Chapel Hill Snippets is glad to have Guest Blogger: Ashley Robinson once again!
I have a question for all the school based related service
providers and assistive technology professionals: Have you ever struggled to explain your role
in a student's education to a parent or teacher? As a speech-language
pathologist at a middle and high school, I see many students who have received
speech-language as a related service since preschool. In many cases I wonder if
the role of the related service professional has been explained to the team.
So, I came up with my own explanation.
A student who qualifies for special education services
cannot access the curriculum (in most cases the Common Core).
The IEP is the bridge to the curriculum. It should address
the skills that the student needs so that he can follow the Common Core. For
example, there is a sixth grade boy who struggles with written expression.
Instead of writing a goal that states “Boy
will write on grade level,” think about what is keeping this student from
writing on grade level.
Perhaps this student is not using complex sentences
or is using ambiguous pronoun references.
The IEP team will work together to review data on a child
and determine the needs of a particular student. In this case, the
student does NOT require any related service support, so the special education
teacher is the one building the bridge. Another possibility is that the team
may find that a speech-language impairment is the primary disability holding
the child back, and the SLP will be in charge of building that bridge. In
either case, additional related service support is not needed.
In my experience though, most students have a disability
(think ADHD or specific learning disability) and language disorders (or sensory
issues, or assistive tech issues....) are a part
of that disability and require
related service support to access the IEP
The bridge cannot be built straight
across - there needs to be a ramp.
This is how our lead SLP explained it to us, “If you take
away the student's primary disability (e.g., ADHD), would they still have a
language disorder?” This is a clinical judgement question for each student;
however, I've found the answer to be “probably not.” Thus, speech-language is a
Because I'm an SLP, I am going to use speech-language
services as my example; however, this analogy applies to OT, PT, and Assistive
Technology (at least with the model we work under in my school system).
Once the team determines that speech-language services are
needed to address a goal (stay tuned for a future post on this), then the
question is – what is the role of the SLP as a related service support
provider? Here's what I think:
Related service is the RAMP to get on the bridge (i.e., the
IEP). What language skills does the student require to even get on the
Again, goals or objectives should be developed to address a
student's language needs that are impeding him from accessing the IEP (e.g.,
explicit instruction in pronoun use or sentence construction). Once the student
has mastered these skills, and is on the bridge, then the special education
teacher is the one to continue moving forward to build the bridge.
Speech-language services are no longer
Goals should address the needs of the student, and with each year, the student will (hopefully) close the gap until he or she is working on the curriculum (YAY!!). Some students will never have a bridge that stretches all of the say across; however, it is important that goals are systematic and are bringing that student as far as possible each year.
I'm curious to know what you think. How do you see the role of the related service professional in the school? Feel free to contact me with your thoughts and questions!
Ashley Robinson, MS, CCC-SLP and AT professional
I'll introduce myself: My name is Ashley Robinson and I am in my
second year serving as a speech language pathologist and assistive
technology professional in Chapel Hill Carrboro City Schools. Ruth
Morgan (http://chapelhillsnippets.blogspot.com) was my AMAZING CF supervisor last year and Jim Tignor (http://shinobijimbo.blogspot.com)
helps me to navigate the AT waters. They are the best mentors anyone
could ask for and I am so lucky to have them. I am a PATH International
certified therapeutic horseback riding instructor at NC Therapeutic Riding Center
and I plan to pursue certification as a professional that practices
hippotherapy. I'm passionate about both of my jobs- especially the
possibility of combining technology and horses! When I'm not working,
I'm usually thinking about work or enjoying NC.
Chapel Hill Snippets needs to credit renowned OT and artist Jim Tignor
for the graphics! Thanks!