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.
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 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 the opportunity 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.
There are many wonderful, publicly funded options for your family’s speech therapy services. These could come in the form of speech and language therapy provided by your local Early Intervention (EI) program, the Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) administered by your local school district, or from services provided directly to your child in his or her public school or via something called a Related Service Authorization (RSA). You may also have access to services funded in whole or in part by your health insurance plan. No matter who is providing your school speech therapy, you may want to consider supplementing those services, where possible. Here are 4 reasons that these extra services may have a profound impact on your child’s development, and could be a smart investment in your child’s future.
School speech therapy services, or those provided by other public pay sources are invaluable to your child, your family, to society in general. But because of budgetary pressures, school districts and other public payers do not allow for parents to choose which speech-language pathologist their child can see. This is of course unfortunate as so much of any therapy relationship is based on a “good fit” between your child and the speech therapist. Private speech therapy services have the added benefit of allowing you maximum choice. Speech Buddies Connect gives you choice based on many different therapists in your local area so you can decide what is most important to you. Is it the speech therapist’s level of experience or qualifications with a particular speech or language challenge? Is it convenience in terms of schedule or location? No matter your priorities, you have your choice in finding the best speech-language pathologist (SLP) for your family.
In the case of school speech therapy in kindergarten and elementary school, services are most often provided in groups of 3
students, and sometimes up to 5 or more students. Again, this is primarily due to strains on the resources of the public school system; there are simply too many students in need of speech and language therapy for the number of speech therapists on staff.
This of course means that for every 30-minute session your child receives, he or she is only really getting 10 minutes of direct intervention that is specifically tailored to your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals but is still missing that full 30 minutes of class time. I have had clients who have preferred to decline school speech therapy to work privately instead because of this very issue. Now I wouldn’t necessarily recommend you decline school-based services, particularly if your child is working on overcoming a language-based learning challenge. But private speech therapy does provide undivided attention which may provide a stronger learning environment for your child.
Public payers of speech therapy services also tend to offer reduced convenience in terms of where services take place. In the case of EI, services are almost always performed in the child’s home or day care facility. Very rarely do they approve services in the provider’s office. In the case of school-funded preschool speech and language therapy, there is more flexibility but in many cases, the school administrator will dictate whether services are conducted in the provider’s place of business. Depending on how contracts with the provider agencies and the local school district are structured, they may ask you to travel sometimes long distances to your speech therapy lessons. Private therapy allows you to choose your speech therapist for maximum personal convenience. And with our lives often so hectic these days, this benefit is not to be underestimated!
Another Hand on Deck
Speech and language development is incredibly important to a child’s whole course of life – there simply is no other way to put it. The sheer weight of this importance can be enough for parents to seek additional support for their children. Also, for many children, having another professional communication partner can be invaluable. You will also have another member of your team: someone who you can bounce ideas off of and someone whose experience could be a powerful complement to the team you already have in place. So if you feel that your child could you a boost and you already have public speech therapy services in place, it may be time to consider finding a local speech therapist through Speech Buddies Connect.
Guest post! Felicia B. an SLP for City Sounds of NY, joins us this week to give us an inside look at school speech therapy in a Charter School in East Harlem, NY.
I work for City Sounds of NY, a pediatric based speech-language pathology center serving the New York metropolitan area. We provide contracted services to DOE students, which has allowed me the opportunity to work in a New York City Charter School in East Harlem, NY. Our school’s core values of courage, service, originality, humility, achievement, leadership, and reflection promote not only academic improvement, but also positive behavior. A strong sense of community connects the school with the parents through family engagement events. Collaboration is very important, and parents, teachers, and administrators work together to best support the needs of our scholars in and outside of the classroom.
Whether your child is in private therapy or is getting services in a school or via, say, your local Early Intervention (EI) program, it is always a good idea to use the resources around you to maximize your child’s therapy gains. Unless your child is very young or home-schooled, he or she is going to spend a huge amount of time in school. This post is dedicated to the notion that therapy and the activities of daily life of your child, here school, don’t have to be so separate. Use the tips provided below to maximize the gains your child can make in speech therapy. Think of it as leverage for your time. You only have a limited amount of time with your speech therapist, and yet so much time outside of therapy. Applied consistently, these simple principles can perhaps double the value of your therapy.
I’m always filled with a tiny modicum of dread whenever I really feel the passage of time, even if it’s only a couple of months’ time. This is how I feel about the fact that parent-teacher conferences are upon us – my kindergartner’s conference (and personally, as a parent, my first ever!) is scheduled for Nov. 7th. I’ve spent much more time on the other side of this interaction, as a school-based speech-language pathologist (SLP) primarily in NYC charter schools. Here are 7 critical parent teacher conference questions so parents can get the most out of these crucial and relatively infrequent interactions with their child’s SLP.
[image by woodleywonderworks]
Reading is essential. It is the backbone of education. In order for your child to become successful in all subjects of school such as math, science, history and language, he must be able to read. How can we as parents encourage our kids to enjoy reading? Are there ways to improve a child’s reading ability? Yes to both questions. Begin by being a good reading role model, and allowing your children to choose the books they would like to read. As the late, great Maya Angelou said, “Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.” Parents and children both can work together to help make reading a rewarding experience.
What happens when your child visits a speech-language pathologist? What exactly will the SLP do? These are questions that many parents ask when their child has been recommended to start a speech therapy program. In order for you to set your expectations (and your child’s), here are the basics of what to expect from a speech therapy program. Of course, each course of therapy is tailored personally to your child’s particular speech disorder, or speech impairment. This should serve as a general guideline about the entire process.
Is your child ready for preschool in the Fall? We know that it’s only May, but it’s never too early to assess whether or not your child will be preschool ready come September. And, with Summer fast approaching, there is plenty of opportunity to work with your child to refine his or her basic skills which are often referred to as “school-readiness” skills. All children develop on their own unique schedule! If he’s not there yet, be patient, he will be soon!