My post serves as an application post covering the first chapter, Connections: Why a Pediatric Cochlear Implant Surgeon Became a Social Scientist.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure where this chapter was going for the first few paragraphs. Although I enjoyed the review of the history of cochlear implants and newborn hearing screenings, I was too quick to have thoughts of not being sure how I would tie this up into such a post. Mentioning this to my husband as I began reading over the weekend, he offered very helpful advice that significant others can have such a knack for: “I’m sure you’ll figure it out.” Ha!
I loved reading about Zach and Michelle as well as the reminder of the Hart and Risley research that I found fascinating in school. While reading on my Kindle, I highlighted a few parts of this portion of the chapter that made me reflect:
1. “What had gone wrong? I had provided the gift of hearing to two deaf children. Why hadn’t that been the complete answer to speaking and learning and integrating into the world?”
-We all have days where we wonder the same about our own careers, don’t we? Similarly, we are providing the gift of speech therapy to all of the students we serve. Why was I able to release Student A, who met their goals, this school year but not Student B, who is making progress but isn’t quite there yet? Or really, especially in my current world with 7 MSD units between my two schools and the concept of role release in mind, why was I able to release Student A, who can now participate and progress just fine in their classroom, while Student C was released due to Specially Designed Instruction no longer resulting in measurable benefits?
2. “Taking the Hippocratic oath meant that my obligation didn’t end when I finished operating; it ended when my patient was well.”
-With role release still on my mind, I think this is why the educational model of speech-language therapy can be such a challenging concept for some, including SLPs in the medical or clinical world, parents, and even some of us. We are in this field to be helpers and can easily and understandably overlook the fact that for some of our students, other staff can be equally as or maybe more effective in their efforts to help following a little bit of teaching from us.
3. “Were we saying that there was no solution? Do we say that’s that and go on to another, more promising patient?”
-This is the part of Chapter 1 that really got me thinking about “application”. So, what do we do? We know that birth-three is a critical period for neuroplasticity and language development. We know that socioeconomic considerations impact educational attainment in addition to other aspects of lives. We know that the quality of language, and not just the quantity, matters during those crucial years.
What do we do?
What do you do?
What do I do?
I think we advocate. We advocate for students to caregivers during opportunities like ARC meetings, where we can use that time not just to routinely review progress, but educate parents (to be clear—regardless of assumed socioeconomic status) in hopes that the information we share will be used at home with our students. We also advocate for students to school staff during opportunities like push-in therapy, faculty meetings, PLC meetings, or when we pick up or drop off our students in their classrooms. The more practice in a variety of settings, the better.
Actual dialogue with caregivers is great but I’ve been in a number of ARC meetings where the ARC Chair has made it clear that I’ve been talking too much. We also know that teachers don’t have time for long winded teaching sessions each time we arrive to their classroom. Quick communication, like handouts or e-mails with useful links, can be a good alternative when time is short.
I’ve been printing relevant handouts from Super Duper for parents and teachers since I was in grad school. Here is one I found that is relevant to the material in this chapter:
E-mail can be a good way to follow-up after a quick conversation with a teacher about a student. Here is a website on echolalia that I still have open in my browser from when I e-mailed a teacher on Friday:
Sometimes I’ll make visuals to support language during routine or new activities in the classroom after consultation with the teachers to make sure that what I’m providing will actually be useful.
This was a good first chapter, as it really got me thinking by the end. The author stepped outside of the surgery room comfort zone to attend classes to ultimately benefit patients. While I have done a few things I mentioned above to benefit my students, I definitely don’t do all of those things all of the time for every single student on my caseload. Reading this chapter and writing this posts makes me want to challenge myself to do even more.
SLP @ The Phoenix School of Discovery and JTown High School