Speech and Language Pathology

How to Access Services

The first step in accessing the services of your school's speech/language pathologist should always be through contact with your school's Learning Assistance Resource Teacher (LART).  The LART is our main contact in the school and is the gatekeeper for our services.  The LART is aware of general school caseload demands and will likely indicate a priority level for our services based on theose demands.  The LART will then contact us directly and transmit your request.  The Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) will indicate to the LART a target date to respond to the request for service. 

What a Good Referral Looks Like

SLPs are often asked "What is a good referral?"  A good referral is one for which the question has been asked "Does this child's problem interfere with his/her ability to communicate with his peers and participate effectively in the school's curriculum?"  If this answer is "yes", then it is a good referral. 

What are the most common communication problems in school?

Articulation problems (also know as Speech Sound Acquisition/Production Disorder).  This is a difficulty with pronouncing sounds to make words.  There are many reasons children have difficulty in making sounds.  These include hearing problems, poor muscle control, cleft palate and lip, or learning problems.  However, often there is no apparent reason for the problem so it is called "specific speech impairment (delay of unknown origin)”.  Children develop sounds in a particular order.  English-speaking children learn most sounds by six or seven years.  With other language, such as Cantonese, children develop the sounds earlier as they are less complex to learn. The speed at which children learn their sounds depends on the complexity of the sounds being mastered.  As children develop their speech sounds, it is not uncommon for them to make specific errors on single sounds like “tat” for “cat”, “do__” for “dog” or “shoup” for “soup”.  Similar types of errors can be noted in other language.  Sometimes children do not make single sound errors, but have trouble learning “sound patterns”.  For example, classes of sounds may give the child difficulty, such as replacing every sound that should be made at the back of the throat like “k” and “g” with “t”.  The child may make words like “tap” for “cap”, “tup” for “cup and so on.  Every language has rules about how sounds can be combined to make words.  If a child has trouble with specific rules and develops unique patterns like those just described, he might have a “phonological disorder”.  In this situation, the SLP helps the child to learn classes of sounds, rather than just specific sounds. 

Language Problems.  These problems can be expressive (what the child says), receptive (what the child understands) or a combination of both.  Expressive language difficulties can show up in problems with grammar, as in “Him is mean”, or vocabulary such as calling a “lion” a “tiger”.  Receptive problems can show up in misunderstanding what is said, including difficulty following instructions or answering questions strangely - for example, answering “What do you do at night?” with “pajamas”.  Sometimes children have trouble learning the context in which certain language is used.  They get themselves into trouble and appear to be rude by talking, for example, to a teacher as to a friend, saying “Hey, gimme a pencil!” instead of “May I have a pencil please?” Problems with reading and writing can also show up in this area.

Neurologically Based or Structural Communication Disorders.  These include communication or language difficulties that stem directly from such causes as head injuries, cleft palate, cerebral palsy, autism, pervasive development disorders, Attention Deficit Syndrome, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, among others.

Stuttering.  These individuals have mild to severe difficulty with oral communication due to fluency problems.  They may or may not have concomitant language problems. 

Voice.  The child may exhibit problems of chronic hoarseness, inappropriate pitch or volume, or lack of voice.   

Types of Services Provided

Direct Interventions.  This is usually one-on-one (SLP/student) weekly or biweekly, therapy support.

Small group interventions.  This is the same as above but with more than one student.

Consultation with Certified Education Assistants (CEAs) who are delivering a communication program under the direction of the SLP.  This can take many forms from regular weekly meetings to monthly or even bimonthly meetings with the CEA.  The key to this intervention is the SLP trains the CEA and provides the therapy materials.  The CEA then delivers the program, usually three or more times per week, with the student.

Consultation with the School Based Team.  This happens at monthly meetings held at the school.

Consultation with Allied Staff.  This can take many different forms.

Consultation with Parents.  If a student is seen for speech and/or language therapy, the SLP may write a short note detailing the intervention session and this note would be included in either the child’s Back & Forth Book, if the student uses one, or in the child’s speech binder.  The SLP may provide activities written in the Back & Forth Book to practice specific skills at home. 

Access to our Website

In addition to our website,  there are many other interesting websites pertaining to speech and language development.  Here are a few we recommend:  www.sac-oac.ca and www.bcaslpa.ca.