SSPS:Speech and Language Impaired

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Definition

Speech impairments are disorders of speech sounds, fluency, or voice that interfere with communication, adversely affect performance and/or functioning in the educational environment, and result in the need for exceptional student education. Speech impairments are not primarily the result of factors related to chronological age, gender, culture, ethnicity, or limited English proficiency. Speech impairments are classified into one of three categories:

  • A speech sound disorder is a phonological or articulation disorder that is evidenced by the atypical production of speech sounds characterized by substitutions, distortions, additions, or omissions that interfere with intelligibility. A phonological disorder is an impairment in the system of phonemes and phoneme patterns within the context of spoken language. An articulation disorder is characterized by difficulty in the articulation of speech sounds that may be due to a motoric or structural problem.
  • A fluency disorder is characterized by deviations in continuity, smoothness, rhythm, or effort in spoken communication. It may be accompanied by excessive tension and secondary behaviors, such as struggle and avoidance.
  • A voice disorder is characterized by the atypical production or absence of vocal quality, pitch, loudness, resonance, or duration of phonation.


Language impairments are disorders of language that interfere with communication, adversely affect performance and/or functioning in the student’s typical learning environment, and result in the need for exceptional student education. The language impairment may manifest in significant difficulties affecting listening comprehension, oral expression, social interaction, reading, writing, or spelling. A language impairment is not primarily the result of factors related to chronological age, gender, culture, ethnicity, or limited English proficiency.


A language impairment is a disorder in one or more of the basic learning processes involved in understanding or in using spoken or written language. These include:

1. Phonology. Phonology is defined as the sound systems of a language and the linguistic conventions of a language that guide the sound selection and sound combinations used to convey meaning;

2. Morphology. Morphology is defined as the system that governs the internal structure of words and the construction of word forms;

3. Syntax. Syntax is defined as the system governing the order and combination of words to form sentences,

4. Semantics. Semantics is defined as the system that governs the meanings of words and sentences; and

5. Pragmatics. Pragmatics is defined as the system that combines language components in functional and socially appropriate communication.

Criteria for Eligibility

Age

Ages served: 3-22. Students may be served by the preschool program on their third birthday. They must be five 5 years old on or before September 1 to be eligible for the kindergarten program and may continue their education through the year they turn eighteen 18. Students over the age of 18 who have not met TIEP objectives and/or met requirements for graduation with a standard diploma will be individually considered for continued services at the annual TIEP conference based on their ability to successfully achieve program goals.


General Education Intervention and Activities

Refer to Referral and Evaluation Wiki for information regarding general intervention procedures.


General education intervention procedures and activities are required for students in grades kindergarten through twelve suspected of having a speech or language impairment. However, some requirements may by waived for students suspected of having a SPEECH impairment, if a team comprised of qualified professionals and the parent determines that general education interventions are not appropriate. This is documented on an In-school Staffing form (MIS #433). Vision and hearing screenings and a review of existing data are mandatory prior to a referral and cannot be waived.


For prekindergarten age children with either speech or language concerns, minimum General Education Intervention requirements include vision and hearing screenings, and a review of existing social, psychological, and medical data, with referral for a health screening when the need is indicated.

NOTE: The general education rule should not be construed to either limit or create the right to FAPE or delay an appropriate evaluation of a student suspected of having a disability.

Educational Relevance

Educational relevance for speech and language impairments is demonstrated through documentation of the impairment’s adverse effect on the student’s ability to perform and/or function in the student’s typical learning environment, thereby demonstrating the need for exceptional student education.


Other Factors

When making a determination for eligibility for speech or language impairments, the team must determine whether the demonstrated speech or language patterns are primarily the result of factors related to chronological age, gender, culture, ethnicity, or limited English proficiency.


When determining eligibility for language impairment, the team must consider whether patterns of irregular attendance limited the student’s access to a well-delivered scientific, research-based instruction and interventions addressing the identified area(s) of concern.


Evaluation Criteria for Speech

Speech Impairment: Speech Sound Disorder

Required evaluation components:

1. Information gathered from the student’s parent(s) or guardian(s) and teacher(s), and when appropriate, the student, regarding the concerns and description of speech characteristics. This may be completed through a variety of methods including interviews, checklists, or questionnaires.

2. Documented and dated observation(s) conducted by a speech-language pathologist to examine the student’s speech characteristics during connected speech or conversation. Observation(s) conducted prior to obtaining consent for evaluation may be used to meet this criterion.

