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…Molly! She’s sharing how she prepared for successful parent communication and how she built rapport with a parent in a challenging situation.
Tell us a little about you! Where are you from?
I am from the Northwestern suburbs of Chicago. I live with my SLP husband and our 18-month-old daughter. It is amazing to watch her language grow! My husband and I nerd out about language milestones together.
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?
I went to Marquette University in Milwaukee and received a major in history and a minor in speech-language pathology. I went to Northern Illinois University to receive a Bachelors in speech-language pathology. I went to graduate school for my Masters in speech-language pathology at University of Nebraska at Omaha.
I have been an SLP since 2013. I have always worked a full-time position in the school setting. I have worked in two school districts. This is my fifth year at my current school district. The buildings that I have been in have all been Title 1 schools that have preschool to 5th grade. I have done PRN work at a nursing home, but the hours were inconsistent. I now have clients at a private practice that I have been working at since 2015, where I see clients mostly for AAC, social skills, and phonological processes.
Describe the problem you faced. Tell us a little about the situation and how you felt tackling the problem.
I had a 2nd grade student who moved from another school district. His previous school district had speech goals for articulation. When he came to the school district that I work for, we were able to open up an evaluation because we did not feel as though articulation was the only goal that would benefit this student. The school assessed all areas: academics, fine motor, language, speech, social/emotional, and cognitive.
When I completed my testing, the student obtained standard scores that were 65-70 on the CELF-5. During the initial meeting with mom, she was only concerned with her son’s articulation, but I had overall language concerns. I was concerned that mom would not be receptive to my recommendations of additional therapy minutes, additional language goals, and using visuals in the classroom to aid in production and understanding.
Which resources did you use when solving the problem?
I looked at my data that I had for this student. I made sure that my evaluation was completed with not only standardized tests but also with informal assessments (e.g., language samples, student work, etc.) and a variety of classroom observations (e.g., small group setting, large group setting, and with peers). Since there were going to be difficult conversations with mom about his progress not being typical, I made sure that I also found a variety of student strengths. I also consulted with my other SLP friends. I asked their opinions about how to explain to a parent that they had higher needs than what was previously stated. Building rapport with the mom at the initial meeting and when she came to drop him off at school was also very helpful. I made sure to do a parent interview to gain input about home life and his language development. At the meeting, I connected what the parent saw at home and what we saw at school to explain how the below average-range standard scores impacted his ability to complete various tasks.
What did you try that worked really well?
I feel that building a rapport with the mom really helped her gain trust in our team and our recommendations.
What did you try that didn’t work?
I was very fortunate in this situation that the mom was very receptive to what the team and I were suggesting. We all wanted what was best for the student: for him to be successful at school and with peers.
What did you do when things didn’t go as planned?
When a parent, in general, has questions or asks about additional information that I do not know at the time, I let them know that I don’t have the answer at that moment but that I will get back to them. I make sure to get back to them with the additional resources/information that they ask for.
What was the end result? Was it what you expected?
The mom in this situation had a better reaction than I anticipated. She was willing to add more therapy time. She was even understanding when I recommended an AAC device due to his highly unintelligible speech.
What did you learn?
I learned that building a relationship with a family helps them gain trust in your recommendations. I feel like making sure to have a variety of examples of how the standard scores impact them within the classroom allows parents to not focus on the low score but on how this skill will increase due to therapy. For example, a low-scaled score on Following Directions can impact a student’s ability to complete classroom tasks, like getting their materials ready for class.