Do you ever feel guilty when dismissing a student from speech? I know WE KNOW when they’re ready to jump out of the nest, but sometimes, other members of the child’s IEP team are anti-dismissal. I admit that there were a couple of times I avoided dismissing a student because I was just too exhausted to wage that battle

Do you get kickback from staff or from parents? During my 24 years in public schools, it often felt like the whole world wanted me to keep students in speech or language therapy for ETERNITY! The “D” word (aka dismissal) started to feel like a dirty word. 

Late in my career, I realized that we all needed to STOP talking about dismissal at the END of the therapy process, and START talking about it from Day 1! Then, never stop! 

How do we change the mindset that
dismissal is a negative event?

1) At the initial IEP meeting, make it very clear that dismissal is the ultimate goal! Explain that the GOAL is always for the child to NOT need us anymore. Talk about that glorious day the student will get to “graduate” from speech therapy as often as you can. WHY?? Because that way, when the time comes, the parent will be more mentally prepared, and it will be a party  instead of a fight! You can ensure that happens by always painting dismissal as positive, which helllooooo, it is! 

2) For students getting articulation therapy, explain the articulation hierarchy at each IEP meeting. I use this visual that helps parents to see how closet their child it to graduation! It also helps to use the articulation hierarchy with students as well! Seeing their own progression UP the hierarchy is so motivating! 

3) For all children approaching dismissal, rave about their progress in their progress reports. I made a habit of writing something like, “He’s doing so well that he won’t need me much longer,” or “I’ll be contacting you to discuss dismissal soon!” 

4) When the time comes, go all out with a diploma (which you can find within our membership) and plenty of gushing about how awesome the child is, and maybe even a goody bag to celebrate the monumental occasion! You’ll make some students very happy… at least until they realize that means they can’t go hang out with you anymore! OH, and for parents who have consented to photos, send them a photo from their child’s “Speech Graduation!” 

Now that I work in private practice, parents are much more open to dismissal (which I have to admit, took me aback)!

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Will you try talking about dismissal from day 1? 

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