Here in the Edmonds School District we use what we call the 3:1 model for speech therapy students. I am in the middle of that week right now, so let’s talk about it!

What is 3:1?

The ‘3’ stands for three weeks of every month. During those weeks I provide traditional speech therapy (“pull-out” therapy) where students come to my office for their weekly speech therapy sessions.

The ‘1’ is for the fourth week of each month, the indirect week. During this week students do not leave their classrooms. Instead I go visit them! I spend the week observing in classrooms, consulting with teachers, responding to referrals, calling parents, evaluating students, meeting with other speech therapists… the list is never ending!

Why do I get to take a ‘week off’?

This is the most common question I am asked about this way of doing speech therapy. Sometimes people ask this outright, and more often they think it without saying it out loud. 😛

The answer? I’m NOT taking a week off! I work just as hard during this week as I do every other week! The list of things I do during this week is loooong, and many of them would be impossible without the flexibility of the indirect service week.

What about the kids? Isn’t it bad to miss a week of therapy?

There are positives and negatives about not having therapy for one week out of the month. I wish I could see my kids more often, even two or three times a week! But the reality of 60+ kids on my caseload (along with all of their teachers and parents!) means that is not possible.

One of the biggest things I do during the indirect week is plan special activities to do in speech therapy during the following month. It makes the rest of the month so much better! This week I was able to create an interactive powerpoint game about idioms to use with the intermediate intensive support students. I would never have had time to do it otherwise, and the kids are going to love it!

Another thing to consider is how kids learn to “generalize” their speech skills. Generalizing is when a student can take something they learned in speech and use it in their conversation somewhere else, like in the classroom. It is very common for students to have great speech skills in my office, walk out my door, and revert back to their old habits as soon as they are back in class. Seeing me in classrooms and around the school is a big way to combat this.

Observing in classrooms is also a huge benefit to a student’s speech therapy program. Today I observed in six different classrooms, and picked up things to work on in therapy for half of the students I observed. One student was reading aloud and left off the final sounds of the words she was reading. Another student was using a phonics chart, but didn’t realize he needed to pronounce all of the sounds every time. A girl doing a science experiment noticed for the first time that the word “ready” had the /r/ sound at the beginning, and then used her new /r/ when talking with her table-mate.

Yesterday I observed circle time in an intensive support classroom, and heard one of my barely-verbal students lead calendar time and speak intelligibly. I also heard the teacher discussing how to greet someone in the morning, because none of her kids say “hello” or “good morning” when a teacher greets them. We’ll work on that next week during our speech time! I was also able to arrange a last-minute meeting with a parent to review her daughter’s progress in speech therapy, because I didn’t have speech therapy sessions that afternoon.

None of those things would have been possible without the indirect service week, and every one of those things will make therapy BETTER for my students.