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

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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…

k j

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.


This excerpt from your article is completely inaccurate:
**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.**
Me: It’s bad enough that your website constantly bashes the public school system, but then you report information that isn’t even correct! Not every educator is out to “put one over” on parents and kids.


Just to let you know BUT Speech Language Pathology Assistants have a bachelors degree in Speech Therapy. These individuals are supervised weekly by a Speech Language Pathologist with a Master’s Degree. SLPA’s are qualified to treat any kids within a school system. This is the only setting where SLPA’s are allowed to work because by not getting the Masters degree they miss out on courses on dysphagia, aphasia, and many other disorders that you would see outside of a school system. They have had courses on articulation disorders, receptive/expressive language disorders, and management in the schools. Some schools also require bachelors degree candidates to participate in a clinical. So they are qualified. SLPA’s and SLP’s are the only people who should be doing speech therapy.


I am an assistant by choice in our state we have to be certified and complete 7 terms of training for SLTA and pass the state test & practicum before we can work as a SLTA.

Before certification I was trained on how to present the speech program for specific IEP’s communicated regularly with the SLP and continue education on a weekly basis. We were never allowed to instruct a student until we mastered the skills needed.

By choice I remain an assistant because I want to work 1:1 or small groups with kids. If I were to take a teaching position in sped ed or an SLP position I would not be so fortunate. Our state requires so much paperwork that they do not have the time with kids that I do. I know I am doing the kids I work with a service by not taking the higher position. Many of us have degrees.


Your comment, “Speech language assistants are not qualified to provide speech language therapy” is not factual. I am a licensed SLP-A in the state of Colorado. Colorado requires SLP-A’s to have their completed bachelor’s degree in the field of speech and language pathology. On top of that requirement, SLP-A’s complete an internship of over 180 hours of speech therapy services. Of those 180 hours, a minimun of 100 MUST be direct therapy and it is supervised by a licensed SLP. Our scope of responsibilities goes MUCH farther than that of a minimum wage receptionist who files and makes copies. According to ASHA standards, an SLP-A must be observed 30% of the time in the first 90 days of therapy and 20% thereafter by a SLP. SLP-A’s take their jobs seriously seeing as we paid good money to continue our education and become certified!


As an SLPA, I find this article to be very misleading. SLPA’s are under direct supervision of an SLP. Most SLPA’s have undergraduate degrees in Speech-Language Pathology and are in the stages of going to graduate school. ASHA does require qualifications for emergency certification and also regulates what SLPA’s can and cant’ do. The services implemented regardless of all this are that of the IEP. Which is not made solely by an SLP let alone an SLPA. As stated by Kristy two years ago, we are supervised which is required by ASHA. With the every growing number of people in need of speech therapy it’s a good thing there are SLPA’s.You seem to reference Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy as if there are not assistants for these jobs as well. When in fact there are. They are doing their jobs fine with much protest, so let us to ours.


SLP-Assistants are qualified to prepare, implement and document progress of speech therapy following their supervising SLP’s treatment plan.


I believe the status has changed for Speech Assistants (SLPAs) they can now be licensed by a state’s department of health and actually do therapy under a SLPs supervision.

I am responding to the parents who don’t know who is providing their student’s Speech-Language therapy. I have never had a parent ask for my qualifications! I work in an Illinois public school, I have a Master;s degree, a certification from ASHA (my C;s), a license from the state of Illinois and a teaching certificate. These items are all proudly displayed in my room and I would be delighted to show them to any of my parents!

Concerned Parent

Thank you Sharon. I will do that. I’ve never done this before so I’m unsure of the process. I met with the head of Special Education for the school and the head Speach Pathologist and they both agree to discontinue speech. Their decision is based on paper work. They have never met my son.

Sharon L.

Concerned Parent – Send a letter that you do not agree with the results of the testing the school has done and also you need to get a prior written notice from the school that tells you in writing why they do not want to continue speech services. When you do not agree with the school’s testing you may go to an outside professional to get testing at the school’s expense and then they must consider the outside testing. This may help you to get what is best for you child.

Concerned Parent

We moved from Texas to Florida 6 months ago. At the beginning of the school year the speech therapist recommended speech services be dropped for my son. She based her decision on paper work alone. My son has Down’s Syndrome. His speech is not unrecognisable. I understand 20 percent of what he says. I insisted on testing. We met Friday. She again recommend dicontinuation of speech after 1 40 minute session with my son. His IEP from Texas states he receive 2 30 min. sessions weekly with a speech pathologist. The principal agreed with her and assigned his teacher who is not a speech pathologist the duty of holding speech with him 2 times weekly. I am out raged. He is in desperate need of professional help. What can I do?


I am an SLPA with 8 yrs of experience, this article is not only misleading but should be taken down! there is already alot of informed professionals stating the right facts and still this erroneous article stands.With my yrs of experience I’ve worked with supervisors with a MS-CCC that know LESS than me when it comes to treatment.At least in Puerto Rico the main difference between a BS-SLPA and a MS or MA-SLP,CCC is that they asses and diagnose, while the SLPA strictly does the treatment guided by the POC which is written by the SLP that assesd the child. Here in PR we all have a bar exam to get licensed by the state. And although this is not my case, some SLPA’s leave to the US and might have an accent,but I can assure you that they are outstanding when it comes to tx. & in clinical settings that are sensitive to multicultural population.


I am a licensed SLPA in MA. I have a Bachelors of Science degree in Speech Language Pathology and Audiology. I can provide direct treatment to students, as long as I follow their IEP, and have a certain amount of supervision by the SLP! I can also test students, without interpreting results. I have been trained in my field. I am very competent to do my job well. SLPA’s take some work off the shoulder’s of SLP’s in order for them to do assesments, and make TX plans! Please get your facts right!


