IEP Speech Therapy

IEP Speech TherapyI am frequently asked by parents to describe the process of a child qualifying for school speech and language services.  As a Mclean speech therapist who previously worked for the Fairfax County Public Schools, I understand that the special education process can be daunting.  In this post, I will summarize the overall special education eligibility process, culminating in IEP (i.e., Individualized Education Plan) speech therapy, with the intention of making it easier for parents to navigate.

IEP Speech Therapy

What are the requirements for a child to receive IEP speech therapy services?

The rules governing special education are set forth in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA). Special education law details precise procedures and criteria for establishing eligibility for special education services, specifically that the child must meet the definition of a “child with a disability.”  In order to determine whether a child meets the definition of a “child with a disability,” the following must be confirmed:

1. Does the child meet the criteria for a specific disability category established by law (e.g., Speech-Language Impairment)?

It should be noted that a disability recognized as a “Speech-Language Impairment” may include any of the following disorders:

– Articulation (i.e., Speech sounds)

– Fluency (i.e., Stuttering)

– Language

– Voice

2. Does the established disability (e.g., Speech-Language Impairment) adversely impact on the child’s education performance?

Therefore, it is not uncommon for a child who is determined to have a speech-language impairment to be denied IEP speech therapy if their communication disability is not deemed to adversely impact their educational performance.

As required by law, a child’s eligibility for special education services must be considered by an interdisciplinary team, including parents, psychologists, and other special education professionals (e.g., Chair of Special Education Department, special education teacher), including the school speech-language pathologist.  After receiving a referral for the child in question and considering existing data as well as information submitted by the child’s parents,  the interdisciplinary team must next determine if additional data is necessary in order to determine whether the child qualifies for special education services.  Typically, additional information is gathered through formal and informal assessments targeting speech-language and psycho-educational skills, as well as classroom performance.  As required by law, the entire evaluation process must be completed within a specified number of days from the time that the initial referral was received.

Once the evaluations and associated evaluation reports have been completed, the interdisciplinary team meets to discuss assessment results and to determine the child’s eligibility for special education and related services.  As required by law, parents must receive copies of all evaluation reports prior to the eligibility meeting.  As mentioned previously, eligibility for services is based on the presence of a disability that results in the student’s need for special education and related services that cannot be met through general education.  In other words, speech-language impairment may be determined to be the child’s primary area of disability, or may be determined to be a necessary related service in order to support the child’s primary area of disability (e.g., Autism, Intellectual Disability, Specific Learning Disability, etc.).

The following worksheet documents the criteria necessary to determine speech-language impairment as a primary area of disability in the state of Virginia, specifically in the Fairfax County Public Schools:

Speech-Language Impairment – Primary Disability

Once the committee determines whether the child is eligible for special education services and subsequent IEP speech therapy, the following options are available to parents:

– If the committee determines that the child is not eligible for special education services and subsequent IEP speech therapy, the parent may decide not to consent to the eligibility determination.  If the parent disagrees with the ineligible decision, they have the right to appeal the decision by notifying the coordinator of Due Process and Eligibility, in writing, that an administrative review, mediation or due process hearing is being requested. When a student is found not eligible for special education services and subsequent IEP speech therapy, information obtained from the evaluation that is relevant to instruction must be provided to the student’s teacher(s). If the student is in a private school, parental consent to release
this information must be obtained.

– If the committee determines that the child is eligible for special education services, an interdisciplinary IEP team must be established in order to develop an Individual Education Plan for the student.  The purpose of the Individual Education Plan is to establish meaningful and measureable goals related to the primary area of disability and to specify the types of services that will be required to support the child’s academic performance.  Specifically, the number of IEP speech therapy hours that the child requires should be documented at this time.

A re-evaluation to determine whether the child continues to present with a disability and is in need of special education services is required every three years.  However, parents may request that a re-evaluation be conducted at another time if they determine that it is appropriate.

Although a child may be determined eligible to receive IEP speech therapy, many parents often decide to supplement school speech and language therapy with private therapy.  Supplementing IEP speech therapy with private therapy may allow your child to reach their communication goals more quickly.   Please contact A Step Above Speech Language Pathology if you would like to discuss your child’s current IEP speech therapy in more detail, and whether private therapy would be beneficial to your child in achieving their communication goals.

