Where has the summer gone? September is coming up fast, and as the constant stream of back-to-school ads tells us, the start of the school year is almost here. For children with speech, language, and communication disorders, this might mean starting or resuming school-based therapy services. Speech-language pathology services offered in schools are a great resource: in addition to being funded by the school, they’re also specifically focused on the child’s academic achievement. Unfortunately, because of this very specific focus on academic achievement, sometimes school-based services aren’t the best option for every child.
School systems typically only offer speech or language therapy services if the child’s communication disorder is impacting their ability to achieve academically. This unfortunately means than many children with communication disorders are not eligible for school-based therapy. This is often the case with articulation disorders, such as a lisp. A child who is having difficulty pronouncing certain speech sounds, but is otherwise performing well in school may not be provided speech therapy services. However, even if a articulation disorder does not directly affect academic performance, it can cause other issues which prevent a child from reaching their potential in school. Often an articulation disorder can breed feelings of shame or embarrassment, causing a child to participate less in the classroom.
Another communication disorder that may not be covered under school-based services is pragmatic language skills, or the social use of language. Just like articulation issues, the social use of language may not be viewed as directly affecting academic achievement. However, the ability to use language appropriately in the classroom and with peers is essential to forming relationships and communicating effectively. If these skills aren’t learned, the effects can often be felt throughout an individual’s life, causing difficulty in professional and personal relationships.
Over time, “non-academic” communication disorders can cause low self-esteem, social difficulties, and significantly impact school performance. In these cases, seeking speech-language therapy services outside of the school is often the best option. A speech-language pathologist can work with a child one-to-one and target their specific areas of difficulty to create a personalized therapy plan that will help them to improve their communication, and head off future social and academic issues.
Want to learn more? If you have any questions or would like to know more about speech-language therapy, give me a call at (212) 308-7725 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to chat and answer any questions you may have.
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