Multidisciplinary Approach in Speech Therapy

Multidisciplinary Approach in Speech Therapy: Benefits & Sharing Experience

Posted on
January 30, 2023
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For our 10th Noala Club free online session, we explored a multidisciplinary approach among clinicians. We discussed three research papers, how we have collaborated with other professions before, and how it benefitted our patients. Our Noala Club is led by our US clinical director and M.A. CCC-SLP, Sharon Baum. If you want to share experiences with speech professionals from across the world, in both pediatric and adult populations, sign up for our noala club.

Speech-Language Therapy and Music Therapy Collaboration

The conversation centered around research articles that supported different ways to optimize a multidisciplinary approach to speech and language therapy. Our conversations supported the articles that ranged across the lifespan and across the profession - highlighting the role of music therapy alongside speech therapy with those who stutter. Others in the group want to use other disciplines as well but sometimes say getting it approved and paid for is a hardship. Members of the group working with the aging/geriatric population spoke about using the discipline of music therapy to help those with Alzheimer's as well as voice disorders.

Research paper: Speech-Language Pathology and Music Therapy: An Underrated Combination for Many with Stuttering Disorders

Multidisciplinary Approach
Collaborating with other professionals

Role of a Multidisciplinary Approach and Adult Patients

The common theme was that collaboration with other disciplines is needed but not always welcomed. The group discussed how our area of expertise overlaps with Occupational Therapists often and the OT can often support us with individuals who are dysregulated or who are having executive functioning issues. We understood that time is precious and that teachers in schools don’t always have time to have an ongoing relationship with us. However, we also discussed how we can show our value in collaboration by offering presentations that showcase what we do. Many in the group feel like they are on an island of their own, while others in the school or outside their practice have a very loose understanding of their role - so showing our expertise is how all can learn.

Members of the group who work in hospitals stated that collaborating is embedded more organically in the environments that are set up in their workplace. For example, all hands are on deck on the hospital floor so they can easily check in with the OT, physical therapist, and any medical professionals in the hallway. This is a multidisciplinary approach that is more automatic in nature while the members in schools and private practice expressed continuous challenges with getting others invested in wanting to support each other using their different levels of expertise for shared students/patients.

Research paper: The “Counseling+” Roles of the Speech-Language Pathologist Serving Older Adults With Mild Cognitive Impairment and Dementia From Alzheimer's Disease | Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups

Professional collaboration and Special Education Students

This brings us to the final part of our discussion based on the article and personal experiences with collaborating with other professionals in special education. When given an opportunity to work together to create individualized education plans, the general feedback was that all professionals learned from each other. We were able to make better decisions regarding the needs of their students when working together and discussing the student’s needs from varied perspectives. Our group members felt the same way. When discussing creating goals for those we work with, many found it beneficial to not only work together on establishing goals, but to monitor progress through collaboration with all professionals who work with the children and adults that we are serving.

Research paper: The Use of Interprofessional Education (IPE) to Address Collaboration for Individualized Education Plans (IEPs): A Retrospective Study of Occupational Therapy, Speech-Language Pathology, and Special Education Students’ Perceptions

While there is frustration in the speech community like, in so many other disciplines, those in the research club feel supported just by coming together. Simply bouncing ideas off of others in the same field who have worked on different areas of speech and language was agreed upon to be more helpful than working in silo. Join our next noala club via this link.

If you want to read more about AAC Devices for Individuals with Complex Communication Needs, you can refer to our previous noala club.

Sharon Baum
Clinical Director, United States and M.A. CCC-SLP
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