Child and Adult Speech and Language Therapy in Northern Virginia

If you are interested in learning about A Step Above Speech Language Pathology and the speech and language services that we provide, please contact us for more information.  We cater to clients in Northern Virginia, specifically in Falls Church, Arlington, Vienna, Mclean, Annandale, Fairfax, Merrifield, and also in Washington, D.C.

References

Fairfax County Public Schools.  Procedures Required for Implementation of Special Education Regulations in Virginia’s Public Schools.  Retrieved from www.fcps.edu/dss/seps/dueprocess-eligibility/procedures.pdf

Power de-Fur, Lissa.  Special Education Eligibility: “When is a Speech-Language Impairment Also a Disability?” The ASHA Leader. American Speech-Language -Hearing Association, 5 April 2011.  Web.  30 December 2013.

Virginia Department of Education. (2011).  Speech-Language Pathology Services in Schools: Guidelines for Best Practice. Retrieved from www.doe.virginia.gov/…/speech_language…/speech_lang_pathology_ services.pdf

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Geoffrey Greenman, M.A., CCC-SLP is a Northern Virginia speech therapist.  He is the owner of “A Step Above Speech-Language Pathology.” We are a Reston, Virginia private speech practice that provides child and adult speech and language therapy.

Child Language Development

Child Language DevelopmentAs a McLean speech-language therapist, I often speak with parents about child language development.  Specifically, my discussions with parents often center on a comparison of typical child language development with early childhood language delays.

Child Language Development

Typical child language development

Language skills develop during infancy, prior to a child being able to say their first words.  Specifically, language includes both receptive (i.e., understanding) and expressive (i.e., production) components.  Receptive language abilities that often develop between birth and age one include a child recognizing their parents’ voices and responding to simple requests.  Expressive language skills that typically develop during this time include a child making babbling sounds and producing their first words at approximately one year of age.  While all children progress through communication stages (i.e., single words, two-word phrases) in a predictable, sequential manner, not all children develop language skills at the same age.  The following link presents typical language development at specific ages, as well as activities that can used by parents to further develop their child’s language skills from birth to age five:

Developmental Milestones – Expressive and Receptive Language

Why is child language development important?

Child language development plays an important role in a child’s overall well-being.  Aspects of a child’s life that rely heavily on language skills include having their needs met, behavior, academic success, and social interactions with others.  Early speech-language intervention is critical for those children suspected of having a language delay or disorder between the ages of birth to age five.  At this young age, children have the greatest opportunity to make improvements in their language skills, due to rapid development of their brain during this time period.  The following link presents “warning signs” of delayed child language development from birth to age four:

Warning Signs – Delayed Child Language Development

What strategies are useful in developing a child’s language skills?

A Step Above Speech Language Pathology utilizes evidence-based early intervention language strategies developed by the Hanen Centre as part of the It Takes Two to Talk® – The Hanen Program® for Parents of Children with Language Delays.  Strategies routinely incorporated into speech-language sessions include the following:

– Observe, wait, listen

– Let your child’s lead/Follow your child’s lead

– Take turns to keep the interaction going

– Add language to the interaction

A Step Above Speech Language Pathology understands the importance of involving family members as part of a child’s continued language development.  Practical communication strategies are introduced to parents, and suggestions as to how these strategies can be used on a daily basis during everyday routines are discussed.

To learn more about The Hanen Centre and the It Takes Two to Talk® – The Hanen Program® for Parents of Children with Language Delays, please visit the following:

It Takes Two to Talk® — The Hanen Program® for Parents of Children with Language Delays

Child Language Therapy in Northern Virginia

If you are interested in learning about A Step Above Speech Language Pathology and the speech and language services that we provide, please contact us for more information.  We cater to clients in Northern Virginia, specifically in Falls Church, Arlington, Vienna, Mclean, Annandale, Fairfax, Merrifield, and also in Washington, D.C.

References

American Speech-Language -Hearing Association. (1997-2013).  How Does Your Child Hear and Talk? Retrieved   from http://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/chart/

Conklin, C., Pepper, J., Weitzman, E., & McDade, A. (2007). Making Hanen Happen Leaders Guide for It Takes Two to Talk® – The Hanen Program® for Parents.  Ontario: The Hanen Centre.

The Hanen Centre. (2011).  Communication Development in Preschool Children with Language Delays.  Retrieved from http://www.hanen.org/Programs/For-Parents/It-Takes-Two-to-Talk.aspx

 

 

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Geoffrey Greenman, M.A., CCC-SLP is a Northern Virginia speech therapist.  He is the owner of “A Step Above Speech-Language Pathology.” We are a Herndon, Virginia speech private practice that provides child language therapy.

