Podcast Transcript - Episode 38
SLP Toolkit Podcast, Episode 38, Transcript
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Well hi, Lisa.
How are you doing today?
I'm so good. It's a beautiful day outside.
It sure is. And it's always a beautiful day in the neighborhood when we have a guest with us in the confessional.
And what a guest we have today.
I know I have to tell you, I'm really excited about this for numerous reasons, but one, because I am a fan girl. And two, I think this is a conversation that is long overdue. I know we've wanted to have it forever, but you have to have the right guest to handle this topic. So do you want to introduce her?
Yes. I'm super excited to introduce Marie Ireland, who, if you have not seen her, I don't know what cave you've been living in, but she presents regularly. And the reason why is, first of all, she's one of, I don't even know how many, but probably very few people who have the board certified specialist in child language through ASHA. I mean, that is a feat unto itself. And then also is very active in her state. She's the specialist in Virginia for the Department of Ed there in that content area of speech, language pathology, and has also actually worked with ASHA as well from 2018 to 2020, serving as a support there as the vice-president of SLP practice. So Marie, we are so ecstatic to have you in our confessional today.
Thank you. I am so happy to be here and I'm fan girling on, on you two and your podcasts too. So I really appreciate the opportunity to get together and chat and yeah, what a topic we have for today.
I know this is something that, you know, we, and we kind of briefly chatted before I hit the record button about kind of our involvement in social media is really important to us because it's so that's so much probably the best place for us to be a part of the community, right? Like that's where a lot of our SLPs are. I think that school-based group on Facebook has like 45,000 members in it. And so we want to be where the action is and, and really hear from SLPs all over the nation. And so it's good and bad cause we know exactly what they're dealing with. We've lived it as school-based SLPs so we can relate in that way. But there's also so much negativity, you know, too, just around the demands of the job and case load and paperwork and time management. And then, then this overlaying thing about ASHA and its involvement. So.
Or lack thereof.
Or lack thereof.
The perspective of there being lack of involvement.
And I think Lisa and I are very much come from that idea of, yeah, there, there are problems, but let's not chat about those unless we have solutions. And so this is something that we have talked about like, well, we need to get more involved or we need to do this. And then with that note, we just need to have a conversation. Let's just have a conversation with somebody who knows . from a different perspective than what we've seen. And can hopefully kind of give us maybe some answers to some of the things that we see out in the, the SLP social media world.
No pressure Marie.
Well good. I'm glad I brought all the answers along today. Let's get started.
Not only for ASHA, like to know more about behind the scenes with ASHA, but then also your role with the Department of Education in Virginia, correct?
Because we talked about, and I wanted to link it as a reference because it is literally such an amazing resource is the handbook that was developed that we used in Mesa, Arizona. There was a copy of it printed in my speech room when I arrived there. And it's just a handbook that covers literally everything that is that an SLP needs to know working in the school setting. And you were involved in creating that.
Yeah, that's our SLP guidance document for the Virginia Department of Education. And I like to say, that's our tax dollars at work. I, I was a big part of that while had a lot of great friends and colleagues that, that helped write little sections and donate content. And so that is available free and you're welcome to share the link so anybody can access it. And of course they have to pay attention to whatever the rules are in their state, but it is a good place to get started.
Yeah, it really is.
And actually even we're in Arizona and Arizona adopted that document to kind of mesh with the Department of Ed's philosophy here as well. So it took a lot from it added a little bit to it. So that's a great even like project for whether it be through your own Department of Ed to suggest that it's just, I think what we lack as SLPs is, and I've worked in different settings and in different States. And it was always really hard when I arrived somewhere where, which was most places where I just had no clue what I was supposed to do. How did I fit? Not just in this setting, but in this district. And so I loved that handbook because, you know, is it nothing in our field is black and white, but it is a great place to really have a starting point to kind of understand what can apply to many situations. And there will always be things that sort of.
deviate, but yes, a guide to help you like, not just flounder and start from nothing.
Yeah. Yeah. I imagine that's kind of why, why you guys decided to put, I can't even imagine the amount of time, but is that why it was created from a place of like, we need something documented as a guide for SLPs?
Absolutely. It started years ago actually, before I worked at the of education, when I was a lead SLP in a school division, we, all of the lead SLPs would get together a couple of times a year, a year for meetings. And we actually brainstormed a list of all the stuff we wish we had in writing and that list was developed. And then the position at the Virginia Eepartment of Education came over and I just had a, I just had a list of everything that everybody wanted. So it was really great to have that as the starting point. Yeah. So I've been with that book since it's brainstorming inception.
It's so cool. We'd let, there's nothing. I love more than like having an idea and then action behind it. I mean, we could talk about this all day long, all the things we want, but unless we actually like take action, you know, it just lives in somebody's brain or in a notepad. So I love that you guys did it and it is a really useful resource for individuals. And so that's when I kind of brought that up. It's because your perspective, I think is amazing to know both sides of things. Because I think a lot of individuals have this idea that, you know, we pay our ASHA dues and ASHA should solve every problem that we have in our profession. And, you know, as a school-based SLP, there are a lot of issues and struggles and challenges that we face, but really, you know, coming a lot of it really comes down to the state department of education and the district's decisions
From the licensing agencies in the states.
There's a lot of local control.
So what is the role then? What would be, if we could kind of summarize where any national organization, whether it be ASHA or the ones, the one for PTs or OTs or teachers, what is kind of the primary role of an association? And I think that might help put it in context for people to kind of say, well then, Oh, are they doing that first before going into these other areas what they're not doing?
