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 recommendation for dismissal. 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:
Dismissal Reason 1: IEP Goals have been met
- “IEP” stands for individual education program. It is what qualifies a student for speech therapy. Speech therapy falls 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.
Dismissal Reason 2: No 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.
Dismissal Reason 3: 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.
Dismissal Reason 4: 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, missed instruction that would negatively impact the child’s academic progress.
Dismissal Reason 5: Needs More Time in the Regular Classroom
- In most of the schools I’ve worked, students receive “pull out” speech therapy. Students leave their classroom to receive speech therapy in the speech room. 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.
Dismissal Reason 6: Behavior or Attention Get in the Way
- A student’s behavior or attention is making treatment impossible. If a student cannot focus on the speech lessons, it will be difficult to make progress. For example. he or she will not be able to learn how to produce an “l” or how to use irregular past tense verbs. Don’t get me wrong, many of speech students also have other learning or behavior problems. Most speech pathologists have enough training or skills to be able to handle the occasional acting out or not listening. But aggression and defiance will make it impossible for the student to learn new and sometimes challenging speech and language skills. Some school districts offer the option of consultative speech services. Consult services refers to the speech services that remain on an IEP without any direct minutes.