Teamwork That Works Two SLPs Learn Quickly How to Ride a Wave of Incoming Students Features
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Features  |   February 01, 2011
Teamwork That Works
Author Notes
  • Kellie Rowden-Racette, print and online editor for The ASHA Leader, can be reached at krowden-racette@asha.org.
    Kellie Rowden-Racette, print and online editor for The ASHA Leader, can be reached at krowden-racette@asha.org.×
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Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / School-Based Settings / Professional Issues & Training / Language Disorders / Social Communication & Pragmatics Disorders / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Features
Features   |   February 01, 2011
Teamwork That Works
The ASHA Leader, February 2011, Vol. 16, 27. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR7.16022011.27
The ASHA Leader, February 2011, Vol. 16, 27. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR7.16022011.27

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The quiet little school of Horace Mitchell Primary in Kittery, Maine, was facing a tsunami of sorts in 2010. The student body of 320 students had an expected incoming kindergarten class, of course, but this year’s newcomers were different. Instead of the usual seven to 10 kindergartners who would need speech-language treatment services (in most cases, usually for articulation), that year’s class had 17 kindergartners who would need services, including several students with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) who would need more intense social skills intervention.
“It was going to be a little overwhelming,” said Eva Diharce, one of the school’s two speech-language pathologists. Usually she and Donna MacKenzie, the other SLP, would divide up the cases; MacKenzie would take all the kindergartners and Diharce would take students in the rest of the grades. But this year, they quickly decided, that wasn’t going to work. So the two SLPs developed Speech Group, which has been the answer to who, what, and how they were going to deliver services to all those new kindergartners.
Speech Group works by having three groups at separate tables, each manned by either MacKenzie, Diharce, or the kindergarten special education teacher, Kristen Greene. A project at each table addresses the students’ various treatment goals, such as articulation or social language. At 15-minute intervals, a chime sounds and the groups rotate. Each week Speech Group begins with reading a story and all the projects relate to that narrative with a speech or curriculum focus.
And while they’ve found a way to handle the increased workload in a way that works for them, it’s even better that they’ve done it in a way that has won over the students, too. Since its inception in September, Speech Group has become wildly popular, with other students asking to join.
“They’re at the age where they want to join and be included,” MacKenzie said. “Now they’re all saying, ‘Can I be in Speech Group?’”
And in the future, they might just be able to say “yes.” They would like to add in peers, expand the program to higher grade levels, maybe even add in an occupational therapist—who knows? But for this year they’re just going to bask in the success of a good idea.
Contact Donna MacKenzie at dmackenzie@kitteryschools.org and Edie Diharce at ediharce@kitteryschools.org.
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February 2011
Volume 16, Issue 2