3. New School Phonology: Articulation Exits

School speech-language pathologists along with physical and occupational therapists are known to exit elementary school clients in a more timely fashion than other special education children are exited,  particularly specific learning disability children.  SLD children are at risk for long-term placements. 

Speech sound improvement is supported both by intervention and natural development.  Many complete natural development by age 8 years.  Special educators and IEP teams are used to speech therapy dismissal recommendations.   Some children continue on because of resistant sound errors such as /r/, /l/ and /s/.  The stigma for continuing special education placement is less for articulation problems than it is for mental retardation, autism and learning disability.

For developmental speech sound errors — “functional” errors where there is no obvious physical cause — a reasonable question is whether now in 2010 most of these children should be placed in special education in the first place.  Rapid national development of Response To Intervention (RTI) suggests that broader early linguistic programming coupled with reading stimulation carried out by SLPs in collaborative efforts can scaffold development without special education placement.  Those children who do not respond to tier cycles can still be considered for later placement, so a safety net available.  Reading and speech are related allowing for the operation of cross-modal stimulation.

When SLPs recommend placing phonology clients in special education, they do not seem to consider social stigma.  General figures indicate special education children are less likely to graduate from high school.  They may or may not notice language and dialect differences.

Exiting routine articulation clients from special education is time-consuming.  Paperwork justification of dismissal takes a lot of time.  It is better not to admit in the first place.

Reduction of time spent in direct intervention conducted in the therapy room means more time for collaboration.

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