The monthly coaching sessions included a lot of sharing of challenges and strategies among the early intervention specialists, with Fettig guiding the conversati on, offering suggestions and providing handout materials — all based on PBS principles.
Kindering Speech-Language Pathologist Theresa Sergotick said participating in the project helped her think of challenging behavior as just another form of communication, and gave her more confidence about addressing behavior issues with families.
“Since starting the groups I’ve personally been more open and forward with letting families know that behavior is something we can talk about and work on during our sessions,” Sergotick said. “I’ve become more comfortable letting families know that I’m someone in a role that can talk about behavior management. I don’t think a lot of families think of a speech therapist as someone who can help them with that.”
Chanel Richards, another Kindering speech-language pathologist, said participating in the program helped her think of dealing with behavior issues as a regular part of her work.
“It has made me think of behavior support more often,” Richards said. “As a speech-language pathologist, I often encounter challenging behaviors — but didn’t always think of it as my area. However, this has helped me rethink that. It has also helped me find more ways to support parents with behavior and do that in a more systematic way. I also think it’s always helpful to reflect — and this group gave me time to do that with my colleagues.”
“I really treat this project as also my way of learning,” Fettig said. “A lot of it is really understanding how flexible or inflexible the model I’ve developed is to individual family nuances. Family culture, families’ experiences around trauma, their philosophy about intervention. The coaching and community of practice sessions are a natural place for those things to come up.”
Fettig said her next step is using what she’s learned from the pilot study to seek funding for a large-scale implementation and evaluation of the method — with an emphasis on working with early intervention agencies like Kindering who support children and families with diverse needs.
“I believe everyone who touches a child’s life has a role to play in addressing challenging behaviors. What makes me feel good is that there are people who consistently come and value the coaching sessions,” Fettig said. “There are people who consistently bring in the behavior challenges they see — and see the space as a place where they can address the challenges. That’s particularly gratifying.”