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Specific Speech and Language Disorder (SSLD) Classes


 What is a SSLD class?

  • SSLD stands for Specific Speech and Language Disorder. The aim of a  SSLD Class is to maximise the communication of students with Specific Speech/Language Impairment (SSLI) and support them to access the school curriculum.

  • In St Patrick’s Boys National School we have two SSLD classes (one Junior class and one senior class). They are small classes (7 students in each class) within a mainstream school. Both boys and girls attend the SSLD classes. 


  • Students integrate into mainstream classrooms for various subjects (eg. P.E., religion, music, art

  • Students eligible for the class are entitled to bus transport to and from school.


Who is eligible?


The Department of Education requires that children fulfil the following criteria to be eligible for the class:

  1. A psychological report indicating a score above 90 on non-verbal cognitive assessment.

  2. A speech and language therapy report indicating a score of less than 2 standard deviations from the mean in one area of speech or language. 

  3. Speech and language difficulties must be identified as the primary areas of need, a child must be have a diagnosis of Specific Speech/Language Impairment (SSLI).

  • There are also some additional criteria which must be met:

  1. The child must live within the designated catchment area at the time of referral (i.e. HSE Local Health Offices Dublin North City and North West Dublin).

  2. The child must be 4 years on/before the 1st of September in the year of their enrolment.

  3. The child must have attended a minimum of 6 speech and language therapy sessions prior to referral to the SSLD Classes.


What is the referral process?

Once a diagnosis of SSLI is established a child may be referred for SSLD class placement. Children are referred to the class by a Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) and/or Psychologist. These professionals will recommend the SSLD Class if they feel it is appropriate to meet the child’s needs. Either the SLT or Psychologist should coordinate the referral. In order for a child to be considered for a place in the classes, one original and three copies of each of the following documents are required:

  1. Signed consent form for the referral.

  2. An up to date speech and language therapy assessment report (preferably within three months of referral) confirming a diagnosis of Specific Speech and Language Impairment.

  3. An up to date psychology report (within 2 years of referral) which includes the results of a comprehensive assessment of intellectual ability, including index/factor scores and subtest results.

  4. A pre-school/school report which provides information on the impact of the child’s specific language impairment on his/her educational progress and social/emotional development.  Recent educational attainments and assessment results should be included if available.  

  5. A Social, Emotional and Behavioural Rating Scale to be completed by the child’s parents/guardians with the assistance of the SLT.

** Please note: other information may be requested by the Admissions Advisory Committee.

  • The closing date for applications is March 1st for September enrolment.

  • The Admissions Advisory Committee (school Principal, SSLD Class teachers, Psychologists, SLTs) meet in April to allocate placements.

  • Parents and referral sources will be informed by the Principal if the child has/has not been offered a place in the SSLD Class.

  • Parents of a student who has been offered a place in the class will be invited to visit the school, to meet the Principal, the teacher and the SLT.

  • Parents should inform the principal as early as possible if they do not wish their child to accept a place in the SSLD Class.

What happens in the SSLD class?

  • Individual goals for the student are developed together with the student, parent, teachers and speech and language therapist.  The family-centred goals aim to encourage: access to the curriculum, communication development and social/emotional development.  

  • Students in the SSLD classes follow the appropriate mainstream curriculum. Both classes provide a language rich environment. Teachers and SLT work together in the class to support the students in successfully accessing the curriculum.

  • Students in the SSLD classes receive small group and individual SLT sessions to help them achieve their goals.

  • Parent involvement is an essential part of achieving students’ goals. Parents are required to attend group and individual parent meetings to support the student’s progress at home. Parents are also required to attend their child’s SLT sessions regularly.

  • The school team may recommend relevant referrals and liaise with other professionals.


What happens when students leave the SSLD class?

  • The decision regarding the discharge of a student from the SSLD class rests with the school Principal in consultation with the class teachers and SLT.

  • A child will attend the SSLD Class for one school year.  The placement will be reviewed annually. A child can spend up to two years in the SSLD Class.

  • The school team may recommend relevant onward referrals as appropriate.

  • The school team will support families to organise a smooth transition from the SSLD Class back to their local school.

  • The SLT will consult with the school and the family as required in order to support transition during the first term outside the SSLD Class.