This year I have dismissed an unusually high number of students from speech. It is bittersweet to tell one of your sweetest students that they no longer need to come to speech anymore. I try not to make a big deal about it within a speech group, where there are others that may continue to have speech for years. But in the eligibility meeting with the parents, I really play it up. I congratulate them. I clap. I hand them a diploma (sign up for your free copy here). Then the ceremony is over. Some of these kiddos come back later and tell me how much they loved speech and beg to come back. Some of these students forget me over the years.
Sometimes it is difficult to determine when a child should be dismissed from speech. My co-workers and I have met several times on this issue and this is what we have determined and proposed to our district.
A child is no longer eligible for speech services when:
- The child’s standard scores are no longer in the significantly discrepant range (for our district that is 80 or above).
- The child has mastered their speech in therapy. Although they may not have full carry-over of skills, they know how to self-correct and have been “taught” everything they need to know.
- It would be more beneficial for a student to be in his/her classroom than pulled out for speech. This may be due to the fact that the child has almost mastered his/her speech, severe lack of student’s motivation, or significant academic difficulties.
- There is no longer an educational or social impact (note: a lateral lisp may not have an educational impact, but may have a social impact on the child).
Reasons to continue speech services:
- The child’s speech/language skills continue to be in the significantly discrepant range.
- There are non-developmental speech sound errors that are significantly impacting his/her ability to communicate clearly, regardless of the standardized score.
- The child is highly motivated to master his/her speech.
- The child continues to have significant social skills trouble that are difficult to measure but impact him/her in the classroom.
When it is determined that a child no longer needs speech therapy services, we can celebrate in private. The child deserves a private audience, a diploma, and a handshake from all involved. And ice cream. Ice cream never hurts.
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