Medically Complex Children and SLPs: How many cooks should be in the kitchen?

Calling all peds med SLPs! Are you and the pediatricians who serve your young clients BFFs?  No? Then this episode is for you!  In the latest episode of the Swallow Your Pride Podcast, Michelle Dawson, MS CCC-SLP, CLC and Tessa Gonzalez, MD discuss the importance of collaboration and communication among healthcare professionals when working with medically complex children and their families.

Tessa Gonzalez, a pediatrician and mother, believes that finding the right team of professionals to care for a child with medically complex needs is crucial. She emphasized the importance of trusting the professionals on the child's care team and finding the right people to make decisions. Michelle Dawson, MS, CCC-SLP, CLC, a speech-language pathologist in Staunton, VA, is the acclaimed host of “First Bite: Fed, Fun, Functional” a weekly Speech Therapy Podcast that addresses “all thangs” Pediatric Speech Therapy and is presented by Michelle authored, “Chasing the Swallow: Truth, Science, and Hope for Pediatric Feeding and Swallowing Disorders“. She is an accomplished lecturer; traveling across the nation delivering courses on best practices for evaluation and treatment of the medically complex infant, toddler, and child with respect to their pediatric oropharyngeal dysphagia, pediatric feeding disorder, as well as language acquisition within the framework of Early Intervention. She stressed the need for improvement in interprofessional education and practice and praised the Council of Academic Programs for Communicative Sciences and Disorders for their efforts in this area.

The speakers also touched on the difficulties of navigating professional disagreements but emphasized the importance of collaboration and communication between medical providers and therapists. They discussed the need to meet families where they are in their journey, and to act on their needs, even if it's just a small step. Care coordination and family education were highlighted as crucial parts of interprofessional practice, and the misconception that care coordination is not billable time or part of the scope of practice for speech pathologists was debunked.

In conclusion, the speakers stressed the importance of emotional intelligence and relationship-building with families of medically complex children. They encouraged collaboration and interprofessional education and practice for future generations of colleagues and highlighted resources for faculty and clinical supervisors interested in implementing these practices. As Michelle Dawson aptly put it, “We need to work together to provide the best possible care for these children and their families.”


First Bite: Fed, Fun, Functional Podcast

Chasing the Swallow: Truth, Science, and Hope for Pediatric Feeding and Swallowing Disorders

Episode 158 – All things PFDs and Early Intervention with Michelle Dawson

Timestamps for Medically Complex Children and SLPs:

Collaboration in Medical Practice [00:11:23] The speakers discuss the importance of collaboration and communication between medical professionals and specialists, as well as the benefits of multidisciplinary clinics.

Importance of Referrals [00:15:48] Tessa Gonzalez emphasizes the importance of knowing who to call and when to refer patients to other professionals in order to provide the best care possible.

Finding the Right Team [00:18:06] Tessa Gonzalez, a pediatrician and mother, shares her experience of finding the right team of physicians, therapists, and teachers to help make decisions for her child with multiple medical complexities.

Requesting Referrals and Access to Healthcare [00:19:08] Michelle Dawson, a speech pathologist, discusses the challenges of requesting referrals and finding the right specialist for a child with feeding disorders, and the unique barriers to access to healthcare in different parts of the country.

Handling Professional Disagreements [00:23:07] The speakers discuss how parents can handle disagreements between professionals when there are discrepancies in how to handle a specific child or case, and the importance of finding the right fit for the family.

Early intervention [00:26:04] The importance of early intervention in pediatric feeding and swallowing disorders, and the emotional intelligence needed to work with families with medically complex children.

State interpretation of IDEA Part C [00:30:32] The differences in interpretation of IDEA Part C between states and the need for more standardized practices in pediatric care.

Empowering Caregivers [00:38:05] The importance of empowering caregivers, especially those from historically disadvantaged backgrounds, is discussed, with examples of programs like the Power of Two from Feeding Matters.

Care Coordination [00:39:25] Discussion on the importance of care coordination and how it is a crucial part of the state regulations for license professionals.

Collaboration with Families [00:41:09] The role of educating families on how to advocate for their medically complex child and how parents are professionals on their kids. Acknowledging their role as professional caregivers to their children and collaborating with them as part of the team.


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