Yeah. So I think it really does differ. And when I served as the Vice President for SLP practice at ASHA, I was able to really look and see the differences across different associations. And so the National Association for Physical Therapists or Occupational Therapists is, is very different from what ASHA offers. ASHA really has a number of different arms, if you will, or sections that do a lot of different things. So one of the things ASHA does is really monitor and try to bring the profession together to maintain that high quality standard, looking at accrediting graduate training programs and making sure that certification happens. And then after you do your CF, that you keep up with your continuing education. So that's making sure that we have high standards, both in our training programs and as individual professionals, but then ASHA has some other things that it does. ASHA does continuing education, not all national associations offer that. ASHA does a great convention. They have there have all of their publications, the journals. So we have a variety of different journals that are really well-respected around the world, in communication, sciences, and disorders. We also have The ASHA Leader. We have the special interest group, Perspectives Publications, and those have transitioned into journals. There's a blog, there's all kinds of information that goes out to members to keep them current. And then ASHA does a lot of stuff behind the scenes. Members might not know like advocacy, they advocate not only at the national level for things like insurance coverage and school-based SLPs might not be too worried about that. But what about if one of your family members has a stroke and needs to have services in a hospital? Right. So even though we might be more concerned with school-based advocacy, ASHA advocates across all service service sectors. And so they're looking at insurance coverage and reimbursement rates, but they're also looking at trying to get better coverage for school-based services, through both IDEA and other federal education laws. And so there are some other terminologies that people use, like specialized instructional support personnel, S I S P that's in a general lead law, but we need to know about it. Right. And ASHA is, is keeping an eye on that. And so they do a lot of advocacy at the federal level, but they also do advocacy at the state level. So there are individuals who are assigned to each part of the country and they work with your state association. So if your state association is trying to get a caseload cap reduced or trying to make sure that SLP assistants are licensed properly, then they can call ASHA for help. And it's a collaborative effort. So there's a lot of state and national effort on speech and language hearing and audiology kinds of topics. And then we have some really good collaboration. So a lot of SLPs might not know, but a lot of these different associations work together right now, there's a national coalition. It has a really long name. It's called the national coalition coalition on personnel shortages in special education and related services, NCP S S and the NCP S S E R S coalition ASHA, co-chairs it? Cause we know that shortages in speech language pathology are making it harder for school-based SLPs. And so ASHA is working on that to highlight stories, to get testimony, to make sure that at the federal level, people are aware of this, but the average SLP might not even know that's going on behind the scenes. Right. There are so joint committees, ASHA works with the American Psychological Association to look at things like TBI and learning disabilities diagnoses. They work with a joint commission on persons with severe disabilities to look at AAC. We just rolled out some of the most comprehensive. We I'm no longer on the ASHA board, but I'm still a member. So I think we all have a part in this. ASHA has rolled out guidance on facilitated communication and rapid prompting. And we had thousands of comments from members across the world. And so they do a lot of that kind of stuff to make sure that we are offering high quality services that are really gonna make a difference. So all that advocacy I think is huge. And wow. And we were talking about.
And here's where I think the problem is think about, so Sarah, raise your hand. If you had heard of any of this before.
No, no 10, maybe 20% of what she said.
And that's where I feel like that's kind of where the disconnect can come too, not just with ASHA and its members but I think that even when I first started in the school district where Sarah and I worked in Arizona, and when I became the lead, one of the speech or special education director said, you're going to start looking at the district like right now, as an SLP, you're looking at it like this, but as a lead, you're going to look at it like this because you have more access to kind of seeing things in a broader perspective and not just what's happening locally, right at your school with your caseload in your team. And that kind of stuck with me and made a lot of sense. As I did see things, I always felt like my role in that setting was to kind of be that sort of try to be that bridge of helping administrators understand what the SLPs were feeling and helping SLPs understand where this directive was coming from. But then Sarah and I also serve on our state organization in different committees ARHSA and Arizona. And I feel like I learned things in the committee meetings that I sit in, but you've never heard of them versus, you know, versus if I tell you, you hear about them, but it's not that it's not getting communicated. And I'm like, wow, this is really cool. There's some really awesome stuff that's happening over there, but we get kind of that same thing at the local level where people are like, why would I pay more money to be a part of our ARHSA? It's not required. It's not mandatory. I need to be a part of ASHA.
I'm not sure what they do for me.
So even if I am not happy with what I, you know, with what ASHA is doing for me or what I perceive ASHA to be doing for me, I still kind of have to pay it versus at the state level. I don't. And so that's the part where I don't know if that's how that's fixable. So how do we better communicate whether it be as a state to its members or as a national organization to its members to kind of try to, I feel like it's turning the Titanic at this point. It's about to go on the iceberg and we're like, woah let's try to turn it.
So I think a lot of it really, I think there's kind of two solutions. One is for people who are just starting out in our profession, graduate students, right. And, and even undergrads to really make sure that they have a better understanding of the, the interaction and the role. And so by having some, some more different kinds of ways to convey that to people, maybe when they come out as new professionals, they'll have that better understanding from, from the beginning, for those of us that are already in the field, there are some of us and I'm like, you, I, I joined my state association and I went to committee meetings and I thought, wow, that's cool stuff I learned. I never knew all that. And I kinda got hooked and I've been volunteering ever since. But if you haven't had that experience, you really don't know what you're missing and you don't know what all the things that are happening behind the scenes are. So for the people that are already practicing and asking these questions, how do we, how do we get their attention? I think one of the toughest things is on social media when people are complaining and saying, you know, what does ASHA do for me? I just paid my dues and what did I get for it? And you see 300 comments that say nothing, nothing, nothing. That makes me sad because at that point, people and I've heard some, some folks Meredith Harold from The Informed SLP has talked about how women in the United States are kind of socialized to, to glom on or to pile on. Right? So if someone says, Oh, this is terrible. If you don't agree and say, Oh, this is terrible, then you're gonna, you're gonna get some pushback. And so one of the things that happens is, and you might see it on social media when people are, when people are bashing something and saying, we don't, this isn't worth it. We're not getting our money's worth when you do try to say, but wait, what about the value of the C's campaign? What about the equivalency with national board certification and the salary supplements that some states have? People don't want to hear that, right? Because they're in, they're in this mode of venting. And I think it's hard because we want to honor how they feel. We know how hard it is in the schools sometimes, but we also know that complaining and waiting for someone else to fix it for you. Isn't really the way the system is structured. ASHA doesn't have the capacity or the jurisdiction legally to fix a caseload or to change something that happens in a school. And so that's where it gets a little hard, you know, how do we help people understand that?
