Adventures in Complaining

If you’ve read my words here often, you may have seen a few recurring thoughts. I seem to fluctuate between app reviews and calls for action (or complaint depending on your view).

To be honest, I’ve been trying to write a blog post for a while (I have several drafts of different topics) but nothing has really cemented itself and said “say me, say me” so I’ve waited…and as a result, you’ve waited as well. However, I think we’re ready now. As you may have already figured out, this is not a blog review…but discusses something that affects each and every one of us.

In the past, I have written on some touchy subjects. Some of those subjects include legal obligationsnumber of students seen, and teacher certification. I’m sure there are other posts I’ve written where I’ve touched on other sensitive subjects but haven’t fully explored them (or the backlash was so severe I’ve blocked the trauma out of my mind).

As many of you know, I have been considering other job prospects. Part of it is money (the lure of increased salary AND better weather is pretty hard to resist)… part of it is to stretch my own wings and challenge myself. I would like to say the “challenging myself” is the bigger portion, but in all honesty that depends on the day and whether or not I’m juggling bills because I’ve just made a payment to my daughter’s orthodontist or had to have the furnace repaired. On those days, the extra money would be very nice! But I digress…

While the lure of new adventures and easier bill paying is strong, the safety net of where I am currently is strong as well. For the record, I have a fantastic school that truly (I feel) puts students first. My admin team is fantastic, my teachers (for the most part) are great, and my co-op is hands-down the best around.

alpacaYes, of course there are times that it’s less than stellar. Just the other night I came home after a particularly trying day and a difficult meeting and declared I was quitting and becoming an alpaca farmer (which is a logistical nightmare, but whatever…again, I digress).  Just as raising Alpacas in North Dakota would be … daunting, so is the idea of moving to a less than ideal job situation.

Just like bad work days, I have realized, and I’m sure many of you have as well, that topics in our field cycle through with astounding regularity. Topics like facilitated communication, Non-speech oral motor exercises, and whether or not to clip tongue-tie come to mind. In our field, where communication is essential, we can’t seem to actually agree on anything for very long. There are far too many views and opinions and experiences. Real problems arise with astounding regularity as well – high caseloads, too many new regulations, paperwork, billing ethics, etc…

Some of the people I know and love on twitter dislike ASHA…not because it’s necessarily a bad organization, but because it tends to treat school-based SLPs like an after thought. Some are simply amazed that the rules for SLPs and SLPAs change from state to state and completely disregard the guidelines set forth by ASHA. Some go blindly about their business too busy with insanely high caseloads to surface for air. With the government’s sequestration posed to impact services to those that need it the most in every state, no job is secure, and things will, most likely, get worse for most of us.

The only thing that’s consistent is the need for action. I have often said that when there is a problem, you’re either part of the solution or part of the problem. If you are not an active part of the solution; you are, by default, a part of the problem. Sadly, becoming Alpaca farmers probably isn’t a very realistic solution. So…what can we do to be part of the solution?

Volunteer. Volunteer with your state speech-language association. Volunteer with ASHA. Be a mentor to a new SLP. Volunteer locally – or statewide – or nationally.

DO something.

Much like an exercise program, the absolute hardest part is getting started…once you get going inertia helps keep it going. If you want a true stance against facilitated communication or NSOME – DO something about it…If you want to make sure that ASHA recognizes the importance of school-based SLPs – stand up and make sure your voice is heard. If you want to have states follow ASHA guidelines and impose a caseload cap – don’t complain to your co-workers, DO something. Advocate not just for yourself but your clients and their families.

So…I challenge you…and you…and you…Everyone of my readers to go out and make a difference. For myself, when I submitted my paperwork for my state speech-hearing association, I ticked the little box that said “yes, I want to volunteer.”

I’m looking forward to helping out…to having a voice about the things that affect not just my quality of life – but the quality of life for my clients. High caseloads, ridiculous paperwork, increasing demands affect my job satisfaction…but in reality it affects so much more for my clients. I have a choice – my clients don’t.  

I want to hear what YOU have done to make a difference. Hopefully soon, I’ll be blogging about what I’ve done to make a difference as well.

Until then…Adventure on!

8 thoughts on “Adventures in Complaining

  1. This is a well timed post for me, Mary! My fellow SLPs and I are currently trying to fight the good fight to reduce caseloads and to be separated from teachers in my district. It is a lot of hard work and at times I have found myself wondering if it is worth the time and effort. I know in the long run (hopefully) it will be. We have to remember that we are doing it all for our kids and that is why we will keep going! Thank you for the booster shot of encouragement!

    • It is so important…Granted reduction in caseload, etc. helps us retain sanity – but in the long run it’s truly for the kids. Reducing caseload will reduce burn-out which will reduce turnover…not to mention the whole effectiveness of therapy issues. It doesn’t matter how good you are, you simply cannot be as effective with large groups. I look forward to hearing how things are going Jenn!

  2. Mary, I love a post that makes me think and this one certainly does. I think another barrier I/we run into is that we don’t always have another SLP around and that feeling of isolation can make the battle seem that much bigger. We’ve been discussing change and risk around here lately too and two pieces of advice came up. The first is that we most often regret the risk we didn’t take (I’m thinking more about the move/job change as opposed to alpaca 😉 and the second is that if you have an option with an off ramp you should definitely take it. It sounds like opposing advice–take a risk! With a safety net!–but I think they work well together. Most choices allow undoing so why not give it a whirl? I’m trying to embrace this myself. Good luck to you! Kim P.S. You’ve been working out so consistently maybe you deserve a short sleeve climate. Just a thought.

    • LOL… I definitely deserve a short-sleeve climate…and I know that eventually it will happen – simply so my parents are comfortable in their dotage. It just may not be this year just yet…but we never know. I’m definitely keeping my options open for a bit longer. Thanks for the encouragement.

  3. When we do what you are advocating, we model great things for our students. We take control of the things we are able to control. Even if situations don’t change as we’d like, our involvement gives us a better understanding of the complexities behind the issues. i learned that when I got more involved with curriculum and instruction :).

  4. After attending my speech conferencing, one person made a comment to me…. Being a school-based SLP is equivalent to being slave labor in the schools. Made me realize again that legislation and action is needed. I am glad I am active in my legislation. Thanks for a great post!

  5. As we are advocating for our own field, let’s not forget we can aslo advocate for education in general. Even in social situations with fairly educated people property tax bashing and teacher bashing are becoming acceptable. We need to be reminding people of the neative consequences of over testing students and making more and more cutbacks to education. As non-classroom teachers” our opinions might be listened to with less feeling that we are self-serving. Our students are being shortchanged in so many ways as school funding is being cut.

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