Clinical Issues: Language Intervention Considerations for Children With Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities The ASHA Technical Report entitled Principles for Speech-Language Pathologists Serving Persons With Mental Retardation/Developmental Disabilities (MR/DD) and Guidelines document outline a number of principles that bear directly on language intervention issues for children with MR/DD (ASHA, 2005a, 2005b). This paper highlights a number of those principles and discusses their implications ... Clinical Issues
Clinical Issues  |   October 01, 2006
Clinical Issues: Language Intervention Considerations for Children With Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Howard Goldstein
    Department of Communication Disorders, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL
Article Information
Special Populations / Language Disorders / Clinical Issues
Clinical Issues   |   October 01, 2006
Clinical Issues: Language Intervention Considerations for Children With Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities
SIG 1 Perspectives on Language Learning and Education, October 2006, Vol. 13, 21-26. doi:10.1044/lle13.3.21
SIG 1 Perspectives on Language Learning and Education, October 2006, Vol. 13, 21-26. doi:10.1044/lle13.3.21
The ASHA Technical Report entitled Principles for Speech-Language Pathologists Serving Persons With Mental Retardation/Developmental Disabilities (MR/DD) and Guidelines document outline a number of principles that bear directly on language intervention issues for children with MR/DD (ASHA, 2005a, 2005b). This paper highlights a number of those principles and discusses their implications for providing intervention services to children with MR/DD.
Individuals with MR/DD of all ages are eligible for SLP services when enhancement of communication skills is needed to function effectively in their everyday lives, regardless of age or cognitive level relative to communication abilities.
Certainly, the central issue when considering language intervention for children with MR/DD is access and eligibility. As implied in this principle, eligibility for SLP intervention services has been a thorny issue. Historically, intervention services often have been denied based on arbitrary criteria such as age or cognitive level (National Joint Committee for the Communications Needs of Persons with Severe Disabilities, 2003a, 2003b; Whitney-Thomas, Timmons, Gilmore, & Thomas, 1999). “Cognitive referencing” is perhaps the most unfortunate myth that has operated in our field to deny potentially beneficial services. In many school districts today, SLPs are not allowed to include persons with mental retardation on their active caseloads if measured language skills are commensurate with measured cognitive level. As many as 31 state education departments require SLPs to consider a child’s IQ score as well as language performance in determining eligibility (Casby, 1992). This eligibility framework of “cognitive referencing” rests on the assumption that language skills cannot improve beyond cognitive ability.
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