Professionals & Educators
Speech - Language Pathologist (SLP) at the EMSB
The speech-language pathologist’s primary role is to consult and collaborate with the school team in support of a student’s communication needs. The SLP focuses on the area of language, literacy, social communication, stuttering, and speech. Service delivery is primarily consultative in nature and encompasses prevention, assessment, and short-term focused intervention (for training purposes). After determining the student’s communication needs, the SLP develops programs, materials and strategies to promote optimal functioning in the relevant areas. This is to ensure that all concerned are meeting the student’s communication needs in a coordinated manner.
The field of speech-language pathology has been in existence for more than 100 years. Early on, practitioners worked primarily on speech difficulties, such as articulation and stuttering. The profession has evolved tremendously since its beginnings and now SLPs are trained to work on a variety of areas relevant to communication.
What is meant by “communication”?
Communication encompasses a wide variety of areas, including the following:
- Speech (correct sound production, intelligibility in connected speech, fluency of
- speech/stuttering, etc.)
- Comprehension of language (receptive language)
- Expression of language (expressive language)
- Pragmatics (the use of language in everyday contexts)
- Literacy (reading and writing)
All SLPs hold Master’s degrees and are trained to work with a variety of age groups and communication challenges. All SLPs are required to be licensed by a professional order and are bound to a code of ethics. SLPs practice their profession in many different contexts, including schools, clinics, hospitals, rehabilitation facilities and in private practice.
School-based SLPs typically work with elementary students, but some also work with high school students. In Quebec, SLPs are mandated to prioritize students with severe receptive-expressive language disorders on their caseloads. These students are validated by the MEQ and assigned a handicapped code (Code 34). The ministry allocates funding so that school boards may allocate resources for these students.
Students coded 34 present with the following communication profile:
- Moderate to severe receptive language delay; severe expressive language delay
- Moderate receptive language difficulty and severe verbal dyspraxia
Some students coded 34 also present with speech disorders, and most present with literacy disorders. Students with oral language difficulties can be expected to exhibit difficulty with reading comprehension and written expression.
Why focus on students coded 34?
The MEQ recognizes that students with this learning profile are at significant risk for academic failure. However, if they receive appropriate instructional interventions focused on building their communication skills and using compensatory strategies to get around their difficulties, these students have a good chance of acquiring the necessary credits to graduate from high school.
What about students who do not present with severe language disorders? Frequently, school SLPs receive referrals for students with speech disorders, literacy disorders, autism and other developmental disorders. It is necessary for SLPs to prioritize their caseloads based on many criteria, including (but not limited to):
- Severity of the disorder
- Effect of the disorder on the student’s academic and social functioning
- Scheduling and caseload considerations
How can school SLPs best service the needs of students with communication challenges?
The options for providing service delivery to school-age clientele are the following:
- Teacher collaboration and co-teaching
- In-class intervention
- Pull-out intervention
Many parents and educators believe that the traditional pull-out model of service delivery is the most effective. This is largely true for formal evaluation and in cases where highly specialized and focused intervention is required to work on specific communication goals. However, experts in the field now advocate a more flexible model whereby the location of service delivery is determined by the needs of the client at every stage of his/her intervention process, whether for evaluation or intervention.
Who decides? When it comes to speech and language intervention, the SLP alone has the expertise to identify the conditions that will optimize the student’s response to intervention. The client (if developmentally ready to participate in the decision-making process) should also have direct input into the decision.
Effective communication skills are most frequently required in the classroom, not in an office with an SLP. Teachers spend much more time in direct contact with students than do SLPs. Therefore, it is essential that educators and SLPs work collaboratively to identify goals, as well as to craft instructional methods and interventions, that will ensure that students are developing and using their communication skills where they are most likely to need it, in the classroom!
Developmental milestones are things most children can do by a certain age.
All children develop at their own rate and a child may not have all the skills until the end of the age range.
The chart below shows the ages when most English-speaking children develop sounds. Children learning more than one language may develop some sounds earlier or later.
