The start of the school year brings new school supplies, new teachers, and can bring new evaluations. Children are often flagged by doctors, teachers, or other school staff and subsequently may participate in a speech screening or possible evaluation. Following this evaluation, children may or may not qualify for ongoing speech-language services. If they don’t qualify, what do you do next?
Steps to take if your child does not qualify for needed speech-language services:
- If you still feel the child requires services, ask for a second opinion! If the child is told at school that he doesn’t qualify, this could be based on a child’s age or ability level. Often times the severity of a child’s difficulties may impact his qualifying for services, taking in to account age-matched peers.
- Watch and wait. If a child doesn’t qualify for services now, he might later! Depending on the child’s specific areas of need, articulation norms are tied to ages, so oftentimes therapists will wait until the child is in the expected age range before targeting a given sound. For example, /r/ is a later developing sound, so typically therapists won’t work on /r/ production until a child is 5 or 6 years old!
- Promote speech and language skills at home! Parents and siblings can be a great support for children with speech and language difficulties. Parents can model their own appropriate speech and language skills and recast if a child is struggling. When recasting, for example, parents can expand upon their child’s utterance to increase the length or make it more adult-like. If a child says, “ball,” parents can follow that with, “oh, you want the ball?” Siblings can also be a great help to work on peer interactions, turn taking, direction following and appropriate interaction and play!
Should your child not qualify for services right now – don’t give up! A licensed speech-language pathologist can help. SLPs may provide home programs to help target weak areas, and will often re-screen or even re-evaluate in 6 months or a year.