The Use of Paraprofessionals in Speech and Language Programs

The use of support personnel in speech and language programs has expanded to allow SLPs to extend services (i.e., increase the frequency and intensity of services to students on the caseload), focus more on professional-level tasks, increase student access to speech and language programming, and achieve more efficient/effective use of time and resources.

The special education program aide license allows an individual to assist as a paraprofessional in a school-based speech and language program. Based on the provisions in Chapter PI 34, the duties of a paraprofessional in a speech and language program may include the following:

Speech and Language Service Delivery

  1. Providing direct support to students through the practice of individual education program (IEP) goals in the form of review and reinforcement after the skill has been introduced by the speech and language pathologist (SLP):
    • Time spent with the paraprofessional working on review and reinforcement is counted as speech and language service indicated in the child's IEP either as a special education service or as a related service.
    • The SLP must ensure that the activity is appropriate for a special education paraprofessional to implement. This will vary based on the paraprofessional’s skill level, the level of training provided, the model of service delivery, and needs of the caseload.
  2. Assisting the with the management of student behavior and social interactions:
    • Taking a challenging child out of a group for short periods to allow them to calm down.
    • Providing behavior cues to a child while the SLP leads a group lesson.
    • Role play a situation in a group.
    • Video tape a child’s interaction for later review.

Administrative Support

  1. Maintaining and programming equipment:
    • Program devices used by students on the caseload.
    • Make sure devices used by students on the caseload are operational.
    • Trouble shooting when device breaks down on child.
    • Responsible for charging a device.
    • Responsible to ensure batteries are charged or changed when appropriate.
    • Knows where to order or get new batteries/charger.
  2. Providing clerical support:
    • Take attendance and maintain attendance records.
    • Maintain speech and language records.
    • Clerical preparation of documents as directed by the SLP.
    • Generate worksheets or copies of material that will be used for each session.
    • Photocopying and laminating.
    • Put together home programs as directed by the SLP.

Other Duties

  1. Assisting in an array of non-instructional activities as assigned:
    • Make Therapy Materials as directed by the SLP.
    • Know how to run Board Maker Software.
      • Create various visual representation systems needed for therapy on the low technology to high technology continuum as directed by the SLP.
    • Assist in setting up learning environments.
    • Complete observations and collect data for the SLP.
      • SLP creates data collection tools and does analysis
    • Transcribe language samples

Resources

Additional information regarding the use of paraprofessionals can be found in Information Update Bulletin 10.05 Frequently Asked Questions About Special Education Paraprofessionals (http://sped.dpi.wi.gov/sped_bul10-05)

Several school districts employ paraprofessionals to provide support in their speech and language programs. The following videos provide additional technical assistance to local education agencies regarding the use of paraprofessionals from the Wheatland Center school district's speech and language program.

Panel Discussion Regarding the Use of Paraprofessionals in Speech and LanguageVideo file
Example of a Planning DiscussionVideo file
Session with ChildVideo file