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In this week’s post, Alyssa Hunter, MA CCC-SLP and New Grad Program Coordinator at Advanced, shares her experience and common questions with School-Age Children.

Happy Better Hearing and Speech Month! Along with ASHA, we are celebrating Communication Across the Lifespan. This week we are covering school-age children (6-21 years old). I have worked as a bilingual Speech Language Pathologist in schools serving self-contained special education classrooms, general education, and everything in between! Additionally, I have worked with school-age children in home health. Across settings, Speech Language Pathologists wear many hats within the 6-21 year old community. We are often working very closely with families, other allied health professionals, and teachers to scaffold a child to success. The support that a child receives in their school-age years act as a foundation for everything from their executive functioning to pragmatics to expressive/receptive language. Below are some frequently asked questions from families and colleagues. Please add in your own questions in the comments below! Advanced is a dynamic community of therapists and are excited to grow together! 

How can I get parents involved in my therapy if they are not physically a part of the session? 

Parent involvement is key in promoting carryover and generalization of therapy goals. It is important to first ask the parent’s preference for communication (i.e. phone, email, notes home, etc.) and keep in touch through that medium. The next step is learning more about the family’s home routine and figuring out natural opportunities during their day to incorporate speech-language therapy goal practice!  

What are some informal (non-standardized) assessments that I can use to supplement my standardized assessments during a full case study? 

When working with a diverse pediatric population, standardized testing may not show the full picture if the test’s normed sample isn’t representative of your student. Non-standardized assessments can help explore if it is a language difference vs. disorder. Consider integrating a speech sample analysis, multi-setting observation, parent/teacher rating scale, interviews, and story retell into your assessment tool kit!  

How can I motivate my pediatric clients who don’t want to participate in therapy and/or have difficulty sitting still? 

Sometimes having a child participate in a therapy activity can be the biggest challenge of therapy! Besides having motivators implemented throughout your session, integrating movement can help with regulation and motivation! Some general ways you can structure your activities around movement are creating obstacle courses with objects in the office or home, scavenger hunts, and play-based activities on the floor. 

How does goal formulation work for public vs. Private settings? 

The focus of goals will vary from setting to setting. When speech-language therapy goals are made in a school setting, they are required to support the child’s academic progress and participation in the classroom. This is in stark contrast from goals created in a private clinic or home health where goals can be very parent directed and formulated based on what they view as a priority. 

What are some transferable skills I can gain working with School Age children if I want to transition into a medical setting? 

One of the great things about the field of Speech Language Pathology, is that there are so many diverse opportunities to work with varied settings and populations. Although working with children versus adults can seem like polarized concepts, the skill sets are very aligned. If you are considering transitioning to a new setting think about your transferable skills in inter-disciplinary collaboration, family communication, multi-tasking and prioritizing urgent tasks, and flexibly scaffolding therapy plans to meet the client’s needs. 

These are just a few of the questions that are commonly asked amongst pediatric speech language pathologists, but we would love to hear more. Thanks for submitting your questions below, we look forward to answering them!