Why did you choose to be a speech-language pathologist?
The truth? I’m sorry to say it’s not a compelling story, but rather what appears to be an anecdote of happenstance based on a chance encounter over 30 years ago. I was an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan interested in pursuing a helping profession. Nursing, teaching, psychology, social work…. They were all contenders. Certainly, they were challenging and worthy professions, if not original. None of these fields, however, grabbed me for one reason or another, and I was out of ideas as the time to declare my major approached. “Roz,” I sighed in exasperation to one of my sorority sisters who happened to be within earshot that day in our house dining room, “I need a major.”
“Psychology/Speech and Hearing Science,” she offered. “That’s the major I’m doing,” smiled the young woman who went on to become an attorney. “Then you go on to graduate school to become either a psychologist, or a speech-language pathologist, or an audiologist.” Yeah, or apparently a successful lawyer. Roz went on to explain. “It’s flexible!” she beamed as she made her first case.
Intrigued, I set up opportunities to observe speech therapy in action. The rest is history.
-“Thank you Roz.”
Or is it? Years, even decades have passed. Like some of you I’ve worked in clinic, public school, private school, and private practice environments and consider pediatric speech disorders to be my primary interest and expertise. But the scope of an SLP is a broad landscape. For example, there was a time when my job required that I become an expert in augmentative/alternative communication. I dove in head-first to expand my education in that realm, bringing communication skills to non-speaking children for eight years. More recently, learning myofunctional therapy techniques has been calling my name, to better serve those of my students who are impacted in this way. Like all SLPs, I have continued learning and adding tools to my toolbox over the years to inform the therapy process. And now there’s TikTalk, a technology that will make accurate enjoyable home practice a reality. How fortunate I am to be part of the team that offers this transformational tool to the SLP toolkit, easing the workload, accelerating results, and heading- off the dreaded SLP burnout that has plagued many of our colleagues.
Our title does not change, but our lens does to stay motivated, excited, and most importantly to serve our students with the best approaches available.
So can I revise my answer? I choose being an SLP every day –innovative, inspired, and informed. I choose it because I help children and families. I choose it because it’s a marriage of my innate skills, education, and experience. I choose it because it’s fascinating. I choose it because you never know where your often too-large caseload will take you, the rocky but exhilarating pathways it will nudge you to explore.
That brings us to this blog. A place for us SLPs to explore and reaffirm… “I am an SLP – innovative, inspired, and informed.”
-Thank you Roz, and Phyllis, and Debra, and Tom, and Jane, and Sarah, and Laurie, and Raphi, and all of the others who offered ideas and opportunities for growth, learning, and increased effectiveness along the way.
-The Beginning :
About Sandy Laserson
Sandy Laserson, M.A. CCC-SLP completed a B.A. in Psychology/Speech and Hearing Science at the University of Michigan and an M.A. in Speech-Language Pathology at Northwestern University. She currently works in private practice serving children through school contracts and office settings. In her spare time she enjoys boating, weaving hand towels on her loom (no, we’re not kidding), and playing piano. She and her husband are the parents of four young adult daughters and are still reeling from throwing three weddings in 10 months. Sandy’s goal is to make speech therapy more effective, manageable, and enjoyable – while sharing conversation and laughs along the way.