Collaborating with Paraeducators for Students with Communication Needs

Speaking: Tara McCarty

School days are jam-packed with opportunities for students with communication needs to interact with their classmates. As SLPs, these interactions fall into our domain and are the ideal situation for the carryover of our speech and language targets. Let's stop there. When and how can we possibly add this to our insurmountable to-do list? Paraeducators can help! They receive the least amount of training and are typically paired with the most challenging students. By investing in paraeducators and their knowledge and skills for working with the students we serve, we can impact greater change throughout the school day. This session will review the benefits of positive peer relationships for students with communication needs, highlight physical and social environmental barriers to consider in the school setting, and guide SLPs towards feasible possibilities about how to incorporate training for paraeducators. We all know of a paraeducator who is a hidden gem in our school. We also know of paraeducators who have so much potential but lack the training, skills, or exposure of working with students with communication needs. By putting a little thought and energy into the training of paraeducators, we can impact big change throughout the day for our students with communication needs as they interact with peers.