by Rolesha Harris, M. Ed., CCC-SLP, Wendy Lee, M.Ed.,CCC-SLP, and Rhonda Maiani, M.A.,CCC-SLP (Speech-Language Pathologists in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools)
There are a select number of 12 to 18-year-olds who continue to be eligible for speech- language therapy in the schools. Because students in middle and high school are expected to use advanced/meta-linguistic skills, write complex sentences, follow grammatical rules, infer and comprehend figurative language, the support of an SLP is sometimes necessary to access their curriculum.
Speech-Language goals may be related to reading comprehension, vocabulary, written expression, higher-level reasoning, organizational and sequencing skills, problem-solving, and social/pragmatic language skills.
The SLP and the exceptional children’s teacher often collaborate and determine the student’s areas of need and the academic goals that need to be targeted. The therapist will work in the classroom or co-teach in the student’s various classrooms or pull the student in a small group or one-on-one sessions to target these specific goals. The frequency of service delivery will vary depending on the severity of the student’s needs.
The SLP supports the student by collaborating and consulting with all of the student’s teachers. As students get older, the SLP does not focus on one particular goal but rather supports the student across environments. For example, the SLP may provide support while studying for a specific test, completing a project or end of semester assignment, creating visual/graphic organizers to improve comprehension of class related material, or provide supplemental materials to aid in improving the understanding of specific concepts presented in class. The Speech-Language Pathologist can provide information to teachers regarding how the student’s receptive or expressive language disorder is directly impacting their ability to perform in the classroom as well as where some of the student’s learning breakdowns may be occurring.
Speech therapy in middle and high school can also present with many challenges. Adolescents are “in the thick” of the maturation process. Moodiness, raging hormones, and self-concept/self-esteem problems are just a few of the difficulties our students face on a daily basis and may make working with our teens challenging.
SLP’s strive to design programs and choose materials that are both motivating and enjoyable for the students while simultaneously helping them learn the curriculum.
The support services provided by an SLP in middle and high school is essential for the important transition from middle and high school to employment and adult life.