Is Speech Therapy Considered Special Education?

Many people are not sure if speech therapy is considered to be special education. The answer is that it depends on the child’s individual needs.

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No, speech therapy is not considered to be special education. Speech therapy is a related service that is often provided to students who have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). However, speech therapy is not considered to be special education, and therefore does not require the same level of services or supports that special education does.

What is Speech Therapy?

Speech therapy is the treatment of communication disorders and/or swallowing disorders. Communication disorders include language delays and disorders, speech sound disorders (such as articulation and phonological disorders), stuttering, and voice disorders. Swallowing disorders include difficulty with chewing, coordinating breathing with eating, and ensuring food goes into the stomach instead of the lungs.

What is Special Education?

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) defines special education as “specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability.”

In order to receive special education services, a student must first be evaluated and found eligible for services by a team of professionals. Once eligibility is determined, the team creates an Individualized Education Program (IEP) which outlines the services that will be provided to the student.

Special education services can be provided in a variety of settings, including: general education classrooms, resource rooms, self-contained classrooms, and private schools. The least restrictive environment (LRE) is the setting in which a student receives specialized instruction and related services with students who do not have disabilities to the maximum extent appropriate.

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So, what about speech therapy? Is speech therapy considered special education? The answer is yes! Speech-language pathology services are considered special education services and are typically provided in one or more of the following settings: general education classroom, resource room, self-contained classroom, and/or private school.

Does Speech Therapy Fall Under Special Education?

There is often confusion around whether speech therapy falls under the umbrella of special education or not. The simple answer is that it depends. If a child has a speech impairment that affects their educational performance, then speech therapy would likely be considered special education. However, if a child has a speech impairment that does not affect their educational performance, then speech therapy would not be considered special education.


Based on the information above, it appears that speech therapy can be considered special education in some cases. If a child has a speech disorder that affects their ability to communicate and participate in school, they may be eligible for special education services. However, each child is unique and so it is important to discuss your child’s individual needs with their school to determine what services they may be eligible for.

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