Cleveland speech therapy kids

Cleveland Speech Therapy: School vs. Private Services

Parents whose children have been referred for Cleveland speech therapy may wonder whether they truly need to seek out private therapy – particularly if they can access services through their child’s school.

The answer will certainly depend on a number of factors, including:

  • The age of your child. (Early intervention before age 5 may be ideal, but schools aren’t going to offer those services until they are enrolled as students
  • The nature of their condition/deficits. Treatment for some diagnoses, such as autism, will begin as early as possible -and may need to be intensive. If a child is on the severe end of the spectrum, they may need intensive services (such as full-time ABA therapy and educational assistance) before they can function/thrive in a typical school setting. However, if their condition, deficit, or challenge is relatively mild, they may just fine in a school setting. Often, they may benefit from both public school and private services.
  • What sort of Cleveland speech-language therapy services are available at the school. The criteria used for Ohio school districts to determine whether special services or accommodations should be extended to a student through an IEP (individualized education plan) or a 504 Plan differs from the criteria that medical doctors and private therapy clinicians might use to determine a plan of care. Whereas school districts are going to analyze how the child’s condition or deficits impacts their ability to function academically, our Cleveland speech therapists are going to be looking at treatment from the “whole child” perspective. We’ll want to know how their condition impacts them not only in a school environment, but also at home, with friends/family, while engaged in recreation or in other aspects of community.

It’s been our experience that many children we treat at Therapy & Wellness Connection benefit from services both from our private therapy clinic as well as in school.

In terms of professional capability of the Cleveland speech therapy services you will get in public schools versus at a private therapy clinic, the speech therapists are going to have very similar education, credentials, and likely experience. The speech-language pathologists (SLPs) at your child’s school as well as the one at their private clinic will have an undergraduate and/or graduate degree involving clinic therapy experience and extensive coursework pertaining to a broad range of speech & language development disorders and effective treatments. (Those who have only completed undergraduate coursework/criteria are speech-language pathology assistants, while those with a graduate degree will pass the praxis exam, complete a Clinical Fellowship Year, and ideally hold a Certificate of Clinical Competence – or CCC – from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association.)

We can attest to the fact that there are some amazing SLP-As and SLPs in our Northeast Ohio public schools (we’ve hired more than a few from local school districts!). That said, school SLPs generally only have a limited amount of one-on-one time with your child. Speech therapy work at school may take place in more of a group setting, so they aren’t getting as much individualized treatment. And although there may be some variation from district-to-district depending on local school funding, in general, the SLPs and SLP-As at schools are often very busy, on tight schedules, and working with limited resources.

Meanwhile in private speech therapy, your child gets the full attention of their SLP for the duration of each session – usually about one hour and conducted here in our Brecksville clinic or at the child’s home, daycare, or other setting. The more intensive the therapy schedule, the faster your child is going to master the skills targeted in their plan of care.

Needs and Qualifications for Speech Therapy

In a school setting, the SLP will consider the following when weighing whether services are appropriate:

  • Standardized testing results.
  • Classroom communication skills.
  • Communication deficits that negatively impact their academic performance.

But as we mentioned previously, private Cleveland speech therapy is going to base the needs assessment on factors beyond academic performance. We’re going to look at how communication issues impact the child’s life in all areas.

The frequency, duration, location, and setting are going to vary between school speech therapy and private clinic speech therapy. Your child’s IEP or 504 plan is going to dictate how many hours of services they receive per week, but it’s generally going to be much less than what is recommended by a private speech therapist – simply because they’ve got a lot of other children to treat also in that same time block. (It’s not uncommon for schools to have only one SLP per grade level, school, or even district.)

The terms of the school’s IEP are reviewed and updated annually, in collaboration with the parents/caretakers, the child’s teachers, and specialists like SLPs, occupational therapists, ABA/behavior therapists, and intervention specialists.

Plans of care for private speech therapy are often reviewed and updated every few months.

How Do I Know if My Child Needs Additional SLP Services?

Although that’s a tough question to ask without assessing your child’s unique condition and needs, in general, a child will likely benefit from private speech-language therapy services in Northeast Ohio if:

  • They do not qualify for school-based speech therapy due to the fact their disorder doesn’t have a major impact on academics.
  • Parents/caretakers have ongoing concerns about the child’s use of language, comprehension of language, articulation (ability to say words clearly), voice, fluency, or social skills.
  • The child is better able to concentrate during one-on-one therapy sessions.
  • They are not receiving speech services from which they may benefit on long breaks (summer, winter, etc.).
  • Your child has a condition or disorder (ex: Apraxia of speech, feeding/swallowing problems, etc.) that requires a specialized therapy technique or specially-trained speech-language pathologists.

If you are considering private speech therapy services in Northeast Ohio, we can set up a consultation, exam, and schedule.

Therapy & Wellness Connection – your connection to a life without limitations – provides speech therapy to children in Akron, Cleveland, Brecksville-Broadview Heights and surrounding communities. We also offer summer camp, day programs, education services, vocational counseling and more. Call us at (330) 748-4807 or send us an email.

Additional Resources:

Information for School-Based SLPs, ASHA

More Blog Entries:

Ohio Kindergarten Readiness Skills: Is Your Child Developmentally Ready? July 20, 2022, Cleveland Speech-Language Pathology Blog