Wednesday, May 23, 2012

SLPs and Isolation - A Thing of the Past

It took me three years to complete my masters program in speech language pathology because my bachelor's degree and first masters were in different areas. It took three very full years to absorb the vast amount of information necessary to become certified as an SLP. The program must cover the basics to prepare you to work in a wide variety of settings. One SLP might work in a nursing home helping patients with swallowing problems, dementia, and aphasia among other things. Another SLP might work in a hospital settings with trachs and vents, premature babies, or stroke victims (among other things). SLPs are found in the schools and in private clinics working with children who have a wide variety of speech and language needs. The scope of material that must be covered in an SLP program is huge. They also must train you in basic clinical competence in a variety of settings with a variety of client disorders. It is an intense program.

Then, when you get your first job, you are assigned a mentor and you must complete a clinical fellowship year with that mentor before you get your clinical certificate of competence. And then you are on your own. When I graduated in 1999 I worked in the schools. In that setting, you are often the only SLP in your school. Often, you are the only SLP in 2-3 schools. At that time, there weren't really any SLP blogs or websites. ASHA didn't have a huge online presence. There was no Facebook or Pinterest. I remember feeling so isolated.

There were inservice days that brought all the SLPs in the district together, however those days were tightly scheduled according to an agenda that involved continuing education or procedural updates and didn't allow for much unstructured discussion. I remember desperately wanting time to simply talk with other professionals about my students. I had my first student with childhood apraxia of speech and I didn't feel I was doing enough to help her. I had a little girl with a severe fluency problem that I wasn't making much progress on. Did anyone have any really good strategies for sharpening up a lateral lisp? I wanted to trade creative ideas on how to make articulation therapy interesting. Or I would make some materials and not have anyone to share them with.

Today it is such a different world. I no longer feel isolated. If I want to see amazing things other SLPs are doing I can find them on Pinterest or by reading any number of SLP blogs. If I make my own materials I can share them myself on my own blog and know that I'm helping other professionals and parents. It is easy to keep up with ASHA's professional journals in the member section of their website. I can keep up with other sources of research in my areas of interest easily online. It helps me to be so much more creative and better at my profession. It would be pretty amazing to be starting out in this profession today with so many resources available at any computer with an internet connection and I highly recommend these types of resources to any practicing SLP today.

For example, start here:
  1. Go to the Pediastaff Pinterest Board on Articulation and click on any picture/idea that looks interesting to you. That should take you to the original blog where Pediastaff found the idea. Then explore that person's blog for other ideas you like.
  2. Check out other Pediastaff pinterest boards on other topics (language and grammar, early intervention, apraxia, and many more).
  3. Alternately, begin again with any pinterest board that interests you and choose a pin you like. Look at the list of people that have repinned that pin to their own board. Many of those people are SLPs and have boards of all the SLP ideas they like. You can browse those boards and see collections of ideas that appeal to other SLPs. It's a rabbit hole. If you get started, you'll find hours slipping away from you, but I guarantee you'll come out of it inspired.


  1. I've worked as a public school SLP for nearly 20 years now (I took off the better part of 8 years to stay mostly at home with my boys-just filled in for maternity leaves/extended absences during those years) and I can't begin to tell you how the changes have affected my life/career! When I came back for my first school year, I had to learn how to use the computer for reports! Since then, the wonderful world of SLP's has really blossomed with the wealth/depth of information via the internet, especially with blogs & Pinterest. Each day I love to see this blog and others and Pinterest to see what everybody else is using or doing in therapy. We have so much more opportunity, but with that comes the realization that we might also be overlooking the kinds of therapies we could be/should be doing and the ways we might have been better serving our caseloads... More awareness=more responsibility!

    1. I agree. When (or perhaps if) I get back into the schools I will hold myself to an even higher standard. There are just so many amazing ideas to try with students and spending even a little time online will send you away with five more.

  2. Thanks so much for the shoutout! I enjoy your blog and have been sharing your posts on Pinterest. We actually have a board on Pinterest just of blogs to follow. Email me at heidi at pediastaff dot com if you might like to be a guest contributor on our blog. :-)

    1. You're welcome!

      I've fallen shamefully behind on responding to comments and emails, but I would certainly be interested. I'll be in touch soon.


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