Yes, I think too, you know, a lot of my probably I guess confused, Oh, it's not confusion. I don't know what the word is. I'm trying to say here, but you know, school-based SLPs makeup, what more than half?
Of the membership?
Like 52% or something.
And and, again, this could be self-perceived, but it's my truth. And I'm sharing it because it's my experience. You know, this idea of, you know, maybe being kind of less than, I don't know where this comes from, I, I kind of felt it in grad school. I was actually part of a really cool program at ASU. That was lit it trying to grow the school-based SLPs in the school setting. And so they had a very small cohort and it allowed us to work in the schools. And then we would go to school at night and anyway, I loved it. It was like, it was, I can't say enough about it. It was just a really amazing experience. But I didn't feel very much a part of the grad school program in and of itself. I was this like school-based SLP and they were going to be medical. And for whatever reason that has this kind of idea that they, you know, know more or whatever, which I will argue that they don't.
That's a whole other podcast.
That's a whole other episode. But anyway, this, this division, this odd division. And so then I think, well, we make up most of ASHA. And so I know that they're out there fighting for insurance reimbursement, but I don't know what they're doing to help me with my caseload size. Like I know there's no longer caseload caps, you know, I know they made recommendations for caseload caps at one point, but now they're really not. I know about, you know, their advocacy for a workload approach, but what is the, besides the fact that they documented why it is beneficial? You know, I have, they brought that to states as a recommendation. Are they kind of fighting on my behalf for that? So I think it is that idea of, you know,
because putting it completely on the individual, I think that's the perception. And because I'm with you, I'm not sure what the connect is. Other than I heard you say that there are representatives that work with states. So that's probably the first thing that I wasn't aware of. And I think that's awesome to help bridge some of that, because it really does have to come from that local level. But when you're in such a place of overwhelm, so that's even where when we asked you to be on the podcast, it was because we were presenting in South Carolina for their state association, of course. And we had put a survey out there, and this was not a standardized kind of format. This is not, we're not scientists. I mean, we are kind of in our own special way.
It was not official research.
But we got about 500 responses to this. And it, it just, it really made us sad because the overarching theme of all of the results is I'm so overwhelmed. I'm so burned out. I don't even know if I could recommend this in good faith to other people to do as a job. Although that was actually the one that even despite all of the overwhelmed, like, I hate it. I want to change my career, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But then at the end, would you recommend it to somebody else? 89% said, yes, maybe with a warning, but I was like, wow. So to me that says, they love this profession. They love the students that they're working with. They want to stay here. They want what's best for school-based SLPs, but they are so overwhelmed that they cannot, you know, the thought of, of saying now go and join committees and advocate at your state level for change. It's like, Oh, I'm so out. Like, that's, I, that's where I want ASHA to come in and really be my voice because I'm in the trenches and just barely surviving.
Yeah. So, you know, I that's, that's really wise good observations that you make and I would back it up. Even I back it up away from the committee perspective and think about what are we doing to ourselves? And I loved your intro. When you said, if you, what cave have you been in? If you haven't seen Marie Ireland, I talk about evaluation and eligibility in the schools, and I've written on it. I wrote an article and I'll, I'll make sure you guys have that link too and I asked the ASHA to make it free to everybody, which means not just ASHA members. It means pediatricians and parents and school principals, because I think one of the things that we really might be doing to ourselves is not separating clinical identification from really what does it take to be eligible in the schools? And if we're not following IDEA, and we're just using a clinical approach, does this kid have a distortion? Yes. Pick them up on your caseload. That's not IDEA, that's a clinical model. And if you're in private practice, you can bill anybody for it. As long as you think that you can help them make progress. Right. We have our code of ethics on who we can treat clinically, but in the schools, there are two other major factors. Is there an educational impact? And is there a need for specially designed instruction? And what, one of the things that I think is really interesting is when I talk about school-based evaluation and school-based eligibility, I'm make that part of the foundation, right? You have to have that information from others. And so, you know, our president, the president of the United States stutters, he's not disabled. He may have a difference in communication, but that doesn't mean it's impacted his learning, or he needs something to be able to do his job. Barbara Walters, mispronounces a sound she, I would say is reasonably right. And so what we have to think about is not, not doing it to ourselves. If we really adhere to that criteria, if you don't want to join a committee, if you don't want to advocate, then at least have good training and good expertise in what you do locally. And don't open yourself up to these larger caseload's by taking people who really don't qualify. It's like someone who says, I don't know why I can't lose any weight, but then they never go and exercise, you know, your choices, your choices do impact the results. And so I think that's really, we're
It can get difficult though, because again, working in different districts, like I have, there's definitely different support even from district to district, let alone state to state with what the interpretation of eligibility is it's written into. Like, I love Arizona's because it really is just is a disability. Is there an educational impact? And is it only correctable with special ed? So it leaves a lot of interpretation open to teams to really delve into those kinds of conditions. And you've got other states that really mandate, like it has to be, this is exactly what is the definition of, for our state of a disability and how you can find students eligible then compounded on that. You've got districts that are funneling that information and then sharing that with their employees where it takes some of that control out of our hands. So that's where I feel to it. It still comes down to advocacy that you can even say, well, I think it's this, but if your employer is saying, Nope, it's this and that, the survey that we did do that was one of the questions we asked, like how supported you feel by your administration and only 25% said Yes. So of the rest. So there is a disconnect there too. So I think when I look at this, it's, there's, we're automatically funneling up to then ASHA, this is all ASHAs fault, but there are so many different layers to peel back from this onion.
