Speech and Language Therapy

Within the Colonial School District, the SLP will provide services to students as either a special education service or as a related service.   When speech and language therapy is needed by the child to benefit from special education, the service is a related service.  A related service is defined as any “supportive service required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education.” To be educationally relevant, a related service must be necessary to support the student’s IEP goals. The therapist should be able to identify the areas in the IEP where speech and language services are needed for the child to benefit from special education.” (From Wisconsin)

What Is Communication?

Communication is any act by which one person gives to or receives from another person information about that person’s needs, desires, perceptions, knowledge, or effective states. Communication may be intentional or unintentional, may involve conventional or unconventional signals, may take linguistic or nonlinguistic forms, and may occur through spoken or other modes.

Thus all persons  communicate in some way; however, the effectiveness and efficiency of this communication vary with a number of individual and environmental factors. Further, some individuals with severe disabilities develop unconventional and socially inappropriate means to communicate, including aggressive acts toward themselves and others. It is the responsibility of all persons who interact with individuals with severe disabilities to recognize the communication acts produced by those individuals and to seek ways to promote the effectiveness of communication by and with those individuals.

A Communication Bill of Rights

All persons, regardless of the extent or severity of their disabilities, have a basic right to affect, through communication, the conditions of their own existence. Beyond this general right, a number of specific communication rights should be ensured in all daily interactions and interventions involving persons who have severe disabilities. These basic communication rights are as follows:

  1.  The right to request desired objects, actions, events, and persons, and to express personal preferences, or feelings.
  2.  The right to be offered choices and alternatives.
  3.  The right to reject or refuse undesired objects, events, or actions, including the right to decline or reject all proffered choices.
  4.  The right to request, and be given, attention from and interaction with another person.
  5.  The right to request feedback or information about state, an object, a person, or an event of interest.
  6.  The right to active treatment and intervention efforts to enable people with severe disabilities to communicate messages in whatever modes and as effectively and efficiently as their specific abilities will allow.
  7.  The right to have communication acts acknowledged and responded to, even when the intent of these acts cannot be fulfilled by the responder.
  8.  The right to have access at all times to any needed augmentative and alternative communication devices and other assistive devices, and to have those devices in good working order.
  9.  The right to environmental contexts, interactions, and opportunities that expect and encourage persons with disabilities to participate as full communication partners with other people, including peers.
  10. The right to be informed about the people, things, and events in one’s immediate environment.
  11. The right to be communicated with in a manner that recognizes and acknowledges the inherent dignity of the person being addressed, including the right to be part of communication exchanges about individuals that are conducted in his or her presence.
  12. The right to be communicated with in ways that are meaningful, understandable, and culturally and linguistically appropriate.

Environmental Management

A commitment to the communication rights of persons with severe disabilities requires careful attention to and management of the physical and interpersonal environments in which such persons live, play, and work. Most basically, all such environments must allow, recognize, facilitate, enable, and respond to communication by individuals with disabilities. Further, these environments must reflect an expectation that all persons can and will communicate, regardless of the severity of their mental, physical, or sensory disabilities.

Communication Partners

To guarantee these communication rights for persons with severe disabilities requires the commitment and cooperation of all persons (employers, family members, friends, and staff members) with whom such persons interact daily. of these individuals must be able to recognize and respond appropriately to the expressive communication produced by the person with severe disabilities with whom they interact, in whatever form that communication is expressed. These communication partners must also be able to provide communication input that is both perceptible and comprehensible to the individual with severe disabilities.

Collaborative Efforts

Further, it is evident that the ultimate achievement of such enabling communication environments will require the knowledge, skills, and experience of parents and of professionals from a variety of disciplines, including speech-language pathology, audiology, education, occupational therapy, physical therapy and other disciplines.

It is equally evident that educational and therapeutic efforts directed toward promoting an individual’s communication effectiveness must be based on and integrated into that individual’s daily communication environments in a culturally sensitive manner and must involve all of that individual’s communication partners.

Excerpt from: National Joint Committee for the Communicative Needs of Persons With Severe Disabilities. (1992). Guidelines for Meeting the Communication Needs of Persons With Severe Disabilities. Asha, 34(March, Supp. 7), 1–8.



As a team we have 3 priorities:

  • Safety
  • Nutritional Support
  • Enjoyment

Speech pathologists in the Colonial School District work closely with school staff, families, health care providers to support feeding and swallowing safety and student needs related to feeding and swallowing issues.

“Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) play a significant role in the management of students with swallowing and feeding problems in school settings. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA 2004) mandate services for health-related disorders that affect the ability of the student to access educational programs and participate fully. However, uncertainty about the educational relevance of dysphagia management persists, resulting in a lack of guidelines for addressing swallowing and feeding disorders in the schools. ASHA’s guidelines for SLPs providing swallowing and feeding services in the schools are intended to clarify the administrative and programmatic issues for SLPs to provide these services and to support the contention that these services are relevant for the education of students with swallowing and feeding disorders.

  • Addressing swallowing and feeding disorders is educationally relevant and part of the school system’s responsibility for the following reasons:
  • Students must be safe while eating in school. This includes providing appropriate personnel, food, and procedures to minimize risks for choking and for aspiration during oral feeding.
  • Students must be adequately nourished and hydrated so that they can attend to and fully access the school curriculum.
  • Students must be healthy (e.g., free from aspiration pneumonia or other illnesses related to malnutrition or dehydration) to maximize their attendance at school.
  • Students must develop skills for eating efficiently during meals and snack times so that they can complete these activities with their peers safely and in a timely manner.”

From ASHA Guidelines for Speech-Language Pathologists Providing Swallowing and Feeding Services in Schools (2007)