What is an SLPA?
**This first part is about the roles of an SLPA. For resources, materials, and support: scroll down!
Here’s what the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) defines as a speech-language pathology assistant (SLPA):
“Speech-language pathology assistants are support personnel who, following academic coursework, fieldwork, and on-the-job training, perform tasks prescribed, directed, and supervised by ASHA-certified speech-language pathologists.”
In other words, they get some amount of training and do something that a speech therapist tells them to do.
ASHA actually has an entire document dedicated to outlining what an SLPA can and cannot do so I’ll try to pull out the good parts here.
What Training Does an SLPA Need?
Again, here’s what ASHA says you must have to be a licensed SLPA:
- an associate’s degree in an SLPA program
a bachelor’s degree in a speech-language pathology or communication disorders program
- successful completion of a minimum of one hundred (100) hours of supervised field work experience or its clinical experience equivalent
- demonstration of competency in the skills required of an SLPA.
What Can an SLPA Do?
- Assist the SLP with speech, language, and hearing screenings without clinical interpretation. (help with giving the screenings but not interpreting whether or not the child has a disorder)
- Assist the SLP during assessment of students, patients, and clients exclusive of administration and/or interpretation. (you can’t give standardized or non-standardized tests or interpret them)
- Follow documented treatment plans or protocols developed by the supervising SLP.
- Program and provide instruction in the use of augmentative and alternative communication devices.
- Provide services under SLP supervision in another language for individuals who do not speak English and English-language learners.
- Assist with clerical duties, such as preparing materials and scheduling activities, as directed by the SLP.
Basically, the SLP should evaluate the child (though the SLPA can help with that assessment) and then write a treatment plan. This would include goals and therapy techniques/methods. The SLP should also provide any necessary training so the SLPA knows how to do those therapies.
Then, the SLPA would perform the actual therapy as prescribed by the therapy plan and report the results back to the supervising SLP.
Also, SLPAs can assist with paperwork and prepping materials for therapy.
Requirements for a Supervisor of an SLPA
The supervising SLP must have the following qualifications:
- current ASHA certification and/or state licensure,
- completion of at least 2 years of practice following ASHA certification,
- completion of an academic course or at least 10 hours of continuing education credits in the area of supervision, completed prior to or concurrent with the first SLPA supervision experience.
In addition, the SLP must:
- Conduct ongoing competency evaluations of the SLPAs.
- Provide and encourage ongoing education and training opportunities for the SLPA consistent with competency and skills and needs of the students, patients, or clients served.
- Develop, review, and modify treatment plans for students, patients, and clients that SLPAs implement under the supervision of the SLP.
- Make all case management decisions.
- Adhere to the supervisory responsibilities for SLPs.
- Retain the legal and ethical responsibility for all students, patients, and clients served.
- Adhere to the principles and rules of the ASHA Code of Ethics.
- Adhere to applicable licensure laws and rules regulating the practice of speech-language pathology.
Also, one SLP is only allowed to supervise the equivalent of 2 full time SLPAs. None of this one SLP for 10 SLPAs in the district nonsense!
How Should an SLPA be Supervised?
This is best left in the exact wording from ASHA:
First 90 workdays: A total of at least 30% supervision, including at least 20% direct and 10% indirect supervision, is required weekly. Direct supervision of student, patient, and client care should be no less than 20% of the actual student, patient, and client contact time weekly for each SLPA. This ensures that the supervisor will have direct contact time with the SLPA as well as with the student, patient, or client. During each week, data on every student, patient, and client seen by the SLPA should be reviewed by the supervisor. In addition, the direct supervision should be scheduled so that all students, patients, and clients seen by the assistant are directly supervised in a timely manner. Supervision days and time of day (morning/afternoon) may be alternated to ensure that all students, patients, and clients receive some direct contact with the SLP at least once every 2 weeks.