Yeah. And what does it mean to feel supported? You know, if does it mean that you actually get to speak honestly about difference versus disorder or students that use a different dialect and how do you work with your teachers and what does support really mean? Does it mean that you get to bring that, that information to the table and people listen to you or does it mean that they give you money to buy new tests? We know that our tests are not very diagnostically accurate. So if I feel supported because you give me a big budget and then I go out and buy things that over identified children, I'm doing it to myself, right in the name of, I have a supportive I have a supportive employer cause they give me money to purchase things. I see that on social media all the time, I have this amount of money for my supplies. What should I buy? And people say Super-Duper materials, or, you know, they name a company. And all of those materials have their place, but that doesn't mean that they're diagnostically accurate. It doesn't mean their curriculum relevant. It doesn't mean they're going to really help that kid make a difference in their learning if they even belong on your caseload. So I know that's hard, but I think part of it is we really have to start at home and decide what kind of practitioner are we and are we really staying up to date with the current information? And like you said, the SLP guidance document have that SIG 16 article about evaluation and eligibility. I think people need to really reflect on what they're doing and what does it mean to be supported? Does it,
I like that, I think first of all, that idea of let's start with ourselves, right? So let's start there. What should we be doing? Maybe the, some change that we could be doing on our end, maybe are we over qualifying? You know, maybe are some of the challenges with our large caseload are because we are bringing kids on that shouldn't be, probably receiving services in this school, so we could start there, then it's, you know, what systems can I have in place to make my day-to-day, you know, smoother, what organization can I do? You know, what challenges can I make then once you get to the point where now.
That takes a minute.
Yeah. So you're going to get through that of what can I do then? It's like, okay. But I still have issues with I'm being asked to do, you know, duties three times a week, but I have typically IEP meetings four times a week. Okay. So now I can't just not go to duties because it doesn't fit my schedule, but now I need to go to the principal and say, you know, I'm having some challenges with my mornings because I have all these IEP meetings and MET meetings yet. You're asking me to do duties and I want to participate in the school, but you know, what can we do here? So now I've taken it up one level where I'm advocating what I need.
At my school.
At my school, you know? And so then, but, and then there's that next layer where maybe I realized there's another challenge or problem that I can't solve. And that could be that, that caseload that I have, you know, there's a big difference between 50 students who are SLI, who received articulation and language support, mostly and 50 students with complex communication needs. And so if that's my caseload, then I need to go up another level because principal probably has nothing to do with that. And talk to whoever's responsible for the SLPs in the district, if it's an admin person and really advocate for why that caseload's not working for me. So again, I think it's this idea of, we want to go from ASHA.
Yep versus like, what do you say? We've got to start with ourselves.
Well, and I think part of the some of the comments that came up on our survey was that the support were specifically things related to it's a stepping stone in our district to be a Sped Director. It's not even anybody that has any vested interest in the programming, or this is their perception. So it could be because I've actually, even in our district, there were somebody that Sped Director, it could have been a little bit of a stepping stone, but there were different individuals that took that role. That even if I'm here for a little bit of time, I want to really understand it and do my best by it. So it's one of those things that's so hard, whether it's somebody who wants to be there or not, whether, I mean, there's, there's going to be good and bad of everything. And so it's still, I think, trying to frame what is within your control to change and what isn’t.
Like service delivery. That's another thing that we do not spend enough time reflecting on the service delivery decisions we are making, you know, in terms of every single student's being pulled into the speech room and they all get direct services of X amount of minutes a month, you know, versus like the three, one model three, you know, the three in one service delivery model or you know, just any applying, more indirect services. You know, I didn't have, I didn't have very many indirect services where I think I probably offer more value with collaborating with teachers and providing the supports that they could be doing in the classroom than I do pulling them out for 30 minutes a week. I never quite,
And that could be part of, I think what ASHA supports with is because ASHA has the research. So what I found, even in the district that we worked in was, it's not always just asking for it. It was how people asked for it. So if you're just like, I want to do a three to one model and your director says no, and you're like, okay, and it's done. Or if you say, I want to do a three to one model because, and you're presenting data. So it's like, anything else it's like, if a parent tells a kid to do something and they're just like, no, you know, not just because you said so, but you have to give some context to something. And so ASHA does have a lot of supporting documents. I know I seen those for sure, to support different sort of workload models, did variances depending on needs of students and, and being flexible. So I think you can incorporate some of that in your discussion to show why this is something you want to implement it, even to say, if you got a direct, no, say, what would you be okay if I tried this for two months and let's look at the scores now, and in two months, let's see if there's been some progress made, let's make this decision. Long-term maybe based in data, but let's get some data first because you're saying no with no data either, you know, tell me why it's not going to work.
