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Training Educators in How to Recognize Possible Speech Language Impairments

Speech and language impairments can affect someone's input modalities, including

reading, listening to a conversation and simultaneously being able to process what is being said,

and hearing, as well as their output modalities which include writing and speaking. All of these

abilities are crucial to a child's learning and progression throughout their schooling. A child who

suffers from speech and language impairments that go unrecognized and untreated can become

prone to negative academic, social, and mental effects. Some of these effects include falling

behind their peers in terms of higher learning educational skills, not being able to fully express

their needs or desires, not being able to properly socialize linguistically according to a particular

context or setting, and by becoming a victim of bullying. In order to prevent this from occurring,

teachers should be properly trained in how to recognize signs of language disorders so that they

can refer the child to a speech pathologist who can then assess, diagnose, and if needed, design a

therapy plan for the child. If teachers were mandated to attend trainings that taught them how to

be aware of children with speech language disorders, there would be a better chance that the

child is given the opportunity to receive speech language therapy.

Figure 1. Pie chart showing the prevalence of children ages 3-17 with speech and language

disorders in the U.S. in the year 2012

SOURCE: CDC/NCHS, National Health Interview Survey, 2012.

Limited Abilities of Educators to Recognize Speech Language Disorders

Teachers may not have received training on how to recognize and be aware of a child

with a possible speech or language disorder. According to current studies, educators have not

been trained to be aware of children with speech language disorders for at least the past 50 years,

as the article "I never even gave it a second thought: PGCE students attitudes towards the

inclusion of children with speech and language impairments.", which is written to highlight

teacher misconceptions about students with speech language disorders, states that the study of

educators' attitudes towards children with disabilities first began in the 1950s (Marshall 2002, 3).

Educators who are not aware of what speech language disorders entail often form misperceptions

about the students who have them, as according to the studies "I never even gave it a second

thought: PGCE students attitudes towards the inclusion of children with speech and language

impairments." and "Preschool Teachers Perceptions and Reactions to Challenging Classroom

Behavior: Implications for Speech-Language Pathologists" in which teachers reflect negatively

on students who have speech language disorders compared to students without them, and

negligently believe the parents and other factors are the reasons that the students may behave the

way they do. Because they are not made aware that the student may have a speech language

disorder, they overlook this as a possibility as to why the student may be struggling and rather

find other factors to blame it on. Besides the fact that educators may not be as willing or as

prepared to teach children with speech language disorders, they also may not expose the child to

the possibility of therapy. Educators who cannot recognize signs of a speech language disorder

will potentially prevent a child from access to therapy, inhibiting their chances at progression in

their education and certain social contexts.

Children who do not receive therapy for certain speech or language disorders will most of

the time fall so far behind their peers that it is difficult for them to ever catch up, making it hard

for them to be able to think at a higher level and socialize normally. Certain speech and language

disorders prevent the child from reading, which is crucial to learning, as well as writing, which is

important in order for the child to express what they are learning. If the student does not receive

therapy, especially for a reading disorder, they will not be able to learn enough to the point at

which they can begin to think critically and start applying their learnings to the real world. They

will also have difficulty progressing, and they may fall behind. Depending on the extent to which

they fall behind will determine how likely they are to catch up to their peers. If a disorder goes

untreated and the child continues to fall behind academically, it will be less likely that he or she

catches up to their peers.

While in school, they may also suffer socially. Certain phonological disorders in which

the child cannot pronounce sounds in the correct manner, or pragmatic disorders in which the

child does not know how to normally socialize, can produce frustration due to the fact that the

child may not be able to express themselves to the extent that they would like to, or socialize in a

normal manner. This may lead to a variety of different behaviors, of which could possibly

include isolation or acting out. Deviant speech or behavior may make the child susceptible to

being bullied, producing more of an emotional impact as a result of their disorder, or disciplinary

consequences as a result of acting out. These social consequences would follow them throughout

their life, determining their ability to make friends and choose their spouses.

Normally, but depending on their educational experience, children who have untreated

speech language disorders may not want to attend college. Children who continue to suffer

throughout their academic careers may not want to attend college because their difficulties in

school as well as the social consequences such as bullying would only then be prolonged. These

children might then have poor outlooks economically because they might not be able to obtain a

primary job which requires a degree. A child with a disorder that goes untreated will not be

affected only for the time being, but depending on the severity, for the rest of their life, which is

why it is so crucial that if a child does have a disorder that the teacher may know how to

recognize it, hopefully early on, and refer the child for therapy. While not all of these

possibilities may occur, at least one is likely depending on the severity of their speech language


My Proposal: Speech Language Pathologists Training Educators to Recognize Speech

Language Disorders

While the effects of a child not receiving speech language therapy could result in several

serious issues, the chances of them being exposed to the opportunity of speech therapy could

increase if their teacher is aware that the child may have it. Educators who are aware of speech

language disorders could refer the child to a speech language therapist who would then assess

and evaluate the child to determine if therapy is needed. These children may then complete

therapy at an earlier age and may not have to deal with their disorder as long as they would have

had to had it not been recognized. Teachers could also implement a new teaching style earlier on

that would further help the child as well as gain experience in teaching a student with a speech

language disorder. Teachers who are provided with trainings from speech language pathologists

on how to become aware of and recognize speech and language disorders would be educated

during the training on:

how to be aware of a child who may have a speech language disorder

how to help the child facilitate what they are learning in therapy to be used in the


how to possibly design their lesson plans to maximize the understanding of the lesson

according to the child's disorder

how to appropriately respond to a child's behavior as a result of speech and language


The speech language pathologist would administer the trainings annually shortly before school is

going to begin for 14 primary school teachers. This would include two teachers per grade,

including early education teachers in pre-k and kindergarten as well as teachers who teach grades

1-5. The trainings would be conducted in a 2-hour session in which they would train the educator

in 4 different 30-minute sessions.

