Speech and Language skills influence many aspects of a child’s educational performance. In order for a child to qualify for the speech impairment program, he/she must have their academic performance negatively impacted as a result of the presence of a speech and/or language impairment.


    Below is an outline of the areas that pertain to speech-language therapy to assist you with identifying the area(s) of concern that may prompt a referral.



    ·        Difficulty producing common sounds (i.e. /k/, /g/, /s/, /z/, /sh/, /ch/, /r/, etc.)

    ·        Leaving off, adding or changing sounds in words

    ·        Speech is difficult to understand during everyday talking

    ·        Difficulty with oral-motor skills when eating or speaking (e.g., drooling, open mouth posture, ‘groping’ for the correct oral position when trying to speak/make sounds)

    Note: A referral can be made only if there is a negative impact on educational performance. The sound difficulties must impact an academic area (i.e. spelling, reading, writing, oral presentations, etc.).



    ·        Exhibits an unusual quality to his/her voice when speaking (e.g., hoarseness, raspy)

    ·        Uses an unusually loud volume most of the time

    ·        Uses an unusually quiet volume most of the time

    ·        Speaks in a high pitch

    ·        Speaks as if talking through his/her nose

    ·        Speaks as if he/she has a cold all of the time (i.e., has a stuffy nose)

    Note: Students who are referred for voice concerns must have a medical diagnosis by a physician in order to receive speech therapy.


    FLUENCY:  (commonly referred to as “dysfluency” or “stuttering”)

    ·        Experiences unusual blocks/hesitations (i.e. “gets stuck”) or prolongations (i.e. stretches out sounds) when speaking

    ·        Repeats sounds, parts of words, whole words and/or phrases/sentences when speaking

    ·        Exhibits physical characteristics during moments dysfluency (e.g., facial grimaces, tics, eye blinks, tension in throat or body)





    ·        Struggles to understand and/or uses a limited vocabulary (*Does not imply to ESOL students)

    ·        Difficulty following directions consistently

    ·        Difficulty answering questions (i.e. yes/no, wh – questions, etc.)

    ·        Difficulty with sequencing tasks during manual activities or paper/pencil tasks.

    ·        Difficulty with organizing and sequencing content of verbal expression (i.e. ideas, stories, or events are described with insufficient detail or incorrect order so that the meaning is unclear).

    ·        Grammatical errors demonstrated in spoken and written language activities

    ·        Requires extra time to formulate thoughts and responses

    ·        Experiences word retrieval difficulties (i.e., has the word ‘on the tip of his/her tongue’ some of the time)

    ·        Difficulty putting words together to formulate thoughts and ideas verbally and/or in writing tasks

    ·        Difficulty with grasping the main idea or relevant details in material presented

    ·        Difficulty with logical thinking skills. Student may fail to see simple cause and effect relationships.



    SOCIAL SKILLS (also referred to as pragmatic language skills):

    ·        Difficulty interacting with peers and adults (i.e. initiating, maintaining, and ending interactions with others)

    ·        Problems answering questions or maintaining the “flow” of conversation.

    ·        Does not interact with peers during recess, gym, etc.

    ·        Struggles to identify emotions pertaining to self and others

    ·        Limited or no use of eye contact during interactions

    ·        Perseverates on topics/objects/events, etc.


    Please note that this is to be used as a general reference guide and the characteristics identified in each area are to give you a general idea, and they are not the only factors to consider.



Last Modified on June 18, 2015