The ability to communicate clearly is extremely important to all; in particular when receiving a primary education, as this can affect can affect life-long learning. The possession of good communication skills is an attainable mark for a person to achieve their utmost potential. Within a school environment deficiencies of communication are helped by career specialists, the Speech Language Pathologists.
An excellent and natural place for a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) to provide services to children with speech and swallowing problems is within the school system. SLPs are expected to work with all grade levels, providing service from pre-school through high school. When working with younger students, the SLP focuses on the essentials of pronunciation: improving the sound production accuracy, enhance the range of all consonants, and increasing vocabulary and grammar. This can be done with rhyming games, play activities, and imaginary dialogues. Some students often can benefit from using augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices, which allows mediated communication through the use of symbols or pictures.
The SLP in schools take on traditional responsibility of diagnosing and treatment. They serve as a resource for teachers who may need conferencing on particular language learning issues, and work together with teachers and staff on curriculum for learners with disabilities. SLPs also advocate for the use of teaching techniques that will be more helpful to the speech-challenged students.?
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Teachers daily come across students, who, for one too many reasons do not communicate readily all what they would like to express. This can be very frustrating on both parties especially the child, who seems to communicate well at home most of the needs but differently at school. Thus, in the classroom the student gets lost because for lack of expressions from severe shyness- knowing the internal problem -to stutters and not understanding and responding. The selective mutism of these students, more often than not is passed for as the child being “rude and or dumb”, by the teacher. This in turn, leaves the classroom teacher frustrated, not meeting this child’s needs. With additional reinforcement and support to help student reach full potential and the teacher would benefit from the support of Communication Disorder services.
At present, the only special needs school on the island which houses the majority of students with disability is not staffed with adequate qualified personnel to diagnose student’s disability, so that effective treatment can be give to improve life for students and their families.
Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP)’s should be introduced in the Antiguan classroom. This would broaden career choices and introduce other specialty areas for teachers. Even as administrators and the law propose inclusion the job the school-based SLP in schools would strengthen services delivered to parents and improve the student’s future options.
Further to this, in Antigua and Barbuda a recent passing of this act, The Disabilities and Equal Opportunities Act of 2018 (DEOA 2018) article 19: states the Minister to make necessary adjustments for a person with disability (d) providing schools with various forms and auxiliary aids and services to assist in the introduction and assessment of persons with a disability.
Classroom teacher have often made statements of not being qualified to accommodate students with individualized lessons. According to Dyslexia HELP, in the article ‘The Importance of speech language Pathology for Students’ the job if the school SLP makes life of the classroom teacher more manageable:
“Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are trained to identify language-based learning disabilities and implement techniques to help students continue to learn with their peers. This is important because language problems that go untreated in the early years of school are likely to continue into high school and adulthood. If language disabilities can be addressed early on, then students will be able to carry on learned techniques throughout life. SLPs can help students understand complex sentences and vocabulary, comprehend written and oral information, and compile thoughts for speaking and writing”
The skill taught by the SLP are necessary for students to feel positive and secure with their work, achieve the best within school setting, and choose a career path that they desire not just one given because of lack of ability.
BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
In Antigua and Barbuda, Speech-Language service should be provided in schools aiding and assisting classroom teachers in identifying speech- language problems that many of students acquire or develop. Since, it is observed that students who do not readily correspond to the daily interaction within schools setting are perceived as having problems with social communication; an understanding of this is paramount. The recently formed Special Educational Needs unit in the Ministry of Education, embraces the importance of the varying levels of special needs and plans and organizes for such students- this includes special educational services.
Social communication refers to the way we use language daily in social settings. Throughout the students’ school experience this refers to a child’s ability to use language (syntax, pragmatics, and semantics) to relate with others in many situations, from making friends to learning to solving problems.
It involves and includes interactions with persons around us, family peers, teachers, care givers. For the message to be complete it must be receptive and expressive. We need this interaction of to survive.
The term communication disorder refers to the deterioration in one’s ability to send, receive, process, and understand ideas spoken, nonverbal gesture and graphic symbol systems. Communication disorders may perhaps be evident in the processes of hearing, language, and/or speech.