R Sound Speech Therapy

R Sound Speech TherapyI frequently provide r sound speech therapy to children and young adults who have difficulty producing this sound.  As a Falls Church speech therapist, I explain to parents and clients why this sound is often so difficult to produce and what strategies and techniques can be used to improve production.

R Sound Speech Therapy

By what age should an individual be able to accurately produce the “r” sound?

While some children may accurately produce the “r” sound by age 5, other children may not develop this sound until approximately age 7.

Why is the “r” sound so difficult to produce?

There are several reasons why the “r” sound is so difficult to produce.  First, there are twenty-one different contexts in which the “r” sound can be produced, which are determined both by word position and surrounding vowels that occur in specific words.  For example, in the word “Ring,” the “r” sound is considered pre-vocalic as it occurs before a vowel.  In words such as “army,” “barn,” and “star,” the “r” sound is considered post-vocalic as it follows a vowel.  Different “r” sound contexts often present unique challenges to children and adults, meaning that not all contexts are equal in level of complexity.  Second, as the “r” sound is less visual (i.e., difficult to see correct tongue placement during production) than other sounds, it is often more difficult to explain to children and adults how to correctly produce this sound.

What strategies can help with “r” sound production?

If you or someone you know has difficulty producing the “r” sound, a certified and licensed speech-language pathologist should be consulted for advice and guidance.  Specific strategies typically aim to improve both auditory (i.e., improving one’s ability to hear a correct sound production) and production (i.e., correct placement of articulators – tongue, jaw, and lips).

The following link provides helpful suggestions for eliciting correct “r” sound productions:

Eliciting an accurate “r” sound

R Sound Speech Therapy in Northern Virginia

If you are interested in learning about A Step Above Speech Language Pathology and the speech and language services that we provide, please contact us for more information.  We cater to clients in Northern Virginia, specifically in Herndon, Arlington, Vienna, Reston, Annandale, Fairfax, Merrifield, and also in Washington, D.C.

References

Gilbert, D., Ristuccia, J., & Ristuccia, C. (2005). The Entire World of R Book of Elicitation Techniques.  Georgia: Say it Right.

Bedsole, K. F., & Johnson, C. M. (2006). Why is “R” So Hard to Say? Answers to Questions Parents Ask About the “R” Sound. Retrieved from http://www.superduperinc.com/handouts

Rogers, G. (2013). Tips, Tricks, and a Handy Tool for Teaching the R Sound. Retrieved from http://www.mommyspeechtherapy.com

 

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Geoffrey Greenman, M.A., CCC-SLP is a Northern Virginia speech therapist.  He is the owner of “A Step Above Speech-Language Pathology.” We are a Reston, Virginia speech private practice that provides r sound speech therapy.

Improving Speech Skills

Improving Speech Skills I frequently provide guidance to parents on improving their child’s speech skills.  As an Arlington speech therapist, I take time to explain to parents that reinforcing speech skills during the week is equally as important as the work that I do with their child at each therapy session.

Improving Speech Skills

Having your child meet with a speech and language pathologist once per week is typically not sufficient to generalize learned skills to the child’s natural environment.  Generalization of speech skills outside of the therapy setting requires repetitive practice that focuses on skills that the child uses on a daily basis.  For example, I was recently working with a 5 year old child on accurate production of the “L” sound (e.g., “Love”).  As the family of my five year old client mentioned that they would be taking a family trip to “Disneyland,” I decided that it would be easiest for the family to incorporate this goal into their child’s interaction with specific family members and Disney characters that he met each day on vacation.  For example, when the child met Mickey Mouse, he would be expected to state, “I love you Mickey!” or when meeting a specific family member (e.g., Grandma), he would state, “I love you grandma!”

While parents must make sure that a younger child understands and completes their speech and language homework, an older child should be expected to complete the assigned homework independently, as this can lead to a child developing an increased sense of responsibility.  Assigned homework does not need to be extremely time consuming.  In fact, a few minutes of practice each day may be sufficient.

The following articles provide useful suggestions for generalization of speech skills from the therapy setting to a child’s natural environment:

Improving Speech Skills

Improving Speech Skills in Northern Virginia

If you are interested in learning how A Step Above Speech Language Pathology can improve your child’s speech skills, please contact us for more information.  We cater to clients in Northern Virginia, specifically in Herndon, Reston, Arlington, Vienna, Mclean, Annandale, Fairfax, Merrifield, and also in Washington, D.C.

