Chapter 1 Application

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.
-Candra Grether
SLP @ The Phoenix School of Discovery and JTown High School
 Thanks, Candra!!

8 thoughts on “Chapter 1 Application

  1. Erica Hayes says:

    I completely agree that we need to advocate for our kids. It can feel overwhelming at times when it seems like we don’t have any extra time beyond serving out kids, attending meetings and completing paperwork. If we can get parents and teachers working with us though, what we do can be so much more powerful! This definitely motivates me to do more. I serve preschool DD rooms and have information about parent trainings that we have done and handouts that we send home throughout the year to help parents work on communication skills at home. I am happy to share any of this. Just let me know if you are interested!

    • Erica Hayes says:

      One great resource for our preschoolers who are not talking or just starting to talk is It has great articles that you are written for parents. Also, Laura Mize’s website has some great info. Many of the handouts we send home are from her book, “Teach Me To Play”. There are also short videos parents can watch to learn more about encouraging interaction and communication through play.

  2. Katie Cohen says:

    Candra thanks for the post! That’s a great suggestion to follow up with emails and handouts to teachers. It has happened more than once: I discuss a student with his/her teacher, then go to follow up and the teacher recalls nothing from our conversation (almost like it never happened) – teachers do have so much on their plates during the day. A short follow-up email would be simple and take up very little of my time. Seems like a great way for me to make sure the teacher and I can stay on the same page, and in turn help out the kiddos.

  3. Melissa Gates says:

    After reading the first chapter and Candra’s post, I tried to brainstorm ways that I can continue to educate parents on the importance of talking to their children. Maybe giving suggestions for “everyday” activities in the form of a speech newsletter would be a good way ….

  4. Jamie Priddy says:

    I love reading all of the suggestions of things we can do around the school building to have an impact on our students. It is easy to get discouraged when our students aren’t making the gains we expect, and I know I always take it personally as if it is a reflection on my ability to teach them the skills they need. But when you think about how much time we spend with our students compared to their teachers and parents, it is even more clear that we need to work together as a team to help our students succeed. Just this week I started sending home “challenges” with some of my students. In order to earn points in the challenge, the student has to explain what they are working on to their parent/guardian or teacher and ask them to help monitor their speech or language goal. If the parent or teacher catches the student using good speech sounds or language skills, they earn a point, which can be traded in for a prize. I am hopeful that this will educate parents and teachers, as well as make the student more aware of their skills outside of the resource room. The key (and challenge) certainly is getting everyone involved and excited about the potential of their child!

  5. Jane Stosberg says:

    Thank you for the handouts, Candra. I think your ideas for advocacy provide great reminders of how we can reach out beyond what we do in the therapy setting. Thank you for sharing the links.

  6. Amanda says:

    I like your self reflection on how we can expand beyond our therapy room or push-in time. I know that I often only think about what I can do to ‘fix the delays’ and not always enough about ‘preventing the delays’. I also appreciate the handout links!

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