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Can Homeschoolers get Speech Therapy Services?

Homeschool student with parent

During the last school year (2021-2022), there were an estimated 3.135 million homeschooled children in the United States.

Statistics have shown there has been a significant surge in homeschooling compared to pre-pandemic numbers. In fact, during the 2020-2021 school year, the percentage of children in the U.S. who were homeschooled more than doubled.

Since 1 in 12 children in the U.S. has a disorder related to voice, speech, language, or swallowing, many school-aged children can benefit from receiving Speech Therapy.

How children who are enrolled in public school, private school, or are homeschooled receive services might look a little different.

Qualifying children enrolled in a Public School are legally required to have access to Speech Therapy, according to the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). This starts with the development of an IEP (an Individualized Education Plan).

Following a diagnostic assessment through the school system, the IEP outlines the details of surrounding special education services that the student will receive. From there, the student attends a recommended frequency of Speech Therapy sessions each week while at school.

But what about homeschoolers…are they eligible for Speech Therapy services?

Yes, they are!

However, where and how parents access services for homeschoolers can look a little different than it does for children enrolled in public schools.

So, it’s important for homeschooling parents to stay savvy on how to navigate things in order for their children to receive the services they may need.

Services Through the School System…Sometimes

As a homeschooling parent or caregiver, you may have noticed some areas of your child’s speech, language or learning skills that raise a red flag.

Here are a few common speech and language disorders:

  • Speech Disorders (not saying words clearly, stuttering)
  • Expressive Language Disorders (trouble with areas like vocabulary, forming sentences, grammar)
  • Receptive Language Disorders (difficulty with comprehension & understanding, answering questions, following directions)
    Language Based
  • Learning Disability (Dyslexia)
  • Pragmatic Language Skills (using language appropriately within social situations)
If you do have concerns in any of these areas, you might have wondered if your homeschooled child can receive Speech Therapy services through the public school system.

The answer? Sometimes. It depends on the laws for the state you live in.

Some states have funds specifically set aside for special education services that are available for children enrolled in Private Schools only. Certain states consider homeschooled children to be in “Private Schools”, which qualifies them for these services.

Some other states have a budget set aside for homeschooled children.
It’s all definitely not clear-cut.

The best place to start is by going to the website for the Home School Legal Defense Association (HLDA). Here, you can search for special education provisions in your state of residence.

In Florida, for example, a homeschooled student can receive an evaluation by a Speech-Language Pathologist through the school district. However, if the child is tested and is determined to be eligible for services, the state isn’t legally required to provide them to the child.

Overall factors to consider when seeking special education services (such as Speech Therapy) through the Public School District for your homeschooled child:

  • Services are not always available for homeschooled students.
  • The amount of weekly minutes of services may not be the same as those provided to students enrolled in public school.
  • To qualify for services through the public school system, children must demonstrate deficits that impact their educational performance. Therefore, not all diagnoses & disorders will qualify a child to receive Speech Therapy through the school district.
  • The IEP and services the child receives will become a part of the child’s permanent academic record.

Private Speech Therapy Services

If you homeschool your child and are seeking Speech Therapy, he or she can receive services through a private provider.

Private practices and local outpatient hospital clinics have Speech-Language Pathologists who can start by completing an evaluation with your child.
During this initial evaluation, the Speech Therapist will determine if your child is having any difficulties that indicate the need for Speech Therapy. If so, therapy may be recommended weekly, and services are often covered by insurance.
When homeschooled children receive Speech Therapy through a private practice, they can go in person to a therapy office. Or, a convenient and effective alternative is for the student to receive therapy virtually, through teletherapy.

Advantages of Teletherapy for Homeschoolers

Teletherapy refers to therapy services that are offered through a private and secured connection online.

Speech Therapy via teletherapy is an option to children who are homeschooled that offers several benefits:
  • Convenience. Therapy can be scheduled during the child’s school day at home at a time that works best for the parent and child. Less time and interruptions are taken out of the day because with teletherapy, travel time isn’t required.
  • Reduced costs. Families can save money on travel-related expenses or time off from work that might be needed to drive children to and from therapy appointments.
  • Consistency. A child might attend therapy sessions more consistently via teletherapy. In person sessions can mean cancellations due to traffic, schedule conflicts, or illnesses. The child might not be feeling 100% for going into a therapy office, but might still be up for attending the session virtually.
  • Effectiveness. Recent research and statistics support that Speech Therapy via teletherapy is just as effective as in-person services.

Concerned with your Child’s Speech & Language Skills? Try these activities!

In Speech Therapy, your therapist will help outline specific goals for your child and recommend strategies for improving these areas. Here are a few activities that can help boost your child’s speech and language skills!

The Concern: Speech is difficult to understand.

What to Try: Check norms to see what sound to start working on depending on your child’s age. Show and explain to your child how your mouth moves when you make the sound. Start by seeing if your child can make the sound by itself, then slowly work up to asking him or her to make the sound in a word.

The Concern: My child has trouble comprehending directions or answering questions after listening to a story.

What to Try: Go over some specific listening comprehension strategies. Teaching your child things like asking for repetition, listening for key/important words, and repeating information in their head can improve their comprehension skills.

The Concern: Grammar skills seem delayed.

What to Try: Again, start by checking developmental norms. Look at your child’s age and what grammatical markers they should have mastered by now. If there’s one they seem to struggle with, work on that one specifically during the school day and daily routines. For example, if your 7 year-old has trouble using irregular past tense verbs, ask him or her to describe what they did at the end of the day. Talk about how certain words change when they’re in the past, like “eat” and “ate” or “go” and “went”. Consider making a word list as a reminder!

Additional Resources

School-aged children may have difficulty with articulating certain speech sounds, answering questions, comprehending information, or stuttering.

If you have concerns about your child’s speech or language skills, he or she may benefit from specialized services from a Speech-Language Pathologist. A Speech Therapy evaluation can help determine what difficulties your child is having. Ongoing individualized therapy can include techniques and activities to help improve these areas.

TherapyWorks offers Speech Therapy, Occupational and Physical Therapy both in person and through teletherapy. If you would like to learn more, or discuss your child’s specific needs, please don’t hesitate to reach out to TherapyWorks!

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