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.


Fairfax County Public Schools.  Procedures Required for Implementation of Special Education Regulations in Virginia’s Public Schools.  Retrieved from

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…/speech_language…/speech_lang_pathology_ services.pdf


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.


  1. The services and placement of students with disabilities who need special education, are developed through an Individualized Education Program (IEP), which is the responsibility of local public school divisions. Special education is specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability… Thanks for sharing all that great information…

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