We have had a lot of referrals for speech. We thought a guide as to when speech referrals would be helpful. Please feel free to send this out to your teachers or other staff so they are aware of what to look for when a students’ speech is a concern.
When to Refer for Speech?
Answers for Teachers concerned about students with speech and language issues.
Ideally, we want to prevent speech problems through performing hearing screenings to make sure the child can hear, protecting the child’s hearing, and identifying speech or language difficulties early on. It is usually best to refer a student for testing earlier rather than later, but here are a few guidelines to consider.
Kindergarten Age Students: Should be able to produce most sounds correctly. The only sounds we do not worry about yet are: /s/, /l/ and /r/. Please talk to the SLP if a child in your class has difficulty with /k/, /g/, or is very difficult to understand. The speech or language concern needs to be affecting the child’s performance in the classroom. This could be socially or educationally.
1st Grade Students: Children at this age will most likely qualify for speech services if they are struggling with more than 3 sounds. If the child is just having trouble with /r/ or /s/ they may not qualify. Overall, the sounds that are of difficulty need to be affecting their ability to function in the classroom. Again this can be in terms of their education (spelling, reading, etc.), but it might also affect them socially.
2nd Grade Students: Any articulation issues that are having a negative effect on the students’ educational performance should be referred at this age.
3rd through 7th grade students should be referred if they have any articulation concerns. Some of these students may have slipped through the cracks. If they have previously been doing home school, then some articulation issues may have been overlooked. Let the SLP know if there is something out of the ordinary. Any errors with /s/ whether in the form of a lisp or lateral airflow should be referred. And again the difficulty needs to be having a negative impact on the student’s education.
Any age student should be referred to speech therapy if they have stuttering issues, extreme difficulty putting their thoughts into words, extreme difficulty with comprehension of auditory directions, or overall low vocabulary. The speech or language difficulties must ultimately have an effect on their education in order for us to see them in a school setting. In the past we based qualifications into speech mostly on their test scores, but the state is much stricter now. We need to have teacher documentation of the negative effect on education due to the speech or language difficulty. This can come in the form of a written note about the child’s struggle in class, or a spelling test, etc. Education includes a student’s ability to socially interact with peers, so if you feel the problem hinders the student socially, then document an example. If you feel like the student’s speech is adversely affecting his/her education, then I will need you to document how. For example, does it affect his/her reading or spelling skills? Does it affect his/her ability to participate in classroom discussions? Does is affect him/her socially? Does he/she get teased about his/her speech? Is he/she embarrassed to participate in class discussions due to his/her speech problems?
Activities and ideas to work on speech in the classroom (for students already in speech and those you are concerned about):