Making the Most of Your School-Based Speech Services

Parents' Corner School Speech and Hearing Disorders Speech Therapy Techniques

Congratulations! You’ve made it off a waiting list for school-based speech therapy services for your child. Through no fault of their own, many school districts provide speech therapy in groups of three to five children – in some states, the legal maximum can be six.

You’re grateful for the chance to have the support for your child’s speech challenges, but may feel that it could be challenging to address your child’s specific speech challenge efficiently in a group of other children who also have their own very specific challenges and goals.

As a speech pathologist who has worked in both schools and in private practice, I emphasize supplementing your school-based services with home-based work to help your child reach their speech goals.

School-based speech pathologists are dedicated and passionate professionals. They’re not only educators but also pillars of the communities they serve.

However, they’re often faced with huge caseloads that prevent them from going that “extra mile” for your child. That’s why it is critical for parents to be empowered to support their own child’s speech journey directly.

Speech Buddies provide a solution to do that in two key ways:

1) They provide a specially designed and clinically proven way to cue your child to place and move his/her tongue exactly as it should for those hard-to-learn speech sounds that develop in late pre-kindergarten and early school years (e.g. R, L, SH, CH and S)

2) They come with actionable support and learning plans that empower you to be the most effective partner in your child’s therapy process.

Each speech sound requires your child to place the tongue specifically within the mouth. For example, with the commonly disarticulated S sound, if they place the tongue too far back or too far forward in their mouth, the S won’t come out right.

Using a hand-held delivery mechanism, the S Speech Buddy provides a clear and consistent target within the mouth for your child to hit each time. In many cases, Speech Buddies provide that “aha!” moment early in the therapy process, where your child just gets it.

This can be enormously motivating for your child and for you, and is the first crucial step toward remediating a speech challenge.

But, because your child has said that speech sound in the old, incorrect way literally hundreds of thousands of times in his or her young life, it’s essential you follow up with diligent practice so this new, correct way of speaking can quickly become habit.

We know that school-based group therapy essentially means that your child gets 5 to 10 minutes of directed attention for his or her specific speech goals.  Speech Buddies tools come with a comprehensive lesson plan to help support your child.

Speech pathologists welcome parent involvement, but school-based therapists can’t give 50-70 parents a home lesson plan each week. Our lesson plans provide a clear roadmap for success and help make your child’s speech pathologist’s job easier.

If your child is in a group of three at school and is in two 30-minute speech sessions per week, your child is really getting 20-minutes of directed speech therapy per week. So, even twenty solid minutes of home-based work with your child effectively doubles the practice your child is getting; forty minutes triples this time!

And many studies throughout the field of speech pathology have confirmed that parents can only help their children meet their goals faster.




How To Manage Your Child’s Speech Challenges While On A School Waiting List

Expert Corner Parents' Corner Special Needs Speech delay Speech Therapy for Kids

The Covid pandemic brought an unprecedented staffing challenge across the entire American healthcare system. From hospitals, to outpatient private practices to schools, there aren’t enough speech pathologists to serve the demand for services that further exploded because of lockdowns.

We are seeing research studies come out now that confirm how lockdowns and remote learning set children back in their speech development.

While this might explain why your child hasn’t been receiving the school-based or clinic-based services, it does nothing to allay your concerns as a parent.

But with the help of Speech Buddies®, you can take your child’s speech development into your own hands.

Let me explain.

Speech Buddies are a set of patented, clinically proven hand-held devices that help a child feel correct tongue placement for those most difficult speech sounds that typically develop in late pre-school and early school years.

Since 2007? thousands of speech pathologists and tens of thousands of parents and children have successfully used them. See our testimonials here. Speech Buddies takes the guesswork out of eliciting speech sounds and speed up a child’s acquisitions of these often difficult-to-learn speech sounds.

The elegance of Speech Buddies as a speech therapy solution lies both in its efficacy and flexibility.

We always recommend having your child evaluated and treated by a licensed speech pathologist for a diagnosed speech challenge, especially if you believe your child’s speech challenge may be more than just of mild severity.

But, Speech Buddies may provide a critical bridge to expedited care amid this staffing situation. You may have an “ah ha moment” within the first few minutes of using the device and our extensive library of training videos and lesson plans will give you a head start on your child’s treatment regimen.

Because we specifically designed Speech Buddies tools for each speech sound (please see descriptions of each device: R, S, SH, L, CH), you only need to purchase the device(s) that apply to your child’s situation. So, when you’re finally moved off the waiting list for services, you could be farther along in the therapy process.

Depending on the speech therapy staffing predicament in your local area, Speech Buddies may also offer a fantastic option for those who would opt for out-of-network services, resources permitting, while potentially reducing the overall cost of those services.

Out-of-network providers almost never have extensive waiting lists given very limited or unavailable funding coverage.

You should be able to get in for an evaluation and services without being placed on a waiting list. If Speech Buddies work for your child’s speech treatment regimen, our tools are proven to reduce the time in therapy for certain speech sound disorders. By accessing a key sensory modality in learning, the sense of touch, Speech Buddies can help achieve a quicker learning breakthrough.

