This article first appeared on Groves Academy’s website, and is shared with permission. Groves Academy is a grantee partner of Johnson Scholarship Foundation.
“But my child talks just fine…” is often the response I get from parents when I first recommend that they have their student participate in a speech/language assessment. This is such a common misconception, but the truth is, speech is such a small part of what we focus on in speech-language therapy.
At Groves, it’s really the LANGUAGE part of speech-language therapy that our students need. We work with students from Groves Academy and from our community who are diagnosed with specific learning disorders, ADHD/Executive Functioning deficits, or often both. Our goals with students target reading comprehension, vocabulary development, sentence structure/grammar, telling narratives, writing, etc. BUT, before we can target any of those skills, we have to target executive functioning. Executive functioning is, after all, foundational to learning.
In order to learn, students need to be able to attend to the material, organize their ideas, plan ahead, manage their time, be flexible when plans need to change, and be able to reflect on their work to continue to improve. Speech-language therapy at Groves always includes an executive functioning component, as all students, even those without a diagnosed disorder, have difficulty with executive functioning because that part of the brain does not fully develop until adulthood.
Understanding language (both spoken and written) and expressing oneself are also huge keys to success in academic (and really all) environments. Language is involved in every part of a student’s day from following directions during gym class, solving word problems in math, communicating with peers at lunch and recess, writing a paper for social studies or reading the instructions for a project in art class. If a student has a hard time understanding spoken language or expressing themselves effectively, it will affect all parts of their day.
If your student experiences any of the following difficulties, it may be helpful to have them assessed by a speech-language pathologist: