The blog post below is taken from Katie Sullivan’s website www.mysweethomeschool.com. When researching information for our Jenny’s Speech Tips I came across this post. In writing this article Katie draws on her both experience as an SLP and a mother of children who receive speech therapy. I hope you find it informative.
What makes of Good and Bad Speech Therapist
I have been a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) for 19 years. I am also the parent of two children with special needs who have received a total of 10 years of weekly speech therapy from other SLPs. In my career so far, I have had the privilege to work beside and learn from some amazing SLP’s, both women and men. I have also had to work with SLPs who were, in my opinion, quite terrible. So how do you tell a good SLP from a bad SLP? It is not based on age (there are good SLPs who are young/old and bad SLP’s who are young/old) and it is not based solely on experience either. Here’s a few things that I look for when I receive/find/am looking for an SLP for my own two sons:
A good SLP usually exhibits most of these traits:
- Shows up early so they can start the session on time.
- Is prepared.
- Uses various motivators for the session. They see it as their job to engage my child in the activities. You won’t hear them saying “(your child) just wouldn’t do anything today” but you might hear them say “I need to work on finding better motivators for your child”. They feel the responsibility of how engaged your child was in the session falls on them, not your child.
- Is professional and drama free.
- Enjoys children and working with your child. Finds positive things about your child to share with you that you can both build on; even after a “hard” session. You would think that one would be obvious, but I once had a new SLP for the boys tell me the reasons she planned to never have children of her own, and all the reasons she didn’t like kids. We didn’t have her back…
- Is flexible and remembers she/he is there to provide you a service.
- Stays up to date on current therapy techniques by seeking out in-person learning opportunities.
- Knows what she doesn’t know. There have been times when I have had a new client and I knew with extra training I would be able to stay ahead of my client and be able to provide a treatment with efficacy (good result), even though I did not have a lot of experience with their diagnosis at the time of our first session. There were other times I was asked to see a client and after the first session with the parents I KNEW I was not the best therapist for that job. Speech pathology is a VAST field and it is just not possible to be truly versed in all the different therapies for all the different diagnoses. Even though there is a shortage of SLPs, If a new-to-you SLP tells you “I don’t know enough about (diagnosis) to properly treat your child”, they just did you a favor… ( and in my humble opinion, the areas of trachs, feeding, stuttering, cochlear implant, hearing loss, and augmentative communication all come to mind as areas when the therapist MUST have either good experience or excellent training (and still have a supervisor available to them if no experience) to adequately and safely provide therapy.
- Will provide you with home program activities that you can do with your child until the next therapy session because she knows that one hour of therapy once a week is not going to “fix” anything without parents doing the heavy lifting the other 6 days of the week. She lets you know at the beginning, the important role you play on your child’s therapy team.
- Explains the “what” but also the “why” of what she is doing. For example: “we worked on blowing bubbles today so that (your child) can improve his lip rounding skills. We are doing this because lip rounding skills are necessary to make his /w/ sound correctly”. There is a LOGICAL chain from the therapy activities she is doing to the end result wanting to be achieved.
- Loves her job