I remember when I first heard about the job of “speech pathologist,” I didn’t know they worked in the schools. They are commonly referred to as “speech paths.” I assumed that speech pathologists only worked in clinics or hospitals. Now that I’m entering my tenth year as a bilingual school-based speech path, I want to share what speech paths like me do every day. So here are 5 Things Speech Pathologists Do to Help Students.
Guest Post by Sarah Wu from Speech is Beautiful
- Speech paths do a lot of therapy – Academic speech therapy focuses on correct articulation of speech sounds, improving grammar and syntax, increasing auditory comprehension and oral expression, and improving stuttering. These communication disorders affect students’ academic success and they need therapy so they can succeed in the classroom. I’ve had occasional teachers not realize how important therapy can be for a student and they don’t always want to release a student from class for therapy. Take home message: let a kid leave class for speech – it pays off in the end!
- Therapy can happen in the classroom – Special education laws are pushing teachers and other clinicians to provide their services in the “least restrictive environment,” including inside the classroom. I have worked in the classroom to provide minutes for students with speech impairments and it can be a great way for kids to get speech therapy. What’s great about the classroom is that’s where I want a student to use their speech skills – though it’s not always right for many students. Being able to say a new sound in the speech room is great, but getting the student to do that in the classroom is the ultimate achievement!
- Speech paths have a lot of paperwork to complete every day – Speech paths write the individual education plans (IEPs) for students with speech impairment. Those documents can be about 10 pages long with sections for academic information, speech and language goals, and weekly minutes of speech therapy and take a long time to develop. Also, speech paths write a daily therapy progress note per child seen. For me, this is the most labor intensive daily chore that I have. Progress notes help me track students’ progress over time so that I can share it on progress reports and at IEP meetings.
- Counseling happens in speech therapy – Certain students need extra support from their teacher. Sometimes they just need to talk to their teacher a little more than the average student. Most students with communication disorders need counseling from the speech therapist to stay positive and focused. Having difficulty speaking can take a toll on a kid and they benefit from talking about why they go to speech therapy and how it will help them.
- Speech paths are part of the school’s special education team – A big part of a speech path’s job is participating in decision making for both students with speech issues as well as students in response to intervention (RTI). The speech path has input and influence because of understanding special needs kids. I consult with the psychologist about students all the time.
Now that you know what school-based speech paths like me are up to, I’d love to hear about strategies you use to promote good speaking and listening for all of the kiddos in your class, but especially for our friends with speech impairments. Thanks for reading, (and see you in the comments)!!
Bio: Sarah Wu, M.A. CCC-SLP is a published author and bilingual school-based speech pathologist entering her tenth year. Before becoming a speech pathologist, Sarah spent four years in corporate America at Kraft Foods. Her undergraduate degree is in Spanish and her MA is in speech-language pathology. Sarah blogs at Speech is Beautiful. For more freebies and ideas, be sure to follow her Facebook Page and Teachers Pay Teachers store!