The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) defines speech/language impairment as “a communication disorder such as stuttering, impaired articulation, language impairment or a voice impairment that adversely affects a student’s educational performance.”
Areas of speech-language impairment include:
- Fluency- intrusion or repetition of sounds, syllables, and words; stuttering; prolongation of sounds; avoidance of words; silent blocks; or inappropriate inhalation, exhalation, or phonation patterns. These patterns may also be accompanied by facial and body movements associated with the effort to speak.
- Articulation- the substitution, absence, or distortion resulting in incorrect production of speech sounds or phonological processes that are developmentally appropriate (e.g. lisp, difficulty articulating certain sounds).
- Language- limitations in communication as characterized by problems in expressing needs, ideas, or information that may be accompanied by problems in understanding. Individuals may struggle in areas of comprehension, sentence length, grammar, word-finding, and social language usage.
- Voice- the absence of voice or presence of abnormal quality, pitch, resonance, loudness, or duration.
Educational speech-language pathologists provide direct intervention to students with a communication disorder that adversely affects educational performance.
Speech-language pathologists in schools address the areas of:
- Communication delays and disorders that can affect speaking, listening, reading, and writing
- Speech disorders - difficulty producing speech sounds correctly or fluently
- Language disorders - trouble understanding what others say or write, difficulty with sharing thoughts, ideas, and feelings
- Social-Communication disorders - difficulty with the social use of verbal and nonverbal communication
- Cognitive-Communication disorders - difficulty organizing and problem-solving as it relates to communication
Signs a student may benefit from Speech/Language Services can include:
- A student is unable to say all their speech sounds by age 8
- Has difficulty following complex directions, answering questions, telling stories, or explaining events
- Has a hard time understanding what they read or what others say
- Speaks or writes in simple sentences
Visit MDE's SLI information page for more information and resources.