speech referral process

The Speech Referral Process has a huge impact on the work we do. It influences how many children we see, how big our caseloads are, and how enjoyable our interactions are with teachers and other campus professionals.  We have had a huge surge in the number of people downloading our free referral documents and the number of questions people email to us on this topic.

I reached out to fellow speech-language pathologists throughout the United States and beyond.  SLPs all over the country,  and even those working abroad for the Department of Defense, said they wanted to improve how they handle referrals. But when I asked about what paperwork they were using or about their process, it was like Scott trying to talk to his dad, Dr. Evil.

The truth is, no one actually wanted to talk about the speech referral process itself. Most of us feel completely dis-empowered from making the monumental changes needed to improve it.

speech referral process

Instead, people shared that there are three other areas that they cared about the most. Luckily, if we focus on these 3 areas, great change can happen.

Interactions with Teachers in the Speech Referral Process

The one thing that is the most frustrating part of the referral process is that we are not able to support our teachers well. They ask for help and sometimes we KNOW that a student will benefit from services. Yet, we can’t work with the student directly or move her through the process fast enough.

This is despite the fact that research shows that teachers feel low confidence in identifying children who have communication difficulties, and at the same time have a high desire to learn how to do it.  Our free online speech referral process forms are designed to support you.

speech referral processData Collection in the Speech Referral Process

Secondly, SLPs shared that tracking students as they move through the referral process has become a nightmare. Processes typically describe one student as he passes through the system. But what about 2 or 5 or 10!?
We use a simple Speech and Language Referral Student Spreadsheet that dovetails nicely with the speech referral process forms to keep track of students.


Lastly, we have difficulty moving kids onto our caseload because our caseload is already really full, Yet, we can’t turn them away. Know that if we apply the same process that improves our referrals in the school, to our caseload, we can reduce our numbers. Here is what it looks like:

speech referral process

Identify the students that have the greatest chance of being dismissed.


speech referral process

Gather informal data that you will need for progress notes anyways.
We have students tell a story using a wordless picture book.

Then, analyze it using the Assessment of Fictional Narratives our free resource library. And then request formal testing if they are looking like they are within normal limits.

speech referral process

If you want more information on how to maintain great teacher interactions and improve data, check out this online course: Mastering the Referral Process. 
There is even an added bonus section which will help you apply the same process to your caseload to increase dismissals.

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