How many of our daily problems could be solved with better communication?

This week I have had several reminders about how important it is to communicate with other team members – and I mean ALL team members.  Communication is the foundation of trust.

One thing I  love about working in the schools, is how many team members I easily have at my disposable. Just start typing their names into my school email account and BAM! – quick email sent to the OT/teacher/behavior therapist/autism specialist…

However, the communication needs to extend beyond the school’s four walls – especially when you are dealing with implementing AAC. Many students with complex communication needs have teams that extend beyond the school based personnel.  When you combine all of the people who are working with this student, we end up with some REALLY big teams!  Team members usually  come from multiple agencies and backgrounds.

Here are some important tips to keep in mind when communicating with other team members:

It’s always safe to assume that everyone on the team is there to help the student and doing the best he/she can; so, keep an open mind when you enter into courageous conversations.

Just because someone is doing something different from you – do not assume that it is wrong.

On the same note – DO NOT get offended when someone asks you, “Why did you think/do/choose that?”  We all bring unique talents to the table and we aren’t going to agree on everything, but if you have information to back up what you are doing/recommending – it’s much easier to get others on board.

If you find yourself thinking, “I should call/email _____, but I don’t have time,” then make time. It’s so difficult to carve out times in our jam packed schedules to make the time to communicate with each other – but it’s so critical to building trust. Keep on keeping on!

I’ve made communication mistakes, and I’m sure I will continue to do so; but, I’ll keep trying.

Here are some quick(ish) ways to communicate among team members (with parent permission of course):

– emails

– shared google docs/forms

– video taping what you are doing

– sharing of evaluations/progress notes

– private blogs to provide quick updates


How do you communicate amongst team members?



NC Paperwork for the New Clinician

I have the distinct pleasure of working with a graduate student clinician this semester. I am so excited to have her and she is doing great. I look forward to seeing her implement her ideas and I know our students will benefit from working with her. This is her last semester in grad school and she is looking for jobs (hopefully in the schools…)

During the hustle and bustle of the day, I don’t always get to sit with her and talk her through all of the paperwork. When I first started my job at the schools, I did not realize how much my supervisor was doing behind the scenes (e.g. many forms exist other than the IEP). So, I’ve created a graphic to help explain what paperwork needs to be completed (in NC) for initial evaluations and for re-evals. I’ve highlighted paperwork the SLP is responsible for completing in green. Hopefully these are helpful!

Initial Evaluation: (find the form Initial Evaluation Paperwork)

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Re-Evaluation: (find the form Reevaluation Paperwork)

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In my district we are so fortunate to have Program Facilitators, who facilitate (go figure) much of this process. These wonderful individuals handle forms like the Dec 5  (Prior Written Notice) and Dec 6 (Informed Consent for Initial Provision of Services). The link to all of the forms can be found here. Many districts are moving to web based platforms to complete these forms – which comes with it’s own set of pros and cons.

In any case, paperwork is a necessary part of our job. I like to think of it as a system of checks and balances to ensure that proper steps are followed for all.

My last piece of advice: It’s so easy to use acronyms and technical jargon when completing these forms. Remember: these should be accessible to all – event those who are not familiar with school based terminology. When in doubt, explain everything.

Did I miss any steps? How does your district handle paperwork?