October 1, 2013 Departments

Inbox: October 2013

I Will Never Work in a School (Part 2)

I just wanted to take a moment out of my day to thank you for sharing Sara Blitman's story ("First Person on the Last Page: Never Say Never," August 2013). It's funny how such a little thing can cross someone's desk at just the right time to make a difference in their life, and that's what happened with this article.

I, too, am an SLP who said I would never work in a school, and have worked building a successful private practice for the past seven years. I, too, have two children, and due to my husband's recent career change and resulting changes to our scheduled routine, I am finding that the demands of running my practice and accommodating people's schedules is getting too much. I am missing out on valuable time with my own children. Well, like the article said, "Never say 'never'"—I, too, decided to make a huge change, the hardest decision I have ever made, and I am starting with a local school district this fall. Reading your article was just that little push I needed to stop doubting myself and to do what feels right. Thank you, Sara Blitman, and thank you, Leader, for all the great articles this month. I have been pondering how to present my thoughts on changing things up in regard to service delivery, as I will be the "new kid" at my school—and your articles will be great support for me when I begin to implement my ideas.

Wendy Cuenco, Moorpark, Calif.

Early Intervention for Stuttering: A Time for Grassroots Advocacy

As an ASHA member who stands up for children, you are rightfully alarmed when you read a headline "Preschoolers Who Stutter Do Just Fine Socially." This controversial and myopic study from Australia has spread rapidly through media outlets. This very troubling generalization-loaded study may persuade parents, believing "don't worry, he'll outgrow it," to neglect the precious time window of early intervention.

The Australian study stops at age 4, before most children have developed cognitive and affective symptoms associated with stuttering. Outdated research was cherry-picked to support this supposition. The Stuttering Foundation of American keenly referred to this study as "The Blunder from Down Under."

I have volumes of video and parental intake forms that prove children younger than 4 can develop avoidance habits and verbalize distress related to stuttering. An SLP is required to differentially diagnose the risk for chronic stuttering.

An opportunity is before us right now. I have taken these steps in my area and hope you will in yours:

  • Seek out an interview in local media outlets, perhaps with parents whose preschoolers had social difficulties related to stuttering.
  • Use electronic newsletters to share concerns.
  • Inform the communication disorders programs at local universities so they can advise their students.
  • Write your local pediatricians.
  • Write to your state organization's newsletter.

ASHA was built on grassroots advocacy—newborn hearing screenings are an example of our success. Please help advocate for children who stutter. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Tim Mackesey, Atlanta

No RTI in Wisconsin

When reading the article "Time Block After Time Block" (August 2013), I bristled when I read we as SLPs are now supposed to be involved in response to intervention. I have been working in schools in western Wisconsin for three years, and it is my (and many others') understanding that Wisconsin's Department of Public Instruction does not allow SLPs to get involved in RTI. In fact, I have been told it is illegal to get involved with regular education students on a consistently scheduled basis. They aren't allowed to be in my room for any sessions, nor can I work with them in any preventive or other capacity as they are not identified "special ed." 

Furthermore, SLPs in our district are not allowed to attend RTI meetings where educators problem-solve students (special and regular education) having difficulty, because SLPs are identified as "therapists" and not as "teachers," and can't give therapy-type advice for regular education students. Although my principals and I would like me to attend these meetings and get involved in RTI services, so I can use my expertise to help my schools more, these lines have been clearly defined by my district.

Why is it that this article states it is federal law that we get involved in RTI, while my state's laws say otherwise, and why is this so confusing? I want to do what's best for the kids while still being in compliance with state and federal rules, now it's more baffling than ever.

Sarah Buening, La Crosse, Wis.


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