Case in point. I found that part of my job yesterday was "damage control" because of something a well meaning but non-SLP said to a family regarding their child's speech and language skills. What initially, for the family, was cause for concern and a sleepless night turned out to be a celebration after we spoke. One of the many things I LOVE about my job. The giver of the initial information was not trying to cause this family anxiety and I truly believe that they thought they were correct BUT in the end they were VERY incorrect and caused needless anxiety for my family.
I know we can't stop situations such as this from happening BUT we can try to become more responsible professionals and more responsible consumers by going to the "expert" and not accepting information as truth if it doesn't come from the person who is trained in that area.
As a professional that has worked on countless pediatric therapy teams...I may THINK I know what a child needs in terms of core support for feeding because I've dealt with this issue on other teams, with other therapists and perhaps with my own child BUT I should NOT suggest or state as fact that "this is what you need to do" because it is NOT my area of expertise. I should say "check with your child's physical therapist to see what they would recommend for increasing core support." ALWAYS defer to the expert in that area. This is ESPECIALLY true when "labeling" certain behaviors ("So and so did things like that and they have Autism") and stating age levels ("oh well, my child does the same thing and we were told that her language age is ______"). As an SLP, with many years under my belt of evaluation and treatment I STILL need to refer to my evaluation materials to get accurate age levels and I'm the "expert!"
In this time of being inundated with information from the internet, books and friends we must still remember that there are specialized professionals for a reason. Even IF you think someone may be on to an answer when they suggest something.....ALWAYS go to the expert/professional in that area to confirm or deny that information. Further as professionals(especially those who work on "teams" with other disciplines) we MUST, even if we have seen it a thousand times, DEFER to the professional who treats the condition or we risk a situation as I shared above.
My personal favorites????? "he'll eat when he wants to" "oh, my brother didn't talk until he was 5 and he's fine" "oh, she's just a pointer and grunter kind of child."
Bottom line.....BE A RESPONSIBLE COMMUNICATOR WHETHER YOU ARE THE GIVER OR RECEIVER OF INFORMATION.