Speech Impairment Attorneys in Los Angeles
Advocating for Students With Speech Impairments
A stutter, articulation disorder, or other speech impairment can impact a child’s ability to grow and learn. Students with speech impairments have difficulties socializing, performing well in class presentations, and explaining their needs to teachers and administrators. To help all students have access to a free appropriate public education (FAPE), school districts should provide individual education programs (IEPs) to eligible students, which can include students with speech impairments.
If you are facing difficulties accessing the supports and services your child needs to succeed in school, reach out to our team of special education lawyers at Woodsmall Law Group. We serve the San Gabriel Valley and eastern Los Angeles, and provide free consultations to all parents who need representation in IEP disputes and can walk you through the process of getting a free appropriate public education for your child. To discuss your case today, call us at (626) 440-0028.
What Is a Speech Impairment?
A speech impairment is a condition that limits a person’s ability to speak and articulate. Stuttering is the most well-known speech impairment, but they can include omitting certain sounds, difficulties understanding directions, or trouble speaking in social settings. These disorders can occur for several reasons, ranging from mental health conditions to brain functions to the physical structure of the face, but the end result is that the child has difficulties speaking.
Speech impairments come in four major forms, which include:
- Articulation: A child has difficulties articulating or producing certain sounds.
- Fluency: A child’s flow of speech is disrupted, leading to him/her repeating, avoiding, or prologuing certain words or sounds.
- Voice: A child has an abnormal pitch to his/her voice, either speaking too loudly or softly.
- Language: A child has difficulties expressing certain needs, information, or concepts in ways others understand, or has difficulties understanding others.
The most common types of speech impairments include:
- Child apraxia of speech
- Orofacial myofunctional disorder
- Articulation disorder
- Receptive disorder
- Resonance disorder
- Selective mutism
What Services and Supports Is My Child Eligible For?
Speech impairments may be treated in regular sessions with speech language pathologists, which may include a group setting or private sessions to help a child with her condition. Alongside speech therapy, your child may have access to assistive technology or alternative class settings.
Treatment for speech impairments should be provided through an IEP or 504 plan. Both of these educational programs are designed to help children with disabilities receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE), but apply to different conditions. IEPs have stricter requirements and are designed to assist students who are adversely affected by speech impairments, meaning they may not be able to receive an education without an IEP. In contrast, 504 plans apply to a broader array of disabilities and only provide accommodations to ensure a child has access to the same opportunities as other students.
According to the Individuals With Disabilities Act (IDEA), students with speech impairments are eligible for IEPs. If a school district determines that your child has a speech impairment and would benefit from an IEP, then an IEP document will be drafted to explain your child’s condition and what services or supports he will need. An IEP team will also be formed to evaluate your child’s progress and advocate for his education. As a part of this team, you have a right to represent your child and can request specific supports and services your child may need.
Does My Child Have a Speech Impairment?
School districts are responsible for evaluating the needs and capabilities of each student, which includes testing to see if a student requires special education services. Administrators, counselors, and teachers should keep a watchful eye out for any limitations a child may face. Oftentimes, teachers are the first to notice that a child has a speech impairment and may request an evaluation to confirm the child has a disability.
School districts must provide evaluations for disabilities and special needs at no added cost to parents. If a teacher or administrator believes your child has a speech impairment and asks you about scheduling an evaluation, remember that the process is entirely free. You may also request an evaluation.
Once the evaluation is complete, the report may show that your child has a speech impairment and is eligible for special needs supports and services through an IEP. If you disagree with the findings in the report, you have the right to request an independent education evaluation (IEE) for no added cost from the school district. The school district must provide at least one IEE per disputed evaluation at a parent’s request.
Resolving Disputes With School Districts
While IEPs are meant to help children receive the supports and services they need in school, parents still face disagreements when working with school districts. Whether due to a limited budget or other reasons, a school district may try to limit your child’s access to certain supports and services. While this is never an excuse, it is common for parents to face uphill battles in getting their child the aid he or she needs.
But there is a proper way to deal with IEP conflicts. School districts and parents are expected to work together to resolve all matters before moving into litigation. Many issues can be solved with mediation, which involves sitting down with an independent third party who will work with both sides to come to an agreement. If mediation does not resolve the issue, the parents can file for due process. Due process involves a legal hearing between the school district and the parent where a judge will determine how the matter will be handled.
For both due process and mediation, it is important for parents to work closely with a skilled Los Angeles special education attorney. At Woodsmall Law Group, our legal team has years of experience advocating for children with speech impairments in IEP disputes. We understand how difficult this process is for your family, which is why we do not charge anything for the first time you sit down with us to talk about your case. We can explain your child’s rights, outline how to get the supports and services your child needs, and advocate for your family in a due process hearing.
Do not let a school district limit your child’s access to an education. Call us at (626) 440-0028 to get a free consultation and learn about your rights.