3. An examination of the oral mechanism structure and function.

4. One or more standardized, norm-referenced instruments designed to measure speech sound production. Results shall demonstrate the type and severity of the speech sound errors and whether the errors are articulation (phonetic) or phonological (phonemic) in nature.

Criteria: A speech sound disorder is present if there is evidence of a significant phonological or articulation disorder that is characterized by the atypical production of speech sound(s). The atypical production of speech sound(s) may be characterized by substitutions, distortions, additions, or omissions. The following must be demonstrated:

  • Significant impact on the student’s intelligibility, although the student may be intelligible to familiar listeners or within known contexts; AND
  • Articulation (phonetic) or phonological (phonemic) inventory significantly below that expected for chronological age or developmental level based on normative data.

Speech Impairment: Fluency.

Required evaluation components:

1. Information gathered from the student’s parent(s) or guardian(s) and teacher(s), and when appropriate, the student, to address the motor aspects, student’s attitude, social impact and educational impact of the speech behaviors. This may be completed through a variety of methods including interviews, checklists, or questionnaires.

2. A minimum of two (2) documented and dated observations of the student’s speech and secondary behaviors conducted by a speech-language pathologist in more than one setting, including the typical learning environment. For prekindergarten children, the observations may occur in an environment or situation appropriate for a child of that chronological age. Observations conducted prior to obtaining consent for evaluation may be used to meet this criterion, if the activities address the motor aspects, student’s attitude, social impact and educational impact of the speech behaviors.

3. An examination of the oral mechanism structure and function;

4. A speech sample of a minimum of 300-500 words to determine frequency, duration, and type of dysfluent speech behaviors. If the speech-language pathologist is unable to obtain a speech sample of a minimum of 300-500 words, a smaller sample may be collected and analyzed. The evaluation report must document the rationale for collection and analysis of a smaller sample, the results obtained, and the basis for recommendations.

5. Additional assessment if there is insufficient data collected through the above activities in the following areas:

  • Motor aspects of the speech behaviors;
  • Student’s attitude regarding the speech behaviors;
  • Social impact of the speech behaviors; and
  • Educational impact of the speech behaviors.

Criteria: A fluency disorder is present if there is evidence of significant and persistent interruptions in the rhythm or rate of speech. The dysfluency may include repetition of phrases, whole words, syllables and phonemes, prolongations, blocks, and circumlocutions. Additionally, secondary behaviors, such as struggle and avoidance, may be present.


Speech Impairment: Voice.

Required evaluation components:

1. Information gathered from the student’s parent(s) or guardian(s) and teacher(s), and when appropriate, the student, regarding the concerns and description of voice characteristics. This may be completed through a variety of methods including interviews, checklists, or questionnaires;


2. Documented and dated observation(s) of the student’s voice characteristics conducted by a speech-language pathologist in one or more setting(s), which must include the typical learning environment. For prekindergarten children, the observation(s) may occur in an environment or situation appropriate for a child of that chronological age. Observation(s) conducted prior to obtaining consent for evaluation may be used to meet this criterion;

3. An examination of the oral mechanism structure and function; and

4. A report of a medical examination of laryngeal structure and function conducted by a physician licensed in Florida, unless a report of medical examination from a physician licensed in another state is permitted. The physician’s report must provide a description of the state of the vocal mechanism and any medical implications for therapeutic intervention.

Criteria: A voice disorder is present if there is evidence of significant and persistent atypical production of quality, pitch, loudness, resonance, or duration of phonation. The atypical voice characteristics may include inappropriate range, inflection, loudness, excessive nasality, breathiness, hoarseness, or harshness. The voice disorder does not refer to vocal disorders that are found to be the direct result or symptom of a medical condition unless the disorder adversely affects the student’s ability to perform and/or function in the educational environment and is amenable to improvement with therapeutic intervention.


Evaluation Criteria for Language

Students suspected of having language impairments must be evaluated in their primary language and/or mode of communication. When this does not occur, the evaluation report must reflect the team’s rationale for the exception to this requirement and testing results must be interpreted with caution.


When appropriate, consultation with the Assistive Technology Team may be warranted to evaluate communication abilities using an alternative form of communication and the potential to use and/or increase use of an augmentative communication system for students being considered for, or presently using, an alternative or augmentative communication system.


