ASHA members who work in the schools face a range of challenges. Here’s how joining SIG 16 can help you get the most out of your chosen career.
- What would you say to encourage other colleagues to join SIG 16?
School-based SLPs sometimes feel like no one really understands what they do. Some work in smaller districts, where they are the only SLP on staff. This SIG provides a community that understands what we do, shares information, provides support and ideas, and celebrates the successes others achieve. SIG 16 is a wonderful way to understand our profession from many different points of view. The members are always ready to offer assistance and give their opinions about all issues.
How has your involvement in this SIG improved your understanding of and engagement with school-based issues?
This SIG has broadened my perspective in our field. The members share the issues affecting school-based personnel in their states and school districts. It’s interesting to learn how our jobs are done in regions of the country other than my own. I’ve learned more about our scope of practice, and about interpretations of our work in varying locations.
What is one hot topic discussed by your SIG that you feel the rest of your profession should know about?
There are two that affect many members and are repeatedly discussed: eligibility for services and provision of services.
Eligibility determinations, the assessments used to make these decisions, and how to carry out a good comprehensive evaluation are discussed often. In particular, members willingly share information about specific assessments they find valuable, and there is an opportunity for a dialogue about this. We’ve also discussed the challenges between use of standardized and functional assessments.
Provision of services is another hot topic. We’ve discussed frequency of services, or evidence-based therapy practices. In addition, conversations about missed sessions—and when, if, and how these are made up—have repeatedly taken place. Additionally, we talk about the federal guidelines regarding meeting FAPE (free appropriate public education) requirements.
What are the specific tangible benefits? The less-tangible benefits?
The online community group is a collegial group and a huge tangible benefit that is accessible to everyone who joins SIG 16. Meeting some of the members in person at ASHA Convention or the ASHA Connect conference is another benefit, as is hearing about how our SIG is advocating for school-based SLPs. It’s so nice to have those personal connections, leading to helpful relationships offline, too. Another benefit is the SIG Perspectives publication, which provides articles that contain practical advice that SLPs in the schools can really sink their teeth into and use in practice. Less tangible is what our SIG coordinators do behind the scenes to advocate for school-based SLPs. It is important for us to have a “voice” and our coordinators provide that voice on our behalf.
Shelley Lloyd, CCC-SLP, retired as a public-school clinician after more than 40 years. She now fills long-term leave positions in New Hartford, Connecticut, public schools. ShelleyHL@aol.com