School Visits

School Visits

Introduction

Northside Speech provides a clinical speech pathology service: we diagnose communication difficulties, and implement evidence-based treatments for these difficulties.

Just as the causes of communication difficulties can vary, the types of treatments that work for these difficulties also vary. Just as a GP could not prescribe antibiotics to treat every type of illness, or a physiotherapist could not recommend neck stretches to treat every type of injury, the treatment for the communication difficulty needs to be specific to the type of difficulty and your goals for treatment.

Some types of treatments can be effectively implemented via school visits while others cannot. There is a broad body of speech pathology research, as well as our own clinical experience, that informs what is likely to be effective in a given case.

How do you decide who is offered school visits?

When recommending treatment options, we consider:

  • The type of communication difficulty
  • Your goals (what you want to achieve from treatment)
  • The types of treatments available to meet those goals, for a child with that type of difficulty

As these factors are individual to each child’s situation and support needs, we are unable to offer blanket statements about who is likely to be eligible, or to offer advice without understanding your child’s individual needs.

You may know of other families who receive services via school visits, or you may have received services via school visits from another service in the past. These factors do not guarantee that school visits are likely to be effective or appropriate for your child in meeting your current goals, and do not guarantee that we will offer school visits.

The fact that school visits are most convenient for your family, or that your child is busy with extracurricular activities after school is understandable, but has no bearing on whether it is possible for your child’s goals to be met by appointments delivered at school.

When will school visits be offered?

We are happy to offer school visits as a component of our service when:

  • Your child has a clinical need for the service.
  • Your goals are likely to be met through a treatment that can be delivered effectively via school visits.
  • The school is welcoming of the arrangement, and is able to provide the necessary allowances for the treatment to be delivered effectively at school.

Types of school visits

Broadly speaking, there are two types of school visit services provided by speech pathologists:

  • pull-out services: the child is taken out of class, to work individually with the speech pathologist, and
  • push-in services: the speech pathologist works with the child, within the usual class environment

The types of treatments that can be implemented effectively via pull-out services are very different from the types of treatments that can be implemented effectively via push-in services. Treatments are not interchangeable between the two types of services, and each have very different requirements.

Many schools have a preference as to the type of services provided, and some schools have policies that therapist visits must conform to one model or another. Schools’ policies around therapist visits are informed by teacher and staff expectations and experiences of speech pathology services, logistical concerns (such as staffing and space availability), ideologies and philosophical frameworks, and policies that protect staff and student wellbeing.

When recommending treatment options, speech pathologists consider:

  • The type of communication difficulty
  • Your goals (what you want to achieve from treatment)
  • The types of treatments available to meet those goals, for a child with that type of difficulty

Just as some types of treatments are able to be effectively implemented via school visits while others are not, some types of treatments are able to be effectively implemented by pull-out services, while others are not, and vice versa.

This means that there are occasions where one type of school visit may be appropriate for a child’s communication difficulties and your goals, but this type of treatment may not be able to be delivered in a particular school environment. In some cases, an alternative treatment that is likely to meet your goals may be available, but in other cases an alternative treatment that matches the school’s preferred model is not available.

If we do not believe that your child’s communication difficulty can be effectively treated via school visits (i.e. that you would continue to pay for appointments but there would be no results), working within the requirements of the school, we will not offer school visits.

When will school visits not be offered?

At Northside Speech, we only offer school visits to implement treatments that can be effectively delivered in this way. If we do not believe that your child’s communication difficulty can be effectively treated via school visits (i.e. that you would continue to pay for appointments but there would be no results), we will not offer school visits.

Some types of treatment:

  • Require daily practice in order to reverse old habits and form new habits. When these types of treatments are only practiced once per week, when the speech pathologist visits the school, there is not enough practice to reverse the old habit, and so there are no results, despite paying for appointments.
  • Require support from multiple adults or across multiple settings to be effective. When these types of treatments are only practiced when the speech pathologist visits the school, children typically learn how to perform the skill exceptionally well during the appointment, but are unable to perform the skill as soon as the speech pathologist leaves, meaning there are no results, despite paying for appointments.
  • May have other types of restrictions in schools. For example, some schools may have additional policies (such as restrictions on therapist visits) that may prevent a treatment from being effectively implemented.

While we understand that families are busy, with many important priorities, and that school visits can be a convenient way to try ensure a child attends their appointments and to try to maximise therapist-teacher collaboration, it is our firm policy to only offer services which we have reason to believe will lead to improved outcomes and will benefit the participant.

What can we do if school visits are not offered?

Starting school is a big transition for families, especially for families of children with support needs. Here are some options that have worked for other families at this stage, when the child’s therapy needs can’t be met through school visits:

  • Consider an early morning appointment (drop your child to school a little late) or an early afternoon appointment (pick your child up from school a little early) once per fortnight. Teachers and schools understand that this helps meet your child’s needs, and it causes minimal disruption to the school day.
  • Consider focusing on therapy for a ‘block’ (e.g. a term) at a time, working hard during this time, and then taking an intentional break to focus on other priorities (e.g. sport, music, play). Most therapies require home practice to work well, and families get better results (and are less likely to burn out) when they focus on the therapy and complete the home practice for a set period, and research shows that breaks help children to consolidate their newly learned skills.
  • Consider after-school appointments. Some children can be too tired from the school day to benefit from after-school appointments, but for others it can work well. Most therapists do have longer wait times for after-school appointments.

Don't some jurisdictions have speech pathologists who just work in schools? What do they do?

When speech pathologists are employed by the school, the services that can be provided are governed by specific policies of the school and the education department. Just as Medicare-rebated speech pathology services and NDIS-funded speech pathology services each have certain requirements and restrictions on what can be funded, school speech pathology services are also subject to a different set of requirements and restrictions, meaning different types of services are funded or not funded. These policy requirements and restrictions are important to ensuring responsible use of government funding, as well as ethical service provision and ensuring the treatments provided by each service are likely to be effective and lead to positive outcomes for students.

Privately engaged speech pathologists for individual students (including those funded by the NDIS) provide a different set of services from those provided by speech pathologists employed by a school. They are able to implement a different set of treatments from speech pathologists who work in a school, as part of the school’s staff team. Speech pathologists employed by a school have a different set of responsibilities, as well as different opportunities, from an external, privately-engaged speech pathologist.

Meetings and provision of clinical advice to school staff

We are always happy to schedule meetings with teachers or other school staff who have concerns or questions around supporting a student with communication difficulties.

These meetings are ad hoc, and are typically scheduled after a teacher identifies concerns. They do not recur on a regular basis, and are considered separate from the ‘School Visits’ discussed elsewhere on this page.

They are included as one component of our clinical speech pathology service to the families we work with, and are subject to usual fees as outlined in our Fee Schedule.

Meetings may occur on school campus, or via telehealth.

Scroll to top