Consultation is a model of service delivery that is often overlooked in preference of direct service provision. I would say, for myself, I didn’t know much about what it looked like or the legal aspects of IDEA when I first started as a school SLP. Now, I know that the formal process of consultation for service delivery is a powerful tool to serve some of my students.
Who is consultation right for?
Good question. Take a minute and think about your caseload. Which students can learn the skills they need within the general education setting? Are you the only person who can teach them those skills or can a teacher or support staff be coached (consulted with) to teach them? Remember… IDEA 2004 requires that children with disabilities be included with regular education peers to the ‘maximum extent appropriate’. The students Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) could be the general classroom with consultation services to support their unique needs.
For myself, I use consultation frequently for students with goals for social language, who have mastered the skill in therapy and are working on transferring to the classroom. It’s also been great for students with auditory memory difficulties, so that I can coach the teacher in certain ways to handle situations that might be challenging of that student. Articulation, voice, fluency carryover are also easily monitored through this model.
What am I responsible for?
You, as the specialized professional, are responsible for implementing consultation in accordance to the IEP. The service can look many different ways. It can be consultation with the student, teacher, parent, or other service providers included in the student’s IEP. Whatever your team decides, this service must be implemented with specific frequency, then documented by you. These records should be shared with team members regularly to review progress and evaluate effectiveness of the service.
Where can consultation occur?
Anywhere! Many require that consultation be face to face meetings, which can sometimes be a challenge with the busy schedules in a school setting. Setting aside specific times each week/month is helpful for me, so that I know not to schedule anything else during that time. For example, I do my consults every Thursday, so I know I have that time dedicated to them and it won’t cause a conflict. Of course, things come up which may cause me to have to do some shuffling, I have to be flexible in those cases and just make it up.
How do I start?
Get organized, talk to your colleagues and take a good look at your caseload. Not everyone needs to be pulled out or pushed into for speech and language services. Good communication with teachers and parents is a MUST for this service delivery model, everyone must be on board for it to work for the student. It is easy for parents to be anxious about not having direct service because it’s not usually the norm, but if you are re-evaluating the model for progress on a regular basis, your data will be able to show the effectiveness and ease any nerves.
Do you use consultation for service delivery? Leave a comment with your tips and tricks for using it effectively!