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Monday, February 27, 2012

Curriculum in Therapy

I was recently asked by a new therapist, working at the middle school level, if I was able to use curriculum material in therapy.  Over the years I found that it was very difficult to incorporate curriculum into therapy.  So I guess my answer is no but with some clarifications and of course exceptions. 

Speech therapists generally don’t see the kids often enough to keep up with the curriculum.  Most of my students in middle school also work with a special education teacher that services them much more often both in and out of the classroom.  The special education teachers are or at least should be connected to the regular education teachers.

Therapy groups are often made up of students from several different classes (sometimes even different grades) rarely are they working on the same thing at the same time.  I’ve occasionally been able to organize a session around a specific  book a grade might be reading.  Talking about higher level language, underlying meaning setting or conflict.

If planning time with teachers isn’t built in clearly you will not know what is specifically going on in the classroom.  One thing that you can always ask teachers for is curriculum vocabulary.  It never hurts to preview, review or introduce a knowledge connection to new vocabulary.

Occasionally when I’ve consulted or observed a classroom where I noticed a skill or concept introduced that looks challenging.  I can usually assume that my students might need simplification, clarification, reinforcement, relevant examples or a knowledge connection.  I’ll start out by asking them about what was covered in therapy to see what they retained.  Then adjust the therapy session accordingly.

Even though many would disagree with me, the speech pathologist is not there to teach academics.  We are there to fill gaps.  The SLP needs to focus on teaching underlying skills that aid independent learning and life skills.  It is difficult to work on remediating language disabilities if we also have to address academics.
Last thoughts......It is important to have an idea of the basic curriculum.  If a student asks for help with academics, try to drop everything, find out what they need and help them out.  I know that if a student comes to me with an academic questions they are either struggling, confused or overwhelmed.

From my newest blog The School Speech Therapist  for more information on Speech and Language development.

1 comment:

Let's Talk Speech and Language said...

I totally agree with you! We aren't there to teach but to provide compensatory strategies to aid students in their social and academic lives.