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Speech Language Intervention Services in Schools Today

by Susan Berkowitz, M.S.,M.Ed., C.C.C.,SLP
The way in which speech-language intervention services are being provided in the schools has changed greatly over the past decade. No longer are services provided only in pullout settings, and individual therapy in seen less often than therapy groups. In fact, frequently, group therapy is more effective than individual, contrary to many parents' fears and wishes. In individual therapy, the child often feels pressured to respond, since there is no one else there to do so. There is less chance for peer support, and for peer interactions. And, as students with communication and academic difficulties often face social isolation, learning social communication skills in a safe group environment is beneficial.

In-class intervention is becoming the norm. In order to be truly authentic, intervention should be tailored to the student's needs in the environment - in this case, the classroom environment. By working with students during academic activities, the speech-language pathologist can provide the support and strategies needed in the context of reading, writing and speaking activities. Speech-language pathologists can work individually with students, circulating around the room; can work with small groups during an activity; or can team teach with the classroom teacher for a whole lesson. Usually, a combination of the three is recommended.

For students with learning disabilities, speech-language pathologists can assist in teaching students to improve their oral and written narratives during class assignments, provide scaffolding for reading comprehension and writing tasks, assist with semantic mapping of curriculum vocabulary, teach story grammar elements during reading and writing activities, and assist with ongoing grammatical skills deficits in the context of real time tasks.

For students with word retrieval difficulties, speech-language pathologists can consult with teachers to modify tests and assignments; providing word banks rather than fill-in type questions, teaching prompting strategies, and modeling vocabulary teaching methods.

For students who have difficulties with getting their ideas onto paper, speech-language pathologists are knowledgeable in use of graphic organizers, semantic webs, story maps, and scaffolding (progressive supporting) strategies. Speech-language pathologists are also frequently knowledgeable about computer software that can assist in text production; such as IntelliTalk, My Words, Talking Text Writer, or Write Out Loud; as well as other Assistive Technology.

Speech Pathologists also tend to conceive of writing as more of a communicative and conceptual process than one of technical skills. They are knowledgeable in the type of prompting strategies that can help a student formulate ideas, choose words, organize sentences. They also recognize that teaching a single type of syntactic pattern at one time is more likely to produce better written output than teaching the difference between a noun and a verb, and that teaching use of quotation marks is useless for a student who cannot yet put dialogue into his/her narratives. Additionally, as researchers have posited that dyslexia is a developmentally based language disorder, speech pathologists have become more involved in reading intervention. Again, providing intervention in the context of the reading activities required by the curriculum while modeling strategies for classroom teachers, proves to be more effective for students, overall.

Susan Berkowitz, M.S.,M.Ed., C.C.C.,SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist and Educational Consultant
Tel: 619-980-0347

Disclaimer: Internet Special Education Resources (ISER) provides this information in an effort to help parents find local special education professionals and resources. ISER does not recommend or endorse any particular special education referral source, special educational methodological bias, type of special education professional, or specific special education professional.


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