I just don’t know

4 Jan

I don’t have a right or wrong answer here – just some thoughts. I’ve noticed that when doing therapy with students in a group there are two options. You can (a) match the students based on need, or (b) do the complete opposite and pair up students who are advanced in therapy (a “role model” if you will) with students who are still beginning.

Now, there is a side and benefit to each. There are also draw backs. If you choose to match students based on similar supports needed you can get a lot of work done. You can tackle the same skills and still reap the benefits of peer interaction. Both students win. But there is no peer leader, there isn’t anyone saying “Look at me do it – now it’s your turn” and a lot of kids need that. Kind of the “cool kid” effect.

If you match up an advanced student with a student who needs more support you get to work with that cool kid effect. However, do you feel like you’re jipping the advanced student? Perhaps that student, with a little extra time and focus on their exact deficits could be dismissed from therapy. By pairing them with a student who has quite different skilled services, are you retracting from their time?

I’ve seen both of these options used in my externship setting, and I think it is also something we need to consider for push in therapy. Any ideas or opinions?

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2 Responses to “I just don’t know”

  1. stephanie January 4, 2012 at 5:39 pm #

    I’ve found that either option works, as well as a mixture of the two. The most important thing is to make sure that the peers are on a similar functioning level. For example, it wouldn’t be too constructive to match a child who is unable to maintain shared attention or interact for 5 minutes with a peer who is speaking in full sentences but needs /r/ therapy. It’s rare to find 2 children who have the same developmental profile so I would make sure that each peer has something to offer to the others. Maybe one child has a moderate-severe artic delay but has strong pragmatic skills and another has the opposite. Everyone wins:) I know this is hard to do, but it’s very effective. This semester, one of my clinical assignments was a 4 child (9-10 yrs with developmental delays) social group; There were many differences in functioning levels and I don’t think it would have worked out as well as it did if there weren’t 3 clinicians present to provide 1:1 attention when necessary…

    PS. I love your blog…

    • weathersby January 9, 2012 at 12:01 am #

      Thanks Stephanie! I completely agree, you definitely need to find the right balance of skills and deficits. I hope you’ll keep commenting as my blog likely addresses more topics like these. I love hearing from real SLPs out in the world.

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