5. SLP Caseloads

In that last post on Strategic Eligibility Management we said the capacity to say no is a powerful tool for cutting down on the number of children placed in speech and language. It appears to fly in the face of the “collaborative approach” but SLPs are responsible for an objective recommendation. The team can always override an evaluator’s recommendation.

Larry Biehl offered his insights about managing SLP caseloads, and remarked: “Sometimes we get caught up in the ‘statue of liberty syndrome.’ Just send me anybody, all of your poor and communications impaired, or any other problem, and I will take care of it” (Speech and Language).

Saying no to eligibility within the context of the eligibility group, however, is not an arbitrary technique. A good science-based judgment must be rendered.

For example, a boy who speaks White Mountain Apache may seem to be lisping to the ear of the referring teacher. A science approach is to point out that his native language contains a lateral stop fricative that sounds exactly like a lisp. Therefore, there is no diagnosis of disability. The boy simply has an accent carried over from his first language.

SLPs have to overcome what Biehl called “Zero reject policies” — “every child that qualifies receives services.”

In our rush to please and be compliant we forget sometimes about the stigma of special education placement. Our colleagues do, too.

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