A call to arms

As pediatric Speech-Language Pathologists, we can do better.

The pediatric sector of our profession has always been the less “glamorous” side of the field. I remember speaking to a supervisor in graduate school, a very well-respected clinician in the world of adult dysphagia, who told me she wouldn’t work with children because she didn’t spend years in graduate school just to “play Hi-Ho Cherry-o” for the rest of her life.

Really? This is the outlook my fellow SLPs have on the developmental side of therapeutic intervention? I realize this is not how everyone sees it, but as I have progressed through my career this type of thinking pops up much more frequently than it should.

Then again, can I blame them? I look around and see burned-out clinicians laying four-part sequencing cards in front of children for an hour and calling it intervention. Asking wh-questions from a deck of picture cards as the child wiggles in his or her seat. Strapping 20-month-olds into chairs and giving them stickers or candy for imitating the word “ball.”

This isn’t functional. This isn’t supported by research. This isn’t treating holistically or developmentally. We can do better. We have all seen it, we have all done it, but we all can do better.

I am writing this because I want to be inspired by my fellow clinicians, and learn from them. I want to share our experiences and research and clinical expertise so we can all do better. Together.

I have seen many wonderful blogs centered on adult-based services that are heavily rooted in research and professional issues. My favorite, Gray Matter Therapy, is incredibly inspiring. When I look to pediatric blogs, however, I am (often, not always) directed to lovely and well-written articles on how to decorate a bulletin board in your room or how to “teach” pronouns using downloadable worksheets. These are wonderful resources, but I’d like to dig deeper.

I have seen brilliant pediatric SLPs take children from a quiet, unengaged world to laughing and communicating with their peers. They did not get there from sequencing cards, or pronoun worksheets, or pretty bulletin boards.

They got there from research-based, engagement-driven, play-based therapy.

We can do better.

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