1. SLP Caseloads

From 1970 forward you might say school speech-language pathology hit the perfect storm. Caseloads swelled to the point of unmanageability.

The profession had established an excellent reputation in schools, and the specialty was immediately on hand when PL 94-142 came along in 1975. This civil rights movement required all handicapped children to receive a proper education.

Two things happened to caseloads:

1. More children with severe problems came into schools. Clinical management became more complex and more difficult.

2. The law regulated SLP practice as to assessment and intervention. Legal paperwork had be submitted to justify decisions. Paperwork added to workload.

In the 1970s, the language revolution took place, and the specialty was renamed “speech-language pathology.” The era of phonology, syntax, morphology, semantics, pragmatics and cognition effectively doubled SLP workload.

In the 1990s, a strong push for SLP’s to take on school literacy services surfaced. This could become an entire new domain of practice.

Professional groups tried to get states to limit caseload size but with modest results. Professional groups tried to get schools to appreciate workload demands but with modest results. SLP frustration grew.

IDEA 2004 added pressures for greater involvement in cooperative ventures such as early intervention and response to intervention programs, with responsibilities tied in with general education. How does this affect workload?

While the winds of change buffet school speech-language pathology, what should be done about the misidentification problem, where Congress looks for solutions?

” We have a legal and ethical duty to ensure that students are not misidentified for special education and to ensure that all students have equitable opportunities to succeed” (Sullivan et al, 2009; cf. Misidentification Psychology).

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