Speech Buddies hand-held tool empowers both the parent and child to recreate the speech therapy session in your own home while building confidence and enabling critical parent involvement in therapy. We also offer a free directory, Speech Buddies Connect, of SLP’s on our website.

Parents are powerless over staffing challenges across healthcare services but, you have access the clinically proven options.

Your child’s speech development is important and can be complex. If you ever have questions about Speech Buddies as a specific solution for your child’s situation, please contact us today!

We’re happy to hear your child’s situation and point you toward actionable solutions.

Tips for Drafting IEPs

Tips for Drafting IEPs

Individualized Education Program (IEP) School Speech Therapist Speech Therapy Techniques

Often, the beginning of the school year means drafting new Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals or updating older ones. This post is dedicated to tips on how you can get your students’ IEPs to best reflect their highest priority needs and make clinical gains this school year.

Write a Specific IEP

As you’re probably aware, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a legal document. What’s included in it and signed by school district officials, therapists and parents binds the school district to providing services to meet the listed goals. If you strongly believe, in your informed clinical opinion as per a comprehensive evaluation, that a child would benefit from a particular methodology, it would be a good idea to include the specific name of that methodology. In pragmatics, this could include principles of social thinking; in auditory processing disorders, this could include dedicated software applications; in articulation, this could include PROMPT or tactile biofeedback (e.g. Speech Buddies Tools). Whatever methodology you include in an IEP goals list should be supported in the research literature and be drawn from a clear therapeutic rationale, based on your comprehensive assessment or extensive experience with that child.

What Does a Speech and Language Therapist Do?

Coordinate with Other Child Therapy Services

Because a child’s therapy services are part of a more holistic plan for his or her educational development, it’s important to coordinate goal drafting, especially those highest priority goals, with other members of that child’s team: other therapists, teachers and even parents. In other words, a particular goal or set of goals may, from a purely say language development standpoint, be most urgent. However, considering the current and future demands of a child’s curriculum, another set of goals may be more pressing. For Example, Rory at age 7 could be notably delayed in acquiring those frequently used irregular past tense verbs. While this could be the most obviously delayed part of his profile, his ELA teacher has told you that the coming semester will place a strong burden on his narrative skills. In order to parallel your work with that of the classroom, it may be indicated to modify your goals so Rory can get the most out of the coming unit in his ELA class. This I’ve found to be especially important when working with middle schoolers and high schoolers; they tend to not want speech and language services to be removed from their other academic work. It’s important that we respond to the student’s current educational life.

Errors in IEPs

I cannot tell you how often I’ve reviewed IEP goals and seen blatant errors. I’ve seen cases where the name on the front page of the IEP didn’t match the name listed on the IEP goals; I’ve seen grammatical gender errors (he vs she, etc.) and goals from other disciplines (e.g. OT and counseling and even remedial academic domains) included in the areas meant for speech and language goals. I’ve seen goals that simply make no sense in the context of a child’s true needs. Make sure you a give any IEP you are writing a thorough once-over before drafting your own goals. and if you’re reviewing an IEP written by another therapist and the content of the goals simply doesn’t match the needs of that child, consider amending the IEP.

I don’t need to tell you that the IEP is our principal guiding document. Given its importance, the above tips can provide act as a useful guide for how to maximize the effectiveness of an IEP. We at Speech Buddies wish you the best of luck as we all together embark on another great school year.

How to Get Speech Buddies Tools for your School

How to Get Speech Buddies Tools for your School


At this time of year, many schools assess the progress their students have made, and in turn re-assess their materials needs. Some students are making excellent progress in therapy and some may have already been discharged from articulation therapy, using Speech Buddies and other evidence-based materials. But, as we know from a seminal study I often cite (Jacoby, 2002), 28% of kids make little to no progress in even an extended regimen of therapy.

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Improving Artic Outcomes for Students and SLPs: How One Big School District Did It

Improving Artic Outcomes for Students and SLPs: How One Big School District Did It

School Speech Therapist

TSHA 2015

I have had the pleasure of working with Justina Heintz, M.S. CCC-SLP, an SLP with Northside Independent School District (NISD) in San Antonio, Texas.  This school district is not only one of the largest in Texas but is one of the top thirty largest school districts in the United States.  They approached Speech Buddies with the primary aim of reducing caseloads. And in order to justify such a large-scale adoption of Speech Buddies Tools the district, under the supervision of Ms. Heintz, undertook a pilot study to determine the effect of Speech Buddies Tools on the districts’ caseloads.  Ms. Heintz presented her findings at the 2015 annual convention of the Texas Speech-Language-Hearing Association.  Recently, I had a chance to speak at length with her about this study. She shared some updates: about how the first year of Northside’s district-wide Speech Buddies Tools adoption program progressed, about the impact that Speech Buddies Tools are already having on reducing clinician caseloads, and about how Northside SLPs are improving the lives of the children of NISD.

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