I can hardly believe summer break is almost over. I have been so busy, and it has gone by too quick. For this post,I am linking up with The Frenzied SLPs to share the best thing I have learned this summer. Click the image below to see what others are sharing.
This summer was my last semester of grad school (woo hoo!), and I had three classes to complete before officially graduating. One of the classes I took was Pediatric Dysphagia, and let me tell you, I learned a lot!
We had completed adult dysphagia during a previous sesmester, so I figured pediatric dysphagia would be the same thing. I was so wrong! Evaluating and treating pediatric dysphagia is very different from evaluating and treating adult dysphagia.
Our class covered feeding and swallowing disorders in children. We discussed different types of feeding disorders, different types of syndromes and birth complications that can result in difficulty with feeding/swallowing, and different treatment options. One interesting thing I learned was that very few school based SLPs feel competent to treat dysphagia. As a school based SLP Assistant now SLP Intern) I can say that in the rural areas of Texas where I live, it is rare that we ever have a kiddo on caseload who needs treatment for feeding/swallowing disorders. That’s not to say it never happens. But it is rare.
Because it’s so rare, many school based SLPs don’t stay up-to-date with research/treatment techniques in the area of dysphagia. But we never know when we might get a new student with dysphagia/feeding goals. It’s usually a school district decision on whether or not to treat dysphagia at the school, but my take away from the class (other than evaluation/treatment skills) was this: We, as school based SLPs, need to do what we can do to stay caught up with our ability to treat pediatric dysphagia. Easier said than done, I know, but we just never know when we might get a student who will benefit from our skills. This can really be true of any area we address through speech services (voice, fluency, etc.). The discussion of dysphagia in the schools reminded me of the importance of being ready for any child we might need to serve through speech therapy in the school setting.
I am hoping to keep up with my newly gained knowledge of pediatric dysphagia through research articles, trainings, and hopefully by working with some kiddos after school hours through home health or a pediatric clinic. Do any of my school based SLP friends work with dysphagia in the schools or on the side for a clinic? Do your schools offer training related to dysphagia?