Public School Speech Therapy

School vs Private Therapy

Therapeutic Differences

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.

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 have 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 communication impairments not meeting eligibility criteria to be served at school.

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 caregivers’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.

How Private Therapy Differs

Immediate Evaluation and Initiation of Treatment

Private therapists usually schedule evaluations and treatment within a 30 day window. School systems often initiate data collection for 9 weeks before determining if a evaluation is warranted.

Undivided Attention within Therapy

Private therapists primarily provide individual therapy, while school-based therapy often occurs within a group.

No Interruption of Academic Schedule

Private therapy usually occurs after school, compared to school-based therapy, which occurs during the school day, hopefully avoiding core subject instruction time.

Added Confidentiality

Your child's educational records must be kept confidential in any case, though that does not exclude them from peers and other staff knowing they receive services while at school.

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Final Thoughts

Read This!

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.

Best of Both Worlds

When a child’s communication challenges are significant, it is recommended that intervention in the academic and private setting occur simultaneously.

There are instances where the school may not accurately use data 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 families navigate the politics of the school system as they seek services for their child. Our primary goal is the well-being of the whole child for efficient and successful outcomes. Get started with us.

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