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Last modified: October 28, 2022

Speech and Language Pathology

Speech and language services are available to all eligible students in Provo City School District. Below, you will find information about the role of the Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) in serving students with disabilities. References for parents and suggestions for language activities are located at right under Related Links.

Speech and Language Pathology Guidelines Documents

The purposes of these documents are:

  • To define the roles and responsibilities of the school-based Speech- Language Pathologist
  • To provide a unified standard for child find, eligibility and dismissal criteria
  • To enhance evidence-based practices
  • To provide resources for parent and teacher involvement
  • To enhance the effectiveness of the Speech-Language Pathologist as a Multi-Disciplinary Team Member
  • To delineate options for individualized services in the Least Restrictive Environment

Speech and Language Pathology Guidelines

Speech and Language Pathology Forms

What is an SLP?

The school Speech-Language Pathologist goes by several other names: Communication Disorders Specialist, Speech/Language Therapist, Speech Therapist etc. A School Speech-Language Pathologist works with special education students ages 3-22 who demonstrate speech-language impairments which adversely affect educational performance. The school SLP facilitates identification, evaluation and remediation of a disability in the following communication areas:

  • Articulation – Disorders characterized by substitutions, distortions or omissions of speech sounds.
  • Language – Receptive or expressive disorders or delays in syntax/morphology (grammar), semantics (meaning), pragmatics (social language skills), or processing.
  • Stuttering (Fluency)– Inappropriate rate or flow of speech.
  • Voice – Pitch, volume, intonation, respiration or resonance disorders.
  • Auditory Perception – auditory processing, discrimination, memory, recognition and sequence disorders. This area must have an accompanying language disorder to qualify for services.
  • Acquired Traumatic Brain Injury – which has been medically diagnosed, may require services in the areas of attention, cognition, reasoning, abstract thinking, judgment, memory or language.
  • Hearing – Hearing acuity is screened on all students in kindergarten through third grades plus 7th grade. Services may also be required for students with hearing impairments to develop compensatory strategies.

Recognizing Language Delays

Behaviors to look for in the classroom:

  • INATTENTIVENESS when you are giving instructions, even after initial attention to the instructor has been attained.
  • DIFFICULTY WITH SEQUENCING during manual activities, or on paper and pencil activities.
  • INABILITY TO EXPRESS THOUGHTS on a regular basis, to a degree inconsistent with assessed, demonstrated, or assumed potential.
  • DIFFICULTY IN GETTING IDEAS ACROSS TO CHILDREN IN A WORK OR PLAY GROUP, where other children are expressing dissatisfaction with the child’s communication style.
  • “CLASS CLOWN” BEHAVIOR in situations where disruption masks an inability to perform or to pay attention.
  • EXTREME FORGETFULNESSS even in situations of obvious importance to the child – particularly in situations that occur often or on a regular basis.
  • LACK OF COMMUNICATION with you or with peers, which can often be misinterpreted as natural reticence or quietness. Be aware of this especially where limited English proficiency might mask it. Since communication disorders can occur in people of all nationalities and races, teachers need to be particularly aware of when reticence / quietness is normal, caused by an inability to speak passable school English, or a mask for a possible communication disorder. In these cases, it is wisest to consult with the SLP. You can also call home to see how they communicate at home.
  • COPING BEHAVIORS where students have established a set of verbal signals to substitute for oral language.
  • LACK OF PROGRESS ON INSTRUCTIONAL ASSESSMENTS, particularly in areas of sequencing, recalling details, and general comprehension.
  • WITHDRAWAL OR EXCLUSION from group activities requiring discussion, cooperation, planning or dependence on members carrying out a task or job.
  • SELF-EXPRESSED FRUSTRATION WITH SCHOOL TASKS or even with the ability to learn. The set of behaviors labeled as “poor self-concept” often gives a clue that a communication disorder might be involved.
  • DISJOINTED CONVERSATION SYLE, to a degree that is unusual for age and development level.

Typical Development Guidelines

Sound Acquisition

Generally, children should produce the following sounds correctly by the ages indicated: 3 to 4 years – m, n, p, b, t, d, k, g, w, h and vowels; 5 to 6 years – sh, ch, l and l blends; 7 years – v, j, th, r, s, z, s blends and r blends.

Stuttering (Fluency)

Hesitations and repetitions in speech may be normal from ages 3-6. Listen to your child, encourage and praise him/her. (Act like you have all the time in the world.) Don’t correct his stuttering or appear anxious about his speech. Try to keep your own speech clear and unhurried. However, if your child consistently, and over a period of time, exhibits stuttering behaviors that interfere with his communication or is causing frustration, please contact a public school SLP.


  • 3 to 6 months – Responds to sounds and voices by looking towards them. Babbles to practice sounds. Vocalizes back when talked to.
  • 12 to 18 months – Responds to requests like “Come here”. Understands gestures. Babbling sounds like real speech. First words appear by 18 months
  • 2 years – Uses 2 word “sentences” and questions. Obeys simple commands. Can point to body parts.
  • 3 years – Uses 2 to 4 word sentences with 400 to 900 word vocabulary. Uses adjectives, pronouns and prepositions.
  • 4 years – Listens to stories. Follows 2 part commands. Can match and sort objects. Asks a lot of questions. Vocabulary increases to 1500 words. Uses most parts of speech.
  • 5 years – 5 to 6 word sentences with 1500 to 2500 word vocabulary. Follows 3 part commands. Can retell a story with pictures. Uses complete sentences. Asks how and where questions. Can name items in categories (foods,animals etc.).
  • 6 years – Understands 4,000 words including time concepts. Can sequence 4 pictures to make a story. Understands some humor. Tells sequence of events. Uses possessives, negatives, conjunctions, irregular plurals and compound sentences.
  • 8 years – Understands humor based on multiple meanings and figurative language. Uses details in descriptions. Uses irregular verbs. Names days, months, numbers etc. in serial order. Uses complex sentences.

If you think there is a problem:

If there are concerns, parents or teachers may refer the student for testing consideration. Contact a member of the Special Education Team at your neighborhood school. Preschool services are also available. Contact the Provo Preschool Office at (801) 374-4915.

For more information about typical development during childhood, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Learn the Signs. Act Early. website.

Evaluating Adolescent Language Skills

Adolescents who have problems with listening, speaking and thinking skills may be at risk for academic failure. These skills are essential for success in all academic areas.

Thinking: Does the student

  • Organize and categorize information when required?
  • Identify and solve problems independently?
  • Find, select and use information on assignments?
  • Think about ideas and events that are not just in the “here and now”?

Listening: Does the student

  • Understand complex sentences and words with multiple meanings?
  • Indicate understanding of main ideas and relevant details?
  • Follow a sequence of directions, even if asked only once?
  • Listen effectively by asking questions and making comments?

Speaking: Does the student

  • Plan what to say, put it in a logical sequence and produce a grammatically correct sentence most of the time?
  • Give directions, make reports, tell or retell stories and explain processes in detail, with clarity and accuracy?
  • Provide relevant and complete answers to questions?

Survival Language: Does the student

  • Demonstrate the language skills necessary to cope with daily living situations such as applying for a job, shopping, using the telephone and interpreting signs and labels?

Related Links