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.