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Language & Literacy

The complexity of the underlying skills of communication increases over time for all students. Nationally certified Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) collaborate with teachers on the language of instruction in every classroom, so that students can have the optimal moment-to-moment language environment. SLPs work with students in a combination of small group and in-class services to help the students meet communication challenges and improve skills.

How does the Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) work with my child at The Howard School?

Our Speech-Language Pathologists are classroom based. Because language is present everywhere, there are seven SLPs on our faculty, each working with an average of four classrooms.

The SLP is a catalyst for listening, understanding, speaking and writing, and works with the teacher on the language of instruction before, during, and after lessons. Was the information too long? Too complex, or not sophisticated enough? Are conditions optimal for listening? How can we set up the test for greater student understanding? Where are the gaps in student understanding of the reading, and what can we do about them? How can we assure a fuller, more mature spoken response? How can we make sure that writing is more complex and organized? Which new vocabulary words are the most powerful? What language would enhance social communication? How is language making math harder? The classroom teacher and the speech language pathologist are continually engaged in planning, observing and reviewing in order to get the most out of the language of the classroom.

Are there any times when the Speech-Language Pathologist will work individually with my child?

In an older model of language therapy, the SLP worked one on one in a separate room with a child in hopes that the child would then use the skills in the classroom. This method has its flaws because language is all around us all the time, and children often have difficulty generalizing individual lessons to the natural contexts of classroom and home. Also, studies have shown that we best learn new words and grammatical structures in meaningful, useful communicative contexts.

We prefer to handle the vast majority of language work in the classroom during the school day. For speech disorders that are not addressed in the classroom curriculum, we sometimes do recommend additional on-on-one speech therapy. These would be problems with articulation (mispronouncing speech sounds), fluency (stuttering or cluttering), voice (tone or vocal abuse), or social communication (need for intensive work on processing social signals). In these situations we may recommend tutoring before or after school with a speech language pathologist, accompanied by deliberate carry-over assignments so that the student will practice the skills in the classroom and at home.

What is a Receptive-Expressive Language Disorder?

A Mixed Receptive-Expressive Language Disorder is diagnosed when a child has problems with aspects of understanding (reception) and speaking (expression). There are several difficulties that can lead to problems understanding and speaking. A language assessment by a speech language pathologist can help to pinpoint these problem areas. A child with a receptive-expressive language disorder may or may not have difficulty pronouncing speech sounds.

Please contact the Director of Language, Literacy, and Assistive Technology, Jennifer Topple at (404) 377-7436, ext. 234 or for more information.