Today I’d like to share a little more about myself, why I love my job, and how I got here in the first place. I know many people have this glamorous story about how they fell in love with their chosen field, and… that’s not exactly how it happened for me. Growing up, I always wanted to be a surgeon. When I was 15, I got a job at a doctor’s office doing paperwork for minimum wage. Boring, except that when I was all caught up with paperwork, I got to watch surgery, and it was awesome! After working a few years at the office ($5 an hour gets old fast!), I started babysitting for one of the doctor’s family and absolutely fell in love with their kids. Instead of loving only a couple hours of my job, I loved ALL of it. I babysat my way through college (I called myself a nanny, because that sounds way better) and loved each of the families I worked for throughout those years. More than 10 years later, I still think about each and every one of “my babies” and how they made me the person- and mommy- I am today, and I am so grateful for that experience.
I started college majoring in Neuroscience, because I have always been so intrigued by the brain. But after chemistry and cellular neuroscience classes, I decided: 1.That was HARD, and 2. I didn’t want to study that for 10 more years. During my freshman year, I took a psychology class that I found quite interesting, and decided to double major in Psych and Child Learning and Development. As part of my degree, I worked in a lab studying infant’s perception of speech and instantly became interested in speech and language development. I was in my last semester of college when I first heard the term “speech language pathologist” and decided to apply for graduate school. I was excited to be accepted into a program, but still pretty nervous because I wasn’t really sure what I was getting myself into. Luckily, I loved it right away- and have never looked back!
I worked my booty off for the next two years, with my favorite part being clinical time, where I got to practice what I learned in class with actual patients. One great thing about being a SLP is you have tons of options on where to work. I could work with children or adults; I could work at a hospital, a home health agency, a school, Early Childhood Intervention, a private practice, a skilled nursing center, a university, and the list goes on! I originally thought I would want to work in a hospital, but quickly realized that was not my calling.
I had always loved working with kids and it was like a light bulb moment- I can work with kids, make a difference in their lives AND love my job while doing it! Win-win-win! I decided I wanted to work in the public school and was so excited when I was offered a job at a local district. The schools are great because you get to work with tons of different kids, so if you are trying to make a difference, you get a lot of chances! It also comes with awesome perks like all holidays and summers off (who wouldn’t want that?!) Now, I’m not going to lie- there’s certainly a downside. You could have a TON of kids, which means a TON of paperwork, and that is never fun. It took a while, but I found my stride and figured out how to make everything manageable and 13 years later, a crash and burn burnout year quickly followed by a district switch, and I still love it.
After working four months in the schools, I was offered an additional job at a private practice and happily accepted. In graduate school, I thought private practice was where the $$$ was and when I was offered this job, I was excited to get my toe in the door. Ha, I was oh so wrong about the money part but boy do I love working in that setting! I get to work one on one with my kids and then I get to see the parents EVERY week to show them what we are working on and hear how they are doing at home. I had kids at my old private practice that I worked with for 8 years. Eight years is a loooong time to develop some good relationships. I felt like those kids were my family. I felt like when their family struggles with something, I struggled with something. Not to say I didn’t feel the same way about my kids at school, because omg I love them so, and still stay up at night trying to solve all of their problems too. But one thing about language disordered kids is they often have trouble telling you about things that happen at home, in class, or on the playground, so you might never know about their problems without a close parent relationship. But, even with that, you can still have great relationships with kids at school and sometimes that’s all it takes to get them motivated for making progress!
Many years ago I had an Autistic student, who I will call “M”. I loved this kid. He was sweet, funny, so much fun and could always put a smile on my face. There have been a few kids in my career that I wanted to kidnap and keep for myself and M was one of them. Well, his annual meeting came and his mom said they were moving back to Africa. AFRICA! Y’all, I’m not a crier, but I started BALLING in the middle of this meeting with the parent, the principal, the teachers, and other staff all just looking at me. We are at a school and kids move ALL the time, no big deal, right? Well, this was a big deal for me. I got myself through that meeting (barely) and went to my office, turned off the light, closed my door, and sat on the floor hiding behind my desk and cried and cried. “He can’t move to Africa! Do they even have speech there? Will he be okay? He won’t get the same amount of support there, and he was making such great progress!” I still think about M, and even if he didn’t get all of those services I just knew he needed at the time, I know that kid is happy and I know he is doing great things with his life. Anyways, all that to say… I make relationships in all settings, and that is the icing on my win-win-win (now one more win!) cake.
If this is your first time visiting Mrs Speechie P, WELCOME! I give tips to work on speech and language regularly on my Facebook and Instagram pages, so be sure to follow me on social media!