Working in schools as a speech pathologist for more than seven years, I have treated a lot of kids. One of my duties is to decide whether or not speech services continue to offer an educational benefit for students. I have found that most parents want their children to continue in speech therapy even after the school-based speech path thinks that the student needs to be dismissed. It’s okay to disagree. In fact, if you are in need of support about a recommendation from your school, feel free to email me. But here’s why for many cases, parents should agree with the speech pathologist’s recommendation:
- IEP Goals have been met. “IEP” stands for individual education program and it is what qualifies a student for speech therapy under the umbrella of “special education.” Your child is no longer eligible for speech therapy when their goals have been met. Although that’s a wonderful result of successful speech therapy, some parents cannot adjust to the idea their child will no longer receive speech therapy. Don’t be concerned! It’s a good thing.
- Speech difficulties are not producing an adverse educational effect. If “Sue,” an A student, has a lisp (the “s” sound produced between the front teeth), technically she doesn’t qualify for school-based speech therapy. The communication disorder has to have a measurable impact on his/her education. Oftentimes single sound errors do not cause a child’s grades to drop. If parents consider those errors still serious, (click to read more)they can pursue private speech therapy outside of the school at their own expense. Some school-based speech pathologists treat those errors in RTI (response to intervention) groups without an IEP. Talk to your school’s speech pathologist for more information.
- Lack of motivation. Motivation is an important factor in your child working hard to change their speech. If the child has lost interest in speech therapy, it will affect their progress and their prognosis or the predicted outcome of a diagnosis.
- Lack of progress. A student can work hard, but sometimes their progress can stagnate. If there is no progress, it means that the speech pathologist treatment is no longer effective or that the student’s abilities have reached a plateau. The reason dismissal is the right choice is because there is no benefit to the child. Moreover, if the student is being pulled out from the classroom, there might be missed instruction that would negatively impact the child’s academic progress.
- More time in the classroom is better for the child’s education. In most of the schools I’ve worked, students receive speech therapy in what is called the “pull out” model or the students are taken out of their classroom to receive speech therapy away from their classroom. That means that the student misses part of classroom-based instructional time. Most schools forbid the speech pathologist from scheduling students during “specials” or music, library, computer, art, and physical education. So regular classroom time is the only time left for students to receive speech therapy. The student needs to have a communication disorder severe enough to warrant missing out on classroom instruction. If not, then dismissal from speech makes sense.
- A student’s behavior or attention is making treatment impossible. If a student cannot focus on the speech lessons, he or she will not be able to learn how to produce an “l” or how to use irregular past tense verbs. A lot of speech students also have other learning or behavior problems so most speech pathologists have enough training or skills to be able to handle the occasional acting out or not listening. But severe behavioral issues including aggression and defiance will make it impossible for the student to learn new and sometimes challenging speech and language skills. Those kinds of kids can be dismissed from speech temporarily until their behavior issues improve. Some school districts offer the option of consultative speech services or that the speech services remain on an IEP without any direct minutes.
If you feel like your student is being unfairly dismissed from speech therapy, contact me. I’m available for consultation.