Session 1: Signs that a child may have a speech language disorder as discussed in terms

of their reading ability, writing ability, speech, or hearing. This session would include

common signs of a child that may have a speech language disorder based on their ability

to read, ability to write, ability to speak as well as hear, and their social skills.

Session 2: Ways to adjust your lesson plan according to the child's speech or language

disorder in order to maximize learning ability. This session would include methods to

incorporate the child's therapy into classroom lessons as well as adjust the lesson plan in

a way that will make the material easier to understand while not excluding the child from

normal classroom activities.

Session 3: Behaviors and emotions associated with speech and language disorders by

both the child and parent. This session will cover the emotional and psychological effects

of speech and language disorders by the child as well as the parent in order to make the

educator more aware of why the child may behave the way they do.

Session 4: The importance of communicating with the speech language pathologist and

the parents of the child's progress. This session will cover the importance of the teacher,

the speech pathologist, and the parent working as a team like unit in order to maximize

the child's possibility of success.

Figure 2. The Stats of Communication Disorders

Source: ASHA, Identifying the Signs Campaign, 2013-2017

Costs and Benefits of Trainings

While there are costs to the training, the benefits greatly outweigh the costs as you are

improving the child's potential overall quality of life. With this being noted, Costs could include

payment towards the speech language pathologist who conducts the trainings, as well as payment

to the particular school in order to increase their budget that pays for teacher's trainings. They

could also include the cost of the materials used during the training, and the use of the facility

where the training is held. Benefits would not only be towards the child, but to the teacher as

well. These could include additional education for the teachers, who would then be taught how to

be aware of a child with a speech or language impairment. If an educator is able to recognize a

student with a speech or language impairment, they would then know how to better design their

lessons to maximize the students learning potential, the behavior to expect from these children as

well as the best possible way to act upon it, and be made more aware of what the disorder is so

that they do not form any misperceptions in regards to the child's learning ability because of it.

The child could benefit because if an educator recognizes their speech language disorder early on

they can receive therapy earlier, meaning they would not have their disorder as long. This could

ultimately impact their chances of graduating from high school, going to college, their future job

outlook, and their social relationships throughout life.

In conclusion, these trainings are greatly beneficial because it promotes an equal chance at

education for students with speech language disorders when compared to those without speech

language disorders. The trainings would be perfect for primary educators who see the child every

day and interact the most with the child besides the child's parents or caretakers. If the educator

is aware of and able to recognize a possible speech language disorder, the chances that the child

will receive therapy are heightened. With therapy, a child has a better chance at avoiding the

consequences that occur to children who do not receive therapy, which include not being able to

obtain a normal education, not being able to learn at the appropriate grade level, not being able to

think critically, not being able to socialize normally, and not being able to obtain a respectable

socioeconomic status. Educators who can recognize and refer children with speech language

disorders will be better prepared to teach those children and easily make a difference in a child's


Study Budget

Cost/Hour Total Hours Total Cost

Payment to Districts
14 Teachers 50/hr 2 $1,400
Payment to Speech Pathologist
1 Speech Pathologist 39/hr 2 $78
Pencils 2.79/12 pencils 2 packs $5.58
Notebooks .88/notebook 14 notebooks $12.32
Laptop $300/laptop 1 laptop $300
Projector 1/$76 1 projector $76
Facilitiy $250/hr 3 $750
Total Project Costs $2,621.90

Figure 3. Reasons a Student May Need to Attend Speech Therapy
Source: Minds in Bloom, 2017

Sources Cited

Adams, C., & Lloyd, J. (2008). The effects of speech and language therapy intervention on

children with pragmatic language impairments in mainstream school. British Journal of

Special Education, 34(4), 226-233. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8578.2007.00483.x

Communication Disorders Statistics. (2017, November 03). Retrieved November 27, 2017, from


Economic & Social Research Council. (2011, May 19). Teachers need greater awareness of

language disorders, research finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 13, 2017 from


Fogle, P. T. (2013). Essentials of Communication Sciences & Disorders (1st ed., Vol. 1). Clifton

Park, NY: Delmar, Cengage Learning.

Lynette, B. R., Says, M. M., & Says, B. J. (2017, June 30). The Teacher and the Speech-

Language Pathologist: Tips for Effective Collaboration. Retrieved November 26, 2017,

from http://minds-in-bloom.com/the-teacher-and-speech-language/

Marshall, J., Stojanovik, V., & Ralph, S. (2002). I never even gave it a second thought: PGCE

students attitudes towards the inclusion of children with speech and language

impairments. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 37(4), 475-

489. doi:10.1080/1368282021000008892

National Center for Health Statistics. (2015, June 09). Retrieved November 26, 2017, from


Nungesser, N. R., & Watkins, R. V. (2005). Preschool Teachers Perceptions and Reactions to

Challenging Classroom Behavior. Language Speech and Hearing Services in Schools,

36(2), 139. doi:10.1044/0161-1461(2005/013)

Overby, M., Carrell, T., & Bernthal, J. (2007). Teachers Perceptions of Students With Speech

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Hearing Services in Schools, 38(4), 327. doi:10.1044/0161-1461(2007/035)