Communication Problems in School
Your child may have gotten help for speech or language problems before he started school. Or, you may notice problems when he starts school. Your child may have trouble with:
- Speech sounds. S/he may have trouble saying sounds. s/He may not speak clearly and be hard to understand.
- Language and literacy. Your child may have trouble understanding what s/he hears. S/he may not follow directions or answer questions well. It may be hard for her/him to tell others about her/his thoughts. S/he may not say the correct words or say only short sentences. Language problems can also make reading and writing harder.
- Social communication. Your child may have trouble talking with other children. S/He may not make friends easily. S/he may not understand what others think or how they feel.
- Cognitive communication. These are the thinking skills your child needs to remember, solve problems, and use his/her imagination. Learning disabilities and brain damage can cause these types of problems.
- Stuttering. Your child may have trouble speaking smoothly. S/he may repeat sounds or words or have long pauses when s/he talks. Stuttering can make it hard to answer questions or give speeches in class. It can also make it hard to talk to friends.
- Voice. Your child may sound hoarse or lose his voice. S/he may sound like s/he talks through his/her nose, called hypernasality. His/her voice may be too loud or too soft. Voice problems can make it hard to talk in class or with friends.
Effect of Speech and Language Problems on Learning
You need language skills to communicate. And you need to communicate to learn. Reading, writing, gesturing, listening, and speaking are all forms of language. The better your communication skills, the better you will do in school.
Does your child have speech or language problems? S/He may not be able to do grade-level work. S/He may have trouble reading, writing, and spelling. S/He may not understand social cues, like what a person means when s/he nods or looks away as you speak. S/He may have trouble taking tests and may not want to go to school.
If you child's teacher has concerns, she may refer your child for speech screening or for language interventions. The school SLP. with parental consent, will then observe your child for speech and make a recommendation as to whether or not your child needs further testing. If the SLP determines more testing is needed, a parental consent will be obtained and you child will be assessed for speech. If there are language concerns, a Problem Solving Team will meet and determine what interventions are needed. Interventions will then be put in place for several weeks. Determination of the next step (higher level of intervention or evaluation) will then be made after collecting data for these weeks of intervention.
Role of the SLP
If your child is referred, the SLP will first observe your child in the classroom. If further testing is needed, consent to evaluate will be sent home If consent is signed, the SLP will test your child’s speech and language skills and decide if your child needs treatment. Each school has a process to get services started. The SLP or others in the school will help you follow this process.
Your child may get speech and language services alone or in a small group. The SLP may go into your child’s classroom and work with his/her teacher. The SLP will work with your child on what s/he is learning in class. Your child might go to the speech room individually or with a small group and work on their goals together. The goal of speech and language services is to help your child do well in school. The SLP will work as part of a team that makes sure that your child gets the services she needs.
Speech and language problems do not have to keep your child from doing well in school. SLPs can help.