Parents can become overwhelmed when they're facing the possibility their child may need speech and language services from school.
This overview goes through the process of getting speech and language services for the first time.
- Speech and language services fall under the umbrella of special education. The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that established the process for determining eligibility for services. IDEA also provides a process for deciding how to services are going to be carried out.
- Parents who have concerns about their child's speech and language can request an evaluation from a school official like the child's teacher. Concerned school personnel can approach parents about doing an evaluation. Parents must consent to the initial evaluation.
- Once the evaluation is completed, school officials and parents will convene for an eligibility meeting. At that time, they'll discuss the results of the evaluation and determine whether the child is eligible for speech and language services.
- Guidelines set by IDEA determine eligibility. An eligible child must have a disability as defined by IDEA. Speech and language impairment qualifies as a disability. Then, if the child is disabled, the disability must have an adverse effect on the child's educational performance. The final eligibility question asks would specialized education and related services support the child's effort to make progress in the curriculum.
- For an eligible child, the school has 30 days from the eligibility meeting to hold an Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting. Parents are members of their child's IEP team. During the meeting, the team creates the IEP. It's a legal document that outlines the goals for the speech and language services the child is going to receive. The IEP also describes how often services will be delivered. An IEP must be revised at least annually.
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