Speech and language impairments occur in four key areas- language, voice and fluency disorder, and articulation impairments, each one affecting the student’s ability to develop to the highest
potential. Characteristics of language disorders include to the deterioration of expressed needs, ideas, or information, and/or understanding what others say, not capable to put across ideas, unsuitable grammatical patterns, limited vocabulary, and failure to follow directions. A voice disorder refers to an unusual quality to pitch, resonance, or loudness in speech. Persons with voice issues often are aware of changes in pitch, loss of voice, and sometimes a sharp or dull pain associated with voice use. Articulation impairment is portrayed by persons who have difficulty producing speech sounds and making words. Then finally, fluency disorder -are the stop and start of rhythm and flow in a persons’ speech, Stuttering is a familiar fluency disorder, displayed in sounds, syllables, and words are repeated, or pass over.
In an information brochure by St Louis Children’s Hospital the question of “What causes communication disorders?” is answered:
“Communication disorders may also be developmental or acquired. Causes may be relate to biological problems such as abnormalities of brain development, or possibly by exposure to toxins during pregnancy, such as abused substances or environmental toxins such as lead. A genetic factor is sometimes considered a contributing cause in some cases.”
It is therefore the job of the Speech pathologist/ Therapist to rehabilitate the lost of such communication aiding the individuals back to some normalcy.
Careers in communication disorder include the following:
o Speech pathologists
o Special education teachers
o Private school administrators
o Counselors and Consultants
o Speech and hearing therapists.
Communication Disorder services, like that of a school based Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP), would serve a valuable addition to primary school personnel and a part of special needs services offered to students. The role of this profession will serve as a medium to build confidence, support speech and language problems, and repair communication problems in students. The services offered by the SLP assists the classroom teacher in identifying speech- language issues, planning, organizing and remediating these issues, thus improving the student.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
This study will seek to demonstrate how the importance of the therapist, in the form of a communication specialist, will bring to benefit to the classroom teacher who then impacts the students and eventually the home, through that of better communication. Who is Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) and what their roles in the classroom? What are techniques employed a SLP to improve learning for students identified with communication problems?
I have seen in my interaction with young students with speech impairments too many times they are frustrated by not being able to communicate effectively that they give up and resort to little or no words in daily communication and pointing to explain themselves. “Children with communication needs often have difficulties with literacy, academic achievement and socialisation throughout their school years'(McCormack et al., 2011).
Through this research the hope is to have administrators in education take a different perspective on the importance of additional specialists in the primary classroom. This will set in place the implementation of what the law has already made provisions … ‘schools with various forms and auxiliary aids and services to assist in the introduction and assessment of persons with a disability’… (Disability and Equal Opportunity Act 2018).
This research will explore the following questions:
How will students in lower primary school identified with speech problems benefit from the assistance of a school based SLP?
What are preferred techniques used by school based SLPs?
What are the roles of the SLPs?
PURPOSE AND SIGNIFICANCE
As the local government looks for ways to progress the quality of special educational services and embrace the importance of the varying levels of special needs, I write proposing an improvement in career options in the classroom, through that of the school based Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP). The classroom teacher does a remarkable job managing, controlling, organizing and identifying differing level of student ability daily with the many challenges of keeping a balance. When faced with the inclusion of the child with special needs support from another profession would further complement and complete the teacher’s task. The collaboration with another professional helps to shape the life and future of the students which teachers engage daily.
As suggested by the writers in “Helping Children with Communication Disorder in Schools by the American Speech and Language Association (ASHA) , The interventions and assistance given by that of the Speech-language pathologist are able to help children become thriving communicators’ problem-solvers and decision-makers. As a result of these interventions such as memory retraining, cognitive restructuring, verbal communication enhancement, and efforts to improve abstract thinking, children can profit from a more successful and satisfying educational experience as well as improved student to student relationships. The interventions provided by the speech-language pathologists can assist children rise above any disabilities, enhance self-esteem, and discover significant roles in their lives.
DEFINITION OF TERMS
As defined by Smith 1998 General Education suggests it is “A typical classroom and curriculum designed to serve students without disabilities also referred to as regular education” (Smith, 1998, p.564).It is the standard classroom educational program delivered to non disabled students based on educational policies.
Noll 2004 describes that Inclusion- Or “mainstreaming,” resides “” (Noll, 2004, p.251). It is a process of attending and responding to the varied needs of learners in the classroom through changes and modification and constant interactions.
