Monthly Archives: February 2015

March: Speech Therapist.com Profile of the Month.

 

Speech Therapist

Please tell us something about your career and educational background?

I served in the U.S. Army for 20 years, then went into the newspaper industry. I got my bachelor’s degree in 1997 in Social and Behavioral Science and my Master’s in Human Resources in 2000.

How did you become interested in becoming speech therapist at young age of 50?

LOL!! I interviewed the program director and a professor for a news story and became really interested in the program. Our school really focuses on literacy with Head Start children and I love the thought of every child becoming a good reader. I was in a rut at work-in a rut at home and on the verge of turning 50. So instead of buying a Mustang, I went back to school!!

Can you tell me a bit about your career path becoming a speech therapist?

I love helping people and have a very empathetic personality. It just seemed like an excellent fit for my personality.
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What is your favorite part of your job of becoming speechtherapist?

Seeing the results when something works!! And knowing that for that one point in time, I helped someone and their family.

Biggest challenge in school and rotation in becoming speechtherapist?

Learning everything. The coursework is hard and demanding and at 52, I feel like I have to work harder to cognitively make my brain work!! I want to work with adults and my life experiences have really prepared me for it.

Any advice for future speech therapist students?

Make sure you work hard in undergrad school. Do not slack off and just study enough for the test. EVERYTHING you learn will be applicable in grad school. If you are not a good face-to-face communicator, it will be hard. We are a face to face profession-not texters, Skypers or emailers. However, ask lots of questions when you look at colleges. Observe the clinic practicum and talk to current students. The first 2 semesters of grad school are ROUGH!!! By the 3rd, you have come into your own and are doing better.

Any last words you will like to share?

This is a GREAT field for a non-traditional student. We are older, more seasoned, more mature, more empathetic and able to roll with the punches. If you are over 30 and wanting a career change-look into becoming an SLP.

Speech Therapy: Fitting Talkers to People

Fitting Talkers to People

Recently at work I began to try out different talkers with a client and she wants the same setup as her current device. Most people who use AAC to communicate find a talker they feel comfortable with at an early age and keep replacing talkers with the similar type from the same company. A speech therapist is going to usually play with different systems at the beginning until they discover what works for the client and nine times out of ten the child is going to have the same type of talker for the majority of their life.

The program in the device is just as important as the access method because this is how they are able to communicate what they prefer. The primary practicalities of choosing a communication device for a young child are: one, is this access Method going to grow with them; two, is this brand of communication device going to be able to provide the person ample access to independent communication, and lastly is the company going to provide the person full communication to the individual’s unique communication needs.

Children who are non verbal have the ability to make their systems very personal to them. As a mentor I cannot teach this because it comes natural to the individual. As someone who uses a talker, I can say that when I am talking or writing I don’t think about what icons to go to, but I am simply just talking or writing a paper. The individual is going to automatically rewire their brain to communicate at a close to a “normal” speed as possible. I grew up communicating with a program called Unity in which I was picking and putting together icons to get words or whole phrases together.

The child is going to grow up to to make the program their own and they are going to learn how to talk without thinking about the mechanics. For a child to be successful in life the first step is discovering the right communication device for them. I have clients who had thought they wanted to try a different type of talker and after they had tried another company, they usually go back to what they know and are comfortable with. The communication device is extremely personal to everyone. When someone figures out what works for them, it is hard to break the person out of what they know. A speech language pathologist usually does not try to break the children out of what feels natural to them, unless the talker is phasing out. Then we are forced to try to find a similar communication device. As a mentor I tend to focus on how comfortable someone is while doing a trial with different systems.
My partners focus on the access method and if we will be able to transfer their vocabulary onto the new device. The team then determines what talker to get and we start the medical paperwork.

The client will work with a speech-language pathologist, vendor representative, and a occupational therapist to get the exact fit with a talker.Parents will need to fight the insurance company to fund the device because they’re going to need a lot of documentation as to why they need to buy this expensive equipment for someone. This sounds like a lot of work but it is worth the effort because you will hear your child communicating like any other child. Open your mind to what communication is as I work with all kinds of clients who communicate in various ways with different devices. The child often times tells us exactly what they want and they are usually right about the talker, so you want to listen to them.
Until next time- enjoy your children!

Feburary: Speech Therapist.com Profile of the Month.

Speech Therapist

February 2015 Speech Therapist.com Profile of the Month

Current practice area?

Elementary School and PRN at Long Term Living Facilities (LTLF) in the Denton area

How did you become interested in becoming speech therapist?

I was a middle school English teacher, and I had 2 students in my second period class that would leave a few minutes prior to the bell ringing with a speech therapist. I honestly did not even know that was his title, I just thought he was just another teacher on campus. One day, I asked if I could just come and observe what skills they were targeting (in that tiny room in the hall). After the session was over, I started asking questions. I found out one of the students was working on “fluency” and not the reading type but stuttering, and the other student was working on “articulation” and had a diagnosis of Pica. What?! Then it was clear why the student came in my class every day and wanted to take a bite out of my vanilla candle. I was so fascinated by all the information the speech therapist was giving me, and knew this was my calling!

Can you tell me a bit about your career path becoming a speech therapist?

I started out in the school setting as a speech therapist assistant. After getting my CCC’s, I continued working in schools until I had an opportunity to “cross-over” to Skilled Nursing Facilities. I began taking a variety of continuing education courses that were out of my comfort zone, and began to branch out into other settings including rehabs, home health, and acute care.

What is your favorite part of your job as a speechtherapist? 

I love the variety of our profession and the clients, patients, and students that I work with! I get exhilarated from working with other SLPs. We have such an array of backgrounds and experiences, and we never seem to run out of things to talk about!

Biggest challenge at work as an speechtherapist?

In my school setting, my biggest challenge is working towards parent understanding of the criteria that constitutes a student with the eligibility of speech impairment.

What changes do you hope to see your practice area over the next few years?  While over the next several years the demand for Speech Language Pathologists will continue to rise, university programs will struggle to meet that demand.

Any advice for future speech therapist students? 

You will never regret the day you graduate as Speech Language Pathologist. The process of getting there is incredibly challenging, exceptionally demanding but absolutely worth it!!!

Any last words you will like to share?

I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone, do something different, and find your passion! It’s out there you just have to find what it is!