What is the difference between school speech therapy and private speech therapy?
There is a significant difference between qualifying for therapy services in the school setting and in the private setting.
Obtaining Speech and Language Services in the Private Setting
A parent, relative, or guardian will contact the practice and have a consultation about concerns for a child or children. The Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) will have the adult complete Child History Forms to have formal documentation of the child’s medical history, academic history, and parent concerns. The SLP will review the documentation with the parent, to discuss any concerns and to clarify anything. An evaluation of speech or language skills is scheduled and once the child is evaluated a formal speech and/or language report is written, explained, and provided to the parent(s)/guardian. The report will describe the tests that were given to the child, their strengths, weaknesses, scores and whether or not therapy is recommended. If therapy is recommended for the child then goals are drafted to assist with the student’s areas of difficulties. The SLP and parent or guardian will discuss how often the child will be seen to begin working on their therapy goals.
In the private setting, speech and language therapy services can be provided if there is a medical necessity for them and if there is evidence that a difference, disorder or delay exists. This process is quite different from how a child qualifies for services in the school setting.
Obtaining Speech Services in the School Setting
In the school setting, if a teacher has a concern with a student’s speech, she or he completes a speech observation form provided by a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP). Once the form is completed with the teacher’s concerns, the SLP will observe the student and record their observations. If the SLP finds that the student’s speech is adversely impacting him/her in the academic setting, the SLP will recommend that a formal evaluation be conducted. The student’s speech will have to be negatively impacting the student’s academic progress or negatively impacting the student’s social interactions with his or her peers or adults, to qualify for speech services. For example, 1) if a student has difficulty producing certain sounds this can impact his/her ability to read and write, 2) if a student has difficulty with stuttering this may impact social interactions and classroom interactions, 3) if a student is not understood by their teacher or peers this may impact their social and academic progress. Once these observations are completed, all information is then discussed with the parent on whether there is or is not a concern, at the time. If a student’s speech difficulties are academically and/or socially relevant, then permission to formally evaluate the student is to be signed by the parent. This begins the evaluation process toward receiving speech therapy services in the school setting.
Obtaining Language Services in the Pre-Kindergarten Program
If a teacher has concerns about a child’s language skills, the SLP will provide the teacher and the parent with language checklists to describe the child’s current language abilities. Once these checklists are returned the SLP will observe the student as well and make observations about their language strengths and weaknesses. If the pre-k student’s language skills are impacting them academically and/or socially, the SLP will discuss the findings with the parent and seek permission to formally evaluate the student. Once permission has been given the SLP is then able to evaluate the student and move toward finding out if the student has an expressive, receptive, or pragmatic language disorder.
Obtaining Language Services for student’s in K-12
If a teacher has concerns about a child’s language skills, the SLP will collaborate with the teacher to provide evidenced-based programs/activities to help the student make progress in the classroom. The teacher must complete documentation for the Response to Intervention (RtI) process. This process helps the teacher support the student’s learning needs. If the student is unable to learn best in a large group setting in the classroom, the teacher implements different strategies and interventions to see if the student responds well to these interventions, which can include instruction in a small group setting. If the student is not showing a positive response to the teacher and SLP’s interventions, then the teacher and SLP will meet with the RtI team to discuss possibly evaluating the student’s academic skills or language skills. A formal language evaluation cannot be obtained until a student has shown little to no progress during the third tier of the RtI process.
Asia Hutchins has been a licensed (SA14300) and certified speech-language pathologist (SLP) since 2012. She earned a Master of Science Degree from Florida State University in 2012 and received her Bachelor of Science degree in Communication Science and Disorders from Florida State University in 2010.