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Club Staffing - December 2019

SLPs Collaborating on Literacy Disability Diagnoses: A Team Model

SLPs Collaborating on Literacy Disability Diagnoses: A Team Model
Penelope E. Webster, PhD, CCC-SLP
November 9, 2003
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Part TWO of TWO:
(Click here to review Part ONE of TWO)

Constitution of the Collaborative Diagnostic Team

Figure 1 illustrates the constitution of a collaborative diagnostic team for literacy disability diagnosis. While a team's membership may differ according to the setting in which it is employed, most teams should consist of four professionals in addition to the student's parents. Parents play an important role on the team because they are the source of developmental and medical history as well as current performance. In many cases, they are the original source of concern leading to a referral for a diagnostic evaluation.



Professional team members should include the student's classroom teacher, special educator, psychologist, and speech-language pathologist. The child's classroom teacher begins the process by supplying referral information to the team. She or he will move on and off the team, based on the students to be evaluated. In the case of middle and high school students, one teacher may represent others, or multiple teachers may participate directly. Ideally, classroom teachers will have undergone in-service education regarding language and literacy. Such training equips them with specific knowledge regarding the risk factors for literacy disability, so that a given student's current symptoms or behaviors may be placed within a meaningful context. The classroom teacher provides the team with critical information about the child's performance in the regular education curriculum, relying upon observational as well as objective data from classroom assignments. In addition, he or she provides the team with information about curricular expectations and teaching methodologies in that particular classroom.


Penelope E. Webster, PhD, CCC-SLP

Penelope E. Webster is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of New Hampshire. She holds a doctorate in applied psycholinguistics from Boston University, a master's degree in speech and language pathology from the State University of New York in Geneseo, and a bachelor's degree in speech and language pathology from Northeastern University.

Dr. Webster teaches courses in language acquisition and language disorders. She developed and teaches a course in language-based reading disabilities and one concerned with writing in children with language and learning disabilities. Her research has focused on the relationship between oral language and literacy. She recently completed a program of research investigating the relationship between early phonological development, phonological processing development, and literacy. Currently, she is researching the writing skills of children with language disorders. She is in the initial phase of a writing intervention project.

In addition to teaching and research, Dr. Webster engages in consultation to families and school districts throughout the region. Her consultation focuses on program development for children with language-based literacy disabilities. As part of this work, she regularly assists schools in the development and implementation of effective collaborative teams for the diagnosis and management of literacy disorders in children of school age.



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