Association News

Published on May 13th, 2019


Professional Insights: Working as a School-Based S-LP (Shirley)

The role of a school-based speech-language pathologist is broad and varies from school to school. However, there is one thing that everyone can agree upon: students benefit from speech-language pathology services!

S-LPs work with students to reach their full communication potential. This, in turn, helps students succeed throughout the day – from making friends, to engaging with their lessons, to growing as an individual.

To explore the work of school-based S-LPs, we asked some of our members to share their experiences working in a school setting.

Today, we hear from Shirley Gau.

To access all articles of this series, please click here.

Describe your work setting.

I primarily work with the school-aged population in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.

Approximately how many students do you work with over the course of the school year?

I have a caseload of approximately 150 students that I provide service to in five schools.

Can you tell us something unique about your position?

My position allows me to travel to remote communities and provide direct treatment and follow-up consultation to those communities via telehealth.

Additionally, due the remoteness of my position, I have a very diverse caseload. I work with students who have everything from basic articulation and language needs, to students with autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and Down syndrome. Luckily, I have some great colleagues to support me!

Finally, I have the privilege of working directly with and supporting many Indigenous peoples and cultures in the North.

What does an average day look like?

There is a lot of variation in my day because of the diversity of the students. It can range from assessing students, classroom observations, consultation with school staff, to providing in-person therapy or therapy through telehealth.

How does your role fit in the day of a student?

For students who have typical articulation or language concerns, they will receive an assessment and the student will work on treatment goals with an assistant under my guidance and supervision.

For students with more complex needs, I will work with the family, teachers and support staff to develop more global strategies that can be implemented in the classroom and at home.

What is the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is the diversity. I enjoy being challenged and working out strategies that will work for a specific student.

What is one of the most challenging parts of your job?

The most challenging part of my job is definitely not having enough time to work directly with all of my students. The uniqueness of my position means I always have a very large caseload.

The Takeaway: What do you want people to know about your job as a school-based S-LP?

Being an S-LP in Yellowknife is a great opportunity to see a part of Canada most Canadians never go to, work with Indigenous cultures and face rewarding challenges most other S-LPs miss out on.

About Shirley Gau

Shirley Gau is a speech-language pathologist who has been working at Stanton Territorial Hospital in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories for 20 years. She primarily works with the preschool and school-aged populations. She is part of the territorial Child Development Team and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder diagnostic team. Also, as part of her job, she has the opportunity to travel to communities throughout the Northwest Territories and the Kitikmeot region of Nunavut to provide speech and language services to all ages.

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