It didn’t take much for speech-language pathologist Ken Anderson to sell The ASHA Leader editorial staff on his idea for a “Case Puzzler” column in the Leader. The case involved a student on his caseload who’d received a mistaken diagnosis of autism when the real issue was anxiety.
We on the Leader staff had heard about cases of autism/anxiety confusion before, some of us even experiencing it with our own children. We asked Ken, an SLP at Walt Whitman High School in Long Island, how quickly he could get the column to us. And its content didn’t resonate with just us: It hit a chord with Leader readers—garnering 8,201 pageviews on the Web—and, most recently, it wowed a panel of Association Media and Publishing judges.
The column Ken wrote won a gold EXCEL Award (AMP’s most prestigious award level) last week during the AMP Annual Meeting outside Washington, D.C. The EXCEL Awards recognize excellence and leadership in nonprofit association media, publishing, marketing and communications. Also winning (silver) EXCEL Awards this year were ASHA’s “Value of the CCCs” promotional campaign and the ASHA Marketing Solutions website.
At last year’s EXCEL Awards, the same Leader column, “Case Puzzler” (by a different author—Nicole Archambault Besson) won a bronze EXCEL Award. Nicole is a private practitioner in the Los Angeles area. Whereas Ken’s column chronicled the case of an 11-year-old whose autism diagnosis seemed way off, Nicole’s column traced how an interdisciplinary team discovered that a four-year-old’s sleep-disordered breathing was at the root of speech-language and other delays.
But both columns held at their core the same type of mystery: What was really going on with this child?
And that’s the part that makes a “Case Puzzler” column so compelling (Nicole’s column, for example has racked up 29,647 pageviews to date). The reader, along with the clinician, is initially in the dark about the true origin of a client’s difficulties. Then the clinician walks the reader through the journey (typically involving other professionals and colleagues) of solving the mystery and uncovering the real truth.
So who’s going to write our next “Case Puzzler?” Could it be you? We know you have a client whose case you cracked or co-cracked—and who you’re just itching to write about. If so, please give me a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org. “Case Puzzlers” are a potent way to connect with colleagues through the Leader and to raise awareness beyond the Leader of the diligent work you do to diagnose accurately and give clients the services they truly need.
Bridget Murray Law is editor-in-chief of The ASHA Leader. email@example.com.