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Speech-Language Pathology - More Than Just Words

A national shortage of speech and language pathologists has hit crisis proportions and Connecticut is no exception. The Connecticut State Department of Education’s statistics indicate that there has been a shortage of speech and language pathologists as far back as 1998. A significant impact on why students with special needs are not able to receive speech and language services as part of their Individualized Education Plan is a result of districts not having enough qualified staff.

Janet Scialdone, CREC Staffing Solutions Manager, reports that this year it continues to be a problem. “One solution is to provide qualified interim speech and language pathologists who are available for short-term assignments,” Scialdone suggests.

Susan Malecky, a speech and language pathology consultant for CREC says, “I have always loved being a speech and language pathologist. This is my dream job! Through the option of a flexible schedule, I am able to continue working and have time for other pursuits.”

At a parent and student’s request, an incoming freshman was recommended for a speech and language review to determine if her articulation abilities warranted speech services at the high school level for her to meet expected academic progress, and Malecky supported this request. Upon entering high school, the student and parent reported that the student felt uncomfortable speaking in class because she felt she could not be understood. Numerous observations of the student during academic classes, shop, lunch, one-one-one sessions, and teacher interviews supported this finding: upon occasion she would speak one-on-one with a teacher and was very social with a group of familiar peers at lunch. Overall, speech intelligibility, when she did speak, was good and consistent with previous findings. Her special education teacher reported that the student was struggling in several classes, and PowerSchool revealed that there were many missed assignments and poor test grades. The student reported that she was too busy at home to do the work, was inconsistently compliant with academic support services, and did not seek assistance when needed.It appeared that the family and student were focused on articulation issues and not overall academic performance and personal responsibility as a learner. These issues were discussed with the student, parent, and team members, and both home and school strategies/supports were put into place to decrease the student’s communication anxieties, increase personal responsibility, and improve academic performance. What had initially been presented as an articulation concern was in fact an issue related to school anxiety. Collaboration between home and school has resulted in a positive outcome for the student.

Districts and educational organizations like Hartford, New London, Enfield, Granby, Cromwell, and the Connecticut Technical High Schools, who have all struggled with shortages of speech and language pathologists, have found the use of interim speech and language pathologists to be an excellent option until they can find permanent staff members. “Using interim staffing from CREC allowed us to meet our students Individualized Education Plan hours and goals” reflected Jill Dymczyk, a special education consultant for Connecticut Technical High Schools. For more information about how you or your district can benefit from CREC Staffing Solutions, contact Janet Scialdone at jscialdone@crec.org or 860-509-368.


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