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Collaborating with your School Speech Therapist

How do we start receiving speech services at school?

If you have concerns regarding your child’s speech and language skills, the first step is to contact your school’s administration. If your child’s communication skills are impeding their academic progress, an evaluation will be administered by a speech-language pathologist. If needed, other multidisciplinary team members such as occupational therapists and psychologists may be involved in the evaluation progress. In-depth evaluations are conducted to gain a comprehensive view of your child’s needs so that an effective treatment plan can be administered.  

speech therapist working with a child in a school library

How are speech services provided?

If your child qualifies for speech and language services, meaning that their disability is impacting their ability to make progress in the school environment, then they will receive an IEP (individualized education program). An IEP addresses the student’s goals that can be met over the course of one school year. Depending on your child’s evaluation results, the speech therapist will determine how often your child receives speech services. The school’s speech therapist will often collaborate with other professionals such as teachers and instructional support personnel to create the best treatment plan that is unique to your child’s needs. Services may take place in a group setting, individually, inside the classroom, or outside the classroom. 

My child is receiving speech services at school but what can I do to help at home?

Effective speech therapy requires collaboration with parents! Parents can help their child generalize learned skills to a variety of environments (home, restaurants, parks, etc.) Connect with your speech therapist and ask what skills you can work on at home to help achieve goals sooner. Practice makes perfect! Even just ten minutes of practice a day can make a huge difference in your child’s communication. Parents can ask for weekly “homework” to promote carry-over in the home environment. Homework doesn’t necessarily need to be worksheets or graded assignments. It can be as easy as practicing your speech sounds in the mirror before your child goes to bed!

How can I make sure my child continues to make progress?

Set goals for you and your child! Maybe your goal could be to practice their skills for 5 minutes a day, or that they learn one new vocabulary word each week. Start small so that your child is not overwhelmed and that speech ‘homework’ remains functional and fun. Parents know their child better than anyone else so be confident in your ability to help them! Positive reinforcement can also be very effective when you are practicing with them. You can incorporate a sticker chart or visual token board to encourage motivation and participation. For example, after your child earns 5 stickers, they get a treat or time with their favorite toy. Your child will look forward to working on their communication skills!