At Balanced Speech Therapy, we always recommend that families pursue early intervention or school based speech therapy services in addition to private speech.
However, there are many potential barriers to school based speech therapy services that may result in a denial of services, or services lasting years longer than necessary. This leaves many parents wondering, is speech based speech therapy enough?
The first issue with school based services is denial of services. Just because a child needs speech therapy, does not mean that the school is obligated to provide services. School speech therapists (SLPs) are bound by state rules which often to do not reflect the most current research and best practice. Children need to meet a certain level of disability and their educational performance needs to be negatively impacted in order to qualify for services. In the private practice setting there is not qualification criteria and children only have to demonstrate a need for services in any aspect of life, their education performance does not have to be negatively impacted.
Another issue is service delivery. School speech therapists are often carrying caseloads that are too big for one therapist. This leads to grouping of students who may not be working on the same goals. Children often spend more of their speech time waiting for their turn than actually working. Additionally, due to the group nature, sessions are often not individualized to your student’s needs and interests, which we know makes a big impact on progress. As a result of this, students do not make progress as quickly as they should, which can lead to additional years of speech therapy. When children do not make progress quickly, they are often given more speech therapy in the school setting which means they are being pulled from class to work on goals that could have already been mastered if services were delivered differently.
A final issue is scope of practice in the schools. Many school SLPs are trained only to address speech sounds and language disorders, leaving services like literacy, executive function, and feeding to be addressed by others or in some cases, not addressed at all. Literacy and executive function and inextricably linked to language, meaning a child with a deficit in one of these areas often has needs in the other areas.
Private speech therapy can help your child make faster progress and meet their goals by avoiding many common issues in school based speech therapy. There is no standard qualification criteria for private therapy, which means more children are eligible. Services are 1:1 which allows the SLP to make every treatment session personalized and efficient. Finally, private SLPs have a greater scope of practice and can address areas that are not covered by school based services.
While we will always recommend that families pursue school based speech therapy services, we also recommend looking into private services to ensure your child’s needs are being met as fully as possible.