Posted in Perspectives from the Field

Perspectives from the Field: Speaking to a School Board SLP (Part I)

I recently spoke to a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) in the Peel District School Board and gained some insight into service delivery and professional collaboration in the school board setting.

On the ins and outs of service delivery…
The SLP highlighted how multiple models of service delivery are used in the school board, but noted that the multidisciplinary or “pull out” model is not used very frequently in her board, since many SLPs find it inefficient for their large caseloads. She mentioned that an interdisciplinary team discusses referrals and how to approach intervention for students (the team usually includes a social worker, teacher, psychologist, and other relevant professionals depending on the child, such as an occupational therapist), and then a consultative approach is often used in the classroom to provide teachers with the modelling and coaching needed to implement suggestions. The SLP explained that she often uses scaffolding and modelling to help kindergarten teachers adjust the inquiry-based approach used in kindergarten classrooms, so that it can better cater to children with learning disabilities (i.e. “How” and “Why” questions may be more difficult for these children, so strategies like expanding and extending may need to be utilized). She has also used the transdisciplinary model in the form of co-teaching a literacy program called Links to Literacy with classroom teachers, to help children learn concepts like print awareness and decoding.

On collaborating with other professionals…
Outside of the interdisciplinary team which meets to discuss referrals and students currently receiving intervention, the SLP mentioned that she often collaborates with other professionals (such as teaching assistants) when assessing and crafting recommendations for children with special needs. She stated that professionals who work closely with these children know their needs and skills best (i.e., education or teaching assistant, occupational therapist currently working with child, etc.), so joint visits in a more natural setting provide useful information regarding what strategies would work best for a child. I also found it interesting to learn that school settlement workers can be closely involved with SLPs to help acquire informed consent from the parents of students who are new immigrants and/or ELLs. Additionally, if a child will be seen by CCAC as opposed to a school board SLP, she stated that these parents also often need help understanding that they will receive a home program in the interim, before a child will receive services from CCAC later on. We also discussed how in some cases, a child may be receiving services from both a school board SLP and a private practice SLP, so consent is required from the parents to allow open communication between these two SLPs. Open communication is essential in these circumstances, because my partner mentioned how the SLPs often work on separate goals (to ensure that the child is not confused by working on the same goal but with 2 SLPs, each potentially using a different technique).

As a student interested in working in the school board as an SLP someday, I found my conversation with this SLP very informative!

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