2. Does the American Speech-Language-Hearin g Association Have a Curriculum Process?

In our last post we raised questions about ASHA’s curriculum process. It is correct to say we are flummoxed by it.

Take the example of collaboration in schools. Collaboration is an old topic in the field. Sylvia Hanna and I as clinical supervisors at Ohio University in 1967 were part of an interdisciplinary team sent out on Saturdays into Appalachia to help with free diagnostic clinics. We organized our notes, had pictures taken and published an article in Rehabilitation Literature on the positive outcomes observed. It was selected as the featured article of the month. Since that experience many projects in collaborative programming have been carried out around the country. I have been a part of several collaborative programs on campus.

In 1975 Public Law 94-142 was enacted by congress. The courts upheld procedures obliging school speech pathologist to collaborate in the planning process for special education children. IDEA legislation later promoted response to intervention where for SLPs were asked to collaborate with general educators.

The ASHA Model

In a report received by the ASHA Executive Board in October of 1990, called “A Model for Collaborative Service Delivery for Students with Language-Learning Disorders in the Public Schools,” the idea of collaborative education in schools was thoroughly developed by the Committee on Language Learning Disorders. The report covered the topics of collaborative service delivery, collaborative teams, administration, planning programs, assessment, intervention, accountability and references (74 items). The report was authored by an expert ASHA panel of administrators, clinicians and academics. Research was described as a basis for collaborative practice. The report was highlighted in PubMed.gov in 1991: Collaboration…”holds great promise for providing services to maximize the functional potential of students with language-learning disorders.”

In 2002, Kathleen Whitmire, ASHA’s Director of School Services, promoted flexible SLP service delivery: “When developing the intervention plan, the team should take into consideration the full spectrum of service delivery options when deciding which options are appropriate for meeting the individual needs of the child. It may be appropriate to provide a mix of options, e.g., classroom-based, individual pull-out, and consultation, to help the child establish basic speech-language skills, examine attitudes and beliefs, and apply skills in various contexts.”

Continued Support

In 2009, in the ASHA Leader (December), President Sue Hale advocated for partnerships: “The opportunities for collaboration are limitless, and will help create more clinical outcomes and better science to enhance both professions.”

In the same edition, the Coordinating Committee of the Vice President of Speech-Language Pathology Practice report on page 12 on the collaborative role of speech-language pathology and changes on the horizon: “A key component of these changes has been the increased use of collaborative models for care that require speech-language pathologists to learn new skills related to team dynamics and conflict resolution.” Further: “A potential response to environmental changes in education and health care is to increase collaboration and teaming to enhance functional outcomes.”

In 2010 ASHA published its professional position statement on the “Role and Responsibilities of Speech-Language Pathologists in Schools.” The word “responsibility” signalled school SLPs now had a professional obligation to adopt the practices described. A section was devoted to collaboration where SLPs must work cooperatively with general education and special education. SLPs must also cooperate with university programs, communities, families and students. “Work within the larger context of education, such as with literacy, curriculum and RTI, require close collaboration with other educators.”

In the June, 2013 edition of The ASHA Leader, articles were presented on the status and potential of collaborative SLP practice. Instead of talking about collaboration Interprofessional education (IPE) is referenced. Aruna Hari Prasad, ASHA’s associate director of school services, writes on the value of collaboration in schools. Collaboration engenders a broader view of special education, more coordinated services, more creativity, more efficiency and easier parent involvement.

Comment

Since ASHA published its seminal collaboration model in 1990, clinicians are now middle-age and older SLPs have retired. School office leadership has turned over, another executive director is in place, and countless presidents and directors have come and gone. And still no action on bringing collaboration into graduate programs of America’s academic programs.

If collaboration is such a good idea, why hasn’t ASHA acted on it? Is there no orderly process to address new curriculum topics?

“But do communication sciences and disorders graduates have the skills they need for successful collaboration with other professionals? The fact is that formal training in this area has lagged dramatically behind practice expectations” (Judith L. Page &  Donna S. Morris, ASHA Leader, May 15, 2012)

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