The eligibility criteria of  therapy (also considered to be special education) for all disciplines vary quite a bit in the educational setting as compared to the private/medical setting. Speech-Language Pathologists (SLP) in public schools are tasked with gathering data over a period of months to determine if a speech impairment, no matter how obvious, results in an adverse educational impact. A child’s admittance to a school-based speech/language impairment program weighs heavily on meeting eligibility criteria, as determined by Georgia’s Department of Education. SLPs often refer to state regulations when presenting information to the team at the eligibility meeting.


For students attending a Georgia public school, this means speech and/or language impairments, which do not present an adverse impact in a child’s social or academic well-being, are not eligible to be treated by the school’s speech-language pathologist. This often results in children with lisps, /r/ distortions, and other minor expressive/receptive language impairments not being determined as eligible for school-based therapy by the eligibility team.

In other scenarios, a student may have been receiving services by the school’s speech-language pathologist through an individualized education plan/program (IEP) and is released from the program a few years later upon eligibility review, though all goals may not have been met to the parent’s satisfaction. In Georgia’s public schools, eligibility must be redetermined at least every 3 years. If a student has made significant progress on most of their goals and a lingering goal, such a lisp remains, IEP committees will often agree that the impairment does not result in a disability and the student will be released from receiving speech and language services.


Special Education Eligibility: When Is a Speech-Language Impairment Also a Disability? is an excellent article written by Lisa Power-DeFur, the former director of Special Education Services in Virginia and current Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Longwood University. She outlines scenarios of students and explains in layman’s terms how school districts approach the eligibility process for special education services.


Atlanta Speech Therapy has several years of experience working within several metro Atlanta school systems and being apart of student support, eligibility and IEP teams. Contact us and we’ll help you navigate the system, as you seek school-based services  for your child.


We are well versed in situations similar to ones listed above. We understand a parent’s desire to give their child the best chance at life when a speech impairment, though not having an adverse educational impact,  is significant based on your own standards. Our primary goal at Atlanta Speech Therapy is the well-being of the whole child — this involves collaboration with doctors, parents and educators for efficient and successful outcomes.


  • Your child can be evaluated immediately upon your concern of a suspected disorder. If treatment is required, it can begin immediately, as well.
  • Your child is provided with undivided attention and more opportunities practice of the targeted skills in one-to-one therapy sessions.
  • Added level of confidentiality is provided, as public school personnel are not immediately aware your child receives, what is considered, special education services.
  • Your child will avoid missing important parts of their academic day.
  • You can take full advantage of your health insurance benefits.

Contact us today for a free phone consultation.