References

Marshalla Speech and Language.  (2003-2012).  Carryover Techniques for Speech-Language Therapy.  Retrieved from http://www.pammarshalla.com/blog/2011/10/article-on-carryover-techniques/.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Social Skills Training

Social Skills TrainingAs an Annandale speech therapist, I often work with children who have difficulty using appropriate social skills.  We use social communication skills on a daily basis when interacting with others.  For many, the use of social language is an intuitive process, not requiring considerable thought.  For others, including those diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and other forms of autism, social communication poses a considerable challenge and requires social skills training.

Social cognition is the process of acquiring, understanding, and using social knowledge when interacting with others using both verbal (i.e., speaking) and non-verbal (e.g., facial expressions, eye contact, etc.) communication.  A key to social cognition is the ability to understand the perspectives of others.

Social Skills Training in Northern Virginia

A Step Above Speech-Language Pathology provides effective, evidence-based social skills training to assist in developing the following social skills:

  • Turn-taking
  • Eye contact
  • Topic initiation/maintenance
  • Knowledge of appropriate facial expressions
  • Understanding the role of expressive language (e.g., small talk, responding to teasing and bullying)
  • Listening skills
  • Social etiquette

High interest activities, including role-plays, are used during social skills training sessions in order to teach critical social communication skills.

To learn more about social skills training, please visit the following:

Social Skills Training

Individual and group sessions are available.  Please call A Step Above Speech-Language Pathology today to inquire about social skills training groups that meet the unique needs of your child.

Social Skills Training in Northern Virginia

If you are interested in learning more about social skills training provided by A Step Above Speech Language Pathology, please contact us for more information.  We cater to clients in Northern Virginia, specifically in Herndon, Reston, Arlington, Vienna, Mclean, Annandale, Fairfax, Merrifield and Washington, D.C.

References

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.  (1997-2013).  Social Communication Disorders in School-Age Children.  Retrieved from http://www.asha.org/PRPSpecificTopic.aspx?folderid=8589934980&section=Overview

 

 

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Social Skills TrainingGeoffrey Greenman, M.A., CCC-SLP is a Northern Virginia speech therapist.  He is the owner of “A Step Above Speech-Language Pathology.” We are an Annandale speech private practice that provides social skills training.

Accent Modification Therapy

Falls Church Speech TherapistAs a Northern Virginia speech therapist, I am frequently contacted by professionals who are interested in accent modification therapy and would like to improve their production of Standard American English.  The reasons for individuals wanting to minimize their accent are varied, but often relate to the following:

–   Others they communication with (i.e., colleagues, etc.) have difficulty understanding them and they are frequently asked to repeat themselves

–   Individual forsees the importance of improving their English communication skills for a potential job promotion

–   Individual may be transitioning into a new phase of their life (e.g., transitioning from school to workplace)

–  Individual may have been referred by a workplace supervisor

Accent Modification Therapy in Northern Virginia

Often the first question that I am asked is whether I will be able to eliminate an individual’s native accent.  In my opinion, it is not a realistic goal for a person to expect that their accent will be eliminated completely through accent modification therapy.  Instead, I point out that I believe that an individual’s accent plays a large role in their cultural identity and uniqueness and that I view my role as helping clients to improve their overall intelligibility when communicating in English.

Initially, a complete accent modification assessment is conducted in order to assess how the client’s accent differs from Standard American English to identify specific areas of difficulty, and to design an individualized training program.  Based on the results of the assessment, training sessions will focus on specific areas of standard American English, including:

  • Articulation (i.e., production of specific speech sounds)
  • Stress/Intonation (i.e., the rhythm and melody of language)
  • Grammar
  • Rate of Speech
  • Naturalness Factors (e.g., word linking/reduction, thought groups and focus words)

Clients should also expect their individualized training program to target those aspects of English communication that they perceive as most important to their success in the workplace and/or social situations.

Modifying an accent requires hard work and practice.  In addition to weekly accent modification therapy sessions, clients will be provided with homework assignments to reinforce the concepts that have been covered during their sessions.

To learn more about accent modification therapy, please visit the following:

http://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/accent-modification/

If you are interested in learning more about accent modification services provided by A Step Above Speech Language Pathology, please contact us for more information.  We cater to clients in Northern Virginia, specifically in Herndon, Reston, Arlington, Vienna, Mclean, Annandale, Fairfax, Merrifield, and Washington, D.C.

