Speech Therapy Pitfalls
This comment was written in response to last Tuesday's blog post entitled: Getting Ready for the 2013-2014 School Year! I chose to share and highlight this comment because I know that the concerns of this therapist are unfortunately all too common and could easily resonant throughout the country.
Here are her remarks:
Thanks for your ideas. However, school has just started and I am anxious and feeling overwhelmed. I am serving 2 K-5 schools with a caseload of 51. I am always at the bottom when scheduling. I am facing screening close to 160 K students and have been told that I must make up sessions missed for screening time. I start therapy at 8:00 and end at 2:50. I cannot even find a time to block in testing and planning. I try my best to keep groups to 2 students. Having more than 2-3 results in limited success. And I forgot, finding time to do Medicaid notes! I love my job and somehow manage to stay positive and feel that my students enjoy therapy time and make progress. Any suggestions to help balance everything??
First, I would like to thank this therapist from Abington, Va., for writing in and sharing her experience. I do have some suggestions as well as a question. First, how long will it take to screen 160 kindergarten students?? I'm thinking at least 2-3 days?? If you are expected to make up all missed therapy sessions during the screenings, you are going to need to be creative about how to do this.
Here are some suggestions:
- Prepare several special large group sessions with children who have similar needs. Maybe do a special articulation group and pair up the children or do a language-based cooking lesson? Doing therapy in a somewhat different and unique setting from time to time also allows you to see if the children are carrying their skills over from one setting to another. If they are now able to say the /s/ sound in a small group, can they also produce it in a larger group setting with their peers?
- Co-treat with other professionals. If you feel that you are most successful with 2-3 students, could you run a therapy group 1-2 days a week with the OT or PT or team-teacher with the teacher and therefore include additional children from your caseload? Pioneering new therapy groups that address multiple needs can be innovative and exciting for both you and your students. Again, you will be able to see them in a variety of settings and can address and monitor their skills and progress in new ways.
- Do more "push-in" therapy. Go into the classrooms more and seize opportunities to work with children in the classroom environment. Maybe ask the teacher if you could come in during small group learning times and run some of the groups or run some of their classroom circle times and build language skills into it to help support the curriculum, as well as address their IEP goals.
- And of course, speak with your administration regarding the challenges you are facing. Can they pay you for extra time each week so you can complete paperwork? Is your caseload legally and ethically too large for you to handle? Could they bring in a part-time therapist 1 day a week to help you? These are questions only you and they know and can answer.
Good luck to you and keep us posted! If therapists have other suggestions, please write in and share!