Wednesday, February 16, 2011

SLP Corner: My caseload

This will be a two-parter post. The first, details about my caseload. The second, about Alaska SPED law and IEPs. Otherwise, be forewarned that these posts are heavy on the SLP talk, full of acronyms and abbreviations with no explanations. If you've been traumatized by speech therapy stories, jokes or plain just aren't interested, I recommend you skip these two! All others, read on.

So a few more details about being a speech therapist in Alaska compared to California. First, the Fairbanks school district is huge! Not only in terms of number of schools but also in geographical footprint. Some of the schools are 30+ miles from Fairbanks.  There are 35 schools including 4 charter schools, and a whooping 32 SLPs. About four of those speech therapists are contractors. It seems that the therapists have either been here forever (10+ years) or are brand new to the district. There is a lot of turnover in SLP staff. Hard to recruit for jobs up here.

My caseload: approximately 22, grades 3-12, all gen ed, no SDC, no autism, mostly artic, language and pragmatic issues (although much of the pragmatics haven't been specifically identified).  I'm also going to be helping out with district-wide programs. Next week I'll be doing hearing screenings (y'all know how I love those!) for a district program called Child Find, which is a pre-k screening process to identify SPED kids before they turn five.

I'm at a 3-6 elementary and a jr/sr high school. The schools are across the street from each other although when it's -44 I still drive between the two! Here is a picture of the elementary school looking out from the speech room at the jr/sr high school in various lighting:

I have my own laptop (brand new swanky MacBook!) Supplies are plentiful -- no begging the PTA for money or spending my own.

At the elementary school I have an entire room to myself! This is a newer school and very nice. I've never seen a school with so many classrooms dedicated to support type services. It always seems to me that half the rooms are empty. Here are a few pictures of my room:

At the jr/sr high school I also have a dedicated space that is a smaller room but I don't have to share it with anyone. In general there are plenty of materials, although they towards worksheets and flashcards, which I don't really care for. After my work at SuperSpeech & Language and my Bal-A-Vis-X training, I find myself more and more wanting to do movement based therapy. Not only do I think they learn better but the poor kids are sick and tired of sitting at a desk all day! And frankly so am I.

The one game I brought with me is "Sticky Ball Bulls-Eye" and it's a huge hit! I also brought Bal-A-Vis-X but haven't set that up yet. As you can see I have lots of ball play!

Next: see SLP Corner: Alaska SPED law and IEPs


  1. Heather, glad to hear you will be bringing bal-a-vis-x to the frozen North! How weird there is no autism-is it just the school you are at or is it not prevalent up there?


  2. Oh no, it's just the schools I'm at, Nancy. My friend has a pre-k caseload that is all autism.