Rounding out CEUs this summer, I opted to view ASHA’ free webinar for June, Why SLP Services are Essential to Adolescents.¬†Although my placement has changed many times, I have worked with students 4th-8th grade for several years and can appreciate the challenges this age group presents to SLPs. I would advise watching the entire webinar (it is free, after all!) here are a few thoughts I had while watching.

  1. The importance of language in pretty much all areas of life and academics is emphasized, including upper level grades. Understanding connections is vital both for our students, and ourselves as SLP s and educators. Common Core standards are used to demonstrate areas of language that are required for our students as they age.
  2. SLPs can’t do it all. I know we have a tendency to try to be superheroes who do.all.the.things. But, at the end of the day, we just can’t! We have a very specific, very important, set of expertise that can help our adolescents succeed, but our time with students is limited. Involvement from general education teachers, special education teachers, parents, tutors, and other relevant people is vital to student success.
  3. Students should not be “automatically dismissed” at a certain age. I’ll admit, I’m not keen to keep too many older students on SLP caseloads, at least in the district I’ve worked in. With money tight and SLPs thin on the ground, I’ve typically advocated for keeping our middle school and onward caseload filled with either (1) high need students or (2) students with the most potential for improvement. As much as I would love to help every single student that needs me, I have had to be realistic in realizing that I can only spread myself so far and judge my caseload clinically and critically. That being said, students should never be dismissed without just cause. And as she mentions, “aging out” is not a cause. Appropriate assessments must be conducted to ensure that a student is able to be successful without SLP services or that they are no longer benefiting from our services.
  4. With the above in mind, service delivery has to begin changing in order to accommodate our student’s needs. Many of the reasons why students are dismissed as they get older do, indeed, relate back to the pull-out method we have been so long bound to. Push-in models, as well as collaboration, would eliminate many of these problems. It would also help our teachers and paraprofessionals understand the linguistic challenges facing adolescents, functionally and academically.
  5. Our role in helping address dialectal and language learning challenges from a non-disordered viewpoint. Although these students can’t be treated as having a disorder (because they don’t have one!) the foundations of language remain the same, making us an advocate for these students when it comes to challenges they face in the classroom based on their unique needs.