After first 90 workdays: The amount of supervision can be adjusted if the supervising SLP determines the SLPA has met appropriate competencies and skill levels with a variety of communication and related disorders.
Minimum ongoing supervision must always include documentation of direct supervision provided by the SLP to each student, patient, or client at least every 60 calendar days.
A minimum of 1 hour of direct supervision weekly and as much indirect supervision as needed to facilitate the delivery of quality services must be maintained.
Documentation of all supervisory activities, both direct and indirect, must be accurately recorded.
Further, 100% direct supervision of SLPAs for medically fragile students, patients, or clients is required.
Support and Training For SLPAs
Based on the feedback I’m getting from my readers who are SLPAs, this level of support and training is not often occurring in the field. SLPs are overworked and busy and SLPAs are left feeling unsure of how to do the therapy. This isn’t always the case but it seems to me that our SLPAs could use a little more support in general.
Here are the three levels of support that I have for SLPAs on my website:
1) Basic Support: Free Articles and Materials from Speech and Language Kids
I have a plethora of free articles and materials for speech therapy sessions that are written with parents in mind so there is no technical jargon and I don’t assume that you already know some skills first. You’ll find that all of my materials are easy-to-follow and many are step-by-step guides on exactly how to treat specific delays or disorders.
Browse through my free resources and see if anything will be helpful to you!
2) Advanced Support: eBooks and Materials
The next level of support that I have available is through my eBooks. I currently have 3 eBooks (at the time of writing this) that will show you exactly how to teach certain skills from start to finish. They also provide materials that you can print and use in therapy or send home as homework.
Here are the eBooks that will be helpful to SLPAs:
This eBook will walk you step-by-step through how to teach 39 different speech and language skills. I chose the 39 skills that come up most often for speech therapy with children. I also include worksheets and handouts that you can print out and send home as homework or use in therapy. This is my most popular eBook!
Articulation errors are probably the most common problem that speech therapists (and speech therapy assistants) will deal with. This eBook will walk you through exactly how to teach a child a new sound using articulation therapy from start to finish. I will show you everything you need to do and give you all of the materials. The kit includes articulation cards, sound flash cards, syllable and sentence creators, conversational carry-over strategies, and worksheets that can be sent home. You can download the file immediately and print out what you need.
If you work with late talkers or minimally verbal preschoolers, this program is for you! This program was written for parents to use at home but is equally effective in therapy sessions. Plus, since it’s written for parents, you can send home the worksheets so that everyone is working on the same thing. This will show you which communication strategies will work best for late talkers and will also give you specific activities that you can do in therapy to build vocabulary.
3) Premium Support: Monthly Webinars and Daily How-To Videos
If you find yourself struggling in your position as an SLPA and need more direct help, this program is perfect for you! Each week day, I answer a question from a member with a how-to video.
That means you can ask me questions about your tough cases and I’ll make you a video showing you exactly how to treat that problem. Plus, you can watch the entire library of videos from other members’ questions.
Also, there is a monthly webinar which will take you deep into one specific topic. The webinar topics are chosen by the members and you’ll be able to watch recordings of past webinars as well.
AND, you’ll get access to an exclusive Facebook group where you can ask questions and get help immediately from all group members.
If you’re feeling less than confident in your role as an SLPA, you NEED this membership site.
More Resources for Speech-Language Pathologists:
Looking for more therapy ideas and resources to help you provide the BEST services to your clients? Join us in The SLP Solution, our membership program for speech-language professionals! Inside the membership, you’ll find:
- Step-By-Step Guides for teaching a variety of speech/language/communication skills
- Pre-Made Worksheets and Therapy Activities for hundreds of different topics
- Training Videos for dealing with difficult disorders or problems
- Answers to Your Questions in our exclusive SLP community
- Tools and Resources to help you with your paperwork and admin tasks
- Continuing Education through our monthly webinars and webinar recordings
To join us in the full SLP Solution, or to snag a free membership, click on the button below!