And Tips for Parents When Choosing Their Provider
It’s 2016. Everyday we use our smart phones for scheduling, googling, facetime, personal connections , banking, and business transactions. Communication is at our fingertips. This has become our norm. We have now and expectation of automation and reduced duplicity. And then, we put our kids in therapy and find ourselves back in the stone ages of paper, appointment reminder cards, and more importantly, little continuity of progress and clinical therapy programs because MOST of it is written down somewhere…or my favorite in the head of the therapist that knows your child like the back of her/his hand.
Imagine my being in a meeting and politely inquiring what would happen with the child’s program and progress if the therapist did not wake up the next day or for some reason unable to return to work. Would we be starting from scratch? The gasps and silence at this meeting resulted in my being called morbid among other things…because a therapist would never do that. My experience as a Director is that things happen, life happens to therapists and sometimes the best therapist cannot return to work. Yes, goals are in place. BUT, goals and objectives do not prevent the parents worse nightmare of starting from scratch.
Starting from scratch happens when goals and objectives are present without a running record of what the child has been taught and what they know. This is prevalent across ABA, Speech, OT, Special Education and more. The lack of the running record. The teaching of the same categories because the goals are written to “Improve the ability to tact 9-11 nouns within the category of (food, animals, places, etc.”. The running record would tell us exactly what nouns were worked on, where the deficits are, and so on.
The lack of the running record is why many parents are afraid to transition between therapists, move to a better therapist, relocate, or even move to another grade level with a new teacher. Not because parents are afraid of change. Change is inevitable. It is the unspoken angst of starting again because WE, therapists, don’t provide the record outside of ourselves…you know plan for the client to not have us/need us/ want us, etc.
Tips for Therapists:
- GET and Create running records for all of your clients. It is know longer to okay to say “Oh single word mands are on maintenance” without a list or running record of the actual words expressed. When everyone knows all the words the client knows or is exposed to in direct or incidental teaching the expectations heighten outside of the four walls of treatment…or they should heighten.
- USE an EMR and Data system that reduces increases productivity, improves continuity within and across organizations (therapists) your client’s work with. Increase Efficiency, Productivity, and Process.
Questions for Parents to ask their next therapist
- How do you collect data? Paper/Pencil or Technology program.
- Who owns the data for my child’s program? You as the parent (ultimate payor) should own the data. Can I download this data on a weekly basis or login to view how well my child did this week?
- Does the data system track my child’s knowledge, language growth with specific lists of what they know?
- Do the progress reports maintain a running record that can be shared with all the therapists and teacher’s that work with my child?
- Is scheduling online?
- Is their a way to track how well my child does and the trend’s in learning based upon the therapist that works with them? Does a supervisor train and work with the therapist for each change in program?
There is so much more to add for parents. In a nutshell, since 2013…EMR should be used because that’s when we became more reliant upon technology to improve our lives. The expectation for using the same when it comes to ABA Therapy, Autism programming, Speech Therapy should exist. The push will come from you as a parent. As a therapist, I will say that most organizations want to do this but hesitate with the change in their systems. Well…it’s time. 2016 is here and we need better expectations, quality assurance, and ownership back to the parent.
Thriving is intentional work to move forward…letting go of the systems that once held us back.
Landria , MA., CCC-SLP
~The SLP GURU