Last week I came across this little video and it made me giggle. Two SLPs made up a little song about their, shall we call it ‘ extremely cozy ‘ speech room. You can watch the video HERE.
After I posted the video on Facebook comments started popping up about SLPs past and current ‘speech rooms’. Everything from closets, kiln rooms, the corner of a stage in the gym, even a space next to the boiler room in the basement with a single, blinking light bulb! Needless to say I was shocked! I know that SLPs are typically given tiny spaces in schools. How this trend got started I don’t know, but after reading some of the environments other SLPs have to work in I think this is a trend that has to stop!
What Can You Do?
Many of you may think, ‘It’s just how it is. There isn’t anything I can do.’ Push these thoughts aside! If you are one of those professionals ‘assigned’ to a space that prevents you from providing adequate, effective therapy then you have the RIGHT to speak up.
– Talk to your Assistant Principal or Principal and explain, specifically, how the environment negatively impacts your abilities to deliver adequate and effective therapy. Maybe you are unable to have kids in the right groups because they won’t all fit? Perhaps the environment you are in prevents your student’s from being open and working on their skills because others can easily hear them? This is not saying that YOU are inadequate or do not have the knowledge to provide adequate therapy, but the environment makes it difficult for students to receive it. It has been said that SLPs can do therapy with a paperclip, but not in a space the size of a paperclip!
– The space is in violation of ASHA’s Ethics in Confidentiality. Here are two excerpts from ASHA, please see the full statement in the link provided. Is your space ‘exposed’ easily to others? Can non-speech students, teachers, or passers by hear you and your students discussing their diagnoises, treatment plan, etc?:
“Professional persons in health care delivery fields (including those working in the public schools) have legal and ethical responsibilities to safeguard the confidentiality of information regarding the clients in their care.”
“The ASHA Code of Ethics (2010) identifies the confidentiality of information pertaining to clients, patients, students, and research subjects as a matter of ethical obligation, not just a matter of legal or workplace requirements. Respect for privacy is implicitly addressed in Principle of Ethics I because to hold paramount the welfare of persons served is to honor and respect their privacy and the confidential nature of the information with which they entrust members of the professions. This broad, general obligation is further specified in both Rules M and N.”
– Come with options. Do some scouting. Are there other spaces in your building that are currently not being used or could be switched or repurposed with your current space? Do you have an colleague with a larger space who is willing to share for the good of your students? Administrators hear problems and complaints all the time. Coming in with some possible solutions shows you are proactive and not just there to complain.
– Be strong, understanding, and professional. The possibility of hearing ‘No’ is always there. Be strong and ask why, but nicely. Be understanding to the administration. Listen to their explanation with an open mind and from their perspective. Be professional in your responses. We are a passionate profession and sometimes it can come out the wrong way, especially when we are fighting for our kids. If you get a ‘No’, then professionally request that you be put on a list or some type of note be made, that when a space becomes available, it be offered to you. Also, don’t be afraid to check in after a few weeks or so. Even though getting a better space is on the top of your priority it probably isn’t on the top of your administrators. Politely ask about and news about new spaces or changes being made that could give you a new, better space.