Language Impairment: Prekindergarten

Required evaluation components:

1. Information gathered from the child’s parent(s) or guardian(s) and others as appropriate, such as teacher(s), service providers, and caregivers regarding the concerns and description of language skills. This may be completed through a variety of methods including interviews, checklists, or questionnaires;


2. One or more documented and dated observation(s) of the child’s language skills conducted by the speech-language pathologist in one or more setting(s), which must include the child’s typical learning environment or an environment or situation appropriate for a child of that chronological age; and

3. Administration of one or more standardized norm-referenced instruments designed to measure language skills. The instrument must be administered and interpreted by a speech-language pathologist to determine the nature and severity of the language deficits. If the speech-language pathologist is unable to administer a norm-referenced instrument, a scientific, research-based alternative instrument may be used. The evaluation report must document the evaluation procedures used, including the rationale for use of an alternative instrument, the results obtained, and the basis for recommendations.


Criteria: A language impairment is present if there is evidence of significant deficits in language as evidenced by standard score(s) significantly below the mean. Significance of the deficit(s) must be determined and based on specifications in the manual of the evaluation instrument(s). The impairment may manifest in significant difficulties affecting one or more of the following areas:

  • Listening comprehension;
  • Oral expression;
  • Social interaction; or
  • Emergent literacy skills (e.g., vocabulary development, phonological awareness, narrative concepts).


If the evaluator is unable to administer a norm-referenced instrument, an alternative scientific, research-based instrument must reveal a significant language deficit in one or more of the areas noted above.


Information gathered from the child’s parent(s) or guardian(s), teacher(s), service providers, or caregivers must support the results of the standardized instruments and observations conducted.


Language Impairment: Kindergarten and above

Required evaluation components:

1. Review of data that demonstrate the student was provided well-delivered scientific, research-based instruction and interventions addressing the identified area(s) of concern and delivered by qualified personnel in general or exceptional education settings. Documentation should reflect fidelity of implementation.

2. Data-based documentation of repeated measures of performance and/or functioning at reasonable intervals reflecting the student’s response to intervention during instruction provided and communicated to parent(s) or guardian(s) in an understandable format.

3. Information gathered from the student’s parent(s) or guardian(s) and teacher(s), and when appropriate, the student, regarding the concerns and a description of language skills. This may be completed through a variety of methods including interviews, checklists, or questionnaires;

4. Documented and dated observation(s) of the student’s language skills must be conducted by the speech-language pathologist in one or more setting(s). Except as noted under item #6, observation(s) conducted prior to obtaining consent for evaluation may be used to meet this criterion.

5. Administration of one or more standardized norm-referenced instrument(s) designed to measure language skills. The instrument(s) must be administered and interpreted by a speech-language pathologist to determine the nature and severity of the language deficits. If the speech-language pathologist is unable to administer a norm-referenced instrument, a scientific, research-based alternative instrument may be used. The evaluation report must document the evaluation procedures used, including the rationale for use of an alternative instrument, the results obtained, and the basis for recommendations.

6. When a pragmatic language disorder is suspected and cannot be verified by the use of standardized instruments, at least one additional observation by the speech-language pathologist must be conducted after the consent for evaluation is signed.

Criteria: A language impairment is present if all of the following criteria are met:

1. Due to deficits in the student’s language skills, the student does not perform and/or function adequately for the student’s chronological age or to meet grade-level standards in one or more of the following areas, when provided with learning experiences and instruction appropriate for the student's chronological age or grade:

  • Oral expression;
  • Listening comprehension;
  • Social interaction;
  • Written expression;
  • Phonological processing; or
  • Reading comprehension.

2. Due to deficits in the student’s language skills, the student does not make sufficient progress to meet chronological age or State-approved grade-level in one or more of the areas identified above when using a process based on the student's response to scientific, research-based intervention.

3. Results of standardized norm-referenced instrument(s) indicate a significant language deficit in one or more of the areas listed, as evidenced by standard score(s) significantly below the mean. If the evaluator is unable to administer a norm-referenced instrument and an alternative scientific, research-based instrument is administered, the instrument must reveal a significant language deficit in one or more areas listed. Significance of the deficit(s) must be determined and based on specifications in the manual of the instrument(s) utilized for evaluation purposes.

4. Information gathered from the student’s parent(s) or guardian(s), teacher(s), and when appropriate, the student, must support the results of the standardized instruments and observations conducted.

