Speech-Language Pathology & Audiological Services

An SLP shares and experience story with a young man who is deafblind.
An SLP shares and experience story with a young man who is deafblind.

Many children, in fact most children, with significant developmental delays will have challenges related to speech, language, and communication. Usually a speech-language pathologist and an audiologist will do an initial assessment to determine eligibility for services, but then what services can they provide? Using an Active Learning approach, not only can they provide valuable direct services to the child, but they can also help the classroom teacher and others incorporate practice of important skills into activities throughout the child’s day.

Audiological Services

According to the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) Audiologist do the following things:

… audiologists engage in professional practice in the areas of hearing and balance assessment, nonmedical treatment, and (re)habilitation. Audiologists provide patient-centered care in the prevention, identification, diagnosis, and evidence-based intervention and treatment of hearing, balance, and other related disorders for people of all ages. Hearing, balance, and other related disorders are complex, with medical, psychological, physical, social, educational, and employment implications. Treatment services require audiologists to know existing and emerging technologies, intervention strategies, and interpersonal skills to counsel and guide individuals and their family members through the (re)habilitative process. 

Scope of Practice in Audiology

ASHA Website

Often the audiologist provides their services outside of the school. They may fit a child with a hearing aid or cochlear implant, for example. They may also provide guidance to the team on auditory training and the implications of the hearing loss for learning. Children who are deafblind have some unique needs related to the use of their hearing and fitting of listening devices related to using environmental sounds for safe travel. Your entire team needs to be informed about the devices, how to check them to make sure they are functioning, and goals for learning to use these devices from the audiologist.

It is important to make sure the child is wearing their devices and that the devices are working properly before placing them in an Active Learning environment. If the child is just getting use to a device, they may only be able to tolerate the device for short periods of time initially, but as much as possible the devices should be worn at all times.

Learning to use these listening devices takes time, and providing interesting things for the child to listen to can be easily done in most Active Learning environments. It also allows the child to begin to make connections between what they are hearing and the objects that make the sound as the child bats and bangs or mouths the objects.

Speech-Language Pathologist

According to ASHA:

The speech-language pathologist (SLP) is defined as the professional who engages in professional practice in the areas of communication and swallowing across the life span. Communication and swallowing are broad terms encompassing many facets of function. Communication includes speech production and fluency, language, cognition, voice, resonance, and hearing. Swallowing includes all aspects of swallowing, including related feeding behaviors.

Scope of Practice in Speech-Language Pathology

American Speech and Hearing Association

Depending on your school district, your Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) may be able to support the team in assessment and planning related to swallow and feeding as well as communication. They may work in tandem with other team specialists such as the occupational therapist, teacher of students who are deaf and hard of hearing, teacher of students who are visually impaired, and the classroom teacher in the provision of their services. This is especially true when serving children with significant developmental disabilities.


Along with their usual assessment tools, the SPL may want to help the team in the completion of specific sections of the Functional Scheme. This might include:

      • Mouth movement
      • Auditory perception
      • Language: Non-verbal
      • Language: Verbal
      • Comprehension of language
      • Eating skills


The SPL may also be able to help the team think about what sounds the child can hear as they select materials to be used in various learning environments. In addition to any typical pullout therapies, helping to design activities that encourage vocal play, use of mouth, lips, and tongue, listening and imitating rhythms and pitch patterns with their voices (not only speech sounds). The SPL may also be a great resource in helping the child reflect on experiences through the creation of experience books, boxes, and bags, consult with the team on targeted and consistent language, and the use of object symbols, tactile symbols, gestures and cues.

Here are just a few examples of the types of Active Learning activities the SPL may want to do:

Exploration of Chimes with Mouth, Lips and Tongue

In the video below we see a young child exploring a chime using his lips and tongue. This is important for the development of skills related to speech, language concepts, and eating.

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Vocalizing Games

In this video we see a child playing vocalizing games with an adult.

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Rain Stick and Steel Drum

As this child plays with the rain sticks and steel drum, he is using his hearing to be able to differentiate sounds and associate a sound with an object.  In the second part of the video, notice how he compares the sound of dropping the beads in the steel drum versus the ping pong balls, and eventually puts the beads down to engage both hands in dropping ping pong balls in the steel drum.

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