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Seine River to add speech pathologist

By: Jordan Ross

Posted: 03/4/2019 11:43 AM

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Seine River trustees heard Tuesday the growing division will add a fourth speech and language pathologist next school year, to reduce heavy caseloads.

The division’s three current pathologists—Paulette Lajoie, Gisele Charr, and Allison Tchir—appeared before the school board to update trustees on current developments in their field, and explain their broadening mandate to work one-on-one and in classrooms with children who have a speech or language disorder.

The trio currently works with 321 students spread among the division’s 15 schools. Superintendent Mike Borgfjord said the ideal caseload is closer to 50, and hopes the addition of another full-time pathologist will make the intensive work more manageable.

"The caseloads were massive years ago. They’re still large," he said.

Borgfjord also noted the division continues to see more children with autism spectrum disorder.

"It’s putting more demands on (pathologists)," he said.

He stressed how far the support service has come over the past 15 years. Nonverbal students can use special iPad applications, or cards featuring visuals and symbols, to communicate with teachers and educational assistants.

The pathologists said they are also working more collaboratively with other educational and support staff to untangle speech-language disorders from behavioural and reading challenges. The three are often confused, leading to misdiagnoses, they explained.

General knowledge of speech-language disorders among teachers has risen, in part due to ongoing education efforts, they added.

Seine River children entering speech-language treatment typically begin in kindergarten and continue through Grade 3, though older students can also be referred.

The division benefits from information sharing with Southern Health, but some parents don’t take advantage of the health authority’s optional preschool screenings, trustees heard.

The division also employs four social workers, four school psychologists, and two occupational therapists.

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