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Extraordinary Lives Start With a Great Catholic Education

Frequently Asked Questions




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What is a Speech-Language Pathologist?

Speech-Language Pathologists (SLP) are professionals with specialized knowledge and skills in speech, language and communication development and disorders, and are key members of interdisciplinary education (school) teams. A speech-language pathologist's practice is controlled in Ontario by the Regulated Health Professions Act and the Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Act.

In the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board children with special needs, including those with communication difficulties, are helped through a team approach. Parents, teachers and special services staff participate in planning and programming for students with speech and language difficulties. As a member of the special services team, the speech-language pathologist provides assistance to students with communication problems that may affect school performance.

What is a communication problem?

A communication problem is a persistent difficulty in the understanding and use of spoken or written language. Communication problems may affect individuals of all ages: between five and ten percent of school aged children may experience some form of speech and language disorder.

What is a language impairment?

A language impairment can be a problem with receptive and or expressive language. Receptive language is the ability to understand someone else’s speech, gestures and writing. Expressive language is the ability to send a message by talking, writing or using symbols or gestures.

What is a speech problem?

A speech problem is often referred to an articulation disorder. An articulation disorder involves difficulties with the way sounds are formed and strung together, usually characterized by substituting one sound for another (wabbit for rabbit), omitting a sound (han for hand) or distorting a sound (shlip for sip).

Articulation problems involve 3-10% of the population. A history of severe articulation problems may relate to later spelling difficulties.

What are other communication problems?

Other communication problems involve speech and voice: such disorders include stuttering and abnormal voice quality. Children with special disabilities such as hearing impairment, developmental and physical disabilities and autism often have very special communication needs. In addition, children who are unable to use speech as a means of communication may require augmentative or alternate forms of communication and may need special communication devices.

Who can help a student with communication problems?

Parents and teachers play a primary role in developing a child’s communication skills through natural conversation and daily learning situations at home and school. Parents of young children particularly will have a great impact on communication development; the school curriculum is another major force in the development of appropriate communication skills among students. The school speech-language pathologist, who is a specialist in communication disorders, can assist students with communication problems but also provides support and help to parents and teachers.

Why is language important?

Language is the primary medium teachers use to instruct students in the classroom. Students require effective communication skills to access the curriculum, to interact socially with others and to effectively participate in the classroom. Academic, social and vocational success is dependent on a student’s ability to understand and express oneself orally and in written language.

Oral language is the basis for literacy. There is a strong relationship between oral language skills, reading comprehension and literacy development. All young children need learning experiences that help them acquire and understand oral language (The Ontario Ministry of Education: The kindergarten program 1999)

Language is also related to behaviour problems in children. Weak language predicts a later behaviour disorder. Prevalence of language impairment is 10 times higher in children with behaviour problems than in the general population.

How does the speech-language pathologist help a child with communication problems?

In many instances, the most effective programming for communication difficulties will be based in the classroom. The speech-language pathologist often works with the teacher and other school staff to develop classroom strategies to improve language comprehension and expression. In some circumstances speech-language pathologists will provide or supervise individual or small group programs separate from the classroom program. Assessment by the speech-language pathologist will help determine the most appropriate type of intervention.

By working closely with teachers and special services staff speech-language pathologists collaboratively help to develop effective programs for many children in school.

How long does a Speech-Language Assessment take?

It may take one to several weeks depending on the nature of the assessment. Other factors affecting the length of an assessment include the child’s attention and motivation, school activities and the Speech-Language Pathologist’s schedule. Since Speech-Language Pathologists work in several schools in a week, the time to complete an assessment varies. The assessment process is individualized, in a quiet environment outside the regular classroom, and allows for the opportunity to meet the specific needs of each child. If you would like more specific information, please contact the speech-language pathologist assigned to your child’s school.

What happens after my child’s assessment has been completed?

The speech-language pathologist who completed the assessment will meet with you to go over the results of the assessment and answer any questions that you have. The SLP also meets with your child’s teacher and any other relevant staff to discuss the results and to develop recommendations designed to provide a more effective program for your child. The results and recommendations are then written up in a formal report.

Where does the report go?

The original report is retained in your child’s confidential speech-language pathology file. One copy of the report goes into your child’s Ontario School Record (OSR) to assist educators in developing an effective educational plan. A copy also goes into Central Special Services Files at the Catholic Education Centre. Access to these files is restricted to staff who are involved with your child’s educational program. If you wish, a copy of our report will be provided to you.

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