Speech and language services in the schools
OK. You just received a letter in the mail from the school saying your child is being referred for speech and language testing and services. So now you’re probably thinking “what is a Speech Pathologist and what do they do? What is this “testing/evaluation” going to look like for my kid?”
Let’s break it all down, starting with who will begin this process with your kiddo: the SLP. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) “works to prevent, assess, diagnose, and treat speech, language, social communication, cognitive-communication, and swallowing disorders in children and adults.”
Now, you may be thinking “Um, speech and language? What’s the difference?” Well, if your child has trouble with speech, they will struggle with the “how-to” of talking. More or less, your child will have difficulty with the coordination of the muscles and/or movements necessary to produce accurate speech sounds. Often in the SLP world, saying “sounds” is referred to as articulation. If your child has trouble with language, they may struggle with understanding or comprehending what they hear (receptive language) or they may struggle with having the words necessary to express their thoughts into a meaningful message (expressive language). It is possible that a child may have issues with one area--speech or language--but it is not uncommon that speech and language difficulties co-occur.
Now back to the words "Testing and evaluations." Really, testing for speech and language is nothing that you, as a parent, or your child should fear. In all reality, your child will most likely not realize that they are even taking a “test”. The evaluations are performed in order to give the SLP more specific information about the speech and language development of your child and help determine if there are any skills that may need to be addressed. We, as SLP’s, are able to create goals for your child based on their needs demonstrated from the test results.
After testing and confirmation that your child qualifies in the school system, the SLP will begin to instruct, model, and teach your child in their areas of need. The SLP will continue to monitor and measure your child’s progress during their sessions to determine if the goals that were created after testing have been met, or how therapy may need to be adjusted in order to continue progress. You should get updates on their progress. If you have any questions or concerns, be sure to speak up! The SLP will be glad to speak with you and answer any questions you may have.
If you have concerns about your child's speech and language skills, please contact our office. We would love to set up a free screening to determine if your child may benefit from our services. Sidekick would love to work with your family!
Madison McDowell, M.A. CCC-SLP