The primary role of the Speech and Language Pathologist is to identify and evaluate a student’s communication delay/disorder that may interfere with academic progress and/or social-emotional adjustment. A comprehensive intervention program is then designed and implemented. Communication delay/disorders are generally broken down into the following categories:
- Articulation – difficulty discriminating and producing the speech sounds of our language
- Language – difficulty with comprehension and use of language in the classroom and in social situations and/or vocabulary and concept development
- Voice – voice differences in pitch, loudness and/or quality when compared with classmates
- Fluency – an abnormal disruption in the flow and rate of speech
- Non-verbal communicators – students with difficulty talking due to physical and/or developmental disabilities
Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Services
Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is a communication approach that enhances or provides alternatives to natural speech or writing for students with severe communication disorders. Assistive technology is often used to help students perform tasks that are difficult or even impossible due to disabilities.
Students who have difficulty using speech due to physical and/or mental disabilities may be non-verbal, have limited speech, or be difficult to understand. Their school-based team, through the Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP), may refer these students for augmentative/alternative communication support.
Following assessment, services are coordinated and provided by a Speech and Language Pathologist who specializes in meeting AAC needs through unaided and/or aided strategies and assistive technology devices. Communication solutions may include the use of gestures, sign language picture boards, letter boards, symbols, voice output communication aids (VOCA) and talking switches.
To further assist in meeting both the student’s needs and those of their communication partners (e.g. peers, teachers, family), the SLP/AAC specialist can become involved at a variety of levels, such as:
- observation of the student
- consultation with the school-based team
- collaboration with the SLP and/or other involved clinical service providers
- education for the purpose of enhancing the student’s augmentative communication ability