working smarter not harder with Documentation and Billing
As an SLP in private practice, you can choose to use paper records or electronic records. If you have just a few private clients and only accept private pay (no insurance), then paper records can work just fine. However, if you accept insurance or have more than a few clients, you are pretty much going to need an EHR. Not only does it save you file cabinet space and trees, many insurances require or strongly advise electronic claim submission, and having an EHR makes things as simple as dealing with insurance can get.
Not sure what EHR means? Like most parts of our profession, electronic documentation and billing comes with a whole host of acronyms. Here's a quick breakdown of the most common ones:
You had me at "Free Narrative Language Assessment"
If you like free, evidence-based language screening measures, you need to check out the CUBED Narrative Language Measures (NLM) and Dynamic Decoding Measures (DDM) from Language Dynamics (makers of Story Champs Narrative Language Intervention and the PEARL Screener). According to the authors, Douglas Peterson and Trina Spencer, the CUBED family of tools includes
a criterion-referenced universal screening and progress monitoring assessment.. [which] can validly, reliably, and efficiently measure the constructs of decoding and language comprehension, and their product, reading for students in preschool through third grade. The results of the CUBED can directly inform instruction and provide information on a student’s modifiability and zone of proximal development.
Wow! A free set of screening and progress monitoring tools that actually help inform your instruction AND your understanding of your students' actual decoding and language comprehension levels! But how does it work in actual practice? I used the NLM and here is my review (which was not solicited in any manner by CUBED or its associates. I just wanted to share my thoughts)
Starting a Private Speech Therapy Practice is complicated.
When I decided to start a private practice, I had no idea what I was getting into. I thought I'd start seeing a few clients on the side, in the evenings after my full-time school job, to help pay off my student loans a little faster and maybe eventually branch out on my own. "I'm a good SLP and have decent organizational skills, this can't be that hard!" I thought. Boy, was I in for a surprise!
I wanted to start my practice legally, so I began researching how to set up a business. I thought choosing a structure would be a quick Google search but it ended up taking over a month. I had to learn about business structures (LLC's, sole proprietorships, corporations, etc) and find out what worked best for my needs in my state. I spent hours researching taxes, CPA fees, and licenses, and many nights researching and freaking out about HIPAA compliance. What I learned is that all of the information you need to start a private practice is out there- but you have to dig for it! Nothing is in one convenient place. So I decided to change that.
Speech and language games
As SLP's, we sometimes need very specialized tools to do our jobs well- video fluoroscopy machines for swallowing evaluations, specific sound stimuli for articulation therapy, or eye-gaze AAC devices for clients. Sometimes, though, we need items that can help us target the goals for the maximum amount of students/clients/patients on our caseload. Hence, my list of go-to games for maximum engagement! Whether you work in the schools or in a medical setting, these games are sure to be a hit!
Affiliate links included for your convenience.
Oh, the /r/ sound. If you work with speakers of non-Bostonian American English, you know that this sound can be tricky! Besides the two major production types- Retroflex and Bunched- you also have prevocalic and vocalic /r/ types! Also, as Dr Wayne Secord notes in his formative textbook Eliciting Sounds: Techniques and Strategies for Clinicians: "The articulation of /r/ is highly variable..." Understatement of the century, right there.
I've worked with many students and clients on that pesky/r/ sound, with parents who report that others think their child is speaking in a Boston or Southern accent, or is British. Over the years, I've compiled a list of my favorite go-to resources and elicitation techniques for /r/, since many clients work on it for quite a bit of time.
Talking to parents about our jobs can be hard. I mean, speech-language pathology isn't even easy to say! IEP meetings can be difficult, especially evaluation report reviews when we have to tell a parent that their child qualifies for speech therapy. After some very challenging IEP meetings as a CF and young SLP, I knew that I needed to be prepared in order for these meetings to run smoothly. As an upside, the materials and ideas I've collected make for excellent resources for larger presentations, like talks about speech and language development at the library.
My first step was to have handouts about anything and everything speech-related. The papers give me something to do with my hands, and we all know that having a visual to refer to makes explaining difficult concepts like standard deviations and the difference between speech and language to parents easier. I also like to bring examples of games or toys that I use in speech; this gives any kids present a great way to keep busy so their parents can listen, and also helps parents understand what we do in our therapy sessions.
If you have an IEP, parent meeting, or even a talk at your local library coming up, check out my list of go-to resources to explain what it is that we SLPs do. And let me know about your favorite evidence-based resources in the comments as well!
We've all been there- between paperwork, evaluations, IEP meetings, bus/lunch/recess duty, PD that doesn't apply to our profession, fire drills, etc- sometimes there just isn't time to plan the therapy we envision. More than once, I've decided on a therapy activity while walking the students down the hall for their session. In general, those sessions have worked- a hallmark of being an SLP is being able to think on our feet and modify sessions as needed- but having an overall goal and theme for sessions is a useful practice. Thankfully, many talented SLP's have created membership-based sites that do much of the planning for you, so I've compiled a list of those sites below to help you work smarter, not harder!
Titles are linked for your convenience!
We've all been there: after 280173 iterations of your therapy schedule, you still have a lot of mixed groups. What to do when you have little Johnny working on prepositions, little Suzy working on past tense verbs, and little Kimmy working on /r/? Enter my secret weapon: interactive books! Here's how I use them to target every goal on my caseload:
Research has shown that incorporating movement into learning is the best way to engage children and encourage generalization of skills. I love a good worksheet now and then, but when you are first teaching a concept, using manipulatives (SLP-speak for "items you can move around") and the children themselves is the best way to get them learning. We also know that literacy instruction is important. My favorite way to combine the two to target every goal on my caseload is through using interactive books.
What is an interactive book, you ask? It's a book that "requires participation and interaction by the reader". In the case of most interactive books for speech, this involves pieces that the student can attach to various parts of the book to answer questions or interact with the story. Below is an example of one you can find in my TPT store, "Leo's Lunch for /L/ and /L/ blends".
Pop Quiz: At which of these locations do Speech-Language Pathologists provide therapy?
B) Outpatient Rehab Centers
E) All of the above
The answer is E, although I know many SLP's who have a preference for a particular location- and it usually isn't daycares. I've provided therapy in daycares for many years, and I used to dread those days too. Generally, daycares are more crowded and have more teachers who rotate throughout the day and the week. The day is not as structured as a school day, and children are often there for longer- or, just there for the most challenging parts of the day: early morning and after school. I often felt like I was just throwing paper away when I would leave notes at daycares because none of my suggestions seemed to have any effect. But fear not! With a little preparation, you no longer have to dread Daycare Days! Here are my tips for creating successful, cooperative visits to the daycares on your caseload.
I know what you're thinking: "How does making some resources for TeachersPayTeachers make someone a better speech therapist?" It does sound a little grandiose, but I can honestly say that it really has made my professional life better in many ways that I never expected when I jumped in to it at 38 weeks pregnant (timing has never been my strong suit! ). Here are 5 that were the most surprising to me:
1. It's given me the ability to make my own products for therapy- and like them! Before I started creating products for my TPT store, I made the occasional therapy resource for my own personal use. These resources were usually made in Microsoft Word, with mismatched clip art and no design knowledge (see below). They filled a need, but they weren't pretty to look at. I was almost a little ashamed to pull them out in therapy, they were so, um, "aesthetically challenged." Now, I'm proud to use my own products in therapy, and get excited to design fun and exciting covers and content!
I'm Jill! I love to create and blog about fun, evidence-based resources that make the lives of parents and busy SLPs easier.