Parent-teacher conferences can bring new referrals as parents wonder if their child has a speech or language disorder that may be impacting their school work. Giving them some information on normal development and ways they can help their child is sometimes all that is needed. I find that often a question that a parent has is about their child’s speech and language development.
- Is my child’s articulation difficulty developmentally appropriate?
- Why is my child having so much difficulty telling me what they did in school?
- Does my child have any friends at school?
According to the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association:
- Communication is the ability to receive, send, process, and comprehend concepts or verbal, nonverbal and graphic symbol systems.
- A communication disorder may be evident in the processes of hearing, language, and/or speech. A communication disorder may range in severity from mild to profound.
- Individuals may demonstrate one or any combination of communication disorders. A communication disorder may result in a primary disability or it may be secondary to other disabilities.
A speech disorder is an impairment of the articulation of speech sounds, fluency and/or voice.
An articulation disorder is the atypical production of speech sounds characterized by substitutions, omissions, additions or distortions that may interfere with intelligibility.
A fluency disorder is an interruption in the flow of speaking characterized by atypical rate, rhythm, and repetitions in sounds, syllables, words, and phrases. This may be accompanied by excessive tension, struggle behavior, and secondary mannerisms.
A voice disorder is characterized by the abnormal production and/or absences of vocal quality, pitch, loudness, resonance, and/or duration, which is inappropriate for an individual’s age and/or sex.
A language disorder is impaired comprehension and/or use of spoken, written and/or other symbol systems. The disorder may involve (1) the form of language (phonology, morphology, syntax), (2) the content of language (semantics), and/or (3) the function of language in communication (pragmatics) in any combination.
Form of Language
Phonology is the sound system of a language and the rules that govern the sound combinations.
Morphology is the system that governs the structure of words and the construction of word forms.
Syntax: is the system governing the order and combination of words to form sentences and the relationships among the elements within a sentence.
Content of Language
Semantics is the system that governs the meanings of words and sentences.
Function of Language
Pragmatics is the system that combines the above language components in functional and socially appropriate communication.
I find that the best thing I can do is to give the parents a letter and a handout with some suggestions as to what to do. I confirm with the parents that the teacher has consulted with me to reaffirm that the teacher heard their concern and have followed the protocol for the next step in the process to ensure that their child gets a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). If the teacher voices a similar concern or in any way is unsure if there is a speech and language problem I will do a screen and I will put this in a letter. However usually if there has not already been a concern voiced by the educator we do some data collection and review/observation and then give the parents information about normal development or if there is a problem but it is not impacting school ( a criteria for a school-based speech and language pathologist) I will voice this and suggest they consult a private therapist.
I find that this is a perfect opportunity to solidify the partnership of teacher, family and myself as we work together to assist their child.