Service Delivery Models: Looking Beyond Pull-Out
Not that long ago (including when I started working in public schools 10 years ago), the majority, if not all, of the speech-language students with whom I worked received "traditional" speech therapy services. Meaning, kids grouped together by age/class/speech-language needs came down to my room with their speech folders once or twice per week for 30 minute sessions. I admit, at that time I rarely saw students outside of the "speech room."
However, over the years my philosophy of service delivery models (and from my experience, that of many school-based SLPs) has changed away from the "traditional" small group pull-out model. Although many students on my caseload do receive "traditional pull-out" speech therapy services, the majority of my students are serviced in a flexible service delivery model or pull-out in addition to other approaches.
This will be the first of a series of blogs (not necessarily consecutive, but ongoing) regarding different service delivery models I've tried with different types of students and the effectiveness of each approach for my students. Not every approach will work for everyone or has worked for my students, but as the new school year approaches, I really hope more and more SLPs consider different service delivery models other than the just "pulling out" kids to the "speech room."
Traditional pull-out speech therapy DOES have value and is an appropriate service delivery model many times; however, I find for many students a combination of service delivery options works best. I'm also interested in hearing what types of service delivery strategies other SLPs have tried and how others have succeeded in areas in which I have failed or did not feel successful.
I'll start the discussion by talking a little bit about traditional pull-out speech therapy. I do individual and/or small group pull-out to some extent at all three levels at which I work (elementary, middle, high school). My social skills groups for students on the autism spectrum occur as small group sessions, sometimes in the speech room and other times in the autism support classroom. Direct, small group instruction is important for students with autism since it is well documented they do not pick up social skills the way "typical" peers do. At the elementary level, I do both individual and small group pull-out for kindergarten and first grade "speech-language only" students and with all of my life skills students.
As I've stated earlier, small group pull-out does work well for many students especially it is used in combination with other service delivery models such as consultation or push-in services. I just wanted to set the ground work indicating that I do use the pull-out speech therapy model for many of my students. In upcoming blogs, I want to talk about the other service delivery models I have tried and/or currently use with students in addition to or in replacement of traditional pull-out services and talk about why.