Hi blog hoppers, welcome to my blog! The month of May is Better Speech and Hearing Month (BSHM). To celebrate, I’m participating in a blog hop about School-Based Innovation and RTI. Click over to Speech Language and Literacy Lab to check out the complete list of May’s blog posts. Scroll down to the bottom of this post for access to TWO FREEBIES for #bshm!
My name is Sarah Wu, I’m a bilingual speech-language pathologist living and working in Chicagoland, and I’m just about to enter my tenth year as a bilingual speech path. I speak Spanish every day to students, teachers, and parents. When I majored in Spanish, I never realized how much of a chance I would get to speak it. Doing all of my therapy in Spanish is fun and challenging — and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
When I first started doing response to intervention (RTI) in my speech room, I was unsure about how to implement it. Part of why I felt that way was that I felt some internal resistance about RTI. Frankly, I was skeptical about how successful it would be. I felt that progress in speech therapy occurred after a long time of intensive work, not after just a few weeks. My other concern was about my large caseload. I didn’t want the time necessary to implement RTI to impact the delivery of my IEP minutes.
I needn’t have worried. Starting an RTI program with my students actually has made my job easier. Having an RTI program has prevented kids from being labeled as speech impaired and then receiving IEPs. Exiting kids from speech can be a bureaucratic nightmare. Here are two RTI case study success stories with my Spanish speakers from this past year:
Student A moved from another country and started third grade after the first month of school. Although the classroom teacher taught in English, she spoke both English and Spanish. Student A spoke no English and was entirely Spanish-dominant . The teacher took me aside and said she couldn’t understand a word the child said and told me, “Student A is very severe.”
After the teacher said that, I became nervous. It obviously was articulation, but could it be language, too? I obtained written parental permission to screen the student. Student A was pleasant and chatted a lot during the screening. The student omitted /s/ — that was the only speech sound error. That was significant enough to decrease intelligibility to warrant the teacher’s concerns. In terms of language, the student passed everything in Spanish.
I conferred with the teacher, obtained parental permission for RTI, and I jumped in. I started teaching the student /s/ in individual therapy (because I have only students in second grade and under because students in third grade typically don’t need native language support. The monolingual English SLP takes over). After six weeks of RTI, the student was able to produce /s/ in phrases and short sentences. Even though I was excited about the progress, I went ahead and signed up the student for a speech and language evaluation. The student was responding to intervention, but I wanted to formalize her therapy services in an IEP. Educational adverse effect was apparent: her teacher had trouble understanding her and the student was reluctant to speak in class.
RTI continued through the evaluation process. Student A continued to improve and when it became time to test, the student produced no errors and therefore didn’t qualify. I was nervous about presenting that information to the teacher, but when I did, the teacher said that “something had clicked.” We were both thrilled by the student’s acquisition of her /s/ sound. RTI was the push she needed to be successful!
A first grade student was referred due to having no /r/. After parental permission, I screened the student and /r/ was the only speech sound error. Conceptual knowledge and grammar was not a concern; however, the student was very quiet, but when he did speak, his rate of speech was very fast. I decided the student would benefit from RTI for speech. The student’s academics were within the average range, but his shyness did create an adverse educational effect due to lack of participation in the classroom. Mom agreed to have her child join the speech RTI program.
RTI therapy started with Student B joining an existing articulation group with students from his class (they had IEPs with speech as a related service). Student B was highly motivated and, because the group was small, he participated fully and without his shyness. He attempted /r/ frequently and took homework home eagerly. However, after six weeks the student hadn’t made progress so I started the evaluation process by having mom sign consent for evaluation.
By the time that it was time to test him (after three months), his /r/ error had disappeared. First, his “rr” (the Spanish trill) emerged. I’ve found “rr” often emerges while practicing and over-exaggerating a blend like BR as in “brazo” (arm). After he had the “rr” sound, “r” showed up. Yeah, buy one, get one! Formal testing revealed no speech sound errors and everyone agreed at the eligibility meeting that there was nothing left to work on!
Having skepticism about something at the beginning is good. But it shouldn’t stop you from moving forward and trying new things. I’m happy that I used RTI with my students this year. Those students received the benefit of speech therapy without having to be labeled as speech impaired and I received the benefit of reduced paperwork.
Feel free to comment below with your questions. I’d love to answer them and hear your comments!
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Thanks again for “hopping” by!