I will continue to talk about the steps involved in a school based speech and language screening. This is Part 2 of the series I’ve called, “The Process of Identification.” I’m posting about screenings because it just so happens that they usually occur during this time of year. I’ve had several on my desk and I’m making my way through each one. As I call parents, I’ve found that it may be helpful to blog about what exactly happens during and after the screening process for early elementary and school-aged students.
Now that your child has been screened, you will probably be contacted by phone or in writing with the results. The results may indicate that your child does or does not need to be tested right away for eligibility in the speech-language program.
The speech-language pathologist (SLP) may decide to wait and see if certain sounds or certain language skills will be learned by the end of the year. This of course depends upon the severity of the impairment. It also depends on if the sounds or language areas that are deviant or delayed are considered, “age appropriate” or developmental in nature. This just means that the errors are to be expected in typically developing children’s speech at that age. If the errors are developmental, there really is not a huge concern just yet.
The therapist may opt to screen at a later date or to do some “response to intervention (RTI),” or “RTI speech class” activities in a small group setting. Children who would participate in this type of intervention remain regular education students and do not initially undergo a full assessment. The point is to see how they respond to some extra, focused practice or “intervention” on their sounds or language skills. Other therapists may choose to “wait and see” how the child develops throughout the year and then re-screen the child at a the end of the year to see how he/she has progressed.
Sometimes the speech or language difficulties found in the screening may be of concern because they are no longer age appropriate. The SLP may find that most children that age do have those skills. In that case, a full assessment is probably going to be recommended. Testing would then give the therapist more information on what areas were delayed or deviant. If the child scored below the designated percentile, they would qualify for special education under ‘speech or language impaired’.
I like to make it really clear that we do these screenings so that we can facilitate the best placement for your child and his/her communication needs. I hope this has been helpful for you. The process will vary I’m sure, from site to site and across speech therapists.