Speech - Language Impairments

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) defines a speech or language impairment as "a communication disorder, such as stuttering, impaired articulation, a language impairment, or a voice impairment, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance" (34 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] § 300.8(c)). Both speech and language impairments are not primarily the result of factors related to chronological age, gender, culture, ethnicity, or limited English proficiency.

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If you are a Master’s Level Speech-Language Pathologist seeking employment in an educational setting, investigate Volusia County Public Schools! Our Speech-Language Pathologists provide support to students ages 3 through 21 with a variety of communication disorders. We support ASHA’s position statement on the roles and responsibilities of school-based personnel. We provide training and mentoring in best practices in the field and advocate for a workload approach. Our team is supported by trained and certified SLP administrators. If you have never practiced in a school setting, are an experienced school SLP, or if you are in a Communication Disorders graduate program and would like information about employment opportunities with our speech-language program, let us help you get started!

​​Speech Impairment

Rule 6A-6.03012, F.A.C., specifies that a speech impairment interferes with communication, adversely affects a student’s performance and/or functioning in the educational environment, and results in the need for ESE. A speech impairment is not primarily the result of factors related to age, gender, culture, ethnicity, or limited English proficiency. Three types of speech impairment are a speech sound disorder, voice disorder, and fluency disorder:

Speech Sound Disorder (SSD) – A speech sound disorder is a phonological or articulation disorder that is evidenced by the atypical production of speech sounds characterized by substitutions, distortions, additions, or omissions that interfere with intelligibility. 

  • Phonological disorder – A phonological disorder is an impairment in the system of phonemes and phoneme patterns within the context of spoken language.
  • Articulation disorder – An articulation disorder is characterized by difficulty in the articulation of speech sounds that may be due to a motoric or structural problem.

A student in prekindergarten through grade twelve meets the eligibility criteria as a student with a speech sound disorder in need of ESE if all of the following criteria are met:

  • SSD has a significant impact on student’s intelligibility of speech. 
  • Student’s phonetic or phonemic inventory must be significantly below that expected for his or her chronological age or developmental level based on normative data.
  • SSD is not primarily the result of factors related to chronological age, gender, culture, ethnicity, or limited English proficiency.
  • SSD must have an adverse impact on student’s ability to perform and/or function in his or her typical learning environment.

Fluency Disorder – A fluency disorder is characterized by deviations in continuity, smoothness, rhythm, or effort in spoken communication.  

A student in prekindergarten through grade twelve meets the eligibility criteria as a student with a fluency disorder in need of ESE if all of the following criteria are met:

  • Significant and persistent dysfluent speech behaviors are evident; possibly accompanied by secondary behaviors, such as struggle or avoidance.
  • Fluency disorder must have an adverse impact on student’s ability to perform and/or function in his or her typical learning environment.

Voice Disorder – A voice disorder is characterized by the atypical production or absence of vocal quality, pitch, loudness, resonance, or duration of phonation.

A student in prekindergarten through grade twelve meets the eligibility criteria as a student with a voice disorder in need of ESE if all of the following criteria are met:

  • Significant and persistent atypical production of quality, pitch, loudness, resonance, or duration of phonation
  • Voice disorder that is not a direct result or symptom of a medical condition, unless the voice disorder has an adverse impact on the student’s ability to perform and/or function in his or her typical learning environment and is amenable to improvement with therapeutic intervention
  • Voice disorder must have an adverse impact on the student’s ability to perform and/or function in his or her typical learning environment

Language Impairments

Rule 6A-6.030121(1), F.A.C., specifies that a language impairment interferes with communication, adversely affects performance and/or functioning in the student’s typical learning environment, and results in the need for ESE. A language impairment is a disorder in one or more of the basic learning processes involved in understanding or in using spoken or written language. These include:

  • Phonology: the sound systems of a language and the linguistic conventions of a language that guide the sound selection and sound combinations used to convey meaning;
  • Morphology: the system that governs the internal structure of words and the construction of word forms;
  • Syntax: the system governing the order and combination of words to form sentences, and the relationships among the elements within a sentence;
  • Semantics: the system that governs the meanings of words and sentences; and
  • Pragmatics: the system that combines language components in functional and socially appropriate communication.

A language impairment may manifest in significant difficulties affecting listening comprehension, oral expression, social interaction, reading, writing, or spelling.

Eligibility criteria for the language impaired program for pre-kindergarten

A prekindergarten child is eligible as a child with a language impairment in need of ESE if all of the following criteria are met:

  • The impairment may manifest in significant difficulties affecting one or more of the following areas:
    • Listening comprehension
    • Oral expression
    • Social interaction
    • Emergent literacy skills (e.g., vocabulary development, phonological awareness, narrative concepts)
  • Observation(s) reveal significant language deficits that interfere with performance and/or functioning in the typical learning environment.
  • Test(s) reveal significant language deficits in one or more of the areas listed above.
  • Information gathered from stakeholders support the results of the standardized instruments and observations conducted.
  • The language impairment must have an adverse effect on the child’s ability to perform and/or function in the typical learning environment, thereby demonstrating the need for ESE.

Eligibility criteria for the language impaired program for a student in kindergarten through grade twelve

A K-12 student meets the eligibility criteria as a student with a language impairment in need of ESE if all of the following criteria are met:

  • Due to deficits in the student’s language skills, the student does not perform and/or function adequately for the student’s chronological age or meet grade-level standards in one or more of the following areas, when provided with learning experiences and instruction appropriate for the student’s chronological age or grade:
    • Oral expression
    • Listening comprehension
    • Social interaction
    • Written expression
    • Phonological processing
    • Reading comprehension
  • Due to deficits in the student’s language skills, the student does not make sufficient progress to meet chronological age or grade-level standards in one or more areas listed above when using a process based on the student’s response to scientific, research-based intervention.
  • Evidence of a language impairment is documented based on a comprehensive language evaluation. There must be documentation of all of the following:
    • Observations show evidence of significant language deficits that interfere with the student’s performance and/or functioning in the educational environment
    • Test results indicate a significant language deficit in one or more of the areas above
    • Information gathered from stakeholders support the results of the test(s) and observations conducted