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What is a Speech Pathologist and Does My Child Need One?

Describes the role of the Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) and the various settings a child can be serviced.

Written By: Elissa Murnick M.S. CCC-SLP Certified Speech Language Pathologist, Director Murnick Speech & Language Associates

Many Pediatricians or Preschool Teachers will recommend that the child that they are working with is in need of an evaluation and possible treatment from a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP). Below is a description of the services that a Speech Pathologist provides and the disorders that they treat.

A Speech Language Pathologist is a professional with a Masters Degree in Speech Pathology who is licensed through the Department of Health for the state they practice in and certified through the American Speech Hearing Association (ASHA). A Speech Pathologist is considered to be a communication specialist and will treat children and/or adults with a wide range of disorders in speech, language or listening. A Speech Language Pathologist is familiar with developmental milestones and is able to recommend upon screening or evaluating your child whether or not therapy is appropriate. When an evaluation is conducted, a Speech Language Pathologist will use both descriptive measures (informal measures) and Standardized tests.

There are several different types of Speech Therapy services available to parents. For children under three years of age, The Birth to Three Program can come to your home and work with your child if he/she qualifies for therapy. For preschool age children, there is often a public preschool in the town that they live in that will provide Speech Therapy services on site to those children who qualify. For school age children attending public school, a Speech Language Pathologist is on staff to evaluate and treat children who qualify typically in a small group setting. If a child qualifies for Special Education, an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) will be developed which is a document mandated by law that guarantees that the child be serviced for a specific amount of time. Goals and objectives are developed based on the evaluation results and are implemented. A Planning and Placement Team (PPT) meeting will be held annually at the child's school to review a child’s progress and new goals and objectives will be developed if appropriate.  All professionals that service the child (i.e. Speech Language Pathologist, General Education Teacher, Special Education Teacher, Occupational Therapist, etc.) are required to attend the meeting and provide an update of the child’s progress. Every three years a triennial review will be held in which the child is re-evaluated to determine whether or not he/she remains eligible under Special Education in the area of Speech and Language Impairment or other related or academic areas.

Many children do not qualify for free services through Birth to Three or the Public Schools but are still in need of help.  Additionally, parents often are in search of additional services for their child. Private Speech Language Pathologists are available in your area and will either provide services in the family’s home or in a private clinic. Sessions are typically individual. Many insurance companies cover Speech and Language Services for therapists in network. If you choose a therapist that is not on your plan, you can either pay privately or submit an invoice to an insurance company as an Out of Network Provider. Visit www.asha.org to help find a local Speech Language Pathologist in your area or find other helpful resources for parents about Speech and Language Disorders. You can also speak to your child’s pediatrician or preschool teacher for a referral.

To view a description of different Speech and Language Disorders in children or to schedule an evaluation visit Murnick Speech & Language Associates on the web at www.murnickspeechandlanguage.com.

Elissa Murnick is a licensed, certified Speech Language Pathologist and the owner of Murnick Speech & Language Associates in Fairfield, CT. She has worked for almost 15 years with children of all ages with a wide range of speech and language disorders in a public and private school setting as well as private practice.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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