Speech-Language Therapy Services
Framework (What’s Required):
In Texas, speech-language therapy is considered an instructional service. This means it can be a stand-alone service as well as a support in order to receive benefit from other special education services. However, in considering the delivery of speech services, all the same factors associated with the individual determination of related services, such as frequency, location and duration of services, must be considered. A child may be determined to be a child with speech or language impairment if;
- The child has a communication disorder such as, stuttering, impaired articulation, a language impairment, or a voice impairment; ( CFR 34 300.8(c)(11)and
- The speech or language impairment adversely affects the child's educational performance; 19 TAC1040(c)(10)and
- By reason of the speech or language impairment, the child needs special education and/or related services (20 USC1401(3)(A)).
Methods (What We Do):
A child who has difficulty producing speech or understanding and communicating ideas may have a speech-language impairment. When a person is unable to produce speech sounds correctly or fluently, or has problems with his or her voice, he or she has a speech disorder. Difficulties pronouncing sounds, or articulation disorders, and stuttering are examples of speech disorders. When a person has trouble understanding others (receptive language), or sharing thoughts, ideas, and feelings completely (expressive language), he or she has a language disorder.
- Prior to referral, students experiencing language difficulty in the general education classroom should be considered for the support services available to all students such as tutorials, remedial services, and/or other support services.
- If the student continues to experience difficulty in the general education classroom after the provision of interventions, the Intervention Assistance Team (IAT) must refer the student for a full and individual initial evaluation.
- Students with suspected speech and/or language impairments are evaluated using a comprehensive speech battery that is conducted by a professional that is licensed and/or certified as a Speech-Language Pathologist. Some professionals may hold Speech and Hearing Therapy certificates as previously granted by the Texas Education Agency.
- When a student is determined eligible for speech-language services, the service delivery and clinical methods must focus on achieving the speech and/or language goals in the child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). These services are provided using a direct service delivery model, and may target one or more of the following areas:
- Articulation – Abnormal production of speech sounds.
- Stuttering – Abnormal flow of verbal expression characterized by impaired rate/rhythm.
- Language – Impairment or delayed development of comprehension and/or use of a spoken/written or other symbol system.
- Voice – Absence or abnormal production of vocal quality, pitch, loudness, and/or resonance.
Direct Service Delivery Models
- Generalization of skills to the natural setting is crucial for independent communication.
- The Least Restrictive Environment should be considered in the selection of a service delivery model
- Least Restrictive Environment (LRE), an IDEA mandate, provides that eligible students are educated with students without disabilities to the maximum extent appropriate.
- The following is a description of speech-language service models that are available based on the individual needs of the student.
- This model of speech therapy provides direct services to students within the classroom setting.
- Team teaching by the Speech-Language Pathologist and the regular and/or special education teacher(s) can be utilized within this model.
- Classroom-based speech-language services involve the use of curriculum content and context for determining a student’s communication intervention needs and progress.
- Intervention is provided in natural environments such as the classroom or the community to integrate communication goals with the curriculum.
- Traditional Pull-Out Service
- In the traditional direct service pullout model, the Speech-Language Pathologist provides services to students (individually or in small groups) in the speech room or sometimes within the physical space of the classroom setting
- The traditional pull-out model is the most restrictive environment for speech therapy services.
Feeding and Swallowing
A fundamental educational need for students is adequate nutrition and hydration during their school day. The district’s Dysphagia Team should be notified of a student who is having difficulty with feeding and/or swallowing while at school.
Speech Therapy Services for Medically Fragile Students
Medically Fragile Students who require home-bound services may experience a temporary period of time when they are not medically stable enough to benefit from Speech Therapy services. During this time, the Speech-Language Pathologist's role would be to consult with the student's nurse and home-bound teacher periodically to determine when the student is stable enough to benefit from services. The ARD/IEP committee will determine the frequency and duration of the consultative speech therapy services during this time.
- Dismissal Considerations
The Speech-Language Pathologist must use sound professional judgment and competency, in addition to evaluation data, in recommending that services are no longer warranted. The following factors must be considered:
- Evaluation Data- Does evaluation data indicate that the student no longer qualifies for services according to HISD’s eligibility guidelines? (see above three bullet points “What is Required”)
- Duration of Services- How long has the student been receiving speech therapy services?
- Capacity of student for change- Is the student receiving meaningful benefit from services? What is the Speech-Language Pathologist’s reasonable statement of prognosis? Does the student’s primary disability limit their ability to benefit from the specialized services of the SLP?
The following are situations in which a student who continues to have a speech impairment may be dismissed from speech therapy:
- Progress is no longer made towards goals,
- Lack of motivation and interest prevents them from benefiting from the specialized services.
- The primary disability limits their ability to benefit from the specialized services of the SLP.
Determination of dismissal is made by the ARD/IEP committee during an ARD/IEP meeting.