School-based- a descriptive name to specify the classification of personnel employed in learning environments. The term is also used to indicate the level of management and operational decisions.
Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP)-is the preferred label given to a person who treats language and speech impairments Black1964 suggests “desired title for individuals employed in the profession although some hold the belief that the title represents the medical aspect of the profession” (Black, 1964, p. 2). The SLP’s job daily entails observing, detecting, diagnosing and prescribing needed remediation to persons with speech and language impairments.
Special educational services are particular aide and assistance give to person with a disability governed by specific policies.
Primary School; a school setting in which children from age five to twelve receive formal classroom instruction. ?
SCOPE OF STUDY
The parameter of this study will be limited to elementary school teachers and parents. The teachers are all positioned to classes in differing primary schools, who have had interaction with students with different levels of communication issues. This study will address matters of speech and language not audiology.
There are other therapists that can be incorporated in a school setting- occupational and physical therapist, these can be research at another time.
The SLP is becoming a growing and dynamic career field that is suited for the classroom, supporting the classroom teacher. Jones 2009 Attitudes of K-12 School Administrators Toward Speech-Language Programs in Public Schools lends much aide in gauging the significance of the SLP to the classroom. ..responses indicate that administrators at all professional levels reveal an overall consensus that speech-language pathologists impact student success. (Jones,2009). A review of the literature for this study will encompass- how communication disorders affects education, common speech disorders and student behaviours, and the roles and responsibilities of the SLP in the classroom.
The job of the school based Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) is essential to helping children become effective communicators and decision makers. When planning lessons teachers are encouraged to teach and plan for the “whole child”. Their responsibility is essential school wide as the professional assists bring together different parts that make the daily operation of a school possible. Through aspect taking on leadership roles and collaborating they assist in meeting student’s needs and in ensuring delivery of appropriate services.
What are the Educational Implications of Communication Disorders?
Various problems with speech are developmental relative to physiological, therefore remedial instruction shows better response. Language experiences are mainly vital to the development of a young child. Previously, it was customary to remove students with communication disorders from the regular class for individual therapy sessions. In severe instances This is still applies in some cases, but more popular is a move toward keeping the child in the mainstream as much as possible. The consistent work among the teacher, speech and language therapist, audiologist, and
parents is essential to accomplish this goal. Speech improvement and correction are incorporated into the regular classroom program of study and the child’s natural environment.
Teachers aid in identification and referral by keenly watching out for the following behaviours in students, the following are just a few, as defined by KidsHealth regarding Speech disorders a summation of the terms follow.
Stuttering and Cluttering are issues that obstruct easy flow of speech and makes it difficult for a person’s to understood. People who stutter often hold a single sound for a long time (as in looove) or. repeat the first part of a word (as in mo-mo-mommy). Like stuttering, cluttering affects the fluent flow of a person’s speech. The difference between each is that one is a language disorder- cluttering, while stuttering is a speech disorder. A person who stutters has difficulty getting out what they want to say, and a person who clutters says what they are thinking but maybe confused while trying to express themselves.
Articulation disorders envelop an extensive range of mistakes individuals make while speaking. Substituting a “y” for an “l” (“yake” for “lake”), omitting sounds (“cool” for “school”), or adding sounds to words (“lyellow” for “yellow”) are instances of articulation inaccuracies.
Lisping refers to specific substitution involving the letters “s” and “z.” A person who lisps replaces those sounds with “th.”
Apraxia (dyspraxia), also known as oral-motor speech disorder, is a complexity with motor coordination. The person with this speech problem has complications moving the muscles and structures that are needed to make speech sounds into words.?
Teachers encounter these instances in students every day. They sometimes must change plans to correct impolite students who mimic students with speech-language disorders. Students on the other hand are timid to respond to question and read aloud because they know all too well that what they speak is not the norm for others. This reaction to in-class and daily activities makes road block that hamper learning.
The following tips are helpful to teachers when recognizing language delays –some behaviors to be appear of in the classroom:
Inattentiveness- during class assignment instructions,
Difficulty with sequencing- daily routines and when expressing on paper
Trouble expressing ideas to other students during work or playtime, where other children are communicating unhappiness with the child’s communication style.
