This will not be a popular post. I suspect it will anger a few, for that I’m sorry…A few will write to congratulate me…and a few will simply unfollow me. Regardless, I feel it has to be said. I hope that patience will be in abundance today.
It’s no secret that I love social media. I’ve been active with the #SLPeeps community on twitter since before the hashtag was created (that’s pre-2010 for those who don’t know). I’ve written about using social media to increase professional networking in the ASHA Leader Live several times. But, I’ll have to admit, I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook. I’ve been on several FB SLP groups (and left, and returned, and left, and returned). Today, I was resoundingly reminded of why and rather than leave the group, I’ve decided to vent here.
First, let me preface it by saying the FB group does offer some great information. I’m able to answer questions, ask questions, and generally share with like minded helpful individuals. For that, it is truly an invaluable resource.
Each time I’ve left, it’s not because there’s some big blow up…it was because I realized that my ideals of what an SLP is were sinking, that I was disillusioned with my fellow SLPs. Today, I realized why.
Speech-language pathology is a science field. As such, we have an obligation to maintain evidence based practice, do research, and READ the research that is done. What has been increasingly evident is that some (hopefully not many) SLPs have opted to throw the science out in favor of anecdotal evidence instead.
For instance, in a recent post, discussion was held on Retention of students. Ample evidence has shown that for the majority of students, retention is not helpful. It causes self-esteem issues, there are no long-term benefits, and it’s a life-long stain. Research has shown this. There are a few exceptions where retention is helpful – extremely immature social behavior, etc. This was discussed in the posts, but there were several SLPs who were absolutely adamant that the research is wrong and it IS helpful as long as it’s in Kindergarten or 1st (or as one person stated, not in Kindergarten but only in 1st).
We can add in discussions of PROMPT, Interactive Metronome, NSOME, FastForWord, Facilitated Communication, Rapid Prompting, etc (about the only thing we haven’t discussed is climate change!)… and the resounding theme is, I will listen to science when it supports what I want to do…but when it doesn’t, I’m going to say my personal belief trumps science.
An acquaintance of mine sent me this link “There’s a Good Reason Americans are Bad at Science.” In there it mentions how “Our leaders and wanna-be leaders say that evolution is a myth, vaccines cause autism, and a snowball constitutes proof that climate change isn’t a problem.” I find we’re facing the same thing with the educated people in speech-language pathology. The article discusses how many individuals use statistics (science) “like a drunk uses a lamppost: for support, not illumination.”
Are we, as SLPs, guilty of using the very research that is supposed to drive our field, as a drunk uses a lamppost? Are we guilty of proving that we use science when it supports our goals but don’t believe it’s necessary when it doesn’t?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m very aware that there are exceptions to every rule – there are. Of course it is necessary to consider the client in a gestalt way and recognize that each individual IS an individual. But really, when did we start to say the research doesn’t matter? When did our personal belief begin to outweigh the other two thirds of Evidence Based Practice? Yes, personal EXPERIENCE has a role in EBP. Personal beliefs do not. There, I said it.
I’m saddened by the seemingly complete disregard of research (one SLP stated “all research is anecdotal” as a way to justify her statements). I’m deeply saddened that in our role as the experts in communication we are choosing to throw out the science in favor of the pseudoscience. Parents and caregivers are entrusting us to take care of their loved ones, to treat them with the latest research and evidence based practices…and we are turning our backs on it in favor of something else.
I’m hesitant to ask for comments…but I think I’d like to see them. What are your thoughts? Am I being overly sensitive today? Are SLPs still scientists? What do we need to do to return to the research? Leave a note here…I’ll don my fireproof underwear.
Until then…Adventure on!