an initial evaluation.  The next step will be to meet back after the evaluation is completed and review the results of the evaluation with the members of the TEAM.  At that time we as a TEAM will determine if the child qualifies for speech and/or language services according to the State and Federal Special Education Laws.  We must determine if the child’s difficulties adversely affect classroom performance or participation.  If he/she qualifies, we will then set up an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) specifically for that child.  The IEP will help us as a TEAM determine what that child’s needs are to make him/her successful in the classroom.  Each year we update the IEPs for the next year.

This is the Special Education Process in a nutshell!

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