FAQs for Teachers
What does a speech-language pathologist do?
A speech-language pathologist (SLP) diagnoses and treats communication disorders. This encompasses both speech and language. SLPs can also treat feeding and swallowing difficulties.
An articulation disorder is characterized by sound errors such as substitutions or omissions. Articulation errors are normal in young children. However, if they persist past a certain age, it may indicate an articulation disorder. This student might be difficult to understand, even when given a shared context, and have difficulty imitating sounds, even when given a model. CLICK HERE for an infographic based off the 2020 article, "Children's English Consonant Acquisition in the United States: A Review," which shows the age that 90% of children produce the sound correctly. CLICK HERE for an infographic that shows the range of ages when a sound can develop.
A phonological disorder is characterized by sound errors that follow certain patterns. These patterns, called phonological processes, are used to simplify speech and are normal in young children. However, if they persist past a certain age, it may indicate a phonological disorder. This student might be difficult to understand, even when given a shared context, and have difficulty imitating sounds, even when given a model. CLICK HERE for information about phonological processes and when they are typically eliminated.
A fluency disorder is characterized by disruptions in the flow of speech. This student might present with sound or word repetitions, sound prolongations, or blocks. This student might also present with secondary characteristics, such as eye blinks, facial movements, tapping, etc.
A motor planning disorder is characterized by difficulty planning and coordinating the movements required for speech. This is also called apraxia of speech. This student might present with inconsistent sound errors, groping movements of the mouth, vowel distortions, or voicing errors.
A voice disorder is characterized by abnormal vocal quality, pitch, loudness, or resonance. This student might present with a hoarse, breathy, hypernasal, or hyponasal vocal quality
A receptive language disorder is characterized by difficulty understanding language (e.g., phonology, morphology, semantics, syntax). This student might have difficulty understanding age-level vocabulary, following directions, or responding to questions.
An expressive language disorder is characterized by difficulty using language (e.g., phonology, morphology, semantics, syntax). This student might have difficulty using age-level vocabulary, using complete sentences, or using correct grammar.
A pragmatic language disorder is characterized by difficulty understanding and using the social aspects of spoken language. This student might have difficulty following conversational rules, understanding non-verbal communication, understanding non-literal language, or changing communication based on the social context.
What should I do if I am concerned about a student's speech or language?
Consult with your school’s speech-language pathologist. They may be able to provide you with strategies to support the student in the classroom setting.
Things to Consider
Does the student present with difficulties in one or more of these areas of speech and language that are unrelated to dialect, cultural differences, or the influence of a foreign language?
Are the difficulties negatively impacting the student’s educational performance?
Does the student require the specialized intervention of a speech-language pathologist, or could the child be supported in the classroom setting?
If the answer is YES to ALL of these questions, a referral may be warranted.
Speech & Educational Impact
To be eligible for school-based speech-language therapy, there must be an educational impact. How do I know if a child's speech is having an adverse educational impact?
The student is reluctant to participate verbally or speak in certain situations.
The student is often misunderstood by peers or staff.
The student presents with spelling errors on the same sounds they mispronounce.
The student is embarrassed or frustrated when speaking.
The student is teased about how they speak or other students avoid speaking with them.
The student relies on other forms of communication to get their message across (e.g., gestures, having other students "translate").
The student's speech distracts from their message.
Who Do I Refer To?
If the concerns are ONLY in the area of speech sounds, stuttering, or voice.
For all other concerns, including receptive, expressive, or pragmatic language.
What happens now?
If a referral to the speech-language pathologist or the CST is made, a meeting will be held to discuss the concerns and determine if an evaluation is warranted.