Tuesday, November 8, 2016

How Much Time?

We’ve all had the experience of having to fight for services for our students. Sometimes districts refute the recommendation for our direct services, sometimes they try to cut consult, and far too often, they try to cut TOD/HOH hours altogether stating that the SLP or sp-ed teacher can handle it. Lately, I’m finding the opposite. Districts are wanting more than my recommended time. I’ve established myself in several communities over the past few years and special education teams are starting to see the impact of my services as the students make documented gains in all areas. Families are asking for increased hours. Preschool teachers are recommending TOD support as soon as children enter school. Educational teams want even more consult. New families hear through the grapevine that these supports exist and are wanting the same for their children with hearing loss. It’s overwhelming.

So how do we make recommendations for services? We need to be looking at each students’ educational program, skill level, and individual needs. We need to balance our services so that students are getting the specialized instruction and support they need while still allowing for growth in independence without missing too much classroom time.

For example, I recommended reducing the direct service hours for an older student who was becoming dependent on me. I cited examples where she was almost regressing in coming to me with issues that she previously would have gone directly to her teacher with. She’s making steady progress and after several years, now needs more consult and in-class support to carry over the skills she’s learned, and fewer hours 1:1 with me.

Similarly, last spring, an elementary team requested an additional day of individual time for one of my students based on his performance with me versus his performance in the classroom.  Rather than add another full hour of pull-out, we spread the existing hours over more days and refined the skills that will be addressed during that time so that he would have the consistency with me but also have the important classroom time each day for subject areas where he is confident.

With a new first grader on my caseload with needs in addition to hearing loss, looking at the number of pull-out supports he was already receiving influenced my recommendation. Rather than excessive pull-out with me, meaning even more time out of the classroom, I recommended more consult so that his needs could be met across all service providers with some pull-out to address specific auditory and language skills.

I’ve used the Hearing Itinerant Service Rubric to support my recommendations. Additionally, Karen Anderson has several models for determining service delivery for students with hearing loss. These tools can help justify our recommendations when teams want more or fewer hours than we recommend.
The ultimate goal is for our students to make steady progress and eventually succeed independently in the classroom and outside of school as well. When they no longer need my intensive support- I know I have done my job!