When It’s Time to Dismiss From Speech

When It's Time to Dismiss From Speech- guidelines and advice

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:

  1. The child’s standard scores are no longer in the significantly discrepant range (for our district that is 80 or above).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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:

  1. The child’s speech/language skills continue to be in the significantly discrepant range.
  2. There are non-developmental speech sound errors that are significantly impacting his/her ability to communicate clearly, regardless of the standardized score.
  3. The child is highly motivated to master his/her speech.
  4. The child continues to have significant social skills trouble that are difficult to measure but impact him/her in the classroom.

Speech diploma to celebrate a student's success

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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  1. In my student teaching I learned something valuable that I’ve continued in my own practice: graduation parties. There are a few decorations (leftover from high school), snacks, and games with a friend of their choice. It takes the same amount of time as a therapy session. End with a certificate or small prize and we’re done. I find it helps them transition and they truly know they are done.

  2. Hi Karen, so I don’t do parties or make a big deal of the graduation, because of the students that I have that will not be graduating from speech. The kids with more serious language or social disorders. I don’t want them to feel like they never get a “turn” to graduate.

  3. When I have a student “graduate” from speech, I let them choose the activity for their last session and I buy them a full size candy bar and give that to them with a certificate. Nothing too over the top. I just had the dismissal IEP for one of my sweetest 5th grade boys. I’ll definitely miss him!

  4. Deborah Broughton says:

    I would qualify every single student I test in my school if our cut off was 80. That seems so crazy to me. However, my school is in such an incredibly low socio economic area with very low kids. I couldn’t imagine working somewhere where it would be feasible to have a cut off of 80!

    1. I would like to propose a lower score, but it is up to the district.

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