In celebration of Better Hearing and Speech Month, I posed some questions to our therapists, and their answers were amazingly similar. I would like to share their thoughts.
What aspects of your job do you enjoy the most?
“Working as a team, along with my fellow SLPs, OTs, PTs, behavior team, teachers, and paraeducators. It is so beneficial to be able to have the support of others on the team all working together to accomplish the same goals for the students.”
“There are so many aspects of my job that I enjoy, so I will just list a few! I love working with such a diverse group of students with varying complex communication needs. I love that I continually learn alongside my students and that they push me to adapt and grow as a clinician to meet their communication needs. I really enjoy working together with an excellent group of therapists within my department but also across other disciplines. I am very fortunate to work toward common goals with so many skilled and knowledgeable occupational therapists, physical therapists, and behavior specialists.”
“I enjoy working with the kids the most and using all different forms of communication to help the students communicate their wants/needs and participate in activities during the day. Also, our therapy team is very close and works as a team.”
“The thing I enjoy about my job the most is working with such a diverse group of students and seeing how they make progress from day to day. I enjoy working on a multidisciplinary team with the other therapists, classroom staff, and behavior staff and have learned so much from these other professionals. I also enjoy working with my students’ families to help them communicate at home. It is a great feeling when a caregiver tells you that their child communicated to them in a new way!”
The theme of this year’s Better Hearing and Speech Month is “Connecting People”. How does your work as a speech therapist help you achieve the goal of connecting people?
“As a speech therapist, we help students find their voice and be able to effectively communicate with others. Whether that be communicating their wants or needs or communicating with their peers, it is important for each student to be able to communicate in their own way in order to connect with others and form bonds. It is amazing to be able to be a part of helping our students accomplish this.”
“This is another aspect of my job that I love. Our profession allows us the opportunity to connect with so many people daily. If there was one positive thing that came out of the pandemic, it was the fact that we had much more frequent interactions with our students’ families. We are all working on a common goal of helping our students succeed, so connecting with our students’ parents and caregivers is a key part of that success. Another way our profession helps us achieve the goal of connecting people is by working with undergraduate and graduate students just beginning their careers as SLPs. We have had the opportunity to connect with several students from various universities who have completed observation hours and/or internships at the Elizabeth Lee Black School. I believe part of my role as an SLP is to share my experience and knowledge with clinicians just entering the field, and I am so fortunate to have to opportunity to build these connections with future SLPs. Throughout my years at the Barber National Institute, I have had the pleasure of collaborating with colleagues from various companies, focusing primarily on the use of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). Through these relationships, I have been fortunate to present at many conferences and have built many strong connections with so many amazing people.”
“Communicating basic wants and needs is one way we build connections. Another way is allowing the students to share and express their opinions through their voice verbally or non-verbally using AAC. With communication comes connections and as speech therapists we specialize in helping people communicate which results in connections built.”
“I think communicating, both verbally and non-verbally, is what connects people. As an SLP, it is a great feeling to provide my students with a way to express their thoughts and feelings so they can share these with others. When a student is introduced to a communication method that works for them, a whole world of opportunities opens up for them and they can begin to connect with those around them.”
What treatments or techniques have you found to be most effective in helping students reach their full potential?
“A strategy that I have found effective with our students is allowing them to lead and building language around their interactions and what they say. This is like using errorless learning, in a way that lets the student guide the session. It is also a fun way to get to know your students and see their personalities come out.”
” One of the many things I love about the field of speech-language pathology is that it is so diverse. However, because of that, it can be quite overwhelming and challenging to keep up with the ever-changing and treatments, techniques, and advancements in technology. Speech and language development is not black and white, which makes it nearly impossible to use one treatment or technique. I could have two students working on the exact goal, yet I address those goals using two completely different strategies. It is important to listen to our students, learn their interests, and be willing to adapt our therapy interventions to reach the students’ full potential. It is necessary to always be up to date on evidence-based treatments and techniques to help students make continual progress, no matter how great or small.”
“The introduction of a core vocabulary approach gives students a functional vocabulary to use across many situations and activities. They are the words we use most frequently on a daily basis. It helps the students move beyond just requesting items. Also, I have found modeling to be one of the most important techniques that a student’s communication partner can provide. Whether they are verbal or nonverbal using AAC, providing a model of how to communicate in different situations helps the students learn most effectively. Then give them the opportunity to try communicating in these situations that are modeled for them.”
“I have found that the strategy of “following the student’s lead” is really beneficial during therapy sessions. By doing this, I am showing the student that they have control over their environment through the things they do and say. It encourages students to express themselves and shows them that what they say matters!”
I would like to thank our remarkable speech therapists Abigail Hagen, Amy Moczulski, Carly Stewart, and Stephanie Jordan.