Private Speech Therapy vs School-Based Speech Therapy

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between private speech therapy and school based speech therapy?  Are you a professional or parent who questions why your student/child qualifies as a student with a speech delay but does not qualify under the “speech impaired” category at school?


As a speech language pathologist (SLP) who has worked in both the private setting and in the school setting, let me provide you with some clarity! No worries if you are confused, knowing the differences is the first step to understanding…


Private Speech Model

  • SLP evaluates and determines need/disability
  • SLP/SLP-Assistant delivers services depending upon need and parent availability
  • Speech services are recommended to support one or several of the following: functional communication, communication with parents and peers, communication within the child’s environment, academics…


School Speech Model:

  • The SLP evaluates and determines a disability
  • The SLP and IEP committee considers if the disability adversely affects education
  • The SLP/SLP Assistant delivers appropriate services to provide FAPE (Free Appropriate Public Education) while considering LRE (Least Restrictive Environment)
  • Speech services are recommended to support academics


In brief summary, in the private model the delay is treated to increase skills.  In the school model the delayed is only treated if the delay is directly impacting grades and academic performance.


While determining eligibility under the “speech impaired” category in the school, the SLP is required to consider the following:

  1. Is there a disability?
  2. Is there an adverse effect on educational performance (academic achievement and functional performance) resulting from the communication disorder?
  3. If so, are specifically designed instruction needed from the SLP to help the student make progress in the general education curriculum?


Therefore, yes, a student is able to be impaired in an area of speech and/or language and be considered for private speech therapy but not qualify for services in the school.  Understanding the school model and the private model can decrease frustration and increase knowledge when considering the child for speech services.   Recognize, know and respect the differences!  And if you have questions, ask… SLPs love to talk!


A.I.M. has a passion for the Educational Model; but recognizes the need for both models, and has experienced SLPs that provide evaluations and speech therapy under the name SPARK!  We “AIM” to bridge the gap!