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

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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.

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).

Know Your State Requirements

States have different regulations and requirements for speech-language support personnel. State laws may differ from ASHA’s guidelines and requirements.

Check your state regulations for education and licensing requirements for SLPs and SLPAs.

ASHA State-by-State Licensure Requirement, Support Personnel Requirements, individual State information, and State Contacts.

To see where your state stands on support personnel licensure trends, please view the ASHS trends charts which are updated annually – Support Personnel in School Settings (PDF).

Get up to speed on your state regulations.

Read more.

ASHA Speech Language Pathology Assistants Overview and Key Issues

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

Do You Know Who is Providing Your Child’s Speech Language Therapy? Blog Discussion Part 2

My son, 9, has severe Childhood Apraxia of Speech and requires an AAC device. His annual IEP describes him as having “a complex communication profile.” Every year, his assigned SLP is straight out of school or an SLPA and has no AAC experience. The SLPAs in our district get very little supervision and they complain about the lack of support. One year, his SLP was from Australia. With all due respect, not all SLPs, and certainly not an SLPA, would be able to provide appropriate services for him. He needs a very experienced SLP with special training. My district has rejected all articles, platforms and articles from ASHA. The district declares they know better than ASHA. I see a lot of people being offended. You might be qualified but you aren’t appropriate for all students needing services.

ALL SLPA’s must be licensed … Assistants have a minimun of a bachelor degree in a related major (communication disorders) and at least 9 classes in speech … This blogger is talking nonsense.

This discussion is heart breaking. Not all SLPA’s are out of high school. You cantjust file for anSLPA certification. You need your B.A. And submit the clinical hours that undergraduates go through many many hours of clinical work.
Please check your facts. SLPA’s are also required to have CEU’s (continuing education units). Most SLPA’s become SLP’s. SLPA’s are valuable to a private practices or school settings.

We are like a nurse to a doctor. We are experienced! In California you must have your Bachelor’s to qualify and be accepted by the Speech and Hearing Boards approval. Please don’t discount every SLPA. We are very valuable and we work under a licensed SLP, which is mandatory.
If it was not for SLPA’s or other special needs paraprofessionals your children could not be serviced.

Many school districts will go around any laws and claim they cannot find anyone to do the job of the SLP. Then they hire anyone to do the job. And I do mean anyone. The board of education will usually allow this as long as they claim they cannot find licensed SLP’s! Please parents, insist on a licensed SLP! In WV, SLP-A’s ARE taking our jobs. They are not willing to pay for licensed SLP’s, thus the assistants are running the show. Why bother going to school for 6 years, providing hundreds upon hundreds of therapy hours in college, completing, in my case, 3 different internships/clinicals, completing a CFY year while supervised periodically by a licensed ASHA level SLP for a year, taking about one thousand dollars worth of praxis exams, pay for liability insurance, ASHA dues, state licensing, etc. when you can skip all that and be an assistant? SLP’s better wake up in my opinion! Fight for our jobs and educate! In WV when a parent asks for a licensed SLP, they are told we are the same as an assistant. That is insulting! All in the name of saving money. So those supposed laws and regulations mean nothing. If I would have known what I do now, being an SLP would not even be a consideration. I love what I do but in this market I cannot compete with assistants.

I am a speech-language pathologist assistant. This blog is a joke. I am highly insulted as well. I stopped reading when I read, Speech language assistants may file paperwork and make copies. Speech language assistants ARE NOT QUALIFIED to provide speech language therapy. HOW DARE YOU. You need to remove this posting until you get your facts straight.
Speech-language pathologist assistants ARE very well qualified to give speech therapy. I have a bachelor’s degree & I have very well used it. I have been paid over 50$ an hour for this type of work. I have a license to practice.

I am a speech assistant -this is insulting – in the schools we work in there would be no speech services without us. I feel bad for any assistant who has to work with you

not every state allows speech assistants

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:

You should remove this article and review your facts. I have been an SLP Assistant for 7 years in Texas. I graduated from a 4 year school and have my license. I have to work under a Supervisor, but I am highly qualified and an asset to my field. This article is bias and fictitious.