Everyone knows this all comes down to money right? ASHA and private/healthcare SLP’s didn’t like the fact that MA (medical access) funds could be used for school-based services by qualified personnel, so they threw a tantrum and are pushing lawmakers to make standards so rigorous that you literally CANNOT work without a masters. I couldnt afford to go on, and even though I’m dedicated and love the profession, I was pushed out of it. ASHA hates that private business is lost due to students getting services in the schools. By doing this, Schools can’t attract employees, can’t provide services and therefore cannot abide by FAPE.


Why school districts utilize SLPAs = not enough SLPs to go around! College grad programs can’t produce enough SLPs to match the demand. Approximately 20 grad students are admitted to SLP program ONCE a year (in CA)! However, approx. 40 students graduate from a BS/BA program in Speech Pathology each Spring & Fall! Even if you graduate with 4.0 gpa, chances of getting into grad program to get Masters is SLIM! So what BA/BS graduates in speech pathology do when can’t get into grad school is get SLP Assistant (SLPA) certificate. Most are VERY qualified to work with your children. SLPAs follow plan set up by supervising SLP. I would rather have MORE speech each week for my child from an SLPA than less since SLP too busy with caseload! Districts too broke to hire enough SLPs. Meet your school’s SLPA to form your own OPINION before you say NO!


How can I verify if my son’s the speech patholigist is certified when she does not sign any of my son’s paperwork?


Yes I agree that parents should be aware of what the IEP states as to who is providing Speech services to their child.. I have to defend my position as a SLPA or Speech/language Pathology Asst. I have recieved an Assoc. of Science degree , and am certified by the state of Calif. to ( under the supervision of an SLP) provide therapy to a student/client. By know means should a parent be anxious or concerned that their child is not being provided with the best service -of course if their are concerns please investigate.


I have also seen many SLPs with CCCs who are clueless. This often stems from inadequate clinic rotations in graduate school and clinical supervisors in graduate school who have nothing in the way of knowledge or skill to pass onto a student. I also know a woman with her MS, CCC-SLP who has NEVER READ A BOOK IN HER LIFE. With that degree she can tell people she is a literacy expert. If you look at the SLP programs, some have department chairs who are not even SLPs themselves. There is a lot of attitude in SLP field. It’s not rocket science. The clinical fellowship year is NOT LIKE AN MD’S RESIDENCY! There is often no contact at all with the supervising SLP and the CFY student is left to their own devices. Once an SLP gets those C’s, they can say anything they like about their education and training, and it may not be true.


In response to Kim, if you are already licensed as an SLPA in Illinois, google provider connections to get to the site that provides info on getting credentialed for EI. You need to submit to backgroung checks & fingerprinting and do some EI training to get a temporary credential. Then you need to do 240 hrs in EI and have the hours documented to get a permanent credential. renew every 3 years and get CE’s and you’re set! I’ve been an EI SLPA for 3 years now and I love it. Good luck


Hi, I am from Illinois and I was wondering how did you go about getting your licence to work in EI.


Since my daughter is on the autism spectrum she needs another evaluation done before she turns six years old. I have met the education psychologist from the co-op (since she is in a charter school) and he is very obnoxious and rude. I prefer to have someone else perform her evaluation. I have expressed my concerns to the consultant and she states that there is no one else to do the evaluation since this is a co-op. I don’t understand this. The consultant is stating that this psychologist is the only one in this “cooperative” that supposedly serves 4 or 5 charter schools. I asked what would happen if he ever got sick and she stated that’s never happened. My concern is his attitude and his ability to be objective when performing an evaluation on my daughter as important as this one is.


My daughter’s school is a charter school and receives her special education services through a co-op with approx. 4 or 5 other charter schools in the area. The special education consultant has explained to me that all the charter schools share the same speech and occupational therapists. I have had a hard time verifying the occupational therapist actually comes to the school to see my daughter. She doesn’t place any paperwork in my daughter’s backpack as requested after each visit. She just emails me and tells me what a great session she had with my daughter. When I ask my kindergarten-aged child (5 years old) if someone has come to work with her, she doesn’t know who or what I’m talking about.


This article is not being enirely accurate. In Pennsylvania, you can work as an SLP under an emergency certification until you are done grad school. This means that you need to have a bachelor’s in speech language pathology, but you can begin working in the school system while in grad school.

Trust me, over the years I’ve seen pleny of SLP’s with their CCC’s who have NO CLUE what they’re doing! And I’ve also seen those working with emergency cert.’s providing AMAZING services to children! DO YOUR HOMEWORK!


I am a Speech Therapy Assistant, and I just wanted to let you know that this article is misleading parents to believe that assistants can only file paper. Speech assistants are trained and certified in the state of AZ to provide therapy to students. They have finished a two year program and provided 100 clinical hours before they are able to provide therapy. They can not diagnose, but they can and do provide valuable therapy to help children with special needs. I fear that this article is unnecessarily scaring parents with the untruths expressed. My daughter was on a waiting list for 3 years for Speech Therapy because of the shortage of therapists in our area. Wouldn’t it have been better for her to have recieved therapy from an assistant, rather than no one at all?


This is so not true! I am a licensed SLPA and I do have a degree and am licensed by the state of Illinois in addition to being EI credentialed by the state’s Early Intervention Program. I have submitted to background checks and fingerprinting as required by the state for all provider’s of special education services. I did an extensive clinical training in addition to my college course work and have 3+ years of experience working with children providing speech services. I think you will find this is true for many SLPA’s. You should check with your state’s requirements before you make such inaccurate assumptions.