Speech and Language Disorders


Advice for General Education Teachers when Identifying Disabilities, Disorders, Collaboration with Speech Pathologists, and Policies related- Kelly Poe and Madeline Tatum- Spring 2017

When it comes to looking for invisible disabilities and accommodating to students appropriately, general education teachers may struggle to find what a student is looking for or helping in the best way.  Knowing this, we have provided ways to look for certain disabilities, how to help in the meantime, and ways to collaborate with the school Speech Language Pathologist so you are fully prepared for every situation.  Students that may see a Speech Language Pathologist may have: articulation difficulties, language delay, language disorder, speech disorder, receptive disorders, fluency disorder, voice disorder, sound disorder, or it could be tied in with another disability such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, Dysphagia, Cerebral Palsy, Traumatic Brain Injury, and so on.



How to work with the school's speech-language pathologist (SLP):

  1. Discuss the student's diagnosis as well as signs and symptoms.
  2. Find out students' speech and language goals at the beginning of the year.  The SLP will provide additional information about goals and how to adapt them in the classroom.
  3. Ask the SLP if students have testing accommodations or additional services.
  4. Provide classroom materials ahead of time so that the SLP can integrate them into speech lessons.
  5. Set up a meeting each week with the SLP to discuss student progress.

*Watch this video for more information: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPWWXYBOXO4



Signs of Disorders:

Autism Spectrum Disorder (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFfR18onuDs)

General education teachers must know there is a WIDE range when it comes to ASD.  There is a whole spectrum of students that may fall into this category, meaning not all people with Autism Spectrum Disorder have the same signs and symptoms.

  • Behavioral - avoid eye contact, isolates themselves, not comforted by others in distress, potential trouble understanding other people’s feelings, poor personal space boundaries, hyperactivity/impuslivitiy, agression
  • Language - reverse pronouns, talk in flat, robot like or sing song voice, do not understand jokes or sarcasm, potentially nonverbal (40%), repeat words and phrases over and over (echolalia), give unrelated answers to questions
  • Sensory - sensitivite to smell, sound, taste, feel, get upset by minor changes, avoid or resist physical touch
  • Repetition/Obesession - repetitive behaviors (hand flapping, spinning in circles, etc.), obsessive interests, very organized, follow routines closely


Speech and Language Disorders (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSuc6ucVTfw)

Speech and Language Disorders encompass a wide array of language issues from clarity and quality to fluency.  These issues can bring on additional issues listed below.

  • Socially - target for bullies, act aggressively out of frustration
  • Academically - reading issues, writing problems due to limited vocabulary and poor grammar
  • Communicatively - poor when it comes to holding meaningful conversation, cannot understand others, trouble problem solving, struggle with reading and comprehension, difficulty expressing thoughts



Receptive Language Disorder

  • Trouble understanding what other people say
  • Difficulty following simple directions and organizing information heard
  • Harder to identify


Expressive Language Disorder

  • Frequently pauses in speech and replaces it with “um”, “stuff” or “thing” often
  • Trouble learning new vocabulary words
  • Leaves out key words and confuses verb tense
  • Uses phrases or certain sentence structures over and over
  • Frustrated by inability to communicate thoughts, may not talk
  • Able to pronounce words and sounds
  • Sentences often do not make sense

Stuttering or Dysfluency

  • Tense or “out of breath” during speech
  • Repetitions of words or part of words or prolongations of speech sounds
  • Speech completely stopped or blocked (could last several seconds)


Other Disorders:

Expressive Aphasia - speaks in short, fragmented phrase, says words in the wrong order

Global Aphasia - struggles using words and understanding others

Apraxia - difficulty imitating speech sounds, inconsistent errors, slow rate of speech

Dysarthria - slurred speech, slow or rapid speech, mumbling 




How are students identified with a disability?


Child is identified as needing special education and related services

  • “Child Find” - mandate instructs states to develop a system to identify all possible students with disabilities.  Shey can be identified and found through, "door-to-door surveys, brochure mailings, public education programs and other public meetings, physician referrals, contacts with day care providers, and surveys of private school personnel," according to the Office for Civil Rights.
  • Referrals - teachers, school professional, and parents may ask that a student be evaluated.  This request could be placed verbally or in writing and then parental consent must be granted.

Child is evaluated

  • The evaluation must target the student’s perceived disability and be fitted to their needs.
  • The evaluation must be conducted within 60 days of parental consent.
  • No single evaluation or assessment may be used to justify the child’s status
  • The results are used to decide the child’s eligibility for special services.
  • If the parent disagrees with the result, they can ask for the school to pay for an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE).

Eligibility is decided

  • The parents and professionals sit down to discuss the child’s eligibility under IDEA.
  • If the parents do not like the outcome, they may ask for a hearing.

Child is found eligible for services

  • If the child is eligible, an IEP meeting must be scheduled to craft the IEP.

IEP meeting is scheduled.

  • The school staff must contact participants, schedule an appropriate meeting time/place, discuss the purpose of the meeting with the parents, tell parents who will be attending and that they can bring someone who has experience with the child.

IEP meeting is held and the IEP is written.

  • The noted team talks about the child's needs and writes the student's IEP.

  • Parents are to be included in all meetings and need to give consent before the student begins receiving services.
  • If parents have complaints, they could voice them in the following ways, increasing in severity: discuss their concern with the IEP team, ask for additional testing, ask for an independent evaluation, ask for mediation, file a complaint with the state education agency, and request a due process hearing.

Services are provided.

  • The school ensures that the IEP plan is being carried out and parents receive a copy of the IEP.

Progress is measured and reported to parents.

  • The child's annual progress is measured and parents are informed of developments frequently.

IEP is reviewed.

  • The IEP is reviewed by the team at least once a year.  If the IEP needs to be revised or the parent asks to meet, the team can meet again.  If parents have a disagreement with the IEP team, they can follow the steps outlined above in step 6.

Child is reevaluated.

  • The child must be reevaluated at least every three years to ensure that they meet IDEA's definition of a child with a disability.





What does the government classify as teachers' roles within this framework?

“A regular education teacher of the child, as a member of the IEP Team, shall, to the extent appropriate, participate in the development of the IEP of the child, including the determination of appropriate positive behavioral interventions and supports, and other strategies, and the determination of supplementary aids and services, program modifications, and support for school personnel consistent with paragraph (1)(A)(i)(IV).”


What government-imposed limits are placed on teachers?

 The screening of a student by a teacher or specialist to determine appropriate instructional strategies for curriculum implementation shall not be considered to be an evaluation for eligibility for special education and related services.”


Who evaluates what?

  1. Occupational Therapy
    1. Performance skills - motor skills and praxis skills, sensory-perceptual skills, emotional regulation, cognitive skills, communication and social skills
    2. Performance patterns - habits, routines, ritual, roles
    3. Contexts and environments - physical, social, cultural, virtual, personal, temporal
    4. Activity demands - required actions, body functions
    5. Client factors - values and beliefs; mental, neuromuscular, sensory, visual, perceptual, digestive, cardiovascular, and integumentary functions and structures
  2. Physical Therapy
    1. Activity - student’s ability to execute individual school-based tasks
    2. Body Structure and Function - physiological functions of the body
    3. Environmental Factors, Demands, Expectations - building modifications for safety and accessibility, adaptive seatings, desk positions, etc.
    4. Personal Factors - student’s preferences, interests, motivations
  3. Speech-Language Pathologists
    1. Speech Sound Production and Use - articulation, phonology, oral mechanism
    2. Oral and Written Language - morphology, syntax, pragmatics, semantics, use of augmentative communication
    3. Fluency - rate, rhythm, continuity, effort
    4. Voice - quality, pitch, loudness, duration



When were these policies made and what was their impact on public education?






Congress adds Title VI to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 creating a Bureau of Education for the Handicapped (this bureau today is called the Office of Special Education Programs or OSEP).

Educating students with disabilities is still NOT mandated by federal or state law. However, creation of the Bureau signified that a change was on the horizon.


Two significant supreme court decisions [PARC v. Pennsylvania (1972) and Mills v. D.C. Board of Education (1972)] apply the equal protection argument to students with disabilities.

The courts take the position that children with disabilities have an equal right to access education as their non-disabled peers. Although there is no existing federal law that mandates this stance, some students begin going to school as a result of these court decisions.


Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is enacted into statute. This national law protects qualified individuals from discrimination based on their disability.

This national law was enacted with little fanfare. Most educators were not aware that this applied to public schools.


The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is enacted.

Parents are allowed to have access to all personally identifiable information collected, maintained, or used by a school district regarding their child.


The Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EAHCA) is enacted. This was also known as P.L. 94-142. Today we know this law as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Before 1975, children with disabilities were mostly denied an education solely on the basis of their disabilities. EAHCA, along with some key supreme court cases, mandated all school districts to educate students with disabilities.


The final federal regulations of EAHCA are released.

The final federal regulations are enacted at the start of the 1977-1978 school year and provide a set of rules in which school districts must adhere to when providing an education to students with disabilities.


The EAHCA is amended with the addition of the Handicapped Children’s Protection Act.

This amendment makes clear that students and parents have rights under EAHCA (now IDEA) and Section 504.


The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is enacted.

ADA adopts the Section 504 regulations as part of the ADA statute. In turn, numerous “504 Plans” for individual students start to become more common place in school districts.


The EAHCA is amended and is now called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

This amendment calls for many changes to the old law. One of the biggest was the addition of transition services for students with disabilities. School Districts were now required to look at outcomes and assisting students with disabilities in transitioning from high school to postsecondary life.


IDEA reauthorized

This amendment calls for students with disabilities to be included in on state and district-wide assessments. Also, Regular Education Teachers are now required to be a member of the IEP team.


No Child Left Behind is enacted.

This law calls for all students, including students with disabilities, to be proficient in math and reading by the year 2014.


IDEA reauthorized

There are several changes from the 1997 reauthorization. The biggest changes call for more accountability at the state and local levels, as more data on outcomes is required. Another notable change involves school districts providing adequate instruction and intervention for students to help keep them out of special education.









Previous Research:

Under IDEA, a speech or language impairent is defined as a communciation disorder, such as stuttering, impaired articulation, language impairment, or voice impairment that adversely affects a chld's educational performance.

Communication: Any exchange of inofrmation between people using common code--words, gestures, symbols, signs, behaviors or sounds.  Communication can be thought of any form of interchanging ideas, feeling ,stories actions, events, and experiences. 

Speech and Language Disorders: Impact a person's ability to talk, understand, read and write. There are many different types and causes for speech and language disorders.

Speech Disorders

Language Disorders

Speech Language Delay vs. Disorder vs. Difference

Resources and Services for Parents and Educators