Are you kidding me? Get your facts straight! I invite you to review the ASHA website so you stop spreading misinformation. Shame on you!

I am a skilled SLP and have been for many years in many different settings. I have a Southern accent and find that yes, I too have been “blamed” for a child learning to speak and then having an accent. There is an article from ASHA that states that an SLP’s accent does not affect the way they do their job. Also, SLPA’s are licensed by the state, at least in Florida. These therapists have a Bachelor’s degree and are licensed, so if your child is receiving therapy from a SLP-A, who is supervised by an SLP by the way,, then they are receiving skilled therapy. Anything else other than an SLP or SLP-A would not be considered skilled Speech Therapy services.

my friend is asha certificated and is licensed but retired.. can she do private speech stating that she is licensed? there are 2 families that wants private speech outside of the network meaning paying her in cash where she does not have to report.. is that allowed? please let me know


The field of Speech Pathology in the schools has been hijacked by the federal government as well as state governments who follow AND add to their laws. We have been turned into nothing more than teachers, while physicals therapists and occupational therapists have retained much of their health field identity under the label of related services. Unfortunately, when IEPs and other forms of due process red tape was created, our profession was out to lunch when they “allowed” our field to be given a special education label. We NEED a grass roots effort to protest and turn back the clock on this awful turn of events. ASHA and state organizations need to lobby and interact with their governors, representatives, and senators. When SLPs are writing behavior intervention plans and called “the speech teacher” there is a massive problem going on.

Amen Wynbird! The state determines what a speech and language disorder is in the school setting, not the SLP! I’ve never gotten why speech pathologists allowed their profession to become glorified teachers, however, without the respect given to teachers. Speech-language pathology is an allied health service. A. Health. Service.

I won’t hold my breath with ASHA. Their main function seems to be to collect my dues, and not advocating for the profession (especially in the school setting). Most districts see us as a warm body to fill a seat. A payment to fill a liability.

I agree 100%. I have contacted ASHA multiple times as well as my state licensing agency that oversees school services. They claim they can do nothing to challenge the schools decision to use assistants rather than SLP’s. Administrators are skillfully skirting around laws to provide rightful services. An assistant in WV can be anyone taking a few classes online! There is always a way to get out of paying what we deserve. SLP’s in WV are treated worse than any other professional. We are not considered health workers. They pay scale is that of a teacher and we are not recognized as having a national certification for our C’s. The government here continues to allow such unethical behavior! ASHA will not intervene either. I’m frustrated because SLP-A’s have taken over and are not being observed or even have an onsite supervisor! Why am I paying ASHA when they can not provide any assistance with serious issues and blatant disregard for the law?

Wynbird, you are so right! School caseloads are huge and paperwork has become a priority. ASHA is too busy adding out of field undergrad courses to undergrad and graduate SLP college requirements to bother with improving the lot of the SLPs and SLPAs providing services within the school setting. I have been providing therapy in the schools for 7 yrs. and, even with my MS degree, I am only making about $42,000/yr. This is ridiculous and there is no way that I will ever be able to pay off my student loans. It is time for a change, similar to what the Audiologists have done. We, as SLPs, need to either demand that ASHA use their extremely high membership dues to our benefit, or form a new governing body that cares for its therapists.

Donna was concerned about the accent of her child’s speech pathologist. I suppose she might have gotten further with the school district if she had made up a complaint about the SLP, rather than being honest about the accent being the reason for concern. I am an American SLP working in rural Australia. Lots of parents have concerns about my accent. They usually contact my supervisor with some vague complaint – and Presto- Chango! Instant Aussie speech therapist Oi Oi Oi. No worries, mate!

This isn’t true at all. I have been an SLPA for 7 years. I not only have my bachelors degree in Communication Disorders and Sciences, but I am also licensed to practice. Get your facts straight before you start posting.

