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Do You Know Who is Providing Your Child’s Speech Language Therapy?

by Wrightslaw

If your child receives speech language therapy, you need to pay attention to how the service provider is described in the IEP. If the IEP includes acronyms, you need to ask questions so you know what they mean. Why?

If your child’s IEP says speech therapy services will be provided by a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP), this is legally correct and legitimate.

If your child’s IEP says speech language services will be provided by “SLP/Staff,” your child may receive speech therapy from an untrained, unlicensed individual.

Some administrators encourage IEP teams to write “Special Education Staff,” “SPED staff, or “SLP/Staff” as the speech therapy provider on the child’s IEP. The term “Staff” may refer to anyone on the staff who is willing to do speech therapy — including untrained substitutes, aides and paraprofessionals.

Substitutes, aides and paraprofessionals usually have high school diplomas. They are not licensed by your state Department of Education, nor are they certified by The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). ASHA is the professional, scientific, and credentialing association for audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and speech, language, and hearing scientists.

Substitutes may sign off on the IEP paperwork as “Speech Therapy Substitutes.” This suggests that they are legitimate, certified Speech Therapists when they are not.

Some schools have “Speech Language Assistants.” Speech language assistants may file paperwork and make copies. Speech language assistants are not qualified to provide speech language therapy. Schools attempt to justify the use of “speech therapy assistants” by claiming that students are “just rehearsing” material learned from the Speech Language Pathologist. In reality, many speech language assistants are providing speech therapy, not practice reinforcement.

Schools are using this back door approach to get around hiring trained, certified Speech Language Pathologists.

Yes, there is a shortage of certified Speech Language Pathologists who are willing to work in schools. There are also shortages of other service providers including Occupational Therapists and Physical Therapists. There are many reasons for these shortages including lower pay, high caseloads, and poor working conditions.

If your child receives speech language therapy, make sure the IEP states that these services will be provided by a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP).

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99 Comments on "Do You Know Who is Providing Your Child’s Speech Language Therapy?"


Some of the information in your article is misleading. Speech Language Pathology Assistants, at least in California, are required to have two years of education/training and to receive an AA degree. Often a SLPA will have a bachelors in Communication Disorders.
You make it sound like paraprofessionals have no training, which is misleading. It sounds like you are using scare tactics to freighten parents.


I agree with Ashley-SLP-As are providers of therapy. There are restrictions in what SLP-As can/can’t do (they cannot formally evaluate, interpret evaluation results, set goals, hold IEP meetings, change the IEP…). They do provide services under the supervision of an SLP. Typically, the SLP-A holds a BA in a speech-related field, and in many states, they must also go through a certification program and must be licensed through the state’s Department of Education. In fact, in many states the SLP-A and SLP are the ONLY people who can provide speech/language related THERAPY (CO is one of those states).


This article is full of wrong information. Parents, if you want acurate information please refer to ASHA’s website. In CA, SLPAs provide therapy under supervision from an SLP.


I find these comments horrific — as a parent, I know that my child needs a certified and licensed SPEECH PATHOLOGIST, not an assistant being “supervised” by a SLP. Children need the related service by a certified qualified licensed SLP. Would you want your child taught by a “Teacher – Asssitant” and not a certified licensed Teacher? NO WAY! The same goes for the Speech time — ONLY BY A CERTIFIED< LICENSED SPEECH PATHOLOGIST!!!


Your comment above regarding Speech Language Pathology Assistants (SLPAs) is totally erroneous and highly disrespectful to dedicated, hard working SLPA professionals as SLPAs can be legitimately and fully licensed (pending required academic and clinical requirements) to legally practice SL pathology in many states across the country. In fact, SLPAs are legally and appropriately licensed and supervised in many states across the country. We have effectively used SLPAs at our practice. To get the facts straight, and for more information, please see ASHA’s Scope of Practice for SLPAs (reference: