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2020 Letter to the Editor re: "crying in car" and Response

In response to the 2020 ASHA Leader "crying in your car" article, Marissa Rocheleau wrote a letter to the editor regarding the inappropriateness of the recommendations. Read full letter and response below.

2020 Letter to the Editor re: "crying in the car"

Ms. Murray Law,

I am writing you today regarding the ASHA Leader’s most recent publication of the article, “What’s EQ Got to Do with It Anyway?” by Kari Knutson. As I am sure you have heard by now, the article did not land well with many of your readers. Specifically, the inclusion of a suggestion to “cry in the car” as a stress management technique alarmed and even offended many ASHA members.

I do not mean to insult Ms. Knutson, as the majority of her article did offer genuinely helpful tips for what is an increasingly stressful field. Nor do I mean to imply that crying is an inherently unhealthy way to manage stress. What I do wish to bring your attention to is that by publishing this article as written, ASHA as an organization continued to pit itself against, rather than with, its own constituents. We speech pathologists on the ground struggle immensely with burnout, pay incommensurate with our experience and training, and an overall feeling of disconnect from both our employers and representative organizations. By suggesting that we hide our feelings of frustration and growing resentment by crying alone in our cars, ASHA backed an article that removed agency from its members and advocated arguably harmful strategies for self-care.

Furthermore, ASHA’s own reaction to the online backlash made the situation worse. After the article went viral, members soon found that it had been edited to remove the crying statement with only a temporary social media post recognizing the edit. Is it not generally standard practice to issue a permanent editor’s note to acknowledge such edits and redactions? Not doing so represented to many readers that their concerns were being swept under the rug.

My own experience with ASHA’s outreach has been less than savory. After posting my own shocked reaction at the handling of the situation, a member of your social media team quipped,

 

"It was a dumb oversight for sure. Rather than draw more attention to something that was obviously a mistake, it's better to correct it. Unless correcting it isn't what you want."

I was extremely disappointed to see such an immature, bitter response from a professional organization toward one of its own members.

I strongly encourage you to publish a permanent note acknowledging the changes to the article. In addition, ideas for future articles focusing on healthy management of stress and frustration may include tips on self-advocacy, publication of ASHA’s measurable progress in changing the field for the better, or actual admission of the problems in our profession.

Sincerely,

Marissa Rocheleau, M.A., CCC-SLP

ASHA's First Response Dictating Length

Dear Ms. Rocheleau:

 

Thank you for writing to the Leader with your concerns. We greatly value member feedback. We are sorry that the EQ article was so upsetting to many, when we had hoped that it would be helpful. The Leader editorial team greatly regrets that we didn’t identify the offensive nature of the article, in particular the offending phrase about crying.

 

We certainly welcome your letter to the editor, but we do have a word limit on letters: They are capped at 250 words. Here are the guidelines: https://leader.pubs.asha.org/leader/submit_a_letter_to_the_editor  So if you wouldn't mind submitting a new version of your letter that meets that limit? 

 

Further, I wanted to note that we hear you about the need for a statement on the redaction and are working posting a notice on the online version of the article regarding the change that was made to it. It will take a little time to work itself through the workflow, but you should see it there soon.

 

We are aware of and concerned about the challenges facing our members in terms of workload/caseload and unreasonable, sometimes even unethical, demands. We want to bring you Leader content that will be helpful regarding these issues, and encourage you to submit a proposal for a future Leader article.

 

Again, thank you for writing to us with your concerns. We are listening, will learn from this mistake, and will strive to do better.

 

Best,

Bridget Murray Law

Bridget Murray Law

Editor-in-Chief, The ASHA Leader
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)

2200 Research Boulevard

Rockville, MD 20850

Direct: 301-296-8708

National Office:  301-296-5700

Fax: 301-296-8587

 

Empowering audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and
speech, language, and hearing scientists.

ASHA's Response to Second, Shortened Draft

Dear Ms. Rocheleau,

 

Thank you for sending a shorter version of your letter. On reviewing it, however, we noted that it does not comply with our Guidelines for Leader Letters to the Editor.

 

As noted in the guidelines, the Leader will not publish letters that impugn a person’s character.
 

Quoting from the Letters Guidelines:

 

“Letters that attack, ridicule, denounce, impugn a person's character, or impute immoral or dishonorable attributes to members on the basis of race or ethnicity, gender, age, religion, national origin, disability, or sexual orientation will not be published.” 

 

The passage in your latter that does not conform with the guidelines is:

“A member of your social media team even quipped, “It was a dumb oversight for sure. Rather than draw more attention to something that was obviously a mistake, it’s better to correct it. Unless correcting it isn’t what you want.” I was extremely disappointed to see such an immature, bitter response from a professional organization toward one of its own members.”

 

If you are willing to remove this passage, we can publish the letter. If you wish, you can also add back other parts from the longer version, as long as the revised version is 250 words or less. (FYI that we are working with the social media team to address the concern you raised in the passage.)

 

Please let us know what you would like to do.

 

Best,

Bridget

My Final Response

Bridget, 

Thank you for your reply. Unfortunately, I disagree with your assessment that quoting your own staff member in anyway attacks or impugns their character. I acknowledged my own disappointment based on their actions, but there is no denouncement of the person, especially based on their race, gender, age, religion, national origin, disability, or sexual orientation. I find it alarming that published feedback to ASHA is so censored that we cannot even acknowledge mistakes made by the organization without accusing your members of discrimination and bigotry. 

I will not be removing my comment from the letter, as it exemplifies exactly how ASHA's response was unprofessional and inappropriate. I am happy to publish this response myself if you are unwilling. 

Marissa

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