Wow. You should really do your research. You are providing false information to parents. In TX, speech pathologist assistants are licensed and trained to provide speech language therapy under the supervision of a licensed speech pathologist. They hold a bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders and are an asset to the field.

More is not always better when it comes to therapy minutes per week, Due to the fact that your son will be missing something In order to receive therapy. It may be social studies or science or math or language arts but he will be missing a class. In my district, an SLP cannot pull out a student for therapy during activity (Music, Art, P.E…).

I believe this issue is complicated. Right now I am working at a school in Florida and two of our slps have bachelor’s degrees. They deliver services, just like an Slp with a masters degree, and our school principal refers to them as “Speech Language Pathologists.” Of course, they cannot bill Medicaid, but they have two years to get into graduate school,, and they are licensed by the state of Florida.

I was wondering – I graduated from school in 2000 in fayette county ga. If I see I need to start speech lessons again, can the school systems do it if there is a certain speech teacher I want to use that I had in school?

3KJ in NYC said that she is not a SLP, that she does her own AX/DX/TX & the only thing that the SLP does is sign her paperwork so that the school can get Medicaid. The SLP signature is supposed to indicate that she has provided supervison on those students. If she has not, and you say that she has not, she should loose her license. I was asked to sign off an paperwork without adequate supervision when I worked for Chicago Public Schools, & I refused. We have to uphold the standards of the profession. Otherwise, we could end up like Australia. That is where I work now. We have private speech pathologists contracting with schools to “train” teacher’s aids to do speech therapy. The public schools do not hire SPs. I have seen the results of this “therapy”. It is very hard to undo.

I am a speech assistant and am MORE than qualified to provide speech therapy. I am licensed by ASHA, and hold a license. Speech assistants can do almost everything an SLP can do (except for testing/diagnosis) UNDER THE DIRECT SUPERVISION OF AN SLP. You need to get your facts straight before denying the HARD work of an SLP-A.

The information you are giving is inaccurate. Speech language pathology assistance are trained, certified to provide speech therapy under the guidance of an SLP. In fact, many SLPA have a bachelor’s degree in Communication Disorders and are working toward their Master’ s in Speech Language Pathology.

3KJ- your comment was posted way back in 2012, so you are probably long gone, but you are most certainly NOT qualified to deliver speech language services with your experience and degree! If you do not have a degree in speech-language pathology, and you have indicated you do not, you are NOT QUALIFIED. if anyone hires you for slp work, they are providing so called slp services but from an unqualified practitioner. you seem miffed at the suggestion you are not qualified, but, you are not, plain and simple. If you want to work as an slp, do like i and thousands have done, pay 70 thousand or so, work like a dog, practically have mental collapse, and get your piece of paper that says you are an SLP. Otherwise, face facts. You boast you don’t act under the supervision of an SLP and you are more than qualified?? in what world! Your “school district” will be sued if a parent finds out. How would you like this… I have a degree in speech pathology and 13 years experience in schools and rehab facilities, and i am MORE than qualified to teach deaf students. Sounds wrong, and it is wrong. Same as your situation.

I am clapping out loud for you! They are taking our jobs and need to get back to what they were originally created for…to help with screening, paperwork, scheduling, etc. Unless you do the above mentioned steps, you are adding to a huge problem. Every SLP-A that has worked in my area has not had a 4 year degree. Any degree while taking a class or two will allow you to be an assistant. There is no supervision of services and not even a licensed SLP on site, ever. The assistants sign as SLP’s, bill Medicaid with false signatures, write IEP’s, test, etc. How is this not threatening the integrity of the profession? Any SLP-A doing any of this needs to lose their job and be barred from completing the degree be it 4 or 6! If they are okay with the work they do then there are major ethical implications. In WV, they see the $$ and will do anything as an assistant. There needs to be repercussions for the school district and assistants working outside of their limitations. You are not an SLP!!!!

