School-Based vs. Private Speech-Language Therapy

School-Based vs. Private Speech-Language Therapy

As a parent or caregiver you might have had some concerns about your child’s speech and language development and you have decided to look into speech therapy. As the school year is starting you begin to wonder…”Can my child receive speech therapy at school or should I seek private therapy services? And which one is going to be more effective?”

In order to answer these questions it is essential to know the difference between the two. Here are the details and differences between private and school-based speech therapy that can help you make a decision on which route is best for you and your child!

School-based vs. Private Speech Therapy - What's the difference?
  • Eligibility

Speech therapy usually starts with an evaluation of your child’s skills by a licensed Speech Language Pathologist (SLP). This evaluation includes a standardised test that allows the SLP to compare your child’s scores to those of their peers,  in different areas of speech and language.

To receive speech therapy through the school system, your child must meet your state’s eligibility requirements. Usually a child must have a disability that affects academic and social well-being and demonstrates need for services based on state test scores, in order to be qualified to receive therapy from school.

The qualification for receiving private speech therapy is however different. There aren’t any particular score requirements for standardised tests in order to become eligible to receive therapy. Although for eligibility to get private speech therapy the child should show need for therapy in speech, language or communication skills.

This distinction between the two means that some children could potentially start speech therapy earlier through a private practice since no stringent eligibility requirements are in place for that. This may be beneficial for those with milder speech and language delays, who might not be meeting the eligibility requirements for receiving school-based therapy, since their Intervention would start earlier. intervention is almost always more likely to be more effective when provided earlier.

  • Scheduling

When a child receives speech therapy at school, the therapist might pull your child out of class to attend sessions. This of course means he or she would be missing out on content taught in regular classes. whatever instruction or activities were happening in the classroom during that time. In addition to that the child might feel singled out to leave and attend speech therapy sessions during the school day.

Whereas, with private speech therapy parents can schedule sessions at a time at which they think their child would most actively participate. Sessions might be once a week, twice a week, or more depending on the recommendation from the SLP and parent’s convenience.

  • Parent-led therapy

The level in which you are able to be involved in your child’s speech therapy differs between school-based and private settings.

With therapy provided in schools parents are not able to observe or participate in sessions regularly. School-based speech therapists may involve parents by communicating the child’s goals and weekly updates through email, phone, or home assignments.

In private speech therapy, parent participation is key! Parents are involved in treatment sessions by the therapists. Parents are able to see their child’s progress daily and talk to the SLP about goals. The biggest advantage with private speech therapy is that Parents can receive coaching from the SLP on techniques and activities to use at home for improving their child’s speech and language skills. This type of parent involvement has been proven to improve children’s progress by a lot. Especially when considering tele-therapy, it allows parents to have hands-on participation in their child’s therapy sessions.

  • Personalisation

Private speech therapy sessions are typically individual whereas school-based speech therapy are mostly conducted in groups. This is why school speech-language pathologists might have a more difficult time personalising their sessions because they have to take the skill levels and goals of all group members into account. For example in a group of three where one child is working on “sh”, one is working on “w” and your child is working on “r”, only a third of the session might be devoted to your child’s goal. Even in situations where all of the kids are working on the same issue, only a part of the session would be targeting each child’s unique error pattern.

In a private setting, where therapy is one-on-one, an SLP can customise session goals, materials and plans specific to that particular child’s needs. Additionally, this allows the child more opportunities in each therapy session to practice the target skills. Hence private speech therapy might definitely lead to quicker gains in terms of achievement of therapy goals.

  • Calendar Year

School-based speech therapy follows the school calendar, so breaks such as seasonal breaks, holidays and days off means missed therapy sessions.

Whereas with private speech therapy, children can continue to get therapy during the summer and holiday breaks. This leads to consistency, which is key when it comes to achieving therapy goals faster.  

  • SLP’s expertise

Though speech-language pathologists in both settings have the same level of educational degree and certifications their areas of expertise may differ. School-based SLP might follow a more educational model that includes focusing on areas like comprehension, listening and language skills.

Whereas a private SLP might be following a more medical-based approach.These therapists may specialise in specific speech, language and communication disorders therefore they might be able to provide more intensive care and services.

In addition to that the caseload might vary for both types of SLPs as well. School based SLPs typically have a very large caseload because one SLP has to provide services to the entire school. Whereas private therapists relatively have a smaller client caseload since services are performed one client at a time.

Seeking Private Speech therapy?

Since every child and every circumstance is different, I suggest that parents look at using both private and school based therapies and figuring out what works best for their particular circumstances. It’s also important to remember that even if the school declares that your child does not qualify for therapy, it  does not mean that the child won’t benefit from speech therapy.  If you suspect that there is a delay, it is best to get in touch with a private SLP.  

Knowing the differences between school-based and private speech therapy is very important in order to make the right decision. However one must keep in mind, it doesn’t always have to be a choice. Some parents choose to seek private speech therapy in addition to school-based therapy to help accelerate their child’s progress!

If you have concerns about your child’s communication skills and are interested in private speech therapy, consider us. At Valeo we offer speech therapy online from UK’s highly qualified therapists. If you would like to learn more, or discuss your child’s specific needs, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for a quick consultation call.

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