The American Speech and Hearing Association, ASHA is the national professional organization for speech-language pathologists. ASHA hails May as Better Speech and Hearing Month. It is a time to increase awareness of what SLPs do. Its not quite the end of May, so I’ll do my part. Our profession is often misunderstood. In schools, we are often referred to as the “speech teacher” (or peach teacher sometimes :)) But, I’m here to tell you that we are about so much more than just teaching speech.
There are some SLPs who are highly specialized. They work in NICUs with pre-feeding skills of newborn babies. Some do early intervention with infants and toddlers, but don’t treat kids past the age of 2 1/2. Others are skilled at assessing and treating swallowing disorders (dysphagia). In rehab facilities, assisted living facilities and nursing homes, you will find SLPs who know all about the brain and can deliver treatment based on the part of the brain that has been injured due to an accident, illness or stroke. Still others stay current in the every changing world of technology to offer alternative forms of communication for those unable to speak. These wonderful people select and program devices and find ways for even the most impaired person to communicate. Did you know that there are some who operate a computer for communicating by twitching their eyebrow or jutting their chin? They have a creative SLP to thank for that.
Then, there are the school SLPs and the people like me who have to have a wide variety of knowledge of disabilities and treatment methodologies. We have to be able to assess and treat any communication deficit that walks through the door. We aren’t just correcting lisps.
Today, for example, I have 1 child with a moderate articulation disorder, 2 toddlers who are not yet talking and probably have apraxia (one of which has a chromosonal disorder that I have educated myself on in order to better serve him), a second grader who is working on phonological awareness in preparation for learning to read, a multi-handicapped young man learning to use a communication device, 2 children with autism and minimal language skills and one high-functioning student with autism working on reading, expressive language and social skills.
I have special training in autism, applied behavior analysis, sensory processing disorders, Down’s syndrome, oral motor therapy, feeding, social skill development, teaching literacy, alternative methods of communication, apraxia, play, early language development, comprehension, dyspraxia, education law.
I teach kids to say sounds better, produce their first words, follow directions, use an iPad to communicate, make choices, play, interact with others, attend, read, string words together, create stories, play games, understand social schema, identify colors and shapes, communicate through spelling on a letter board….the list goes on and on. I assess, write goals, work with other professionals and counsel parents. I create materials, scour Pinterest and other blogs for ideas, read articles and research.
Every day is challenging. Every child is different. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
So, if you have an SLP in your life…professionally or personally…appreciate them for all that they do. Recognize that he/she is more than a “peach teacher”, but a communication professional who can be a valuable key to your child’s development. And they will do it One Word At A Time.