This is the district website resource for speech-language pathology at Reno High School and McQueen High School. This service is in place to help eligible students meet the challenges of functional communication tasks and linguistic demands in the school setting. It is usually part of a larger suite of specialized services provided to students who qualify for additional supports under federal special education law.
A speech-language pathologist (SLP) is responsible for designing and executing effective assessments, interventions, and consultative supports. We cover a diverse ground of concerns, including: misarticulation, stuttering, cognitive-linguistic impairments, language/literacy, social cognition, augmentative technologies, and more. We serve the students in their day-to-day high school struggles. We also serve them in anticipation of post-secondary struggles beyond high school: independent living, competitive/integrative employment, information literacy, relationship skills, and self-determination.
My name is Charles Francis and I serve both Reno High School and McQueen High School with nearly a decade of diverse experience in the secondary education setting. It is my goal to prepare a resource for you so that you can better understand my role and scope as a component of this specialized educational experience.
Thank you for visiting this site.
Students may need assistance with underlying skills that lead to big outcomes in high school. Communication happens across four different modes: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. These modes are integrated all throughout the academic content standards that inform classroom curriculum and instruction. If students experience difficulties in one or more of these modes, they may not be able to access what they need to succeed fairly and independently in school.
A speech-language pathologist can help. All of these modes are connected. Speaking is just as much about listening as it is about knowing what to say and how to say it. Writing effectively also demands all kinds of literacy skills from students, and that includes technological, cultural, and information literacy as well. Being able to navigate these four modes is what functional communication is all about. Speech-language pathologists are specially trained and highly experienced in developing supports and skill sets associated with functional communication.
This communication wouldn't serve much of a "function" if it didn't lead to some sort of desired outcome. Whether it's a matter of accessing classroom discourse, engaging with grade-level vocabulary, independently performing self-advocacy tasks, or working successfully with peers, our interventions should always be aimed toward some sort of concrete, visible, measurable result. It's easy to lose sight of this in the busy world of high school, but it's always important to remember that the goals we set up and the services we provide are leading to an important endpoint that serves the student's personal and academic interests.
Students build skills in modes of functional communication through the flexible enhancement of language processing. Learning any new skill or habit takes time, engagement, and personal investment. It is helpful for students to know WHY they are working with a speech-language pathologist. We can think of it like going to the dentist when you have a toothache: we are here to help solve an immediately apparent problem that requires specialized intervention to resolve. But we can also think of it like working over time with an athletics coach or music teacher: to master modes of communication through linguistic development, it takes patience and practice and perseverance amidst constant distraction.
Even what we think of "speech" is mostly just language, with the exception of certain structural or neuromotor problems in play. Our phonological processing skills work together with many other structures of the brain to come up with the microsecond muscular movements that form sounds, syllables, words, sentences, and beyond. Our morphological and syntactical skills kick in for both comprehension and expression, and it takes a lot of connections to prior knowledge and present pressures to arrive at fresh new learning. Our pragmatic language skills are responsible for decoding and encoding social information to others, which absolutely has a part to play with the four modes of functional communication. And so much of high school (and, really, life) depends on our semantic language skills, as the words that make up the building blocks of our shared reality must be mapped to memory and associations and higher-level, domain-specific connections.
Classroom teachers are content specialists. Their job is to convey complex concepts in their specific subjects to students. But what if a student has trouble accessing these concepts? Well, we then turn to support services. But special education teachers are ALSO content specialists! Their job is to scaffold and support the representation of those complex concepts in ways that are individualized to a student's need. But what if a student has trouble accessing these supports? Well, perhaps then we turn to highly-trained specialists, often deployed as "related services," to help build up the necessary skills to best access the supports -- and, eventually, ultimately, and inevitably, the complex concepts themselves.