Check Out Your Local Library When her clients’ families felt unwelcome at community events, an SLP worked to make a change. First Person/Last Page
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First Person/Last Page  |   November 01, 2017
Check Out Your Local Library
Author Notes
  • Beth Deiter, MA, CCC-SLP, provides home-based speech-language and feeding treatment in the northwest suburbs of Chicago through her private practice, Beth Deiter, Ltd. beth@bethdeiterslp.com
    Beth Deiter, MA, CCC-SLP, provides home-based speech-language and feeding treatment in the northwest suburbs of Chicago through her private practice, Beth Deiter, Ltd. beth@bethdeiterslp.com×
Article Information
Special Populations / Early Identification & Intervention / Healthcare Settings / First Person/Last Page
First Person/Last Page   |   November 01, 2017
Check Out Your Local Library
The ASHA Leader, November 2017, Vol. 22, 88. doi:10.1044/leader.FPLP.22112017.88
The ASHA Leader, November 2017, Vol. 22, 88. doi:10.1044/leader.FPLP.22112017.88
A few years ago, I transitioned from hospital-based speech-language pathology to home-based early intervention, while balancing my role as a mother of two young children. Perhaps it was the unique timing, but I often felt like my own children were developing alongside my patients. I could relate with my patients’ parents in new ways, and we would frequently share our best new parent “finds.”
However, the parents of my clients would frequently dismiss my recommendation to visit free library playgroups (a regular event on my own family calendar).
Some parents thought they might have a difficult time relating with parents of typically developing children. Others worried about the possible reactions to and judgment of their child’s behavioral difficulties. And some parents explained that they had tried these outings in the past, but considered them failures—after being asked to leave because of their child’s disruptions.
When I heard these concerns and experiences, I—as their speech-language pathologist and advocate—felt motivated to contact the library on their behalf. Since then, staff from my neighborhood library—Arlington Heights (Illinois) Memorial Library—and I have collaborated on many projects designed specifically for children with special needs. This library strives to serve all community members, and had already created several trailblazing programs for children with special needs and their families. However, it was clear that before our partnership, such programming was not as consistent or effective at attracting participants.
Our most successful program, the “Early Intervention Playgroup,” is now in its second year and attracts an average of 30 attendees each month. This playgroup has a very loose structure and minimal behavioral expectations. We provide various play-based centers where children roam freely among different activities encouraging gross-motor, sensory, fine-motor, imaginative/creative, constructive and collaborative play with others. While the children explore, the parents talk with one another, finding a supportive, local adult community as well.
Library staff is always present during the playgroups, but I also attend, volunteering as a sort of ambassador. Parents can ask me questions about treatment, resources and early intervention in general. I answer them, but I also frequently redirect them to other parents in the playgroup with whom they can connect on a more personal, social and informal level.
The playgroup collaboration has spurred the creation of other inclusive programs at this library and has also led to new professional opportunities for me. In an attempt to expand our outreach, I frequently speak about our unique partnership at local library events and conferences.
The library welcomed my ideas and participation, and community response has been overwhelmingly positive. Other SLPs may want to explore similar collaborative programming with their own neighborhood libraries. I’d be happy to be a resource to those wanting more information based on my experience.
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FROM THIS ISSUE
November 2017
Volume 22, Issue 11