Speaking of Associates: All Supervision, All the Time One Washington state treatment center has found ways to use SLPAs in early intervention while meeting the state's requirement for 100 percent supervision. Speaking of Associates
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Speaking of Associates  |   February 01, 2014
Speaking of Associates: All Supervision, All the Time
Author Notes
  • Kathy Engelstad
    is a speech-language pathology assistant at the Holly Ridge Center in Bremerton, Wash. ·coloratura1@comcast.net
Article Information
Special Populations / Early Identification & Intervention / Professional Issues & Training / Speaking of Associates
Speaking of Associates   |   February 01, 2014
Speaking of Associates: All Supervision, All the Time
The ASHA Leader, February 2014, Vol. 19, 40. doi:10.1044/leader.SOA.19022014.40
The ASHA Leader, February 2014, Vol. 19, 40. doi:10.1044/leader.SOA.19022014.40
What’s the best way to use the skills of speech-language pathology assistants when state law calls for 100 percent supervision of their work?
Throughout Washington, speech-language pathologists and assistants are forging strategies to meet this requirement. At the Holly Ridge Center in Bremerton—where I’ve worked for more than five years as an SLPA in early intervention—we have created two environments in which we can be most effective.
Holly Ridge Center, a private, nonprofit agency with 50 years of experience serving children and adults with disabilities, is the only neurodevelopmental center on the entire Olympic Peninsula. In the early intervention programs, which served more than 900 children in 2012, SLPAs take an active role in developmental playgroups and speech groups.
  • Developmental playgroups usually consist of 10 to 12 children who have a variety of delays. Usually five or six—sometimes more—of the group members have speech-language delays. We try to include at least one typically developing child in the group as well. Under the supervision of an SLP in the class, I work with children individually on the goals the SLP has designed for them. Other staff members, including special educators, paraprofessionals and occupational therapists, are also working with the children. Parents assist when possible; however, they are usually watching the class through an observation window so as not to distract from the therapeutic sessions.

  • Speech groups bring together four to six children with speech delays—usually expressive, but sometimes receptive as well, to work with an SLP and one or two SLPAs (depending on the size of the group). Parents usually are in the classroom during speech groups, so they can learn what we are doing with the children and get ideas to carry over into their home environments.

We have incorporated a music program, Language and Movement through Music, into one of our speech groups. We lead it in much the same way as the other speech groups, but with more emphasis on music. We teach music to young children with specific components such as pitch exploration, singing in tune, keeping a beat and musical expression. We use music to support language learning and cognitive skills, to encourage movement, and for calming and self-regulation.
My supervisor, Debi Hagardt—a certified SLP—relies on research indicating that children who discover music at a young age will learn to comprehend and appreciate music more deeply throughout their lives. I help by preparing materials and leading a table activity (that ties in with the theme of the session), allowing her the opportunity to work more closely with the children and parents on specific goals.
In my own work in the music-oriented groups, I have noticed how seamlessly the music program is incorporated in the treatment plan my supervisor has designed for the children in the group. Music and movement are such fun activities for the children. They love to imitate the sliding whistle with their voices!
Through innovative programs and appropriate use of SLPAs, the Holly Ridge Center has created an effective way for support staff to perform the job they were trained to do—support SLPs in the care and delivery of service to clients with communication disorders. And I am so pleased to have the opportunity to work with talented professionals who change the lives of the children and families that come to us for help.
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February 2014
Volume 19, Issue 2