4. SLP Collaboration

In 2002, now eight years ago, the President’s Commission on Excellence in Special Education made this comment about the problem of the preventing special education over-identification:

“The Commission finds that the IDEA establishes complex requirements that are difficult to effectively implement at the state and local level. Nowhere in IDEA is this more complex than in the eligibility determination process. Improving this process, coupled with research-based early intervention programs, may reduce the number of children who are identified as having a disability, particularly when early identification and intervention are in place and research-based interventions are provided before referral” (Commission).

The Commission recommended improving the “eligibility determination process” saying it “…may reduce the number of children who are identified as having a disability…” Suggested was the solution of “research-based early intervention programs.”

Key here is that U. S. school SLPs are partners in improving the eligibility process. Our posts recommend “Strategic Eligibility Management.” Part of the solution must be reached through collaboration. Programs should be started by SLPs to provide school leadership. Collaboration should be a skill learned in college practicum prior to school employment. Educational speech pathology is too important to leave to on-the-job training.

There is moderate evidence that response to intervention and similar prevention programs are being implemented long-term in U. S. schools. There are models, pilot programs, and scattered efforts, but protracted development is surprisingly uneven even though hopes ran high after the authorizations of IDEA in 2004.

SLPs must step forward and help to reduce the over-identification of at-risk children. They must see it as AN ETHICAL PROBLEM. They must move away from pull out services and begin to manage their caseloads with a broader perspective. They can also help themselves reduce caseload demands.

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