Do you remember the first day of your first real job? I remember walking through the doors of Beasley Elementary. The hallways were empty, and I had no clue where to go or what to do.
I was greeted by a lady who was unloading boxes and classroom materials with her daughter, who I quickly found out was also a Speech Therapist in her first year of working too! We became instant friends, and I was introduced to the rest of the faculty.
I was scared that first day. All those prepared lesson plans and previous course work suddenly fluttered out of my head. I had a list of names on a page and a filing cabinet of IEPs for my new students. Life got real.
Luckily, my mentor allowed me to treat all the self-contained students (so I wouldn’t have to lead any ARD meetings that first year – wonderful idea). The students I would be responsible for were different than I had ever treated. Many of them in wheelchairs, some responded to touch but not necessarily to sound. The population could easily be defined as medically fragile and needed maximal care. I had no clue how to evaluate these little ones. There were NO standardized tests to give me a cute little score. It was clear they all could benefit from speech therapy services as most of them were nonverbal. You could see in their eyes and how they responded to a touch of your hand that they had opinions. My question was “How do you reach inside and pull that out of another human?”
Thankfully, I found the OT and PT assigned to my campus. They were wonderful! They were veterans in the school. They both had been working for 15+ years and they were ready to share. We spent hours talking about positioning, mounting devices, and modifying the environment. It was an entirely different world and perspective that I was shown. We laid on the floor, occluded our vision and immobilized our extremities so we could feel what our students felt.
Then, we discussed everything from communication, to vision, to mobility. We stood back and asked questions like “what can the student access from their viewpoint” and “how are they entertained”. We had fun and we learned a lot from one another. This was coordination of care!
Today, our guest is a Physical therapist. She has a wonderful resume of experience, and I can’t wait to learn and grow from her stories and wisdom about treating patients and working together as a team.
Click below to spend some time with our PT, Patia.