5. When a pragmatic language disorder is suspected and cannot be verified by the use of standardized instruments, the language impairment may be established through the results of information gathered from the parent(s) or guardian(s), teacher(s), and student when appropriate, in conjunction with the additional observation. The evaluation report must document the evaluation procedures used, including the group’s rationale for overriding results from standardized instruments, the results obtained, and the basis for recommendations.

Team Analysis of Data

Speech Impaired TAD

Speech Impaired Short TAD

Language Impaired TAD

Language Impaired Short TAD

Procedures for Determining Eligibility and Educational Placements

Refer to Eligibility and Placement Section.

Reevaluation

Refer to Reevaluation Procedures Section.

Procedures for Recommending Discontinuation or Dismissal

Refer to Discontinuation and Dismissal Section.

Speech/Language Therapy as a Related Service

A Transition/Individual Education Plan (T/IEP) or Educational Plan (EP) team may consider the need for speech or language as a related service for any student who needs the service to benefit from their special education program. However, speech/language as a related service, as with any other related service, is not automatically provided. The team must conduct an evaluation to determine the student’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance, annual goals, and other services and supports needed. Students do not need to meet (and teams do not need to first consider) speech/language impairment eligibility criteria to receive speech/language as a related service.


When determining the need for speech or language as a related service, the T/IEP team shall consider available evaluation data, academic data, and input from parent(s) or guardian(s), teacher(s), and student when appropriate. While standardized assessment is not required for determination of eligibility for speech or language as a related service, the evaluation of the student’s communication skills should be sufficiently comprehensive for the T/IEP team, including the speech-language pathologist, to gain a clear and in-depth picture of the student to answer the guiding questions using the designated form (Appendix A: Flowchart for provision of speech/language as a related service.


If the T/IEP or EP team determines the student is in need of speech/language as a related service, the speech-language pathologist must document the communication impact on special education services using the designated form (Appendix B: Speech/Language as a Related Service Communication Impact on Special Education Services - Page 7 of Speech/Language as a Related Service Technical Assistance Paper


NOTE: An Exceptional Student Education staffing must take place any time a related service is added.

Procedure to Add

1. The file containing all pertinent documentation must be reviewed by Compliance Resource Teacher (CRT) who will place the student on an agenda and schedule an ESE staffing.

2. The parent/guardian and/or student, as appropriate, will be invited to the ESE staffing by the Guidance secretary or other designee using an Invitation to Staffing and/or Educational Plan Conference.

3. The student's T/IEP will be revised by the T/IEP team at the staffing.

4. An Informed Notice will be provided by the CRT to reflect the recommended addition of the related service(s).

5. The original data entry form (MIS #729) will be updated by the CRT to reflect the addition of the related service(s).

6. The case manger will make the recommended changes in PlanMaker to maintain an accurate database.

Discontinuation from Speech/Language Therapy as a Related Service

Students continue to receive the related service until the team determines that speech/language as a related service is no longer needed and makes the decision to remove the related service from the T/IEP or EP. Discontinuation of related service would be considered a change of FAPE and requires written notice.

Procedure to Dismiss

1. The decision to discontinue speech/language therapy as a related service must be based upon current, documented information regarding the student's progress and the continued need or lack of need for the related service through a team review of student progress.

2. A documented contact to discuss this information with the parent/guardian or student, as appropriate, must occur.


3. The case manager will invite the parent/guardian and/or student, as appropriate, to the IEP meeting using an Invitation to Meeting form.

4. The T/IEP team will revise the student's current cum copy of the T/IEP at the meeting and provide parent/guardian or student with a revised copy.

5. The parent/guardian or student is provided the Informed Notice Regarding a Proposed Action with Related Services (MIS #797) at the meeting.

6. The case manager will update PlanMaker to reflect the change.

7. The case manger or therapist will return the file to Guidance for review by the CRT who will update the original data entry form (MIS #729) to reflect the change in service.


NOTE: If, following the reevaluation process, the student is recommended to be dismissed from all ESE exceptionalities for which he/she is eligible, the related services of speech and or language therapy would also be discontinued.

Referenced Forms

In-school Staffing form (MIS #433)

Initial Speech/Language Evaluation Report (MIS #730)

Speech Impaired TAD

Language Impaired TAD

Invitation to Meeting (located in PEER).

Informed Notice Regarding a Proposed Action with Related Services (MIS #797)

Data Entry sheet (MIS #729)

Florida DOE-TAP for Speech/Language as a Related Service 6/8/09 , Attachment A & B)

Speech-Language Therapy Resources

Speech-Language Therapy Resources Wiki