This advice-column-style blog for SLPs was authored by Pam Marshalla from 2006 to 2015, the archives of which can be explored here. Use the extensive keywords list found in the right-hand column (on mobile: at the bottom of the page) to browse specific topics, or use the search feature to locate specific words or phrases throughout the entire blog.
Q: I am a CFY and my supervisor will not let me attend your seminars because she says that you teach oral-motor techniques for which there is no proof. I need help with the lateral lisp and the distorted R. What can I tell her to convince her to let me go?
First of all, what right does your supervisor have to determine which continuing education seminars you can and cannot attend? Why are you giving her this power over your own career? A professional SLP has the right – no, the duty – to explore any and all ideas that seem relevant to his or her professional growth. It is your professional responsibility to make your own decisions about what information you need.
Second, if this is a matter of money, pay for the class yourself. I have almost always paid out of my own pocket for my continuing education classes, books, tests, and other materials. Now, after more than 35 years, I have an entire practice worth of materials, and I have knowledge that stretches far beyond what we learned in school.
Third, if this is a matter of time off, take it. Your supervisor does not need to know why you are taking a personal day. I assume you have a day or two here or there at your own disposal. Use this time to develop your skills on any number of topics in speech, language, neurology, reading, literacy, autism, swallowing, dementia, etc., that take place across the US and Canada today. Also, there are on-line classes that are available that can be taken at home, some even at no cost. Any class offered for ASHA CEU’s has been deemed appropriate for your continuing education.
Fourth, if this is a matter of losing your job, how could that be? Can an employer fire you for seeking more information? That is unfathomable to me. If for some unholy reason you did get fired, I am sure you could find another job in about five minutes. There are literally hundreds of unfilled SLP positions in schools all around the US. And besides, how could you stand to work for someone as rigid, close-minded, and controlling as that? Therapy is all about flexibility, and I do not think you will learn that in your present situation. I have to be honest and say that I would be looking for a new job if I were in your shoes. Keep your mouth shut, do your work well every day, and start looking for another work experience on the side.
Fifth, if your supervisor thinks she knows everything, have her come in and show you what to do. That’s what she is there for. If she doesn’t know how to fix these sounds, ask her if she’d like to attend a class with you 🙂
Sixth, if this is a matter of fear that you are delving into forbidden territory, face it. Stop accepting what other people say about certain subjects and start reading the subject matter itself. That is the only way you will grow professionally. There are thousands of ideas you will adapt that others will shun, and there are just as many that others will wildly accept that you will not. As Van Riper said time and again, we all do this our own way.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, most of what I teach in these classes is good old-fashioned traditional articulation therapy updated with what we now know about speech movement from electropalatography, MRI, X-rays, neurology, kinesiology, sensorimotor integration, feeding, dysphagia, and neurodevelopmental treatment. I teach how the tongue can be taught to move correctly for production of S, Z, Sh, Zh, Ch, J, and R. There is nothing that could be called a “non-speech oral-motor exercise” in any of my classes.