May is Better Hearing and Speech Month (BHSM)! It’s time to take a moment and stop by the office of your school’s speech-language pathologist (SLP) to ask questions about what they do. Ask them about speech and language development and skills, a specific student in your classroom, language and literacy or when to refer a student for speech and language screening. It’s also time to reflect on the topic of communication and the immeasurable value it brings to our lives.
Here are some speech-language facts to reflect on:
- Communication disorders are among the most common disabilities in the United States, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).
- The ASHA defines a speech disorder as “an impairment of articulation, fluency, speech sounds, and/or voice.”
- The ASHA defines a language disorder as “the impaired comprehension and/or use of spoken, written, and/or other symbol systems. The disorder may involve the form, content, and/or function of language in communication.”
- Some SLPs have the letters CCC-SLP after their signatures. These letters stand for Certificate of Clinical Competence, a nationally recognized credential; they signify that an SLP has completed extensive training and preparation, including undergoing a rigorous academic program and supervised clinical experience, passing a national exam and completing an internship.
- An individual who works with students on speech and language is not a “speech teacher” or “speech therapist.” These professionals are officially called speech-language pathologists, the one and only title endorsed by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association.
- School-based speech-language pathologists work with students not only on remediating production of sounds like /r/ and /s/, but also on academic and curriculum-related skills including executive functioning, written expression, reading comprehension, abstract reasoning and social language. Many of these skills are fundamental to literacy.
- SLPs work with infants and toddlers as part of early intervention teams to provide support, services and training on topics including feeding/swallowing and emergent literacy.
- The school speech-language pathologist can play a critical role in developing and implementing a Multi-tiered System of Support (MTSS), such as response to intervention (RTI.) He or she can help develop universal screening measures, provide suggestions and models of instructional strategies and screen students for speech and language deficits and disorders.
- With the adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), the SLP is critical in identifying and focusing on the language underpinnings of the curriculum.
- Finally, the speech-language pathologist is your resource, colleague and friend. He or she can be a wonderful support and provide a wealth of knowledge to help you plan differentiated lessons, pre-teach academic concepts, co-teach lessons or lead group lessons.
This list has given you some food for thought about communication, who SLPs are and our roles in helping students communicate. Hopefully, it has gotten you thinking about how SLPs play a critical role in all things speech and language. Go chat with your SLP today!