What is a Speech and Language Class?
A Language Class (Speech and Language Class) is a class for children with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) previously known as SLI (Specific Language Impairment). There is a maximum of 7 children in the class, with a full time teacher and input from a HSE Speech and Language Therapist (SLT). There is also input from a NEPS Psychologist where available.
What Happens in a Speech and Language Class?
The children follow the mainstream curriculum of their equivalent class as appropriate. The 7 children in the Speech and Language Class are part of the school and can be integrated for some subjects. They are involved in typical school activities along with the other pupils of the school. The Speech & Language Therapist works closely with the teacher to provide therapy that can be integrated into the child’s school day. The teacher can modify his/her teaching to suit each
child’s unique speech, language and learning needs.
What is Developmental Language Disorder (DLD)?
Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) describes ‘children likely to have language problems enduring into middle childhood and beyond, with a significant impact on everyday social interactions or educational progress’ (Bishop et al., 2016b). The language disorder is not associated with a known differentiating condition e.g. Autism, Down Syndrome, Hearing Impairment or Intellectual Disability. Up to recent times SLI (Specific Language Impairment) or DLD (Specific Speech and Language Disorder) were the terms used. The new name, Developmental Language Disorder DLD, is now being used in Ireland and worldwide since May 2017.
The Department of Education & Skills (DES) has established the criteria for enrolment eligibility for Speech and Language Classes. They are as follows:
- Assessment by a psychologist on a standardised test of intelligence which places nonverbal ability within the average range or above (i.e. Performance IQ of 90 or more).
- Assessment on a standardised test of language which places performance on one or more of the main areas of language at 2 standard deviations or more below the mean.
- The child’s difficulties are not attributable to hearing impairment.
- Emotional or behavioural disorders or a physical disability are not considered to be primary causes. (see DES Circulars 02/05 (Special Education Section DES, 2005) and 0038/07 (DES, 2007a) for details at www.education.gov.ie)
Is a Speech and Language Class suitable for my child?
Not all children with a clinical diagnosis of DLD will meet the Department of Education and Skill’s eligibility criteria for a Speech and Language Class placement. Not all children with a clinical diagnosis of DLD will require placement in a Speech and Language class. Other models of educational and SLT provision may be more appropriate. It is recommended that you discuss this with your child’s Speech & Language Therapist.
Children applying for a place in a Speech and Language Class need to have the following reports available by the assigned closing date for applications:
(1) Speech & Language Therapy Report (2) Psychology Report
(3) DLD Application School or Pre-school Report (4)
DLD Application Rating Scale Form a group called the Advisory Admissions Board (AAB). The AAB meets to discuss all referrals and to make recommendations to the different Boards of Management (BOM) regarding the possible offer of available places in the Speech and Language Classes to appropriate candidates i.e. the AAB may recommend placement but the BOM retains ultimate responsibility for offering/refusing enrolment places.
The AAB comprises of the following:
· School Principal of each school that has a Speech and Language Class.
· HSE Speech & Language Therapists from the Speech and Language Classes.
· HSE Speech & Language Therapy Manager/Designated Officer.
· NEPS Psychologists (National Educational Psychological Service)
· Speech and Language Class Teachers.
Following the Advisory Admissions Board meeting and in accordance with the decisions of the BOM, the parents of successful applicants are notified in writing by the relevant school principal with an offer of a Speech and Language Class placement for their child for the following academic year. The parents are invited to bring their child to visit the Speech and Language Class to meet with the staff.
Applicants may not be offered a place in a Speech and Language Class if:
- they do not meet the Department of Education and Skills Eligibility Criteria
- there are insufficient places available to meet the demand. In this situation a prioritization process is applied.
In accordance with DES Circular 0038/2007, eligible pupils may spend up to 2 years in a Speech and Language Class. During the school year each child’s progress is reviewed in the second term, recommendations are made by the Advisory Discharge Board for the Speech and Language Class to the BOM as to whether or not a child should be offered a second year in the class. The BOM takes cognisance of such recommendations but retain ultimate responsibility for deciding on the child’s continuing enrolment or otherwise in the Speech and Language Class.
The membership of the Advisory Discharge Board comprises of some or all of the following professionals: School Principal, Speech and Language Class Teacher, Speech and Language Class Speech & Language Therapist, SENO, NEPS Psychologist and SLT Manger/Designated Officer.
What happens when a child leaves the Speech and Language Class?
Most children go to their local primary school. Additional educational supports can be provided by the mainstream school if deemed necessary. Further Speech & Language Therapy, if deemed necessary may be provided by an appropriate service.
Please note: Enrolment in the Speech and Language Class confers no entitlement to enrolment in a mainstream class in the host school upon discharge for the Speech and Language Class. Any such applications will be processed in accordance with an application for admission to a mainstream class.
Further reading: More information about DLD can be found in IASLT’s Position Paper and Guidance Document called ‘Supporting Children with Developmental Language Disorder in Ireland’ which is available at Y:\DLD Developmental Language Disorder\DLD Position Paper FINAL 23MAY2017.pdf