Reading stories from other SLP’s in the field has always been inspirational and kept me proud to be an SLP. I love “swapping” stories from the trenches. It helps me remember that I am not alone facing trials, funny moments, sad days, and piles of paperwork. A bunch of us SLP bloggers decided to host a “Chicken Soup for the SLP Soul” blog hop to share memorable moments from our journey as an SLP. At the end of each post there will be a SECRET NUMBER and at the end of the hop (YOU MADE IT CUZ’ I AM THE LAST STOP), you enter the secret number into the rafflecopter below for a chance to win a TPT gift certificate.
You can get extra entries for liking all of our blogger facebook pages too!!
If you are just hearing about the Chicken Soup blog hop, click on the photo above to start from the beginning! Now, on to the good stuff, my story!
Back when I was starting my second year as an SLP, I worked at junior high school. At the time, I didn’t know what age group I would love, so I was on board to try anything.
The first couple weeks of school were a bit disorganized because in the midst of trying to put my schedule together, all the students were having a lot of schedule changes as well, so getting all of my speech students on the “books” was a flexible process. It was the 2nd day of school, so I wasn’t formally seeing students yet for therapy when this sweet 7th grader knocked on my door.
Immediately he asked me “HHHHHHey, are you you the speech therapist.”
“Yes I am. How can I help you?” I replied.
“Well, well, IIIIIIII need to have speech therapy. Dddddooooo you play games in here?” About this time in the conversation, I had an inkling why he might want to be in my program.
I then asked him, “Have you ever had speech therapy before.” He explained that he used to have speech services in elementary school, but was dismissed around 4th/5th grade. He then asked me “Ssssooooo, you play games in here, rrrriight?” The conversation continued for a few more minutes and a couple of months later (60 day timeline peeps), I signed the lad up for some speech services!
The remainder of that year I worked with this student on learning different speech strategies to use when communicating with peers, staff, talking on the telephone, etc. He loved coming to speech for the games and getting my undivided attention, yet never seemed to use those strategies outside my speech room. As I started building a relationship with this student, I found out that he was in foster care for a short time, but was now back living with his father. He got to visit his mom on weekends and was an only child. I could tell early on in our relationship that he didn’t have support at home to make sure his homework was completed or help with organizing projects for school.
When this student saw me in the hallway, he would eagerly ask me, “when when doooooo I have speech again? We we are going to play a ggggame, right?” The kid longed for extra attention and I loved that about him. I looked out for this student and always checked in with his teachers to make sure his grades were passing and that people were treating him nicely. The year ended and I told him I would see him next year.
At the beginning of this student’s 8th grade year, I went out on maternity leave with my first child and came back after Thanksgiving break. When I returned, I discovered that my friend was still stuttering, not using his strategies outside the speech room and had 4 F’s on his progress report. As I began networking with this student’s teachers, similar comments were shared “____ isn’t turning in his homework assignments. ____ gets distracted in class and doesn’t complete all of his classroom assignments. ____ doesn’t turn in projects that are due in the class.”
I sat this student down and we discussed his grade situation. As I dug further as to why he had so many F’s, I discovered that he had 2 projects due within 2 weeks and lots of missing assignments. I realized at that moment that he didn’t have that mom or dad checking his planner or grades. He was also pretty embarrassed that he let his grades plummet and had to share those details with me.
I thought about my therapy sessions with this student that night and decided I was not going to allow this student to get F’s on his next report card. The speech strategies that I made this student work on weren’t being used outside the therapy room and the most concerning matter was his self confidence with his academics. So, I decided I was going to help him with his social studies power point presentation during our sessions. His language arts teacher said that he could get partial credit for late assignments and we did those during his therapy sessions too.
As I initiated this new change in my lesson plans, I went home fretting about my therapy. I was deviating from my student’s IEP goals and I wasn’t taking data every session! Needless to say, I felt very insecure as a therapist because I was doing something that was “out of the box” in terms of stuttering therapy.
Throughout the next semester, I let this student come in during his 6th period while I ran a social skills group to have a quiet place to do his language arts classwork. One day, he finished his assignment early and asked if he could join the group. I of course, said that would be awesome and I watched as this student treated all my spectrum kiddos with the utmost care and respect. That day I left school knowing that this was a special kid. He helped me periodically with these students and acted as a peer model when I taught different skills once a week.
By the end of the second semester, I didn’t have as much “data” to document that he was using his fluency strategies or that he had reduced his stuttering episodes. I can report that this student passed ALL of his classes with C’s or higher. Furthermore, I saw his confidence increase in the classroom with his academic skills. He even personally asked me if I would attend his graduation ceremony (I of course accepted and attended). At the end of the school year, I said my goodbyes and sent his file over to the High School for the following school year.
Helping this student changed my perspective of my job as a speech therapist. When I developed his “alternative” treatment plan, I decided to look at the WHOLE person. I made a judgment call as to what would be most important for this student’s present communication needs. Of course, I made mistakes, questioned myself a lot and wondered if I was even fit to be a therapist because I didn’t have him practice his slow speech and easy starts in sentences every session. The next year, I ran into this student when I was helping some other therapists complete speech and language screenings for all 9th graders at the HS. The therapist that screened his group, came back to me and told me that he said I helped him a lot and gave him a lot of communication strategies that he uses. That felt pretty awesome to hear! Sometimes progress in therapy cannot be measured by percentages, rubrics and test performance. A student’s progress may be watching a student build his/her confidence in themselves, take more chances, or make changes necessary for their success.
It’s been 7 years, since I last saw him and I will never forget him. Great memories can occur when you step outside your comfort zone and try something new. I tried something different and I think it was a success. Not everyone will agree with my methods, but I couldn’t just treat one part of a person (his stuttering) and ignore the rest of him. I hope this student remembers me as someone who was dependable, caring and on his side for the better!
Hope you enjoyed reading all these fabulous stories! Enter below in the rafflecopter for your chance to win BIG!! Here is my secret number. Add all your numbers that you have collected and enter them to win.
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Thank you to all the wonderful BLOGGERS who participated in this hop!