Special Education/Speech Services in IEP
Our school district (Prince George's County, MD) refuses to state in the IEP whether our son will receive individual or group speech therapy services (for apraxia). They say it's not their policy to specify, but everything I've read says they are required to list the specific treatment services. Who is right?
Thank you so much for reaching out to me with a great and very common question. I appreciate you using this service! Let me say I will accept a follow up question if this answer does not fully address your concerns.
Your question is whether the speech language pathology-SLP-related services in your child's IEP (for Apraxia) must be specified as to whether they will be group, individual, or delivered in another manner.
I will first share my understanding of related services, since SLP is a related service. I will then share my experiences, and I have about 20 years of experience working with your school district. I will then share some ideas for you to advocate for your child.
First, it is important for you to know that related services are defined as:
(a) "Related services" means transportation and such developmental, corrective, and other supportive services as may be required to assist a student with a disability to benefit from special education.
"(75) "Speech-language pathology" means services which include:
(a) Identification of students with speech or language impairments;
(b) Diagnosis and appraisal of specific speech or language impairments;
(c) Referral for medical or other professional attention necessary for the habilitation of speech or language impairments;
(d) Provision of speech and language services for the habilitation or prevention of communicative impairments; and
(e) Counseling and guidance of parents, students, and teachers regarding speech and language impairments."
The IEP must list related services, and specify whether the services will be provided in the general education setting, or in a setting that is removed from general education.
So, the Maryland regulations don't really speak to individual vs. group services. That being said, there are SLPs who will specify the model of service delivery on the IEP. But, the norm is that the SLP does not want to specify this because it locks them into a 'contract'. The important thing to remember is that related services are defined as services that allow your child to benefit from his special education program.
This means that, if your child is receiving 'good grades', and progress reports in all areas saying 'making sufficient progress', the SLP will likely say that whatever they are doing is meeting the obligation of related services.
I think it's important for you to identify why you are asking for individual vs group therapy. Individual therapy is common for SLPs to work on articulation, but not pragmatic language, for example. Ask the therapist to give you research or other information justifying the methods and setting. Observe in the SLP session and ask that data is taken for your child's generalization of the skills into the classroom or other areas of the school.
One thing you can do is to assure that there is robust data of your child's progress in academic and other educational areas. This is important because your child has apraxia or dyspraxia, and the IEP must state how this affects your son in the curriculum and overall, how this disability affects him in all education areas (which can include social and emotional or attention areas). If he is not making progress, the team has to meet with you and discuss why, in which case you could again make a case for a more individualized type of therapy.
Lastly, you may want to get a private SLP opinion and seek a private evaluation. This will help you bring in an SLP expert to discuss with the school district SLP.
I don't see there is anything that prevents the team from specifying the service delivery model, but I also don't know other authority that says it's required. Here is a very interesting resource by the licensing organization for all SLPs, about school-based therapists' roles and responsibilities.
I hope I have helped you as you advocate for your exceptional child's education! I wish you all the best and thank you again for writing to me!