2000 Conference Proceedings

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THE MORE THE MERRIER: MULTI-AGE, MULTI-DISABILITY LARGE GROUP THERAPY

Jean M. Slater
Speech/language Pathologist
Fremont Re-1 School District
Canon City, CO

It seems that Speech/language Pathologists find they have more to do each year--more students with significant needs, new assistive technology and AAC to learn, new assessment techniques, more paperwork, and more time needed to collaborate with teachers and inservice paraprofessionals. Meeting all the students' needs and fulfilling the obligations of the job can seem like an impossible task. The questions speech/language pathologists ask are:

How can I provide daily intervention to the students who need it?

When do I find time to inservice paraprofessionals to the speech/ language needs of the students with significant needs?

How can I insure AAC and Assistive Technology is understood by support personnel?

"The More the Merrier" will discuss a creative service delivery option where all students who have significant needs in one inclusive elementary school are grouped together to receive daily therapy. With the support of a Special Education teacher and five or six paraprofessionals, the "Speech/Language Group" has proven to benefit students, be an avenue for paraprofessional training, and ease the caseload burden. During the presentation, participants will learn how the activities are planned for 20 Kindergarten through sixth graders with varying disabilities (severe speech/language delays, cerebral palsy, autism, severe learning disabilities, and/or moderate to profound cognitive delays).

A grouping of this kind presents some problems (scheduling and management). Any time you group the students who are egocentric with the shortest attention spans and the poorest receptive and expressive language skills, special consideration must be made in the organization of the group. This presentation will explain and demonstrate how to manage a group of this size, how to plan lessons which meet the language needs of all of the students, how to utilize and train paraprofessionals, and how assistive technology and AAC are incorporated into the daily activities. Fortunately, there are more positives that problems. The students improve their auditory, language, communication, social and literacy skills. Paraprofessionals learn about language development, become expert with computer software, AAC devices, and lite-tech communication aids and sign language used by the students, and learn strategies for adapting materials in the regular education classroom. The SLP benefits with reduced planning time, more time for collaboration and consultation, and continuity of service.

Specific lessons will be shared to demonstrate how a variety of skills can be targeted in one activity, how the expectations vary with individual children, and how the group is organized. The participants will receive lesson plan forms as well as a packet of materials that has been prepared for a particular lesson. The conventional wisdom is that large groups are ineffective and progress is minimal. But the presentation and slides will show more is merrier!


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