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 a speech or language impairment;
- 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 TAC89.1040(c)(10) and
- By reason of the speech or language impairment, the child needs special education and/or related services (20 USC1401(3)(A) ).
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 difficulties 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 Response to Intervention (RTI) Committee must refer the student for a full and individual initial evaluation.
- Students with suspected speech and/or language impairments are evaluated using a comprehensive battery that is conducted by a professional that is licensed and/or certified as a speech-language pathologist. Professionals may maintain the Texas state license in speech-language pathology, or may hold the Texas Education Agency (TEA) Speech and Hearing Therapy certificate as previously granted by the TEA. Many speech-language pathologists also hold the American Speech, Hearing, and Language Associations Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech and Language Pathology.
- 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 may be 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 which 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 in the special education speech therapy classroom 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. If a student is demonstrating difficulty with feeding and/or swallowing while at school, a technical consultation should be requested from the speech-language pathologist (SLP) on the Dysphagia Team. The SLP will make a campus visit to review the student files and medical records. The SLP will observe the student during feeding. Recommendations for feeding and swallowing may be made to the classroom staff and training is provided to staff when needed. The school nurse may be part of the team when additional information is needed from the parents and the child's doctor.
Speech Therapy Services for Medically Fragile Students
Some medically fragile students may require home-bound services and/or may experience a temporary period of time when they are not medically stable enough to benefit from Speech Therapy services. The ARD committee will determine if speech therapy services during this time should be direct or consultative and will determine the frequency and duration of speech therapy services while home-bound. Service time provided while the student is home-bound is determined based on each individual situation and the student's ability to participate while ill.
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 Ore City ISD eligibility guidelines?
- Is a Speech/Language Pathologist necessary to provide the intervention required or can services be redirected through other special education providers?
- Feedback from teachers, parents, and student is considered.
- The justification for the decision to dismiss must be documented in detail in the ARD document.
- Determination of dismissal is made by the committee during an ARD meeting.