Danielle Reed, M.S., CCC-SLP, is an ASHA-certified school-based speech-language pathologist with experience in Preschool-8th Grade and early intervention services in Kansas City, Chicago, and Phoenix. Danielle currently serves as her district’s Lead SLP, providing professional development, coaching, mentorship, etc. for the related service providers in her district. In addition to being the author of the blog Sublime Speech, Danielle is also the Chief Experience Officer and Co-Founder of XceptionalED. Danielle is a graduate of Missouri State University and continues to cultivate her passion for technology, AAC, and leadership within the SLP community and schools.
Note: You should consult with your doctor or speech pathologist for recommendations on treatment. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Danielle Reed and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeechPathologyMastersPrograms.com
What inspired you to start Sublime Speech?
I started Sublime Speech during my second year as an SLP. I inherited so many outdated materials including worksheets, flashcards, workbooks, games, etc. My students were instantly disengaged due to the graphics and overall appearance of the materials. I started playing around with materials, adapting them and creating my own. I also started utilizing the iPad that year in therapy. As I was doing this, I thought others may be interested in seeing what I was doing and I wanted to document this process so I could remember what I did as well. Before I knew it, there were people commenting and sharing my posts. I also started to meet fellow bloggers and network in fun new ways. In a way, Sublime Speech created itself and took me along for the ride.
What do you hope your readers get from your posts?
I hope that my posts from today and from 6 years ago inspire SLPs to think outside of the box- To see therapy in everyday activities, in fun ways, and in a way that supports evidence based practice (EBP) while being incredibly engaging. I love sharing new materials that I’m using, creative ways to use items, and even the hard parts about being an SLP. I hope that my readers know that I am being honest and open about our profession and a promoter of effective and meaningful therapy.
What skills do you think are especially important for SLPs in an in home early intervention role?
I think confidence, interpersonal skills, communication, flexibility, understanding, and a good work ethic are needed for EI SLPs. We have to be willing to do the hard work of teaching parents how to be their child’s therapist. It’s more difficult to teach an adult than it is to do direct therapy with the child. However, this yields better and longer-lasting results and empowers parents. It is important to really stand with the parent and help guide them in assisting their child in developing the communication skills that they are lacking. It’s very difficult to do but very rewarding!
We loved the sentiment behind your post, “Why We Will Not Be Quiet in the Hallway: A Love Letter to Our Shusher”. When in the school setting, every moment with your students counts. How do you make the most of the little time that you have together?
My sessions start the minute a student walks into my room or the minute I pick them up from their classroom and I do not stop therapy until I wave goodbye. My time walking with them is used to build rapport, experience communication in the more typical environment of conversation, and even to work on their specific goals. I even developed a Walk-n-Talk material for Teachers Pay Teachers which I utilize to get just a few more trials in during our walks. I want to squeeze every minute out of my time with my students and I refuse to waste it by being “quiet”.
You have worked in a variety of settings. Which is your favorite and why?
If you would have asked me in graduate school, I would have told you that I was never working in schools. I have worked in preschools, EI, and K-8 schools. I continue to come back to the schools, particularly in communities with high poverty rates. There is something so wonderful about providing such necessary services to students in the school environment. We have to be so knowledgeable about such a variety of disorders, treatments, assessments, technology, etc. I have also been able to take on leadership roles in the schools. I am currently the Lead SLP in my district and have found that providing professional development, coaching, and leadership to SLPs and OTs/PTs is incredibly rewarding.
You often talk about the issue of respect in the speech-language pathology field. What is your advice to SLPs who don’t feel like they are getting the respect that they deserve from school colleagues?
Disrespect is often a result of a misunderstanding and/or lack of knowledge. Typically, when I have felt disrespected I have attempted to find ways to educate that individual on what my job entails. I don’t pretend to understand every aspect of a teacher’s job, or of an administrator’s job, or the jobs of other colleagues. So, I don’t expect them to be an expert in what I do. I used to get upset and feel personally hurt by comments said to/about me, misunderstandings of my job, being called a “speech teacher”, etc. Now, I use it as an opportunity to educate those around me. The beginning of the school year and Better Hearing and Speech Month are great times to educate colleagues. Approach your administration about presenting at a staff meeting. Put handouts in teacher mailboxes (and admin mailboxes) explaining what SLPs can do in schools, and maybe what they do in the community. I also have a habit of teaching my students how to say “Speech-Language Pathologist” and surprisingly they can. Every little bit helps!
What is your advice for SLP graduate students?
Soak up your time in grad school. Get to know your classmates, professors, and clinic supervisors. These individuals will be resources for you far beyond graduation. Ask questions when you don’t know and can’t find the answers. One skill lacking in the workplace is problem-solving so I would suggest that students work to solve problems and then approach others for assistance and answers. I would also say that practicums/externships are your biggest learning opportunity. Be engaged and work hard during these as the supervising clinician can be a wonderful reference for your first job interviews and can be a great resource for you in your first years of work. In looking for employment I would suggest interviewing as much as possible and really taking your time to compare offers, workload, and clients. We are still a job that is in high demand so I would not settle for a job that doesn’t feel right for you. Also, be very careful on social media by making sure you post appropriate content and/or protect your accounts. Employers may search for your social media during the interview process and may make assumptions about you and your skill-set by the posts you have. Overall, I would advise students to learn and network as much as they can and prepare to continually learn and network for the entirety of their career. Oh, and ENJOY your new career!