So I think a lot of it too comes down to even how you frame the discussion, right? And we're all supposed to be communication, experts . Things I think that is really important when you're advocating. I heard somebody call it W I I F M what's in it for me, what's in it for me. So not me as a speech language pathologist, what's in it for the director. What's in it for the principal. What's in it for the faculty member to let you come into the classroom. Well, what's in it for integrated services or push in. I actually might be able to help the kids who are English language learners, or who are struggling, but not on my caseload because they're going to get my help while I'm in your room. What's in it for the principal to let me talk about dialect in a faculty meeting. Well, all the teachers might have a better understanding and again, might be more respectful. It might limit some, behavioral or social kinds of tensions in the school. It might increase academics, right? What's in it for the sped director. We need to really understand how to present what we're asking for through the lens of what's in it for other people. Because otherwise you're just asking for less work. I want less kids. I want less work. I want more free time. That's not going to make, that's not making the case. Right. I think SLPs are usually surprised when I talk about over identification. Two things about over identification, one calling children disabled. When you don't have the hard data to back it up is a potential civil rights violation. And we need to really be aware of that. It's not just extra help. It's not just speech, right? You're putting it out there that this child is disabled. And the chances of them graduating go down, the chances of them dropping go up. We need to be really careful with that and not just be doling out speech therapy, you know, to anybody. And if you are saying, if you're listening to this and you're saying, I keep it really firm, but other people push me into it. Have you had that conversation with them right. About civil rights that you don't want to violate somebody's civil rights. Let's talk about the real data we have here on the table. The other piece of it is thinking about over identification. The federal government has five disabilities and they are tracking every new eligibility in five categories, emotional disabilities, learning disabilities, other health impairment, autism, and speech language. And so every time you make a child eligible in the schools, it's getting reported to your division, to your state and to the federal government. They're watching how our identification rates are changing. And so that's a really big what's in it for me, when you start to push back or say, Hey, we don't have enough data to put this kid on our case on the caseload. And somebody says, no, no, it's just speech. Go ahead. You can say, well, gosh, I don't want to violate this kid's civil rights. And you know, I also don't want us to get in trouble for over identification, because if you do get it identified as a division who over identifies in those five disability categories, you have to set aside 15% of your budget. That's a lot of money. That's, what's in it for other people. So I think more, we can understand that and, and share our story through those other lenses. The more we'll get buy-in from others. And that's, I know it's a lot to think about and a lot to learn, but I think it's important
Now it's interesting that you just gave that analogy of it's just speech, throw them on your caseload because we had Kelly Farquharson in here last year, I think. And when I say in here, I mean the confessional, I don't know if you realize you're in a confessional where we confess everything. I don't think there's been one yet, but it'll come. But anyways, so Kelly Farquharson did a podcast episode with us last year. And, and her perspective on this it's just speech was because of this idea of we're not qualifying that student because it's just speech.
Or a single sound error.
A single sound error. And so she was making a real case for how that single sound error impacts their ability to access curriculum and how it impacts their literacy and how it impacts all of these other things. So to stop doing that, you need to really consider all of these other things when you're making determinations for whether or not a student qualifies for supports in the school. So I think that, I mean, it seems a little conflicting maybe.
Well, I think she said it can impact and to get the data, which is actually, I feel like what you're saying too, is that we don't want to just throw somebody on if we don't have the data Kelly was saying, make sure that we're not just doing an artic test, do the phonemic awareness test and reading samples and look at spelling and
Work samples, get the teachers input.
All of that if it shows that there is an educational impact, then don't not qualify them because it's just a single sound. But on the flip side, too, you have to have in any of our choices, we should be filtering it through data.
Absolutely. Yeah. And Kelly and I actually wrote an article with Sharon McLeod and Kate Crow. So it has to do with the new norms, the new S forms that have come out and, and and the four of us got together and wrote an article that was actually published in October. And we are really well aligned. So I think when you hear little snippets of the conversation, you might think, Oh, Kelly's saying do this and Marie is saying do something different, but actually the way you phrase that was was perfect. We are, we are saying the same thing. You have to have the data to back it up. And we shouldn't just be putting kids on your caseload unless you really have evidence that they need it, which changes how we do our evals, you know, and, and changes how we talk to teachers. And one of my favorite tasks in training to give people is to go back and walk up to any classroom teacher that has a speech and language therapy kid, you know, in their classroom and say, hey, why does that child come to me for speech? And if they say, I don't know you're the one that treats them, then their problem must not be in the classroom. Right. And so, and people seem to love super significant. So I think having some more accountability for classroom teachers and really taken the weight off of our shoulders and putting a little bit of the weight on other people can also be really a new way of thinking about eligibility in schools.
I love it because I do, I think that we are this is just a gross stereotype, but we're people pleasers, you know, a lot of the personality. And so, and we want to help everyone. So there's this thing where the student comes to me and then everybody is, you know, just telling like I'm going to be the one that this child really needs to be successful. And how can I turn that away? You know, I want to be that person. And so I, I think you're right where I don't think you're right. I know you're right about, about what you're saying with, you know, we've really got to, it all has to come back to data and in those decisions that we're making and, and maybe rethinking how we evaluate and not just, you know, and we talk about this all the time, too, you know, you can't just take the test results for the SELF. You know, we need to do dynamic assessment and we need to do language sampling and we need to get work samples from the classroom. And we need to talk to the teacher and we need to talk to the parents, do real interviews, not just hope they answered a couple of questions on the parent input form. And you know, there's just gotta be a more comprehensive approach to making that decision.
And maybe that's the answer too that when I brought up that there are different states. I mean, there are states that have it written in that you have to give two assessments and the student has to score one and a half standard deviations below the mean on two different assessments, assessing the same area. Like there is eligibility criteria out there that spells it out like that. So I imagine you can't fight the system in that way that you'd still have to give those, but maybe just dig deeper. So if all you're doing is a bunch of standardized assessment, which I've seen, even, it used to crack me up when our district would hire out for these like private evaluations, because a parent was unhappy and it would just be 20 standardized tests if I would always be in the meeting saying, but did you look at the kid in the classroom? And I don't see anything about like a language sample or anything. It was score after score after score, after score. And yes, they need 17 hours a week of speech. I'm like, okay.
Yeah and that's that purely clinical model. And I think one of things one of you said earlier is about, you know, us as school-based professionals, somehow, either feeling less than, or sometimes being treated as less than, and really the difference is, and that's one of the reasons that article on evaluation and eligibility so popular, because it really points out, hey, these are the rules, and it's a journal article, right? And so you can hand it to somebody and say, hey, these are the rules. And you don't really know as much as you think you do, because if you give 20 tests, this article talks about as many other articles do tests aren't all they're cracked up to be. They're not as accurate for diagnosing. They don't take into account poverty and dialect and regional differences and all kinds of things. So I think we need to kind of trust our own clinical judgment and dynamic assessment. That's one of my favorite things for us to do. But it's hard, you know, cause a lot of us came through school and were trained before some of this information came out and we were trying to give a test, but we also know that times change, you know, people use antibiotics now they used to use leeches. You don't want to go back and use leeches. Right? We want to stay current. So yeah, we used to always give a bunch of tests, but we don't want to do that. We want to stay current. So let's talk about dynamic assessment. Let's talk about language sampling and it's not your mother's language sampling. It's not, it's not IPA coding of every utterance the child made. If you didn't understand it, you make an X, you get 50 there's things like sugar, right? Stacey Pavelka and Bob Owens they have this new kind of way of language sampling under 30 minutes and you get therapy, goals and targets out of it. Wow. There's some really cool stuff we can do. And I know people say, I don't have time to learn that. I don't have time to study that. But sometimes that little effort you put in upfront can make a big difference in who you end up qualifying and what your case of looks like.
