My Department provides an extensive range of supports for pupils with Specific Speech and Language Disorder (SSLD) including provision for the establishment of special classes for Specific Speech and Language Disorder in primary schools. Speech and Language Therapy services are provided to these classes by the Health Service Executive (HSE).
The National Council for Special Education (NCSE), which is an independent statutory agency, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), is responsible for processing applications from schools for special educational needs supports, including the establishment of additional special classes in various geographical areas, where a need has been identified. The NCSE operates within the Department's criteria in allocating such support and applications meeting the criteria are approved by the NCSE. Applications meeting the criteria are approved by the NCSE.
The SENO for Moyderwell National School has confirmed that there is a special speech and language class attached to this school.
The criteria for specific speech and language disorder are set out in my Department in Circulars 08/99, 08/02 and 02/05 and these criteria are consistent with the recommendations in the Special Education Review Committee (SERC) Report. Appendix 1 of Circular 02/05 Organisation of Teaching Resources for Pupils who need additional Support in Mainstream Primary Schools states the following in relation to specific speech and language disorder:
Such pupils should meet each of the following criteria:
- The pupil has been assessed by a psychologist on a standardised test of intelligence that places non-verbal or performance ability within the average range or above.
- The pupil has been assessed by a speech therapist on a standardised test of language development that places performance in one or more of the main areas of speech and language development at two standard deviations or more below the mean, or at a generally equivalent level.
- The pupil’s difficulties are not attributable to hearing impairment; where the pupil is affected to some degree by hearing impairment, the hearing threshold for the speech-related frequencies should be 40Db;
- Emotional and behavioural disorders or a physical disability are not considered to be primary causes.
- Pupils with speech and language delays and difficulties are not to be considered under this category.
- In the case of specific speech and language disorder it is a pupil's non-verbal or performance ability that must be within the average range or above. (i.e. non-verbal or performance IQ of 90, or above).
- The pupil must also have been assessed by a speech and language therapist and found to be at two or more standard deviations (S.D.) below the mean, or at a generally equivalent level (i.e. - 2 S.D. or below, at or below a standard score of 70) in one or more of the main areas of speech and language development.
Two assessments, a psychological assessment and a speech and language assessment are necessary in this case.
The NCSE has stated that the student in question did not, at the time, have a speech and language disorder diagnosis. If this child’s diagnosis has changed to one of specific speech and language disorder and if the professional reports confirm same and recommend special class placement for the child, the child's parents can apply for a place in the Speech & Language class in this school for next September.