Hi there. I am curious to know how you handle situations regarding bullying with your patients. Although your primary job is to assist in bettering their communication, I’m sure there is a great deal of emotional support as well. Is it difficult to balance at times? 

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Empathy — 1 Comment

  1. Hi! This is an amazing question to ask, and I am so glad that you asked it on this forum. In America, the American-Speech Hearing Association does include counseling within our scope of practice, particularly with “swallowing disorders” and “communication disorders.” Anything beyond those two areas is beyond our scope of practice and would require referral. I will say, that bullying can come along the lines of “communication” highly and you will encounter this some in your practice. Children may come to you and confide in you to tell you about a situation on the playground, for example, or you may even witness bullying. You may have children who stutter who aren’t bullied at all too. Stuttering is such an individualized experience for everyone. I highly recommend Dr. Scott Yaruss materials on bullying and stuttering- they are SO HELPFUL. He has handouts for teachers, books for parents and SLP’s.. Scott and his team has done amazing work in this area. Go to his website, https://www.stutteringtherapyresources.com.
    With that being said, one group activity I have loved to do in the past when I have worked in the public school setting, is a written or verbally presented project called, “One Thing About Me” with which students pick one thing unique to themselves and present on it or write about it. I do this with groups first grade and up (writing or verbal, age-appropriate and comfort level/preference of the group of students.) I even present as the clinician. In the public school setting, your therapy groups are typically comprised of a wide-range of therapy needs: articulation, language, pragmatics and stuttering children may all be placed into one therapy group because that’s the only “schedule time” you can pull them for therapy/time allowable by the school campus that you are practicing on per the principal’s guidelines. This is not always the case on every campus that you work or serve, but does happen often. So, with this generalized activity, you can serve a variety of therapy goals (i.e., say your sound five times, not let’s talk about THIS, or whatnot.. you catch my drift.) My topic that makes me unique that I present on is ALWAYS that my family has Spanish heritage. I present on the country of Spain, teach the kids a few basic Spanish words, and introduce the kids to a couple of tapas, or Spanish treats (I bring them, with school permission, parent release, all that.) The funnest part about this- I don’t look Spanish. At all. In fact, I am mostly Irish. So this topic really surprises the children from the get go. But yes, looks aren’t always what they seem. Isn’t that a great lesson? I have Spanish heritage and don’t look like it. I celebrate that. I embrace it.. and I LOVE to teach my students about it because it’s something that sets me apart from other people. It also teaches my students to not judge a book by it’s cover, and things aren’t always what they seem. That it can be “pretty cool” to be different. Isn’t that great for early-on awareness? I usually present first- to calm the air and help students to be a bit more comfortable.. but once they eat the tapas, everyone is so excited to present. 🙂 That is just one way that I start to address bullying but in a non-direct way- there are lots of ways. Get those books by Dr. Yaruss- they are amazing and will be so helpful to you- they will help further define our scope of practice for you in this area as well. I hope that my answer helped you, and best of luck in your future endeavors!

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