That's what made me think of it is I know the argument again, it's always like right as we post something, I can hear like the argument on the flip side of what somebody would respond with. And I the idea of the evaluation process and all of the things we're saying that should be done in a, in a really solid evaluation, Oh, I don't have time for that. I have a caseload of 65. I don't have time to do that thorough of an evaluation or do the observation in the classroom. But on the flip side, if we spend the time there that we know that we are truly collecting information that qualifies students for our services on the, and then on the flip side, that's going to significantly impact our caseload
And you don't have to do everything at once either. I think it's, we hear a lot of things. We get a lot of takeaways, whether it be courses that we go to, or hopefully even like a podcast like this, that there's something that may resonate with someone. It doesn't mean you have to go in and implement all of it at once. It could be that if my biggest pain point is, I feel like I've got too many kids on my caseload and maybe I'm not doing some of these things that evaluation. So what, what's the one thing that could maybe help and maybe it is like learning sugar or whatever it is. Pick one piece, pick your one pain point. Think about what might be impacting that, find the resources that are out there, because that is the beautiful part of being in 2021 and all of our connection to people and content.
Yes. Technology and resources, and hoping on to ASHA and looking at research. I mean, we have so many things at our fingertips, so pick one, dive into it and see how it see the difference that it can make. Again, just like we were saying, we, we want our directors to make those day-to-day based decisions. As far as, you know, can I maybe try this? We need to do that for ourselves too. Like just pick one thing and see what it does.
Yeah. And for folks that are out there, you know, people who are listening to this podcast, obviously they're the high flyers, they're the ones that care enough to, to listen in and try to learn more. So they may be doing some of those things. Right. So maybe the next question is, you know, how does my caseload stack up to others? When I was a supervisor I had about 35 schools and that I was supervising SLPs in and I had schools that had 5% of the population got speech and I had schools were 40% of the population got speech. That's a lot of kids. Right. So how do you stack up the others in your division? What kind of other things are going on, you know, and, and can you use those other tools if you've already done a hard look at your evaluation practices and you're already doing all the current best practice stuff, then maybe it is time to get things like ASHA's workload, calculator out. And again, it takes a little bit of time. It takes a little bit of investment for you to track what you're doing, but it's just like anything else when you write it down, when you honor that and you put the work into it, you get some amazing data out. So you can go to your director and not just say, Hey, I'm overworked. You can say, Hey, do you realize I spend this many hours doing evaluations, getting kids doing duties. We've had a lot of success. People have had a lot of success around the country. Ohio's had huge success with their caseload workload initiative. And, ASHA has a free one that you can utilize where once you have that data, maybe your caseload doesn't get lowered, but maybe they take away those duties or maybe they give you a structured lunch or maybe they're they relieve you of some other. Maybe they give you a para professional to help with filing or making phone calls or something, you know? So there are other ways to lessen the stress and to make life a little bit easier. Sometimes I think we're, we're a little hyper-focused on caseload. How many kids we serve and there's other ways to make life a little easier, even getting someone else to help with evaluations, right. That can free up hours a week. And so there's different ways to solve the problem, but there are lots of tools out there. And I think people don't really realize ASHA has a school-based services team of five ladies. They are wonderful knowledgeable individuals who work at ASHA with school-based backgrounds, and they're there to answer calls and emails. If you're stuck on something, you can just contact the school services team. And I'm always amazed how many people don't take advantage of that.
I've never heard of it.
I've never hear of it.
Well, gosh, if you need an article on you know, a strange the syndrome that you've never heard of before, or you want to find out the latest on something, you can email the ASHA school services team and say, Hey help. What do you have on this? There's the ASHA practice portal. All of that information is free. There are so many things out there. And people don't always know to ask, but I hope if you're listening to this podcast, reach out, you can always call the ASHA action center. You can always contact the school services team directly. And they understand because many of them, all of them have worked in schools and some of them still do carry a caseload and they work part-time for ASHA and part-time on their own. And so, um, there's a lot of good resources you can take advantage of. You just have to reach out and take advantage
And to know that they're there.
I think like even that is knowledge is such power. And then also the idea too, of even with some of this advocacy, you are more powerful if you have more voices. So if you're experiencing this in your district, try to, you know, see who else is in your district. See if this is the norm that everybody's feeling. And if not, then maybe see that could be a good discussion as to, well, why am I feeling this and not others, but most likely it is. You're all kind of feeling the same sort of pain points. And it, if you can come collectively to have that discussion with your district, that you might get farther in from that sense, too, that it is really from advocacy for us to ultimately be able to be the best we can be for the students that we work with. I mean, that's really what it's all about.
