Essential Facts About Eligibility in Schools

by Beth Burns

boy w busSometimes there is confusion regarding speech-language therapy at school vs. private speech-language therapy.  Many parents and pediatricians think that if a student cannot produce certain sounds correctly and a speech-language pathologist (SLP) works in their child’s school, the child could logically be enrolled in speech therapy at school.  SLPs in schools really do want to work with and help children.  However, certain eligibility criteria must be met according to “Policies Governing Services for Children with Disabilities” published by the Department of Public Instruction (DPI).  To be considered eligible for an IEP, three “prongs” to eligibility must be met.  The student must have:

  • a disorder
  • evidence that the disorder has an adverse affect on educational performance
  • evidence that the disorder requires specially designed instruction

Eligibility for private speech-language therapy is much simpler and less defined than therapy at school.  A private SLP can work on any speech or language issue the parent wants improved.  Private SLPs do not necessarily need to document a disorder for the child’s age, unless they are billing insurance for the service.




Is My Young Child’s Speech Normal?


by Sarah Michaels, Heather Miller, Phyllis Norwood, Heather Petrusa and Amy Samuels (CHCCS SLP Pre-K Team)

The production of speech is an amazingly complex process.  Speaking involves 3 systems: the respiratory system (lungs), the laryngeal system (vocal cords),  and the articulatory system (tongue, lips, teeth, nose).  Speech begins as a thought and then with the help of a perfectly timed sequence of all three systems, sounds are produced.  Our lungs provide air that enters the larynx for voicing and then travels up to the articulatory system where changes in the mouth shape produce the actual sounds.    

In the English language, we make over 40 individual speech sounds, including both vowels and consonants.  Each sound varies by place in the mouth (e.g., lips, behind teeth, soft palate), voice (voiced or unvoiced), and manner in which it’s produced (e.g., continued air, stopped sound, nasal sound).  

african american child

Given this complex system, it is understandable that many children experience difficulties with sound production as their speaking develops.  There is much variability regarding when speech sounds are acquired.  Below is a link to a chart that shows when speech sounds typically develop in most children.  Ninety percent of children produce the sounds within the age band by the indicated ages.  A disorder exists if a child hasn’t acquired a given sound one year beyond the expected age listed.   If you are concerned that a student is not able to produce age appropriate sounds, then follow up with a Speech-Language Pathologist.