9. The History of School Speech Pathology

SLPs and Least Restrictive Environment 

SLPs have not responded much to least restrictive environment in terms of real universal decision-making guidelines and implementation. There are many ways to make the argument.  Here is one.

 

Hypothetical

 

A child enters special education at age 6 years with multiple articulation errors. The IEP says three sessions a week 20 minutes each in the therapist’s office.  The child leaves the classroom for the service.

 

At the end of the first years half the errors have been eliminated. The SLP says the child is not finished and needs more articulation therapy as before.

 

At the end of the second year the child only has one error left and is highly stimulable. The child can self correct and also make use of prompts to correct the last error sound.  The therapist says the child needs to”clean up that error”

and return the following year but for only 40 minutes a week in a group situation.

 

Tests

 

From appearances this looks like an application of least restrictive environment.  Intensity has dropped and the child is interacting more with other children during group sessions.

 

But two tests are NOT met.  

 

One, could the child now stay in the classroom all the time but receive prompts from the teacher and her assistant to correct the last stimulable sound? The SLP in this case would demonstrate a technique to prompt during reading exercises.

 

The second unmet test is whether the child should remain in special education at all.  We know that the child will receive linguistic training during literacy experiences and parents know how to help at home.  The risk is the child now older will be embarrassed to leave the classroom in front of her normal peers.  This is the stigma factor.

 

The SLP is holding onto a more restrictive procedure placing the child at risk socially and academically. Children in special education are less likely to graduate from high school. One can say with a clear mind it is better for a child to have a minor problem and have the benefits of full educational opportunity than to stay indefinitely in special education.  

 

Placing children in special education is a RESTRICTION BIG TIME!

 

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