Many children receive speech therapy services at school 1-2 times per week. Also, it is becoming increasingly more common for children who receive speech therapy in schools to have those services provided mainly by a speech technician with supervision of a speech therapist. Parents may often think that their child does not need more therapy than what is provided at school. In some cases, this is true; your child may only need the services they receive at school. However, there are so many advantages to receiving services both at school and at a private outpatient clinic such as FUNctionabilities.
Individual vs. Group Therapy
In the schools, therapy sessions are often group sessions, with as many as six or seven children in one group. This means that the amount of time your child has one-on-one with the therapist is minimal. SLPs in the schools also use push-in therapy, when they go into the classroom and lead therapy activities. This is a great opportunity for kids to receive services while still participating with their peers in class activities. These options work well for school SLPs due to the high caseload numbers in the public school system. Groups may also be offered in outpatient therapy to further enhance your child’s goals. However, a huge benefit of an outpatient clinic is that it provides the opportunity for one-on-one individualized therapy, every session. When your child is the only one participating in therapy, they receive the best therapy possible because all activities are centered on your child’s goals and skills.
Qualifying for Therapy
To qualify for therapy services in the school system, after a formal evaluation a child must receive a standard score below a certain limit, or they have to fall below two standard deviations from the mean. This means that often those children who have mild delays are not picked up for services. These are the children who may not have obvious signs of delays, but need some extra help to be as successful as they can be. The children who have mild speech or language delays should not fall through the gaps; they could also benefit from skilled services, and they can have their needs met at an outpatient clinic.
Goals in the school setting are centered on what a child needs to succeed educationally. Goals often align with what the child is learning in class and helping the child improve skills needed to focus, complete assignments, and work with others in the classroom. Conversely, goals in the private outpatient setting are all-encompassing. They cover everything the child needs to succeed across all environments: at home, in school, and even in community settings such as the park or grocery store. When a child receives therapy both at school and at a private clinic, they are not improving one or two skills at a time; but rather many skills across a variety of subjects and environments.
Private clinics may also have additional resources not available in the school setting. School SLPs typically have budget constraints set by their district that may limit the resources available to them. In addition, private clinics may have a larger space to work in rather than a single speech therapy room. At FUNctionabilities, we have a gym that is unique to the area, in both school and private settings. This provides your child with many more opportunities to achieve their goals through a variety of gym activities.
Be wary if…
Your child does not qualify for speech therapy services through the school system, but you feel like your child still needs services. Your child does not have to fall through the gaps; seek out an evaluation at a private therapy clinic where your child’s needs may be better met.
Schools and private clinics can work together to provide the best possible services for your child. With parent permission, therapists in both settings can share goals and progress to ensure that the child is working on similar skills to provide the greatest outcomes in both settings.
Contributed By: Rachel Jacob, CCC-SLP