SpeEch and language support

colonial intermediate unit 20

The Speech and Language Support program provides individualized services and support for school-age children diagnosed with a speech and language impairment. According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 2004, a speech and language impairment is defined as a communication disorder that adversely impacts a student's ability to participate and progress in the general education curriculum. These impairments may be in the areas of articulation, receptive or expressive language, voice, stuttering, or social skills.

CIU 20 speech-language therapists provide screenings to identify students in need of further speech and language evaluation. They complete comprehensive diagnostic evaluations and develop appropriate individualized programs to improve students’ communication skills. They provide direct instruction to students and/or consult with other persons involved with the student including but not limited to: family members, classroom teachers and staff, related service providers (such as occupational therapists, physical therapists, etc.), school psychologists, and behavioral specialists. CIU 20 speech-language therapists work with students in both regular education and special education classrooms.

Speech-language therapists working with students in CIU 20 operated special education classrooms, such as Autistic Support, Physical Support, and Multiple Disabilities Support, participate in a Transdisciplinary Model. Within a Transdisciplinary Model, all goals related to communication skills are integrated into the daily routines and instruction for each student across staff members and environments. This provides opportunities for natural environment teaching and for students to generalize their communication skills across different places and people.


CIU 20 speech-language therapists are trained in an extensive repertoire of instructional strategies. These strategies include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Functional Communication: Functional communication refers to a student’s ability to express his/her needs, wants, feelings, and preferences in a way that others can understand. When students learn functional communication skills, they are able to express themselves without resorting to challenging behavior or experiencing breakdowns in communication.
  • Core Vocabulary: Core vocabulary refers to the small set of words (approximately 350 - 400 words) that make up approximately 80% of what we say on a daily basis. By teaching these universal and powerful words, we allow students to become more efficient and effective communicators.
  • Aided Language Stimulation: Aided language stimulation (ALgS) is a communication strategy that is used with students who have Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) systems. In this strategy, the communication partner selects vocabulary on the AAC system while speaking the message at the same time. This strategy helps to teach icon comprehension/expression and how to build vocabulary and sentence structure.
  • Communication Prompt Hierarchy and Response Strategies: The communication prompt hierarchy refers to the amount of help that we give a student to use functional communication. By following a hierarchy of structured prompts, we allow our students to become more independent communicators.
  • Natural Environment Teaching: A method of generalizing a student’s skills to the natural environment. This approach takes advantage of all communicative opportunities throughout a student's day. The environment is manipulated so that the student’s responses are related to something that is valuable to the student and the natural setting is used to promote relevance and generalization of those responses.
  • Communication Temptation/Sabotage: When using communication temptation and sabotage, we are setting up the student’s environment to elicit language. A student is much more likely to communicate if there is a motivating reason to do so.
  • Expansion: Elaborate on the student's utterance by responding with grammatically correct version while adding grammatical markers and semantic details.
  • Extension: Comments that add some semantic information to a remark made by the student.
  • Recast: Expand the student's remark into a different type or more elaborated sentence.
  • Forward/Backward Chaining: Skills are broken down into smaller units and taught step-by-step in a specific sequence in which the completion of each response provides a cue to engage in the next response in either a forward or backward succession.
  • Errorless Learning & Error Correction: Errorless learning is used when teaching a new skill to a student. When using this strategy, models are given immediately following an instruction to prevent any chance of an incorrect response. These prompts are then systematically faded until the student responds independently. Error correction is used when a student makes a mistake on a previously known skill or when we fade prompts too quickly on a new target.

Additional Services Provided

  • Auditory Processing Disorder Screenings: The American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) defines auditory processing as the effectiveness and efficiency with which the central nervous system processes information that is heard. An auditory processing disorder is a difficulty with the central nervous system's ability to process auditory information that is not due to a hearing loss, language impairment, or cognitive impairment. CIU 20 speech-language therapists provide auditory processing screenings to identify students who may be in need of an auditory processing evaluation conducted by an educational audiologist.
  • Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC) Process: CIU 20 speech-language therapists may complete AAC Processes for students who have significant expressive communication difficulties. This process determines if a student needs an AAC system, and if so, what system is the most appropriate to allow him or her to communicate with others. Visit the AAC section of the Parent Corner for more information on the AAC Process.

Please visit the Parent corner in the navigation bar for more information, Videos, and activities to support your child