SLP Competitive Culture

Picture this, you’re still in your undergrad classes, taking notes and trying to get a good grade on all your assignments. The professors are already warning you how hard it will be to get into grad school. You see the other students in the room as your competition, not not as the peers who you will one day be working in the field with. Like the jungle, each time tests were handed back you could cut the tension in the room with a knife. From the very beginning of your SLP journey, you have put up barriers to make sure you get to accomplish your goals.

I was lucky enough to have a great undergrad study group, who helped support each other. Without them I don’t know where I would be.

Now you might have the personal experience or a friend’s story of the professor who told them they wouldn’t make it in the field. The supervisor who made a comment on what you wore to the clinic, or how they would have done something complete different with a client. You start off your therapeutic career often with lots of scrutiny and second guessing everything you do with clients. For some that helps shape them into amazing therapist, but for others that adds a life long toll of seconded guessing their individual therapy techniques.

Undergrad and grad students are fresh and excited and just what our field needs. They need to know that what we do isn’t cookie cutter, and we are excited to support their strengths when they join our field. Help push away the negativity, and loneliness that our undergrad and graduate programs sometimes create (even if it’s unintentional).

Practicing SLPs and SLPAs we need to work harder on realizing we are not alone, and we can lean on each other to create a network of support and change. You may be the only one in your building, district, office, nursing home, or hospital, but that doesn’t mean you have no one in your corner. It’s ok to do therapy different than others, it’s ok to ask for help, it’s ok to not always know the immediate answer.

I challenge everyone to take the CUEs needed to become a mentor for future SLPs and CFs. To reach out to those via social media, snail mail, conventions and repair some of those competitive feelings that may impact your willingness to find support today. Hopefully our schooling can make some change by allowing more students in graduate programs in order to increase acceptance into our field. Either way, the little things you can do to help go a long way.

A Letter to ASHA

Dear ASHA,

We, the school speech language pathologists, are frustrated with being given inadequate therapy rooms. Some of us are happy just to get a room with a door at all, and that is unacceptable. We provide a range of specialized services that require a proper space for our students.

School SLPs are often overlooked by admin and school boards when it comes to a proper space for our students. Speech services are not always seen as critical, even with advocacy provided by building and district SLPs.

FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) does require a basic level of privacy for our students, many of whom do not receive this when a therapy space is shared with other teachers or staff.

What message are we sending to our students when we provide services in storage closets, school hallways, cafeterias, or similar spaces? This is often the norm, not the exception, when it comes to school SLPs/SLPAs.

We look to you to not only advocate for us, speech language pathologists, but also for our students. Our profession has been in the school setting for far too long to continue to be looked over when it comes to proper therapy spaces.

How do you as our national governing body plan to make changes and advocate for us on a national and state level? We look forward to your statement and support of your school speech language pathologists.

Sincerely, A Frustrated SLP

What can you do to help make change? Reach out to ASHA through the ASHA National Office. I have linked the Action Center page below as well as listed their phone number to help voice your options. Share this post with other SLPs, admin, and supporters to get the word out. Reach out to local teacher unions you may be a part of a share your experience and the experiences of others.

Action Center:

online contact form

Phone: 800- 498- 2071

email: grassroots@asha.org

Speech Room Setup

My speech room received an upgrade this year, so I wanted to share what I am doing with some of the extra space I have. Some of these practices are to help with social distancing due to COVID-19, while others are here to stay permanently.

Interactive Bulletin Board: 🌟This year I’m using a numbered organizer for all of my students to have their own supplies. Inside they have crayons, glue stick, and reward punch card. Hopefully this helps cut down on germs!🌟I’m using @aperfectblendteaching interactive language board to target a wide range of language skills. This is perfect to discuss while we are putting on our hand sanitizer.

SLP Style: 🌟Love my new SLP lanyard from @igotchewshop Use code GINGERSPEECHIE for 10% off 🌟 Together Again face mask from @shopdisney 🌟 PTA provided buttons so our kiddos can see our faces!

Sensory Corner: 🌟Sensory area for my students this year. There are pillows with different textures, sensory bottles, and other sensory items for students. 🌟In order to keep students safe, I have my Clean Me bucket. This is for fidget toys, headphones, and other things that need cleaned once used. I might not always have time to clean them right away, but when I do have time I can clean them for other students to use. Grab your decal here to make your own!

Color Coded Stations: 🌟Colored stools paired with a dot on the table help keep students in their area during therapy. This also allows students to know where to go for speech/language centers.