Excessive forgetfulness – even when it is important to recall valuable information
Lack of communication- with adults or with peers, which can often be misunderstood as natural quietness but withdrawn
Lack of progress on instructional assessments, particularly in areas of placing events in a series, remembering details.
Withdrawal or exclusion student keeps away from group activities and any interaction with others
Self-expressed frustration with school tasks the thought that things must always be done right and in a particular manner.
The roles and responsibilities of the school based SLP is important to know, this helps to define job boundaries as to the teachers responsibility. According to ASHA (American Speech-Language Hearing Association) there are four categories of responsibilities – critical roles, range of responsibilities, collaboration and leadership. The following summarizes each of these roles and some responsibilities.
The Critical Roles-of the SLPs integrates them as necessary members of school faculties having essential roles in educational process. The job is immense as planning and execution bring the following expectations daily: working across all levels, serving a range of disorders ensuring educational relevance providing unique contributions to curriculum.
The Range of Responsibilities-SLPs help students meet the standards of a particular school district. In the course of prevention, ongoing assessments and intervention the SLP helps to advance school status and advancement of programs and services offered to the community.
Prevention SLPs participates in important engaging roles in efforts to avoid academic failure; be team member of intervention plans or the employ evidence-based practice (EBP) in prevention approaches. Continuous assessment is executed in partnership with others that help to identify students with communication disorders as well as to inform instruction and intervention. SLPs provide intervention that is age appropriate and learning requirement of each student.
The aspects of program design, compliance and data collection and analysis are vital to that of compliance with governmental standards. Are another set of duties that makes this job wholesome.
In Program Design- it is essential that SLPs put together school wide programs that make use of a continuum of service delivery models in the least restrictive environment for students with disabilities, and that they provide students appropriate services. Next, data collection and analysis, helps to make one an accountable for student outcomes. The, data-based decision making, gathering and interpreting data with individual students, as well as overall program evaluation are essential responsibilities. Then compliance states that are responsible for meeting governmental mandates as well as local policies in execution of their duties. Activities may include the development of student Individualized Education Program (IEP), report writing, and treatment plan or therapy log development.
The idea of collaboration set the professional to work in partnership with others to meet students’ needs. They must set engagement with other school professionals and with universities, community, families, and students as they prepare to transition
As a leadership function-SLPs provide direction in defining their roles and responsibilities and in ensuring delivery of appropriate services to students. They must advocate for appropriate programs and services for children and adolescents, including reasonable workloads, professional development opportunities and other program supports.
Then experienced SLP provide supervision and plays the role of adviser- a very important task of in training and supervising new qualified staff. Also the experienced SLP plans professional development and parent workshops to assist and share current resources and strategies to aid at improving the performance of students. During parent training session’s current information is given to help at home to make thus opening a dialogue for school to home.
The primary objective of this study is to explore, from a quantitative perspective, the significance of the school based speech language pathologist as a member of staff in the lower primary school in Antigua and Barbuda, a manual paper based questionnaire with twenty items will chosen to collect data for a Survey.
The survey will consist of a five items background information section and fifteen items Likert-type questionnaire. The demographic section will collect information such as the participants’ professional level, most, length of time teaching,
The study will be limited to a sample of parents, primary school teachers’ and principals in the state of Antigua and Barbuda.
Presently, the aim of the Antiguan and Barbudan government is to improve the quality of Special Needs Education and the teaching career along with the growing need to specialize. The suggestion is to give teachers another incentive to better themselves and profession in Antigua and Barbuda. This career path serves as another way in which we can rightfully diagnose and treat the speech language problem faced daily. The work of the school based Speech-Language Pathologist is a demanding job but worth it.
Further suggestion is that of the Ministry of Education create job positions offering such career paths. Teacher should be encouraged to study and return to serve the country. The aim in education is to the student. In Special Education the task is more awesome and challenging. Students with speech language disorders have been over looked and class differently.
The government should include in its drive in improving Special Education provisions for careers paths such as that of the school based SLP. This is now law to provide auxiliary aids and services to assist persons with disability, administrators should me to comply.
This position would serve zoned school until personnel could be had for each school.
In conclusion, the school based Speech Language Pathologist should be added to a short long term list to encourage personnel in this career because the profession in this field would better treat the speech langue problem than that of just the teacher solely.