And that, you know, another thing to let people know is like reaching out to ASHA. Certainly that, that could be a way to get help for yourself, but it also helps ASHA understand because when you reach out to ASHA, they, they log the phone calls that they get, they actually analyze the kinds of questions that come up. And the questions that came up over the past year or two have led to things like ASHA's school-based town hall meetings, they had two town halls, one for COVID and one on retention and recruitment and shortages. Those are recordings that you can get ahold of and watch and listen to. Some of the calls on evaluation and eligibility and high case loads led to ASHA designing a conference called practical solutions for elementary assessment treatment and collaboration. They had world renowned experts in topics like Dyslexia and Apraxia but they also had a core thing where every case study had to go through the lens of IDEA eligibility, not just clinical. Right. So how do you get teachers involved in Apraxia? How do you get teachers involved in Dyslexia? And that came about because so many people were calling the school services team and they said, Hey, this is an area that's kind of popping. We should do something right. They are really responsive. But if you're just on social media saying, ASHA doesn't do anything for me, ASHA, can't really decide how to help you because it's kind of this global, you know, sadness or frustration when you call them directly and say, I need help with then they monitor that and they can do something about it.
That's huge. Because I will tell you, I didn't watch the last town hall, but I did watch the very first one.
The retention and recruitment one at the schools.
Wasn't it before I had to just done the two for schools.
I was on the retention. I was actually on both of them. So, and I think there was one, the first one.
Yes. And I remember being so excited about it because I was like, again, there's this mentality of, hello, see us, were drowning over here ASHA, did you not recognize, you know, a school based SLPs? And so then they're going to do this town hall, and they're going to talk about all of these things that we're struggling with. And it was, it was, I mean, again, it's validating to hear those concerns coming up and that it's being spoken about. I don't remember leaving it thinking, Oh, well, I shouldn't say, I didn't remember leading it, thinking that there were a ton of solutions given. I think I, I stopped, well then, you know, where are the solutions to those things? At some point, you know what I am saying?
Right like this is a first step, so what then will happen as a result of that? So, you know, that might again go more, maybe there was follow up, I mean, but it's more about just the communication piece of finding all of this, because again, a lot of these resources, even that you've talked about, it's like, Oh, that is amazing. I found the school services team information, I'm emailing them.
Right. And we're going to list all of this in the like, kind of show notes for the podcast episode by the way.
We're going to be like hey, Tiffany Marie said that we could reach out to you.
Shout out to Tiffany.
Tiffany Is the new director of school services. Yeah. And and she actually was the lead SLP for the DC public schools and just came from leading a huge school division. So she knows exactly what's going on in the schools. And all the rest of the folks that work with her are fantastic. But yeah. And that's good to know. I'll send you some links too, for the show notes about some of those other things that I mentioned.
So after that town hall, where I was like, yeah, I've got that problem too. And then, you know, I didn't feel like maybe I walked away with what is going to be done about that issue or what I could do about that issue. I will call Tiffany and say,
Hey, I was at the town hall.
Hey I was at the town hall. And I heard mention of, you know, this issue with blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And I would like to learn more about how I can advocate for myself.
Yeah and I don't even know where to start. Where's the starting point for this?
Yeah. The first town hall. The first town hall was really interesting because we had folks, we had a superintendent from a school division. We had folks, we had boots on the ground school therapists. We had people like me who had like state-level experience. There was a really broad range of folks around the table and they talked about it from kind of what's in it for me. Right. How do you move forward making your case to your school board? How do you talk to your principal? But again, for some people that might not be as clear a path. So I think ASHA learned from that and the the third town hall I was involved in was a COVID town hall. And there were tons of links. So you can go back to the COVID town hall about virtual treatment in the schools we gave, we talked about and gave links to things like the relaxation on HIPAA and where to get more. And I think that was right. When, when you all did your wonderful conference that you made available to so many people. And so we've tried to connect people up with resources and that one might have felt a little more personally helpful. Cause you got a ton of links and you could click on what made sense to you.
That's what it is. It's resources like I'm not even joking. I'm still stuck back on this one 1-800 number to Tiffany. Just kidding. There's not a 1-800 number.
It's an email.
It's an email. I'm joking. There is no one ended up, but I'm still like, never knew that. So cool. Wish I would've known that. And so it's because that's a resource you gave me a resource that I can use. And so I think that's what it comes down to is when I walk away from something, was there any, like, not just discussion, was there a resource, a takeaway, something I can implement right. You know, away from it. And so, and I guess, and that's what it is that we're looking for, I think, are those links or those contacts are those, you know, I think that all of us get so tired of just talking about it.
Or trying to search for things and hitting brick walls. Like there are times where I'm like, I know I need something, but maybe I don't even know what I need because I don't know those key search terms that are going to find the resources that would really be meaningful to me. So I do, I love this idea of emailing, Tiffany, Tiffany is going to be like, Stop saying my name.
You guys there's more than just Tiffany. Don't just email Tiffany.
Nicole, Lauren and Lisa Ray,
Lisa Ray, and Stacy, and, Aruna. There's a whole team of people.
Yeah. I got you. We're going to put their, all their email addresses in no just a link to this page so you can check it out. It's a great, that's an amazing resource.
It's an amazing resource.
And if you don't know who your state person is, like, if you're in Virginia, hopefully, you know, it's me hi out there. But if you're, you know, we have state consultants across the country, probably about 25 or 30 States have a dedicated person. So I can tell you the names of, you know, Angie's in South Carolina and Mary's in Florida and Tammy's in Colorado. And Texas actually has 10 people because Texas is so big, they have regions. And so like, how do we hook you up with the right people that can help you with your state stuff? And so there's a link to that group too. That's the SEA CDC. And we'll give you that link for the show notes where you can figure out who knows your own state rules. Cause like you said, the rules are different in some places. Right. And but we all work together just like how, you know, people meet up at ASHA every year. Our state consultants group gets together every year and we share that's how Arizona got the Virginia book. Right. We all share resources and, and tag team and help each other out. And so, there's lots of good stuff out there. So this would be a great way to connect your, your people up.
And I don't know about you, Sarah, but my main takeaway of this podcast is I'm moving to Virginia. Sounds like they've got it going on there, Marie,
Just to hang out with Marie?
We're going to hang out with Maria Marie, she's our representative there. They've got that great handbook going on. Like that's was that not what we're supposed to get from this?
