By Barbara A. Samfield, MA-CCC/SLP

Does your child need speech therapy, or is he already receiving school or ECI services? Are you wondering if private speech therapy is an option? Did you know you can do both?

Speech therapy is available in many locations, including public schools and private clinics. Many children receive both services. When combined, they can result in optimal progress and outcomes. Private speech during the summer can be especially helpful for carryover and maximizing gains.

Both school and private speech offer unique benefits. School speech is provided mostly in small groups, whereas private speech is usually individual. Although school therapists work with many students and address each child’s goals, children in groups may benefit from peer social interaction. Privately, children have focused opportunities to work on their individual speech goals.

For school age children 3 to 21 years, speech therapy in the public school must meet district eligibility guidelines and show educational need for services. If a child does not meet school criteria, but meets clinical or medical criteria for speech in a healthcare setting, then private speech is still an option.

For children birth to 3 years, speech therapy is available through many providers including early childhood intervention (ECI) and private speech. ECI services may be in the home or daycare, whereas private speech will be in a clinic or office setting. ECI may be consultative or therapy based. Private speech will be therapy based. Eligibility for ECI services must meet medical and state/federal criteria.

Eligibility for private speech is based on medical necessity if health plan coverage is utilized, or may also meet client needs that are outside of medical criteria if privately funded or not covered under a health plan.

School services are funded through school tax dollars. ECI services are funded through state and federal taxes, private insurance, and/or family contributions. Private speech can be affordable through a family’s health plan coverage, employer sponsored health savings or flexible spending accounts, and/or family contributions.

When your child needs speech therapy, consider both school and private speech. Together, they are an investment in your child’s future because communication is for life. Why not have the best of both worlds.

Barbara Samfield is owner of the Speech and Language Center at Stone Oak , a private practice of speech-language pathologists in the Stone Oak area. Clients are seen individually by appointment, with evening hours available. Many health plans have speech benefits. To find out about your health plan, or for more information about the Speech and Language Center at Stone Oak, call 210-495-9944.

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