The Second Set of ‘C’s A retired SLP reflects on three principles that she learned were critical to treating clients of all ages. First Person/Last Page
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First Person/Last Page  |   February 01, 2016
The Second Set of ‘C’s
Author Notes
  • Carol Kauffman, MA, CCC-SLP, owned Language Learning Consultants in Columbus, Ohio, providing contractual services to clinics, hospitals, home health, schools and early intervention programs. She also led seminars for Premier Education Solutions, Inc., in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Now retired, she plans to keep her “C”s (all six of them) in her new role as grandmother to 1-year-old Camden. ckauffm1@columbus.rr.com
    Carol Kauffman, MA, CCC-SLP, owned Language Learning Consultants in Columbus, Ohio, providing contractual services to clinics, hospitals, home health, schools and early intervention programs. She also led seminars for Premier Education Solutions, Inc., in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Now retired, she plans to keep her “C”s (all six of them) in her new role as grandmother to 1-year-old Camden. ckauffm1@columbus.rr.com×
Article Information
Professional Issues & Training / First Person/Last Page
First Person/Last Page   |   February 01, 2016
The Second Set of ‘C’s
The ASHA Leader, February 2016, Vol. 21, 72. doi:10.1044/leader.FPLP.21022016.72
The ASHA Leader, February 2016, Vol. 21, 72. doi:10.1044/leader.FPLP.21022016.72
On March 26, 2014, I hung up my speech-language pathologist’s hat after almost 40 years. What have I learned that may be useful to other SLPs? Three fundamental principles stand head-and-shoulders above any specific treatment from my arsenal. I have affectionately dubbed these principles my “second set of ‘C’s,” earned only after decades of in-the-trenches experience.
Collaborate
Research has confirmed that everything is connected—from gut to brain to behavior. I was determined to learn all I could from those in the fields of mental health, occupational therapy, physical health and education. We met for coffee at Starbucks. I attended their seminars, studied their research. Together, we devised red-flag screenings, setting up reciprocal referral protocols.
Conversely, those in other professions seemed very appreciative when I shared tips from my own areas of expertise. No one profession had the answer, but we each had discovered little answers that—when integrated into more comprehensive treatment plans—often further enhanced our clients’ outcomes.
Commiserate
Commiserate?! Yep. As a parent of a child with challenges, I know well the heartache one feels as her child struggles—in school, at home, in life. Studies have shown that validation is one of the most powerful techniques in our communication arsenal. When we validate, we help others feel they are not alone, that others care and that they truly matter. Human beings have a fundamental need to feel heard.
When I learned to truly listen, commiserate and validate my clients’ frustrations—from cranky toddlers to irate parents to adults with dementia—the change in their demeanor and subsequent eagerness to work with me was nothing short of miraculous.
Celebrate
In one of our sessions, Keith, a 14-year-old with severe neurodevelopmental disabilities, identified a functional word—a first for him. We whooped and high-fived right there on the spot. A year later, when I left the clinic, his mom wrote: “I will always remember the day we celebrated Keith’s reading milestone. I can’t thank you enough for caring so much about his successes.”
A moment of celebration turned the day into a special memory lasting a lifetime for this family. Mother Teresa once said, “You don’t have to do great things; just small things with great love.” I learned over the years that no technique was worth more than my efforts to communicate heart-to-heart with my families, rejoicing in every step forward, no matter how small.
In the last three decades of the 20th century, I witnessed remarkable advances in the treatment of people with communication disorders. The 21st century is even more promising for astounding improvements in our treatments and technologies. But I am convinced that authentic human connection is—and always will be—the essential foundation.
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February 2016
Volume 21, Issue 2