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Do you need an IEP to get speech services?


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Here are the three possibilities and pros and cons of each:

1.  District provides the services without a 504 Plan or an IEP.   The school district would have no obligation to monitor progress under this scenario, but they might.  If they don't, she should monitor her child's progress in case these "voluntary" services show insufficient progress.  If that case, she might want to request an evaluation for an IEP so that specific goals, minutes, and progress reports could be requested.

2.  District provides the services by way of a 504 Plan.  504 Plans can provide "related services," which can include speech therapy.  However, again, there would be no goals or progress monitoring with a 504 Plan.

3.  District provides the services by way of an IEP.  Specific goals, minutes, and progress reports could be requested.  However, the IEP might be written so that the speech therapy is considered a "related service" and not "specialized instruction," meaning that goals and progress monitoring would not be required.

My advise would be to go along with what the school is offering, but keep a close watch on progress.  She can always request a 504 evaluation or an IEP evaluation to obtain data when she thinks that is warranted.

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Yes, you can get services w/o an IEP.  Non-disabled students who need extra help can get this under RTI/MTSS.  Let's say a student isn't keeping up with their class as far as reading goes.  The teacher (and generally the child study team too) identifies the students and they get extra help.  It's quick because there's less to do to get this in place.  If it's just a concept or 2 and the student catches on quickly, they are exited from services before you know it.

Because it's quick, there are no goals and no progress monitoring.  In theory, if the student doesn't catch up they are referred for a higher level of services.  This doesn't always happen.  I've seen where the student falls further & further behind because it's not the right intervention.  Also, there are no rules on who is providing the service as well as if they get the service - if another student needs an eval that week, this child doesn't have an IEP that says 1X per week for 30 min so they get nothing while the SLP does this eval.

I can see the family saying this is an OK way to start the school year but, IMO, there should be an IEP put in place at some point if this is a longer-term need.  With an IEP, everyone is in the same page with expectations on what services the student gets as well as what progress is expected.

I'm curious how the parent/family knows the child needs speech services.  Why didn't they have a preschool IEP for this staring at age 3?  I always encourage families to start early - early intervention is best.  With preschool services, the IEP is in place for the start of kindergarten and maybe the child catches up before starting K.

Lastly, my experience with a speech IEP wasn't the greatest so I might be prejudice toward outside therapy.  My son got his speech IEP in 3rd grade and seemed to make little progress.  School speech services are group therapy so my child was one of 3 or 4 students the SLP was working with.  This means that 30 min/week is 7-10 minutes working directly with the SLP.  (For some students, they compete with the other students in therapy and work harder to make progress - and they progress faster.)  In 7th grade, I pulled my son from school therapy & moved to outside therapy.  (He had issues keeping up with the class he was pulled from to get therapy.  This was a 'unified art class' but one of the classes was computer science.)  The outside sessions were longer (45 minutes) and they were 1:1.  The therapist noticed mouth asymmetry when my son mispronounced.  By the 3rd session, she identified that he was moving his tongue laterally which was causing his articulation issues.  After 4 months of therapy, he was cured.  He had worked with 3 different school therapists from 3rd to 7th grade & they never identified his issue.  In retrospect, group speech probably wasn't FAPE because they never figured out his issue in the 4.5 years he had school therapy.  Telling him to practice talking without moving his tongue right or left was what he needed to hear.  This was the therapy that was appropriate for him.  None of the school therapists told him that.  (Most of the time, fixing a speech issue isn't this easy.)  If the family can do outside therapy, it might be better for the child.

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