Speech Therapy

Speech Therapy

    The Bristol Tennessee City Schools Speech/Language Disorders Program is committed to providing speech/language services for students who are determined eligible under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) and Tennessee State Guidelines. IDEA includes speech and language impairments which adversely affect educational performance as one of the types of services requiring special education and related services.

    For the purposes of IDEA eligibility, an impairment is considered a disability when:

    • that impairment has an adverse effect on educational performance, and
    • a child's communication skills are so impaired that he/she requires specially designed programming to address his/her educationally related communication needs. ( Tennessee State Guidelines -Speech/Language Impairments, pg. 18).

    All students entering Bristol Tennessee City Schools are screened for possible speech/language delays upon enrollment. Classroom teachers are then made aware of any student who demonstrated difficulties at the time of the screening so that they of can provide classroom interventions and monitor the child's educational performance. Any student who continues to demonstrate communication difficulties is then referred to the speech/language pathologist for a more thorough evaluation with parent permission.

    The purpose of the speech/language evaluation is to provide a more in depth description of the student's communication skills and to determine any adverse effect on educational performance. The goal of the assessment is to provide the information required to determine the presence of a disability, the need for special education services and planning information for the Individualized Education Program, (IEP), when appropriate.

    The assessment is conducted by the Speech/Language Pathologist, (SLP), and must provide information generated from a variety of areas which may include review of student records, criterion-referenced tests, informal assessments, formal (norm-referenced) tests, teacher observations, parent interviews and checklists.

    Disorders of speech/language commonly found among children include:

    • Articulation/Phonological Disorders - how the sounds are formed,
    • Language Form - grammar, sentence structure rules, verb tenses,
    • Language Content - difficulty understanding/using words to express ideas or convey meaning,
    • Language Use - difficulty using language in a variety of speaking situations such as asking questions or lack of appropriate social language skills,
    • Auditory Processing Disorders - How we understand, remember and get meaning from what we hear,
    • Fluency Disorders - difficulties in the rhythm or flow of conversational speech,
    • Voice Disorders - most commonly related to vocal nodules or nasality problems.

    It should also be noted that some of these disorders may be secondary to cognitive delays or physical problems such as cleft palate, or hearing impairment.

    If the student meets the eligibility standards outlined in the Tennessee State Guidelines, an Individual Education Plan is developed with the SLP, parents and teachers as a treatment program. Therapy may be provided through various service models such as pull-out, small group, inclusion, or consultation. The type of services and the amount of time depends on the severity of the problem.

    Speech/language therapy involves a series of activities designed to meet the specific goals to be accomplished in small steps over a period of time. These goals are monitored throughout the therapy process to measure progress. The IEP is revised annually and new goals are developed as appropriate.

    In addition to state licensure, speech/language pathologists are required to have a Masters Degree and to meet the national certification requirements through the American Speech/Language and Hearing Association (ASHA). This is signified by the letters "CCC" which stands for the Certificate of Clinical Competence, followed by "SLP" to indicate the specialty area of the certification. The role of the school-based speech/language pathologist is to prevent, alleviate and remediate communication barriers that cause an adverse effect on a child's educational performance in the general classroom or learning environment. SLP's in the Bristol Tennessee City Schools are committed to providing services that support and enhance the acquisition of classroom skills.

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