In order to work effectively with people with communication problems due to neurological impairment, third year speech pathology students need to understand how daily life and relationships are affected when living with these communication problems. The Client Tutors are members of our local community, and are paid at academic tutorial rates, as existing academic staff cannot replicate the value of their educative input. By virtue of their salaried status, the tutors are expected to assume teaching and learning responsibility for their student groups. Over an 8 week period, Client Tutors teach students about their experiences of therapy (and of the health service in general), of their needs and aspirations, and how students can help in meeting these needs in the future.
For the first 4 weeks, students reflect on the understandings and insights they gain from hearing the Client Tutor's experiences. For the final 4 weeks, students negotiate with their Client Tutor how they could help address their speech, language and/or communication needs.
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In the Parent Tutor program, second year speech pathology students meet parents of children with communication and other complex needs, who act as tutors to the students, giving them an 'insider' view on speech pathology practice. The meetings occur weekly for approximately one month in the parent's home or another community setting. The content of the weekly meetings is determined by the students with their tutor, but often incorporates topics such as diagnosis, grief/loss, service provision, and advocacy.
The aim of the program is to provide students with an understanding of the complementary roles that families and health professionals have in supporting children with communication difficulties and complex needs. Students learn the importance of respecting, considering, and involving, the whole family in decisions about a child's care.