You will be an awesome SLP.
Go back into the therapy room.
You are enough.
You gave him a voice today.
Ask for help.
You are learning, and that’s okay.
You are a great SLP.
It was the winter of 2002 in Wisconsin, and I was sitting with my clinical supervisor in a sterile office. I just wrapped up my therapy session with my five-year-old client, an energetic child with Down Syndrome. Truth be told, I thought the session went well—the child made progress on her articulation and language goals. And, we had a good time. She laughed, made requests and commented during the play-based therapy session. Now, it was time to review my session and submitted report for the child with my practicum supervisor. She began to talk, and here were her points:
You said, “Good girl!” Don’t you think that’s condescending to the child?
You should not have….
Next time, you should think about….
I remember sitting there thinking that I did such damage to the child. And, based on the feedback, I did not carry out any actions that would warrant a graduate degree to become a speech-language pathologist. Then, my report was reviewed. I was handed the pages of my report, and I saw red, red, red. Then, she spoke again. “You made so many errors on noun-verb agreement. This is probably because English was not your first language. This is not acceptable. Reports cannot look like this.” So, I swallowed her words, and I believed them. I began to think that I made an error. I would not be a worthy contributor in my chosen profession.
“You get old and you realize there are no answers, just stories.” – Garrison Keillor
Here is where this story changes. You see, a decade and a half later, I understand that my desire in becoming a speech language pathologist outweighed my supervisor’s commentary and beliefs. Only I can determine my SLP-success—with the help of those who believed in the art of learning and changing and getting better. And, thank you to those in the field (Dr. Jon Miller, Trici Schraeder, and Julie Schwellenbach) who provided the foundation for my footing and my professional journey. I will say that there are days when doubt finds her way into my inner dialogue. And, in those moments, I validate my uncertainty, believe in our craft and get back to our important work.
Becoming a Speech Language Pathologist is Worth the Effort
So, SLPs, we will continue to persist. I promise it will be worthwhile, and I am sure those we support will vehemently agree.