An Interview with Judy Rudebusch and JoAnn Wiechmann: Language Lab RTI

Feb 6, 2012 by

Michael F. Shaughnessy –

1)      I understand that you have a program for children with speech or language disorders or delays or both. Can you describe the program and possibly clarify for me?

Super Duper, Inc. has a very popular and effective program called ARtIC Lab which is a program designed for children struggling to produce certain speech sounds correctly. The premise of this program is that children who can learn to quickly produce error sounds correctly and then engage in mass practice of correct production will not need referral to special education. So, the goal through RTI is to prevent referral and placement in special education services when the child responds to this intervention.

Language Lab is a companion product and is a new release from Super Duper, Inc. The goal of Language Lab is to provide language intervention to determine if a child’s language deficits can be managed without referral to special education. Language Lab is designed to allow the child to practice language skills and then work with the speech-language pathologist to use the target skills in connected speech through oral narratives. Children learn story grammar components and work on retelling stories and creating their own stories, all the while using the target language skills. Language Lab includes a language screening test to identify target skills expected for the child’s grade level.

2)      Who would be able to administer this program? Parents? Teachers? Educational Assistants?

The program is designed for Speech-Language Pathologists primarily; however, it could be implemented by classroom or specialized teachers and/or assistants. The Speech-Language Pathologist should collaborate with those who implement the program.

There is a homework component that encourages parent involvement in the child’s work on grammar and the language skills needed to tell great stories.

3)      What is the exact name of the program?

Language Lab: Response to Intervention Program for Teaching Grammar, Vocabulary, and Storytelling. More commonly referred to as Language Lab.

4)      Approximately how long would it take to administer?

The program is designed for implementation 2-3 times a week in 30 minute sessions. The program lasts approximately 15 hours.

5)      Most people familiar with RTI are concerned about treatment integrity and Treatment fidelity. Can you discuss your program in that light?

Language Lab is based on the premise that oral narratives serve as the bridge between oral conversational language and the more formal literate language used by teachers and in textbooks. Children need strong language learning systems in order to do well in school with literacy tasks. Language Lab is designed to allow for quick practice of target skills to build automaticity, and then use of the target language skills in connected speech while improving oral narrative skills. The treatment fidelity is in place when the child has the opportunity to practice target skills and use target skills while working on oral narratives in every session.

6)      Many teachers I know complain about student absences. When a student in chronically absent- how can SLPs implement this program with integrity and fidelity?

When a student is chronically absent, the SLP’s best course of action is to participate with others at the school in addressing the absenteeism. Making up core instruction in the classroom becomes the priority along with addressing the core social-emotional-behavioral issues related to the absenteeism. Language Lab cannot be implemented with fidelity if the student is absent most of the time. It is best to discontinue the Tier 2 intervention and address the core issues.

7)      Does your program address expressive and receptive language delays or disorders?

This program addresses language delays in the development of grammar skills and oral narrative skills. The focus is on the development of oral narrative skills while targeting specific language skill deficits for each student (noun phrases, verb phrases, connecting words/conjunctions). It is designed for children with language delays in a Response to Intervention Framework. As such, we do not have treatment effectiveness data for children with language disorders.

8)      Please tell us about the age range for which this program is applicable.

The program is designed for students Kindergarten through 4th grade.

9)      Where can SLPs and other professionals learn more about this program?

The program is published by Super Duper, Inc. There is information available at www.superduperinc.com. The authors are also available for assistance via email.

10)   Would a school psychologist or diagnostician or guidance counselor be able to implement the program?

The main station in Language Lab—Story Station is written in a scripted lesson plan format. These professionals could implement the program by collaborating with the speech-language pathologist.

If a professional other than a speech-language pathologist will implement the program, it makes the most sense for an intervention teacher to provide the program. This is a program that emphasizes grammar development and oral narrative skills – topics that will be most familiar to certified teachers. School psychologists’ and counselors’ time may be better spent providing for the social-emotional-behavioral needs of students who are struggling to meet grade level expectations in those areas.

11)   What have I neglected to ask?

Does the program work? Yes! Early results from the Language Lab pilot showed that 78% of the students made progress in grammar skills and/or language complexity when telling stories.

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