Role Of A Speech Pathologist In Special Education
By: Suzie Dalien, M.Ed.
When our son was a tiny toddler, he didn’t develop as fast as his older sister…
Using words that didn’t make sense even to us, was his way of communicating.
His frustration grew as he aged…
We could tell he was trying, but we just didn’t understand.
It wasn’t until he was four-years-old, we finally had him tested…
Just as I thought, he was delayed but could be helped by an SLP (Speech-Language Pathologist)!
Why did we wait?
Well, my husband who is not a special educator just kept selling me on the idea that he would “grow out of it…”
With this, I learned to trust my professional instincts…
Disabilities come in many forms –
All disabilities can lead to a child with special needs having trouble learning.
A developmental disability means the child is not performing at the same standards as their age-appropriate peer group.
This can be due to several factors and is often incredibly frustrating for both parents and children to cope with.
For this reason, there are all manner of specialists to help your child overcome their stumbling blocks to educational success.
A speech-language pathologist is a trained medical professional who can help your child with several oral disorders such as;
- Trouble Swallowing
- Motor Skills
- Speech Issues
- Cognitive-Linguistic Conditions
An SLP’s role is to;
- Help assess a condition
- Diagnose precisely what the problem is
- Develop a plan to help treat the disorder
- Follow through with therapy and other methods to ensure the child with special needs is getting the help they need.
Speech issues are sometimes caused by neurological damage or impairment from an extenuating circumstance, like a sudden disease or accident, while others are inherently present from birth.
No matter the reason for the issue, a speech pathologist is trained to handle whatever problems they might be presented with.
After a diagnosis is made and a course of treatment agreed upon, a speech pathologist will work closely with the affected child to correct the issue as best as possible.
They help to correct;
- Speech sounds
- How language is perceived in children with developmental disabilities
- Other disorders – such as speaking in a harsh or inappropriate tone during certain moments
No matter the need for speech therapy, this specialized pathologist can help your child succeed in changing their speech habits for the better.
Speech Pathologists In The School
If a child with special needs attends a school with active special education services, it’s likely there is a speech-language pathologist (SLP) available to assist with your child’s unique disorder.
These therapists work in a public school setting to support those children whose speech impairments affect their ability to perform well in the classroom, social activities, and overall literacy levels.
A disability of this nature can be understandably scary and frustrating for the child, which is why SLPs often see children in a contained environment for personal attention and learning.
School-based speech pathology services are only provided once a child has been evaluated and diagnosed with a speech disorder, and it has been proven that their disability will immediately impact their continued educational success.
Once an SLP has been brought in to assist your child with special needs, they will work closely with both you and the school to communicate;
- Therapeutic Plans and Goals
- Continued Progress or Setbacks
- General Information or Resources
They will help your child get the educational support needed for a bright future.
IEP and SLP: Roles and Definitions
If you are not familiar with an IEP, the acronym stands for Individualized Education Plan and is necessary for children with special needs to receive special education services in a public school setting.
Working with teachers, school officials, and speech pathologists, you will agree upon a designated plan of action to achieve individual goals, which the SLP will then work towards with your child during their sessions together.
IEP’s are uniquely created for each child’s specific set of needs– there is no standard goal to reach or plan to follow. Your child’s abilities concerning their condition will be taken into consideration first before an IEP can be finalized, and results will be communicated every step of the way.
The speech pathologist can provide therapy information to you at any time, should you request it, which eliminates the parental worry of not knowing what’s going on with your child.
The school’s SLP is required to be present during the creation of an IEP, as their intimate working knowledge of the specific condition provides valuable insight into how the disorder should be managed and what outcome to expect from treatment.
Your opinion on the child’s action plan also plays a vital role into how the IEP is constructed, especially since you spend each day with your child’s unique learning struggles both in the home and at school.
Do not be afraid to speak up during the meeting, as you want your child to receive the best services possible.
Getting the Help You Need
It might take a while for you to notice that your child requires speech pathology services, especially if they are four years of age or under; if they are showing signs of having trouble speaking, making noise or only use hand gestures, it is time to seek a professional diagnosis.
Between 12 and 18 Months
A child between the ages of 12 and 18 months, and especially by two years, should be able to use hand gestures to convey concepts and understand simple verbal requests, such as “drink” or “bring the ball.”
Between Two and Four years
Between two and four, children should be starting to speak in a manner which is easier to understand, using more complex words, and slowing down the use of hand gestures.
If your child seems to be exhibiting behaviors that are not expected of their age group, seek specialized help; catching an issue early on gives your child a higher rate of success when it comes to learning later on.
Do not be afraid to ask for assistance regarding your child’s possible special needs, and remember to be patient and kind towards your child, as they undoubtedly have a harder time than you can imagine.
Finding a qualified SLP can help your child reach a high level of achievement beyond your expectations, and set them on a continued course of learning that goes above their limitations.
Special Education Resource wants to help by providing you with as much information as possible regarding all aspects of special education so you can make an informed decision regarding your child’s educational choices.
This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 11th, 2014 at and is filed under Special Education Therapy and tagged as Special Education Therapy, Speech-Language Pathologist. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.