Storage Wars – SLP Style
As I had mentioned way back at the beginning of the school year, I had moved to a new office at my elementary school—
one that had been occupied by an SLP who had been working in the building for many, many years. School is over, yet I still haven't finished going through, sorting and cleaning out the therapy materials I had inherited from her within my speech office.
To make matters worse, back in March one of the special ed teachers I work with was talking to me about AAC devices I had at school and commented, "Hey you know you have a whole shelf of things in the rat closet. You could look there." This was completely news to me. No, not that there is a closet at my elementary school affectionately referred to as the "rat closet." (For the record, I have never seen a rat or any other sort of critter in this closet though I'm guessing the name did come from somewhere ...)
No, what was news to me was that in addition to the numerous materials in my therapy room I hadn't gone through, apparently there is also an entire shelf of "speech stuff" that is now also mine by default. Here's the best part—during the last week of school I found out from one of the building aides that the principal wants the "rat closet" (shared amongst the PTO, the special ed teacher I mentioned earlier, and myself) cleaned up/organized by early August (before school starts up again). It is officially on my summer to-do list.
One look at my shelf and all I could think of was Storage Wars. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this popular show (and others like it, such as Auction Hunters), basically people bid on unclaimed storage units. Everyone is given 5 minutes to look at the contents of the unit from outside the door (no one is allowed to enter or open any boxes). The unit is then auctioned off, going to the highest bidder. The majority of the show is spent with the winners of the units going through the contents. Many times they find nothing but junk, but, on occasion, valuable items, collectibles, and other treasures are found within the boxes and stacks of worthless items.
Take a look at my own personal storage unit. I did not "win" this unit by bidding, but it was an exciting surprise finding out I had an entire shelf of potentially-useful, "new" therapy materials awaiting me. As it is done at all storage unit auctions, I'll take a look at this picture and give myself 5 minutes to analyze the contents. Let's see here. I see lots and lots of what is referred to on Storage Wars as "mystery boxes" (i.e., unlabeled boxes filled with, well, who knows— it's a mystery!).
Rumor has it those boxes hold various AAC devices (low-tech and high-tech—my guess is most are very outdated and those that aren't probably don't work anymore), switches, and working files for students who probably graduated over 10 years ago.
So maybe some potential there, but there's no really way of knowing at this point. In looking at the shelves - I can see a few potentially-useful items - board games, some sort of switch on a gooseneck...unfortunately the easel is not part of the deal and isn't mine (though everything to the left of it is). As I look a bit longer at the shelves, I see some therapy materials and standardized tests that might be as old as I am! Is that yellow, metal box filled with Peabody Articulation Cards? (It looks vaguely familiar from my undergrad days). What in the world is on that top shelf? Brown paper sleeves? It seems like something one would find in an art room closet. Now that I've "won" this auction, I need to look through my storage shelf and see if I've unearthed junk or hidden treasures!
Questions for the readers—have you ever been in a situation like mine? Did you ever inherit an office (and all of the therapy materials that go with it) from an SLP who had been in the same room for years and years? How do you decide what you want and what to get rid of? How do you go about "getting rid" of unwanted and/or outdated therapy materials? How do you get over the guilt of getting rid of things that are more than 30 years old? Is there a specific procedure you must follow if the materials were purchased with district funds? Do you know if any place will accept outdated therapy materials as a donation?
I feel a bit overwhelmed right now, so I'll take any advice you have before I clean out my shelf. I've got quite a project ahead of me, and I'll be sure to keep you updated along the way (and let you know about any treasures I may dig up!). Feel free to share advice or comment on ADVANCE's blog page or Facebook page!