Does the publc school school system have to have a new prescription to do speech every yr here in new york state &if parents don’t want speech to continue not getting them one should mean they can’t bill medicaid for that service if they do it against the parents will. all i signed was an attendance sheet. never got a letter stating the iep for 2012-2013 school yr was approved by school board, so doesn’t this make it illegal to do speech or the other services?

I actually asked OSEP this question and got guidance on this issue. Look at question 4…

I just wanted to clarify infrmation that is being posted to this site. I have been a speech therapist for 27 years for a public school system in New York state. I have a BA as a Teacher of the Speech and Heairng Handicapped as well as an MA in reading. I am more than qualified to administer speech therapy to students within a school setting given ny education and training. No I am not supervised by an SLP and no she does complete assessments for me- I do all my work. The only thing the SLP does is sign monthly medicaid calendars/ notes in order for my district to recieve medicaid reimbursement for speech therapy services delivered. I worrked very hard to get my education and I feel that I have more experience and training tahn some SLP. Furthermore since medicaid is a medically related funding source then why is it present in schools.

You are not a SLP because you do not have a Masters in Speech Pathology and Communication Sciences and Disorders. Period. You can sugar coat all day. Until you obtain that Masters, you are an assistant. Shame on you for billing Medicaid and purporting to be a SLP. I see ethics is not high on your list!

And shame on you, Erica, for dismissing someone who has practiced in the speech and hearing and education profession since 1985. You’ll be the death of your profession with that attitude.

SLP Assistants can provide speech therapy. Each state has their own rules on the type of therapy they can provide. Can you please share your documentation that supports your statement: Speech language assistants are not qualified to provide speech language therapy. The assistants in my state complete a 2-year program, complete over 250 hours of practicum and are required to pass a state exam. Why are they not qualified? Again, please site your source.

“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.”

This is completely incorrect!!! In order to be a true SLP-A your are licensed by the State Board of Health and/or Board of Educaiton. You are required to finish 2 years of college as well. You are licensed and trained to provide therapy under the supervision of an SLP. Check your informaiton before write it.

I’ve read through all the comments and have this input. Most folks commenting assume that if their state has SLPAs with BS degrees in Communication Science, then all states have that. Not true. Virginia has no regulation in place for SLPAs. So a school system can take your next door neighbor who wants to get a few bucks by subbing in the schools and says, “hey, you’d make a good Speech Therapist Substitute. We’ll train you for 10 extra hours in how to do speech therapy”. And that could be your child’s ‘therapist’ for years unless you look at that IEP, provider” section and see “SLP/staff” and say “whoa, what’s ‘staff” mean? This is about informed parent consent. If you like the ‘sub’ who is a HS grad who has passed a TB and criminal background check, then go for it. But if you’ve been misled, then ask for ‘compensatory therapy”.

According to ASHA’s Guidelines for Training, Use, and Supervision of Speech-Language Pathology Assistants, which apply across all practice settings, a speech-language pathology assistant may conduct the following tasks under the supervision of a speech-language pathologist:

Assist speech-language and hearing screenings (without interpretation)
Assist with informal documentation as directed by the speech-language pathologist
Follow documented treatment plans or protocols developed by the supervising speech-language pathologist
Document patient/client performance (e.g., tallying data for the speech-language pathologist to use; preparing charts, records, and graphs) and report this information to the supervision speech-language pathologist
Assist the speech-language pathologist during assessment of patients/clients

I am an SLPA and I absolutely disagree with your statement that SLPAs are not qualified to provide speech and language therapy services. This is not correct in many states. I am a state certified speech language pathology assistant with a bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders. I provide all therapy services for the students on my caseload. A percentage of my therapy services are supervised by an ASHA certified SLP, which is the protocol for SLPA service provision.
Speech and language services are provided in the schools as part of IDEA, which protects the students and the parents. It isn’t right for your organization to be misrepresenting these services. It is clear that the writer of this article is not familiar with the provision of speech and language services within an educational setting.

