Speech / Language Support

Welcome to the Altoona Area School District Website for speech therapy services.  We are delighted to have the opportunity to communicate with you through this website.  Our goal is to provide helpful information about the services offered by the AASD school-based speech/language pathologists.

School-based speech therapy services provide help to students with communication problems from grades K-12, in addition to providing services to students who are enrolled in either self-contained or inclusive special education programs.

AASD has licensed speech/language pathologists employed in school-based services (K-12).  Their role is to screen, evaluate, and provide therapeutic and consultative services to the students of the Altoona Area School District.  Below you will find the name of each school within the district.  Please call the school's main number to get in touch with the speech/language pathologist serving that particular school.

In addition to our school-based services, Altoona Area School District also provides preschool speech/language services.  For information on this program, please call the number for The Learning Express Preschool at W&J: (814) 946-8465.

Disorders & Definitions


  1. Articulation

    Articulation Disorders are difficulties with the way sounds are formed and strung together, usually characterized by substituting one sound for another, omitting a sound, or distorting a sound.  The main characteristics of the disorder are:

    • Omission - Sounds in words and sentences may be completely omitted.  i.e., "I go o coo o the bu." for "I go to school on the bus."

    • Substitutions - Children do not produce the sounds clearly or they replace one sound for another.  i.e., substitutes [w] for [l] or [r], or similar errors.  e.g., "wabbit" for "rabbit"

    • Distortions - An attempt is made at the correct sound, but it results in poor production.  i.e., a distorted [s] sound may be produced with the tongue thrusting between the teeth causing a frontal lisp or to the sides of the mouth causing lateral distortions of the sounds.

    • The most common errors are with the [s], [l], and [r] sounds. Many articulation errors are typical of pre-schoolers and children in kindergarten through second grade and are usually not cause for concern.  If the errors persist into the intermediate grade levels or if speech is very difficult to understand, an evaluation may be necessary.

  2. Language

    Language disorders are difficulties with the process of putting sentences together.   These can involve problems with semantics (meaning of words), syntax (the order and combination of words to form sentences), and morphology (grammatical word forms such as adding an -s for plurals, adding -ed for past tense, etc.)

  3. Fluency

    Fluency disorders are considered an interruption in the flow of speaking characterized by atypical rate, rhythm, and repetition of sounds, syllables, words, and phrases.  This may be accompanied by excessive tension, struggle behavior, and secondary mannerisms.

  4. Non-Verbal Speech Disorders

    Some children who are non-verbal or highly unintelligible may need a method other than speech to communicate.  Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is used to provide another method of communication or supplement existing verbal skills.  AAC can include things such as a communication notebook with pictures to indicate wants and needs, verbal output devices, and sign language.


Speech & Language Identification Process

The Altoona Area School District's school-age speech/language pathology identification process:

The Speech/Language Pathologist (SLP) screens students new to the building, students referred by teachers and students for whom a parent has a concern.
After the screening process, if it is determined your child may benefit from Speech/Language support services (SLS), the evaluation process begins. line
If your child has been identified for evaluation, here are some of the forms that will be sent home for you to review and sign.
  • Permission to Evaluate form
The parent/guardian must complete this form and return it to the SLP in order for the evaluation to take place.
  • Request for Parent Input
This form requests background information from the parent/guardian about the student participating in the evaluation.  This information is helpful to the SLP when completing the evaluation.
Once the Permission to Evaluate and the Parent Input Form are completed and returned to school, the evaluation is completed and the evaluation report is developed.  Once again, there will be some forms that will be sent home for you to review, sign, and return to the SLP.
  • Invitation to Participate
The parent/guardian is notified of a place, date, and time to attend a meeting to discuss the results of the Evaluation Report and the Individualized Education Program (IEP) for speech/language support services if needed.

During the meeting, the following forms and terms may be discussed:
  • Notice of Recommended Educational Placement
The parent/guardian will give permission for speech/language support services by signing this form.
  • Services
Speech/language support services begin within 14 days of parent/guardian approval with the Notice of Recommended Educational Placement.  The services are typically provided in an individual or small group setting in the speech room within the school.  Sometimes services will be provided within the classroom setting.
  • Consultation
Consultation with school staff will provide these individuals with information and strategies for assisting students with speech/language concerns. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. I think my child may have a speech problem.  What do I do?
    • Your first step is to contact the speech/language pathologist (SLP) at your child's school.  The names and contact information for each SLP are on the main page of this website.

  2. If my child qualifies for speech/language support services, when will he/she be seen?
    • The SLP collaborates with the classroom teacher and takes into consideration the classroom schedule in order to determine an appropriate time for therapy.

  3. How long will my child be enrolled in speech/language support?
    • The length of time for speech therapy enrollment is dependent upon a number of factors including the child's individual progress.

  4. Is there anything that I should be doing at home while my child receives speech therapy?
    • Your child's SLP will have suggestions and strategies specific to your child's individual speech needs.  Contact your child's SLP at school for further information.

  5. What is the difference between "speech" and "language"?
    • "Speech" is the physical movements of the lips, tongue, lungs, and vocal cords to produce words.  "Language" is the "words-in-our-heads".  We use language to express ourselves through speech, writing, singing, or signing.  We understand language when we listen, read, or watch someone sign.

  6. How does language develop?
    • Babies communicate without using words from the time they are born.  Formal language development begins when a baby first recognizes words and then begins to use them.  Most babies recognize their own names by about 8 months and begin to use a few words by one year of age.  Understanding words and sentences is called "receptive language."  Using words and sentences is called "expressive language."  Receptive language usually develops more quickly than expressive language.

  7. What is the sequence of normal language development?





18 months

 Able to use 10 to 20 words; understands considerably more.



2 years

 Understands about 200 words; produces 2-word phrases.



2-1/2 years

Understands about 300 words; primarily nouns and verbs.



3 years

Understands about 900 words; average sentence length: 3 words.



4 year

Understands and uses 900 to 1500 words.  
Should be nearly 100% understandable.
Uses grammatically accurate compound and complex sentences.