The Initial IEP Process-Speech and Language

For the parent whose child is referred for speech and language services in the school. You get a letter in the mail from the school SLP saying your child is being referred for speech and language testing and services. Okay, so now you’re probably thinking, “what is an SLP and what do they do? And what is this ‘testing/evaluation’ going to look like for my kid?

Let’s break it down, starting with who will begin this process with your kiddo: the SLP. 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, “Speech and language? What’s the difference?” If your child has trouble with speech, he/she struggles with correctly saying sounds. More or less, your child may have difficulty with coordinating the muscles and/or movements necessary to produce accurate speech sounds. Often in the SLP world, an articulation is referred to when saying sounds. If your child has trouble with language, he/she may struggle with understanding or comprehending what he/she hears (receptive language), or your child may struggle with having words to express his/her thoughts in a meaningful message (expressive language). It is possible for a child to have both speech AND language difficulties. 

Back to those daunting words: testing and evaluations. Testing for speech and language reasons should not be feared. It is nothing that you, as a parent, or your child should fear. In reality, your child may not realize that they are even taking a “test”. The evaluations are performed to give the SLP more specific information about your child’s strengths and weaknesses in the areas of speech and/or language. We, as SLPs, are then able to use the information we gather during testing to create appropriate goals for your child.

After testing and if your child qualifies for speech/language services at school, the SLP will begin to instruct, model, and teach your child to address his/her areas of need. The SLP will continue to monitor and measure your child’s progress during sessions. You should get regular updates on your child’s progress. Speak with your child’s school SLP if you have any questions or concerns during this process! We are here to help you and your child!

-Madison McDowell, M.A., CCC-SLP