Denying Lisp Services in the Schools

By Pam Marshalla

Q: My friend’s daughter has a lateral lisp and has been denied services in her school because “it does not affect her ability to learn the curriculum.”  I was alarmed and upset by this. Is it possible that certain school districts do not treat this?  What is your stance on this?

Unfortunately there now are many school districts that hold this policy. Frankly, it makes me sick. If I were a parent I would be screaming about this.

Sometimes a child can receive services in the schools if it can be shown that he is hard to understand, or if he is ashamed to speak up in class, or if he is being bullied because of it.  Some kids can get in because it is considered six distinct errors––Errors on S, Z, Sh, Zh, Ch, and J.  Sometimes a child’s vowels are slightly distorted, too, and this can help them get in.  Also, perhaps the parents could yell about how much time is being given to children with severe mental and physical handicaps who are learning hardly anything at all. They might talk about the unfairness of this, and how their tax dollars should go to help their children too.

This has to change!  Throughout the history of western civilization, the signs of an educated person have been: (1) the ability to read, (2) the ability to write, and (3) the ability to speak well.  I personally feel it is awful and ridiculous that we are letting go of this tradition.  Bright children with speech impairment have as much right to tax-supported speech services in the schools as do children with severe handicaps.

After so many years fighting to get speech services in the schools, Charles Van Riper and his peers must be rolling over in their graves.

4 thoughts on “Denying Lisp Services in the Schools”

  1. Love your site, Pam!

    Unfortunately the districts are following IDEA when they state the need for an ‘educational impact’ in order for the child to be eligible for speech services. I wish otherwise, but unfortunately it’s a tough battle we continue to fight. Usually, I make a case using the goal of communication competence, which is part of most curriculums I’ve encountered. But when the district digs in its legal heels, it is not so successful. We see a lot of these kids for our AIS (speech improvement) for as long as we can get away with it, but it really isn’t right. See below for the reference:
    Does the child meet the criteria associated with one of the disability categories established in the law (e.g., speech-language impairment) and does the child need special education and related services as a result of this disability? The definition of speech-language impairment highlights the importance of considering the child’s performance in school when making the decision about eligibility: “…speech-language impairment means a communication disorder, such as stuttering, impaired articulation, a language impairment, or a voice impairment, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance” (34 C.F.R. Section 300.8(c)(11)).

  2. Many districts are now requiring goals to be standards-based. It is fairly easy to connect a speech impairment with academic success if you cite the correct standard. Most districts have language arts standards that include an expressive language/spoken language standard. For example, “Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.” You can also define how the disability affects progress with a statement like, ” XX’s speech errors are inappropriate for his age and interfere with his ability to communicate effectively in the educational setting. Without intervention, these errors are likely to persist and have a negative impact on academic and/or social progress.”

  3. I had a lisp and was told as soon as I was accepted at Seton Hall University that I would have to take a non credit speech class to correct my impediment. While certainly a good school there are dozens of higher rated colleges which do not require their students to deal with this disability. One such senator has the initials “ M M”.

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