• High School Speech and Language Therapy

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    Communication skills are at the heart of the education experience.  At the High School level, the understanding and use of language becomes more complex. Each student's communication goals support learning and social skills needed during and after High School. Therapy sessions directly target the student's Individualized Education Plan goals and are often connected directly with academic subject matter. 

    Speech and/or language therapy may continue throughout a student's High School years either in the form of direct therapy or on a consultant basis.  A student's eligibility for speech and/or language services is determined by the Committee on Special Education.  The type and amount of services a student receives may change over time depending on changes in communication needs and abilities. 

    Speech and Language therapy at this level often addresses difficulties in the following areas of communication:   

    • Language: Includes instruction targeting a number of difficulties in receptive (comprehension) or expressive language including: vocabulary, concepts, grammar, and listening skills.  
    • Literacy: Including reading decoding and comprehension as well as writing and proofreading skills. 
    • Auditory processing and hearing: This area largely addresses direct intervention techniques and compensatory strategies for students who present with a hearing loss or have difficulties processing the information heard in class. 
    • Pragmatic language: Some students with disabilities demonstrate difficulties understanding and using verbal and non verbal language in social contexts.  This area of therapy addresses explicit instruction of pragmatic language such as rules of conversation, maintenance of conversational topics, interpreting body language, and turn taking. 
    • Cognitive communication/executive functions: Executive functioning skills involve high-level cognitive functions that help us to decide what activities or tasks we will pay attention to and which ones we will choose to do.  They allow us to organize behavior over time and override immediate demands in favor of long-term goals.  They allow us to plan and organize activities, sustain attention and persist to complete a task.  They also allow us to manage our emotions and monitor our thoughts in order to work more efficiently and effectively.  Therapy in this area teaches skills for improving difficulties in self-regulation, flexibility, memory, problem solving, organization, test taking, and planning. 
    • Alternate Communication: Technology can help children whose physical conditions make communication difficult. The speech therapist may support the use of electronic communication systems to allow people with severe physical disabilities to engage in the give and take of shared thought. 

    The following areas of speech communication are seen less at the High School than the above areas, but are possible targets depending on student need. 

    • Speech intelligibility/articulation: Addresses how sounds are made, how the sounds are put into words, and strategies for improving intelligibility by self-monitoring and controlling rate and phrasing of speech.
    • Fluency: This area of therapy addresses the physical characteristics, environmental factors, and feelings/attitudes associated with speech fluency disorders that affects the flow of speech including stuttering and cluttering.
    • Voice: This area addresses how a student sounds when he/she speaks including voice quality (i.e. hoarse or nasal), vocal volume, and pitch.
    • Feeding and swallowing: For some students, typically with severe disabilities, difficulties with chewing and swallowing food and liquid leads to other health problems and may make it hard for the student to do well in school.

    In addition to direct therapy, the High School speech therapist:

    • Screens and evaluates speech and language skills.
    • Gives resources and information to students, staff and parents to help them understand communication.
    • Helps design programs and choose materials/resources that helps children with disabilities to learn their curriculum.
    • Keeps track of progress on speech-language goals.
    • Works as part of a team to develop and implement Individualized Education Plans.  For example, the speech-language pathologist may assist vocational teachers and counselors in establishing communication goals related to the work experiences of students and suggest strategies that are effective for the important transition from school to employment and adult life.  
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