By 3 months
Makes cooing sounds
By 5 months
Laughs and makes playful sounds
By 6 months
Makes speech-like babbling sounds like puh, ba, mi, da
By 1 year
Babbles longer strings of sounds like mimi, upup, bababa
By 3 years
Says m, n, h, w, p, b, t, d, k, g, and f in words
Familiar people understand the child's speech
By 4 years
Says y and v in words
May still make mistakes on the s, sh, ch, j, ng, th, z, l, and r sounds
Most people understand the child’s speech
- Recognizes name
- Says 2-3 words besides “mama” and “dada”
- Imitates familiar words
- Understands simple instructions
- Recognizes words as symbols for objects: Car - points to garage, cat - meows
One to Two Years
- Understands “no”
- Uses 10 to 20 words, including names
- Combines two words such as “daddy bye-bye”
- Waves good-bye and plays pat-a-cake
- Makes the “sounds” of familiar animals
- Gives a toy when asked
- Uses words such as “more” to make wants known
- Points to his or her toes, eyes, and nose
- Brings object from another room when asked
Two to Three Years
- Identifies body parts
- Carries on ‘conversation’ with self and dolls
- Asks “what’s that?” And “where’s my?”
- Uses 2-word negative phrases such as “no want”.
- Forms some plurals by adding “s”; book, books
- Has a 450 word vocabulary
- Gives first name, holds up fingers to tell age
- Combines nouns and verbs “mommy go”
- Understands simple time concepts: “last night”, “tomorrow”
- Refers to self as “me” rather than by name
- Tries to get adult attention: “watch me”
- Likes to hear same story repeated
- May say “no” when means “yes”
- Talks to other children as well as adults
- Solves problems by talking instead of hitting or crying
- Answers “where” questions
- Names common pictures and things
- Uses short sentences like “me want more” or “me want cookie”
- Matches 3-4 colors, knows big and little
Three to Four Years
- Can tell a story
- Has a sentence length of 4-5 words
- Has a vocabulary of nearly 1000 words
- Names at least one color
- Understands “yesterday,” “summer”, “lunchtime”, “tonight”, “little-big”
- Begins to obey requests like “put the block under the chair”
- Knows his or her last name, name of street on which he/she lives and several nursery rhymes
Four to Five Years
- Has sentence length of 4-5 words
- Uses past tense correctly
- Has a vocabulary of nearly 1500 words
- Points to colors red, blue, yellow and green
- Identifies triangles, circles and squares
- Understands “In the morning” , “next”, “noontime”
- Can speak of imaginary conditions such as “I hope”
- Asks many questions, asks “who?” And “why?”
Five and Six
- Has a sentence length of 5-6 words
- Has a vocabulary of around 2000 words
- Defines objects by their use (you eat with a fork) and can tell what objects are made of
- Knows spatial relations like “on top”, “behind”, “far” and “near”
- Knows her address
- Identifies a penny, nickel and dime
- Knows common opposites like “big/little”
- Understands “same” and “different”
- Counts ten objects
- Asks questions for information
- Distinguished left and right hand in herself
- Uses all types of sentences, for example “let’s go to the store after we eat”
1.Early Literacy guide:
This resource was created to guide K4 and K5 teachers on how to best stimulate early literacy skills in students, according to the research in the area of early literacy within the realm of the science of reading.
This resource provides information and activities for:
- Each of the phonological awareness skills to be explicitly taught in K4 and K5
- Alphabet knowledge, and sound-letter correspondence for K5
2.Social Emotional Language Kit:
Putting Emotions into Words; supporting the social emotional wellbeing of students through language skills.
The Centre of Excellence for Speech and Language Development has provided kits containing books, activities, and materials to support students in understanding and expressing their emotions. All Core English and Bilingual schools and most French Immersion schools have already received their kits to be shared amongst their K4 and K5 classes. Kits at the CoE are available to be lent out to other school boards. Please click on the link below to view a brief explanation and demonstration of the contents of the kit.
This resource is a comprehensive set of strategies developed collaboratively by professionals working with the CoE PIM and CoE SLD. It is designed to develop shared reading & writing strategies for students who have increased support needs, knowing that these students can progress towards becoming readers and writers with the appropriate support and opportunities.
ESCALADE Program is an intervention program for adolescents with a Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) designed to help improve their language, communication, socialization and planning skills, as well as their self-awareness in relation to DLD.