Determining Service Times for Students
Hey everyone! I can't believe it has been almost two full months since I have posted. I've been concentrating on building up my TpT store and preparing materials for my students for the start of the year, and unfortunately my blog kind of fell on the back burner. I'm back today with a question for everyone.
How do you determine service times for students with speech and language impairments? Does your district follow a specific guideline? Are you allowed to use your professional judgement when determining how often a student is seen for speech and language therapy? Where did the 2x a week for 30 minutes "rule" come from anyway?
I did a little bit of research, and one of my SLP friends shared a severity matrix from ASHA.
This matrix indicates that we need to base service times off of student severity. I was pleased to see that this matrix exists and that is comes from ASHA, as I had no idea WHY I was even recommending 2x a week for 30 minutes for students for speech and language therapy.
As speech-language pathologists, we know that there is a huge push for providing services in the classroom. For students with language disorders, I agree that services are often most effective when provided in the classroom in conjunction with the teacher. Teaching the teacher often leads to more opportunities for student learning and growth in the classroom, which is beneficial for students with language or even fluency disorders.
For students with articulation disorders who need repetition, drill, or to be taught how to produce a specific speech sound, these students, in my opinion, should be pulled-out to the therapy room (until you get to the generalization point at which time services should be held back in the classroom). Some students are able to make progress with therapy held 1x a week for 30 minutes, some students make progress with therapy held 2x a week for 15 minutes, and some students make progress only when therapy is held 3-4x a week for 5-15 minutes. Students with more severe articulation and phonological disorders, who may struggle to communicate in their educational environment at all, may need more support than a student who is struggling with producing the /r/ in words.
Looking at the severity matrix has helped me take my caseload into consideration and really examine how I am providing services. During grad school, internships, and clinical work, I was taught that a typical student receives therapy 2x a week for 20-30 minutes. That's it. No explanation was ever really provided. In looking at my schedule, I am able to identify students who may only need services 1x a week and others who may need it 3-4x a week in order to be successful and make progress with their goals. By doing this, I am able to carve out some time in my schedule to push-in to the classrooms to observe generalization of skills and work 1:1 or 1:3 with students on their individual goals.
This may seem very basic to some of you. Of COURSE you should know WHY you're recommending these service times, but honestly, it's something that I never really thought about. It was something that was kind of automatic - like riding a bike or driving a car. When parents ask how often their child will be seen, it just comes out that they will be seen 2x a week for 30 minutes... and no one ever questions it.
I'm questioning it now. I challenge you all to question it as well. Are there students on your caseload who don't need to be seen 2x a week? Are there students who need more support for less amount of time? Don't be afraid to change things up!