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Medical vs. School Based Speech Therapy

It is that time of year again when school begins, and many families are searching for answers about which model of speech therapy is best for their child. Many families do not realize there is a difference between the two models. As a speech therapist who has worked in both settings, I am here to let you know there is a difference and that I equally appreciate both models.

What is the difference?

What model is best for my child?

For most children, receiving both services is going to be the most beneficial. Communication needs vary based on each setting and practicing a skill in a variety of settings helps promote carryover. A medical based SLP will help maximize communication skills during activities of daily living (ADLs) both within and outside of the home environment, whereas a school based SLP will be great at helping your child communicate within the school environment and on academically based tasks. However, there are times when a child may have difficulty with one sound, such as “R,” but does not have difficulties with reading or spelling. When this occurs, students do not qualify to receive services through the school and therefore, the medical based speech therapy model would be the only option. Another example when only one setting may be more beneficial is if your child only has social skills concerns. In this case, receiving services in the school where many peers are available to practice previously learned skills might be most helpful for your child. As always, discuss with your child’s current SLP to see what model s/he thinks is best for your child. Every child has unique speech and language needs and should receive an individualized plan of care that will help increase communication skills across settings.

– Madison Warrick, Speech-Language Pathologist