Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone with Early Intervention

I’m so incredibly excited to hear from six amazing SLPs volunteered to share their experience when overcoming a challenge. These posts are filled with practical tips and tricks.

Next up is…Kayla! She is a school-based SLP who stepped into a new setting–early intervention!

If you have considered early intervention as a speech-language pathologist, then read this interview by an SLP who tried it out for a year. It may be the right choice for you, and it may not, but this field of speech therapy requires a different approach than working in schools or in private practice. Click through to read the interview!

 

Tell us a little about you! Where are you from?

Western Kentucky

Tell us about your experience as an SLP! Where did you go to school? How long have you been an SLP? What settings have you worked in? Where do you currently work (e.g., setting, quick overview of caseload)?

I attended Murray State University for undergrad and graduate school. I am a 5th year SLP working in a very rural elementary school. I am currently serving on the executive council for the Kentucky Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and I have also dabbled in the world of birth-to-3 early intervention.

Describe the problem you faced. Tell us a little about the situation and how you felt tackling the problem.

I absolutely love working with young children, especially preschoolers. So, naturally, I assumed early intervention (birth to 3 years) would be a natural fit for me. Surprise! It wasn’t. I liked it, but I didn’t LOVE it. As much as I adored the family and the child, I came to realize that early intervention may not be for me. And, of course, I felt guilty! Guilty that I possibly let a family and/or child down. Guilty that I didn’t know everything there is to know about EI. Guilty that I was learning as I went. Guilty that I wasn’t doing enough because I was so out of my comfort zone. Guilty that I didn’t find a way to make myself love early intervention.

Which resources did you use when solving the problem?

I researched EI, and I researched it well. I became an active participant in early intervention Facebook group discussions, bought all of Laura Mize’s therapy manuals (I highly recommend these, by the way), and took multiple courses on EI through speechpathology.com. I would not have survived a year in early intervention without these resources.

What did you try that worked really well?

Kentucky uses the “Bagless Approach” for EI services, which means that we do not bring materials into the home (that can’t be left there). I really had to push myself to grasp this concept (after all, I do work in a school with tons of awesome supplies), but once I figured it out, I could definitely see the benefits of this approach! Why wouldn’t I want to use the materials that are always available in the child’s home?!

What did you try that didn’t work?

Lots of things! This was a very trial-and-error experience for me. It was the first time I had worked with a child under the age of 3, and it was also my first experience working with a nonverbal child. I tried multiple activities that I thought would be perfect and wonderful, and guess what — they weren’t! Young children do not always want to do what you want them to do, in case you were wondering!

What did you do when things didn’t go as planned?

Tried and tried again! I went home, planned better activities, asked for parent input, looked up more research — anything I could do to make my therapy services useful and beneficial for this child and this family!

What was the end result? Was it what you expected?

I decided early intervention wasn’t for me. I learned to appreciate the EI approach and process, but it wasn’t for me. At least not at this point in my life! Right now, schools are where I belong.

What did you learn?

My biggest suggestion would be to put in the work. Do the research. Ask for help when you need it. Don’t beat yourself up over not knowing it all, and certainly do not beat yourself up if you try something and do not absolutely love it.

marisha-mcgrorty-about-mobile

Hi there! I'm Marisha. I am a school-based SLP who is all about working smarter, not harder. I created the SLP Now Membership and love sharing tips and tricks to help you save time so you can focus on what matters most--your students AND yourself.

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