Public School Speech Therapy
Public School Therapy Eligibility Determination
The eligibility criteria of therapy (also considered special education) for all disciplines vary quite a bit in the educational setting compared to private therapy. 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. The SLP and the other members of the Eligibility Team determine a child’s eligibility for special education services based on state regulations.
What Does this Mean?
For students attending a Georgia public school, this means speech and/or language impairments, which do not present an adverse impact on 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 meeting eligibility criteria for school-based therapy.
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 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 often agree that the impairment does not result in a disability and the student will be released from receiving speech and language services at school
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.
How Private Therapy Differs
Therapeutic intervention offered by your local school system differs in many ways than services provided by a private therapist. Here are a few:
Best of Both Worlds
When a child’s communication challenges are significant, intervention in the academic and private setting are recommended to occur simultaneously.
There are instances where the school may not be utilizing data accurately to determine a child’s eligibility.
With several years of experience working within local school systems and being a member of the student support (SST), eligibility and IEP teams, we help our clients navigate the system, as caregivers seek school-based services for their child. Our primary goal is the well-being of the whole child for efficient and successful outcomes. Get started with us.