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Accent Modification TherapyGeoffrey Greenman, M.A., CCC-SLP is a Northern Virginia speech therapist.  He is the owner of “A Step Above Speech-Language Pathology.” We are a McLean speech private practice that provides accent modification therapy.

 

 

 

 

Child Reading Disorders

Child Reading DisordersAs an Herndon speech therapist, I am often asked to explain what I do on a daily basis.  Typically, I begin by explaining that in the past speech therapists were primarily involved in correcting speech problems such as stuttering and speech sound errors.  I then explain that speech therapy has evolved into a profession that currently targets speaking and listening skills, accent modification, social communication abilities, and treatment of child reading disorders.  After providing this explanation, a reaction that I frequently receive is, “Child reading disorders?  Why does a speech-language pathologist work with children on improving their reading skills?”  This is a great question that I would like to address in more detail.

Child Reading Disorders

First, it often comes as a surprise to most people that a child’s later reading and spelling abilities are often related to their early speaking skills.  Children with reading and spelling problems, including dyslexia, have difficulty accessing a specific component of the language system: the phonologic system.  The phonologic system is the functional part of the brain where the sounds of language are put together to form words and words are broken down into their component sounds.  A child that has difficulty accessing the phonologic system is often described as having “phonological processing” difficulties.  Children with “phonological processing” issues often exhibit difficulties with the following skills that may serve as a warning sign to later reading and spelling difficulties including dyslexia:

–  Delay in speaking (Children with reading and spelling concerns may not have begun saying their first words until 15 months or used phrases until their second birthday)

–  Difficulties in pronunciation of words

–  Insensitivity to rhyme (Difficulty reciting nursery rhymes and confusing words that sound alike)

As speech therapists are often the first professionals to notice these potential warning signs in pre-school and elementary aged students, it is critical that they have a solid understanding of the relationship between early language and later developing literacy skills.

Once a deficit in accessing the phonologic system has been identified, it is the responsibility of the speech-language pathologist to work collaboratively with other members of the child’s multi-disciplinary team (e.g., classroom teacher, reading specialist, etc.) to develop and implement a plan to improve the child’s ability to access the sound structure of language.

As an Arlington speech therapist who frequently works with children with literacy concerns including dyslexia, I utilize the Phono-Graphix method of teaching reading and spelling to assist in developing a child’s skills.  At its core, the Phono-Graphix method emphasizes four concepts and three skills that are essential to improving a child’s reading and spelling abilities:

Concepts:

1. Letters are pictures of sounds

2. A sound picture can be made with one or more letters (e.g., ch, oo, se)

3. There is more than one way to show the same sound (We call this variation in the code – e.g., ‘oa,’ ‘ow’ for the sound ‘o’)

4. There is overlap in the code (e.g., the sound picture ‘ow’ represents two sounds – clown vs. snow)

Skills Targeted:

1. Segmenting – The ability to separate the sounds in words

2. Blending – The ability to blend, or connect, sounds into meaningful words

3. Phoneme Manipulation – The ability to move sounds in and out of words

Phono-Graphix differs from traditional phonics programs in the following ways:

–  It is organized around what the child/adult already knows (i.e., speech)

–  The program is not rule-driven, and does not teach letter names, word families, or short/long vowels

–  Phonological awareness (i.e., segmenting, blending, phoneme manipulation) is addressed in every lesson

–  Emphasis is on active discovery by the learner

If your child would benefit from improved reading and spelling skills, consider contacting a Phono-Graphix provider in your area.

More information about Phono-Graphix can be found at the following:

http://www.phono-graphix.com/

If you are interested in learning more about reading therapy provided by A Step Above Speech Language Pathology, please contact us for more information.  We cater to clients in Northern Virginia, specifically in Herndon, Reston, Arlington, Vienna, Mclean, Annandale, Fairfax, Merrifield, and Washington, D.C.

References

McGuinness, C. & McGuinness, G. (1998). Reading reflex: The foolproof Phono-Graphix method for teaching your child to read. New York: Fireside

Shaywitz, S. (2003). Overcoming dyslexia: A new and complete science-based program for reading problems at any level.  New York: Knopf

 

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Child Reading DisordersGeoffrey Greenman, M.A., CCC-SLP is a Northern Virginia speech therapist.  He is the owner of “A Step Above Speech-Language Pathology.” We are an Arlington speech private practice helping to correct child reading and spelling disorders.