Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Transition Time! Tips for the SLP

Now is the time for transition meetings!  These are for preschoolers with IEPs who will be attending our school in the fall.  Each case is different, each student is unique.  All students have someone who loves them--this may be two parents, one parent, guardians, grandparents, mentors. They come from all walks of life.  I see anxiety in the grownups' faces, unanswered questions, trepidation, sometimes tears.

After attending these transition meetings year after year, here are my tips for speech pathologists to help ease those fears, allay anxiety, and yet advocate for students......

  • Look friendly---sometimes this is hard to do after back-to-back meetings in a hot room; however, try to use those megacognitive skills and force your lips in an upward curved position.  Look at people eagerly, like you believe this new child will be the best adventure ever!
  • Try to have some information about the child in advance.  A transition meeting may  not be as in depth as an annual review IEP meeting, but it's helpful to know some of the child's strengths and needs.
  • I personally don't stress over recommendations about service delivery and times.  My feeling is that I don't know the child, so it's not my place to pre-determine.  If speech delivery times seem inappropriate, however, I will speak up, but only if speech times are out of sight (e.g. I have had requests for twice a day speech, every day).  For the past 5 years, time for speech service has been reasonable in my school and I've found that times of service can be changed later once everyone sees that the child also needs to access the classroom curriculum. I realize, though, that this can be a battleground.  The preschool transition meeting, however, is not the place to have the battle.
  • Be helpful!   I have made picture books for new kids which have teachers and rooms clearly displayed.  I have greeted new children when they visit the school before the beginning of the year.  I've gathered emails from new parents.  All of this helps!  
  • Be an advocate for the child.  This is perhaps the most important, yet most difficult task. Most of the time, the team who is handing off the child has not observed the setting they are recommending.  Occasionally, the setting may not be in the best interest of the child.  Who will speak up?  Sometimes, the speech pathologist!!! Don't be afraid---part of an IEP meeting is to consider more than one setting. Is the child in need of a restrictive setting when the only issue is behavior?  Does the child need typical peer role models?  Does the child require complete one-on-one assistance all day and would function more independently in a self-contained classroom?  Does the child need an assistive technology evaluation?  Speech-language pathologists are often a source of wisdom, so say what you think, but don't demand.  Use questions---and the process will work.  An IEP team should act as a problem-solving team, even during transition meetings.

How does your school system handle preschool transitions?  I'm curious.

 I apologize for not posting any new printables this week.  Life calls---I spent the past many days helping my wonderful inlaws move to a retirement community.  They are going though a transition also, as are we.  Will our Christmas celebration ever be the same?


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