Speech Pathology in the Schools

by FS&TS

By Christianna Mullins, M.A. CCC-SLP

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month! One role of speech-language-hearing professionals is to provide speech-language therapy services within the school environment and collaborate with school staff.

Have you ever wondered what exactly your school speech-language pathologist (SLP) does? Following is some information and tips for working together effectively.

What do school speech-language pathologists do?

They work across a variety of age, grade, and ability levels to provide culturally-sensitive academic-based services to students with a variety of disorders (including voice, swallowing, speech, and language, among others), and promote literacy.  All speech language pathologists have the same training including a master's degree.

What is a language impairment?

Language impairments are disorders of language that interfere with communication, adversely affect performance and/or functioning in the student’s typical learning environment, and result in the need for exceptional student education. A Language impairment is defined as a disorder in one or more of the basic learning processes involved in understanding or in using spoken or written language. These include:”

  1. “Phonology – Phonology is defined as the sound systems of a language and the linguistic conventions of a language that guide the sound selection and sound combinations used to convey meaning;

  2. “Morphology – Morphology is defined as the system that governs the internal structure of words and the construction of word forms;

  3. “Syntax – Syntax is defined as the system governing the order and combination of words to form sentences, and the relationships among the elements within a sentence;

  4. “Semantics – Semantics is defined as the system that governs the meanings of words and sentences; and

  5. “Pragmatics – Pragmatics is defined as the system that combines language components in functional and socially appropriate communication.”

How can SLP-teacher collaboration benefit the team and the student?

  • SLP can explain the student’s IEP goals to teacher so both can target similar concepts
  • SLP can provide strategies to facilitate student success in the classroom
  • SLP can help identify where learning breakdown is occurring
  • SLP can make referrals to other professionals as needed (i.e. school psychologist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, etc)
  • SLP can educate teacher on techniques that improve students’ success
  • Teacher can inform SLP of student’s progress and needs in the classroom
  • Teacher can provide classroom material and vocabulary for student and SLP to target together in sessions
  • Teacher can provide insight into student’s daily performance, habits, and interaction with other students