Don't everyone moved to Virginia,
Nobody move to Virginia. Just invite me to come where you are. We'll come hang out. We'll do this training. I just did a training for the Arizona Department of Ed and I'm going to be at ArSHA.
We saw that.
And so I love to come and visit and talk and share. And as I, as I like to say, it's your tax dollars at work? Any state agency stuff that gets developed workload from Ohio, our guidance Wisconsin has a huge amount of stuff on language sampling. All these different States have these nuggets and they're all made with tax dollar money. So they're all free. So why not take advantage of them? So, yeah,
I want to go back to just to this idea again, of what the conversations on social media, and this is not, I'm not asking for like, you know, a final like thought or solution because it's just the beginning, but what I've seen probably more recently, maybe I feel like maybe in the last year or so. More than ever before, and it terrifies me, I will not lie. Is this idea of I'm gonna stop paying my dues. Uh, you know, I don't see what ASHA does for me. We should stop paying. Do we even really need it? Like I I'm seeing lot more of that conversation. Can, do you have some insight on it? Because to me, I feel like that would be insanely damaging. You know, for all of us professionals that you started the podcast episode, listing the reasons why we need ASHA at this organization. But you know, do you have anything to kind of maybe provide some insight on don't stop paying your dues?
So, you know, the, the idea of dues, the idea of paying your dues for ASHA is really I think it's hard because people it's their hard earned money, you know, and they, and they don't want to give it away if they don't feel like they're getting value for it. But think about the tensions that exist with things like perhaps there have been tensions with applied behavioral analysis and board certified BCBAs and people feel like, well, maybe they're overstepping, maybe they're treating language. What about music therapists? In some places, music therapists say that they can treat language. And so, you know, who's that who's going to monitor that and it might not be other professions. And that's in certain places and there's been a lot of collaboration and a lot of effort to make sure that we're all staying within our scope of practice. And we're all being responsible in terms of who we treat and what we treat. But think also about the changes in politics. There are a lot of places where a state legislatures say, what are we, what are we charging a license to be a speech pathologist? There are some States that tried to do away with licensure. Well, if you don't have licensure, that means anybody can say they're a speech language pathologists, whether they're trained or not. And that not only is perhaps dangerous to you and me as professionals, but think about the clients that we serve. Don't we want them to be treated with, with respect and by people who are knowledgeable. And so part of what ASHA does is ASHA monitors, that whole environment, in terms of what other people are doing, when you call the action center or you call the school services team and you say, Hey, there are the, there's this new group of people that are treating kids in our schools, ASHA gets involved, they research it, they find out what's going on and they work with their state association to handle it and so there's a lot of stuff that happens. And again, it might not be as meaningful to you if you don't live and work in that division where it's happening. But if your school division decides they don't need ASHA certified SLPs anymore, they're just going to hire whoever to come in and do speech. Cause it is just speech in some people's minds. Right? What does that do to us as a, as a profession and also as professionals. So take advantage of the resources and know what's out there. And if you don't feel like you're getting enough for your money, then call ASHA and find out what else there is. Cause there's a lot of cool stuff that's going on behind the scenes and really makes a difference.
I was going to say now that I've got Tiffany's contact information, I think that itself is worth the money. I'm just saying. I didn't know that they readily shared that.
Tiffany is going to be so pissed that you came on this podcast Marie. Give her a heads up.
She's going to be more famous. ASHA wants members to call. They want to know what you guys need. They want to know what people are struggling with so they can address the need. The hardest thing is to look on social media and see people say, you're not doing your job, but then they never really tell you to your face. Right? And so you gotta tell them what you need so they can try to fix it for you. They can't fix your caseload. They can't fix your salary. They can give you tools to help yourself. Right. But they can certainly be responsive. And I have found that they are, I.
Can they help me lose weight? No?
I don't know about that.
I'll pay my dues.
You know what, if you listen on your treadmill, I bet it will work.
I feel like we can have this conversation forever and we may have a follow-up conversation. Because I do hope anybody's listening will give us feedback or ask more questions that could lead to other discussions because I do think this has been really, really valuable eye opening for me. I've, I've walked away with so much. And so one again, we'll, we'll link everything that we mentioned. I can see a follow up blog post about this too, because it's got me thinking about all of these things. We love processes. So this whole thing is like just turned into one big process in my brain. And so we'll, we'll do some follow up there, but we may be reaching out again soon and hopefully having some follow-up conversations about this because I, I just think it is critical. I hope everybody listening, walked away with something to give them some peace of mind or at least some talking points so that we could change the narrative. You know, I am guilty of not responding in some of those threads, even though like, it's like a gut reaction that I should,
But maybe not knowing how to respond.
And then if you're not really clear on your messaging, that's when you get nailed in those kind of threads too.
Those girls can be scary. So not all girls, but this can be a tough crowd and I'm afraid of getting a tongue lashing. So there's talking points. So I feel like I have those now. And so I do, I want to help kind of change that narrative. And so I'm going to get maybe more vocal on social media.
And if anyone listening has questions, we don't always throw out our email for this. Just because it just never comes up. But in this case, absolutely email us at T white. I'm just kidding. I'm just kidding. I mean, you'll, you'll find that in the episode notes, you can email her to podcast@SLPtoolkit.com. So definitely send us your questions, your, you know, and we'll, we'll follow up with Marie and are excited to kind of, if we can share resources, resources I'm done, today's done. If we can share like Barbara Walters, if we can show some resources, then we will definitely do that.
Yeah, for sure. I also see an SLP summit presentation in your future. Would you ever do that?
Oh, absolutely. SLP Summits are fantastic. Yes.
Good. Good. Well, let's talk about that too, because I do, I just think there's so much here to unload and unpack.
Well, you two started a really great conversation and your podcasts are amazing and I have just really enjoyed being able to talk with you about this and I hope people have gotten some good stuff from it and yeah, I would love to catch up again sometime.
Okay. Thank you very much for your time.
Thank you so much