Why Do Kids Need Speech Therapy? Benefits of Speech Language Pathologists in Schools

Oct 19, 2020, 09:14 AM

Child getting throat checked by doctorWhile schools are operating online and cutting costs, some wonder what the benefits of speech and language therapy are in the classroom. Why do kids need speech therapy in the first place? 

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), one out of every 12 kids will have a speech, voice or swallowing disorder. This rate is highest among children ages three to six (11 percent). 

What do speech language pathologists do?

In essence, a speech language pathologist (SLP) helps children with a wide range of communication and language issues. They are an essential part of a school’s special education team and can catch developmental issues early to help their students communicate more easily. 

These students may have trouble with any number of the following:

  • Stuttering: While common, it’s not something children “grow out of.” Stuttering can lead to nervousness, stress and difficulty answering questions under duress. 

  • Voice issues: Volume control is a common issue, as is having a “nasally” voice. 

  • Trouble with specific sounds: Lisps and issues with specific consonants and vowels may make the child hard to understand. 

  • Language and literacy issues: Issues following directions and understanding questions are common. Often, the child may only speak in a few words at a time. Dyslexia also falls under this purview.  

  • Swallowing: This may sound odd but is an integral part of an SLP’s purview, as it can affect so many other aspects of the child’s communication as well. 

  • Trouble with cognition: Problem-solving and imagination-using are very important skills to have. 

  • Social communication: Not all children can intuit how other people and children are feeling. 

  • Nonverbal communication: Some students struggle with all verbal communication, and an SLP can provide the skills needed to communicate what they need effectively. Nonverbal communication speech therapy is extremely important for those with severe autism. 

An SLP can use specific techniques to improve vocabulary, phonological awareness skills, reading comprehension and social comprehension, effectively working to help the students through various types of issues. 

Benefits of Speech Therapy in Schools

It’s absolutely vital that schools have an SLP on staff. Here are some reasons why. 

1. SLPs are one of the most important resources for a school’s intervention system. 

A “response to intervention” (RTI) is a huge part of the SLP’s job. Otherwise, students with communications issues can struggle their whole lives without help, leading to stress, lower test scores and lower self-efficacy. 

2. The SLP is an integral member of the special education team in your school. 

They work in-step with other special education professionals to maximize the student’s success.

3. An SLP can find and assess the students who are at risk for developing communications issues via reliable testing. 

SLPs use very specific tests and techniques that directly measure the child’s communication skills. 

4. They can provide better IEP documentation for children with special needs, ensuring that they get the help they need earlier. 

A good IEP is gold for so many students with special needs, and not having one can cause life-long issues within the education system. 

5. The speech therapy itself is the least interruptive when a school has an on-staff SLP. 

This is one of the reasons for speech therapy to be a vibrant presence in schools. An SLP will go into a child’s classroom, speak with a teacher and only take the child out of the class in special training cases.

6. An SLP can provide more classroom resources as a part of the therapy. 

For instance, elementary school teachers with dyslexic students in their classrooms can lean on the SLP to provide books and resources that won’t discourage but encourage. 

7. An SLP can help get parents on board, discourage shaming behaviors and encourage growth. 

Having difficult conversations with parents is a part of the job, and teachers often appreciate the support of an SLP.

8. The school’s SLP can be a better advocate for the children that need help. 

As the student continues to develop, the school’s SLP can connect with them, even if they move into different classrooms and different situations, ensuring their improvement and growth. 

In short, an SLP can be a huge help in treating issues that may lead to lifelong shame otherwise. They provide students with the tools they need to be successful. They are just one of the school-based services that are integral to every child’s success.