3. SLP Misidentification

SLPs evaluate speech and language behaviors as a basis for recommending SLI placement. “Unfortunately, non-native speakers of English, speakers of various dialects (whose language also varies within dialect), and bilingual or multilingual speakers are frequently classified as language delayed or disordered when, in fact, they are language different–although problems of underidentification also occur” (Medscape).

“Identification of speech and language impairments is further complicated by the fact that they often masquerade as other diagnostic conditions. For example, children with a diagnosis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may in fact have an underlying language disorder.”

SLI overlaps with SLD identification. “A significant portion of SLI pupils morph into SLD children. The underlying pathology for the two categories is the same, a genetically-based cognitive-linguistic processing disorder (Speech genes).” Language/processing problems are identified as articulation problems and this helps to mask LD problems (SSP).

SLI and SLD are both categories affected somewhat extremely by misidentification. Speech-language pathologists and school psychologists are the evaluators making the recommendations to IEP teams, and IEP teams tend to follow their lead.

SLPs can participate in RTI to reduce misidentifications:

“The purpose of implementing a response to intervention (RTI) program is to not only reduce the number of special education referrals and evaluations, but to also prevent inappropriate placement of students in special education. RTI yields major cost savings to the education system by preventing over-identification of speech and language impairments, reducing long-term costs of educating struggling learners and allowing special education resources to be allocated on the basis of highest need. In addition, IDEA 2004 permits school districts to use as much as 15% of special education monies to pay for qualifying early intervening services, including professional development for teachers” (SPG).

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