April 5, 2011 Columns

Readers Respond

Journals, Graduate Study 

I recently read a complaint about our journals no longer being published in print and I agree with the criticism of the decision to make our journals available only online. I used to read the journals in my spare time and occasionally would bring them to work and discuss the material with my colleagues. I no longer read the journals because I feel that I need to have several hours to look up the information, find it, and then print it. Please consider putting our journals back in our hands in print format. Or, give us the choice of formats by having a print journal; a download to Kindle, Nook, or Droid; or an online journal.

I also would like the leaders of our organization to consider changing the speech-pathology major in our colleges to a five-year master's program. Other professions that provide public safety, such as pharmacy and engineering, do this so I think it is time for our profession to consider this. A five-year master's program would help alleviate the shortage of SLPs because successful students would be able to work as soon as they graduate. It would prevent us from having to tell our students who get a "B" average that they aren't good enough to be in our profession by banning them from acceptance into a graduate program.

Susan Haseley
Findlay, Ohio

Editor's note: The journals are available not only online but also in print. Plans are underway to provide access through several mobile devices.  

Texas Advocacy 

I am a graduate student in Texas. My school newspaper published an article about the upcoming Texas state legislative session, including information on HB 653. This bill may be of particular interest to Texas ASHA members as it offers to pay a sizable portion of student loans for qualifying members of this profession. The bill has a long way to go before it becomes a law and may benefit from letters to state representatives. I hope that Texans write their representatives.

Deborah Younger
San Marcos, Texas

More on SLP Titles 

I was challenged by Dr. Tommie Robinson's "What's in a Name?" article published in the Nov. 23, 2010, edition ofThe ASHA Leader and wanted to respond. In the article, Dr. Robinson encouraged our advocacy for the title of "speech-language pathologist" over that of "speech teacher" or "speech therapist." I wanted to offer a different perspective!

Having worked previously in school settings for five years, my experience is that the children do not discriminate between different adults in their school environment. If you are an adult and you are working with them, you are the teacher! I feel that being a "speech teacher" not only accommodates the children's perspective and gets on their level by simplifying terminology for their benefit, it is also a label of the utmost respect.

When I hear the term "speech therapist," I think "healing." It reminds me of my own experiences with massage therapy—working on a muscle repetitively for positive health outcome, similar to how we in the speech profession labor with repetition over a needed skill, striving for positive results. I personally find the term "pathologist" calls to mind the concept of "disease," as "pathology" itself involves study of diseases. It is also difficult to say for people who already have speech and language difficulties.

I was inspired by Dr. Robinson's admonition to take pride in our professional identities. The importance of vocabulary is challenging, fascinating, perplexing, and wonderful to me.

Thank you for a thought-provoking question. 

Shannon Hanes
Austin, Texas

SLP Name Confusion 

Rarely do I write to express an opinion about another letter, but I was compelled to write in support of Gayle Coonce's recent letter regarding name confusion for the SLP job title ("Name Reflects Communication," The ASHA Leader, Feb. 15, 2011). I, too, have tried to convey the message that I work on all aspects of communication in my middle-school setting. I have spent the last six years working diligently to demonstrate my ability to work on literacy-related language underpinnings. I support Ms. Coonce's suggestion of the job title "communication therapist" as it clearly represents any disability that is impacting speaking, listening, reading, and writing. When changes like this are made, it can only help shift the paradigm from "speech" to a more inclusive and comprehensive professional role. 

Kim McCallister
Beaverdam, Virginia

Dream Come True? 

I was wondering if there was some missing information in the "Teamwork That Works" article in the Feb. 15 issue. As a school-based speech-language pathologist in California who at the beginning of this year had two schools with a total enrollment of 1,505 students, plus two preschools, I can only dream of a situation such as that which exists at Horace Mitchell Primary in Kittery, Maine. Two therapists sharing a school with a student body of 320 would be a dream come true, even with the 17 kindergartners who needed services. Are there any openings available?

Helen Ogden
Salinas, California

Use of Dues 

The ASHA Leader has published letters from members regarding our annual dues. Members question where the money goes. ASHA leaders respond. ASHA leaders' responses always include that ASHA membership dues are spent primarily for members and in the best interest of members.

I share with you my experience. I transferred to another state, and in the process of obtaining licensure, requested a letter in January from ASHA to verify my CCC. At the end of January, my state had not received the letter so I requested the letter again. ASHA apologized and stated that a letter was mailed, but another would be mailed to my state. At the end of February, no letter. Upon contacting ASHA a third time, I was told that there was no record of a second letter being mailed. I was told by the ASHA representative that she would be happy to fax a letter in the morning or put a rush on a third letter and would waive the fee for rushing the letter. The fee? You neglected to mail the letter twice. Did I not just pay $225? Do I not spend hundreds each year obtaining CEUs on top of paying dues?

Leaders of ASHA, on behalf of the members who are constantly questioning the appropriation of our dues, I urge you to accept a challenge. The challenge: Hold yourselves accountable to the people. Use our money to benefit the very professionals who allow this organization to exist and serve the public. ASHA belongs to the members. It is indeed time for a change. I throw down the gauntlet. 

Margina Busby
Knoxville, Tennessee

Positive Film Portrayal of Stuttering 

In your recent article on portrayals of stuttering in the media (The ASHA Leader, Feb. 15, 2010), I was surprised to note the glaring omission of the BBC production of "I, Claudius." The distinguished British actor Sir Derek Jacobi's role as the Roman emperor who stuttered was amazing and unforgettable. Jacobi's appearance in "The King's Speech" was a lovely touch in recognition of that role. It is also worth noting that Michael Palin, famous for "Monty Python's Flying Circus," did appear in "A Fish Called Wanda," which is cited as a negative portrayal [of stuttering]. Palin's father was a severe "stammerer," and Palin has helped to found the Michael Palin Centre for Stammering Children in England. Perhaps that was not such a negative portrayal after all.

Victoria Morrison
Johnstown, New York


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