This article was poorly researched due to the fact that SLP-Assistants CAN provide therapy and are qualified by a majority of the states in the U.S by receiving a state license and training from an SLP AFTER attending school. I started off as an SLP-Assistant before going back for my masters and I did NOT just “file paperwork and make copies.” That is just offensive since I provided therapy to 70+ students UNDER the supervision of an SLP licensed/certified by the state & ASHA. I worked in CA, FL, and TX. If you look under ASHA’s website, SLP-Assistants CANNOT write IEP’s, do evaluations, feeding/swallowing therapy or working with the majority of the geriatric population. This article POORLY misrepresents all of the duties that an SLP-Asst. is capable/licensed to do.

ASHA created an SLP shortage in the 90’s by making it expensive and difficult for colleges to offer the degree to more than a few students each year. I was accepted into two colleges in NYC. The first dropped the program. The second had no room in their classes, even though I was in the program. I needed to work and began to work for the city school system as a therapist based on my undergraduate work. At that time, ASHA was discouraging the use of speech therapy assistants, or people like me, who wanted to get a master’s degree. Following ASHA’s lead, universities stated in their catalogs that people working as speech therapy teachers would not be accepted in their programs and night courses were eliminated. This impacted a generation of people who wanted a career as speech therapists.


There is a lot that is misleading in this article. I am an SLPA and have been working for a large school district in north Texas since 2004. I have a bachelors degree in Speech Language Pathology/Audiology as well as some graduate work. I am under the supervision of an SLP who has her CCC”s and who is ultimately responsible for the caseload. I work with approx. 50 kids, a fourth of which are autistic. In Texas an SLPA is able to conduct an ARD unless it is an initial, reviewing evaluation results, or the child has a disability in addition to speech. The supervisor must determine that the SLPA has adequate experience and is comfortable conducting the ARD. I have been lucky and had a very experienced(30yrs) SLP when I first started out. SLPA’s are perfectly capable in this discipline if they have a strong background & a good SLP.

I know this is beating a dead horse, but….the comment that SLP Assistants can only make copies and do other clerical work is really offensive. I have been a licensed SLPA in Texas for over 8 years and I know I am just as good, if not better than some SLPs I have worked with. As with everything job, it’s about experience and dedication.
I will say though, that some states vary in their laws and will not allow SLPAs to practice. I lived in the Washington D.C area for three years and could not work as an SLPA. I think all facts should be thoroughly verified before making erroneous assumptions. Let’s just hope that the author of this article was ignorant and did not check all of his/her facts, and truly doesn’t believe that SLPAs are not qualified to do Speech Therapy..

As an ASHA certified SLP for the past 12 years working in the schools, I can tell you 1st of all, many of my colleagues have given up their ASHA certification b/c we are not paid to maintain it, it is very expensive, & it does not earn us any extra income having the CCC’s. However, my colleagues are still required to maintain state licensure & need to take just as many continuing ed credits. So, they are just as competent & educated as those of us who have our C’s.

W/ regards to writing “SLP/ spStaff” on IEP’s: We do that, but b/c it allows the goals to be supported/ monitored throughout the week in class; NOT as a substitute for their regular direct minutes, but in addition to. If it were my kid, I would want as many staff on board as possible.The severe classroom I work in have incredible staff…who teach me a thing or 2 everyday

BRANDI: I have found the Wrightslaw website to be invaluable for the last two years. I hope that you will read further and see the good that they are trying to do. I disagree with your statement that Wrightslaw constantly bashes the public school system. I agree with your statement that not every educator is out to “put one over” on parents and kids. I can only say from my own experience that the majority of teachers and admins that I have dealt with for the last 12 years have been evasive, defensive, hostile and untruthful when it comes to the special education services my children are entitled to under federal law. I know from personal experience that the only way to truly help your child is to get past your anger. I have learned that from Wrightslaw. I too have made mistakes. Take a second look,they have a lot to offer to both sides.

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