Sunday, November 20, 2016

My SLP Story: How the Heck Did I Get Here?

I am joining up with the Frenzied SLPs for a blog linky this week.  We are all sharing the stories of our journey to becoming SLPs.  How did we get to here?


I knew some SLPs in graduate school who had known in college that this is what they wanted to do.  They started out as Communication Disorders majors, and went straight to graduate school.

My journey was a little bit different, and far from the straight path.  I became interested in Autism before I even got to high school, after seeing a special on t.v. about kids with the disorder.  This was way back when Autism was still considered Childhood Schizophrenia.

So, in college, I became a psychology major, and got to do some work with kids with autism throughout college by way of some special education classes.  And I actually thought I had a chance at a job after school.
But then PL94-142 passed.  Just as I was finishing my undergraduate degree and the local public schools took over the students I had been working with and.... POOF!  End of job prospects.


I searched for a job for a while, but I was young (19) and nobody really wanted to hire me.
I worked as a special ed substitute teacher for a little while, but it was tough bouncing from one special education class to another every other day.
So I applied for graduate school.  Thing was, there were only 5 graduate programs in the whole country way back then that offered a specialty in Autism.





To make a really long story short, I ended up in New Orleans in a special ed Master's program that was terrible.  So, I looked at Tulane to see what they had to offer, and found the speech pathology program.  
I had been working with teaching signs to the kids I worked with in college, so I was basically teaching communication skills already.  So, I knocked on the door and they took me in.


I have now been a SLP for 38 years.  It has been a varied, interesting, and sometimes wild ride.  But it has never been dull.  And I have never been unemployed.
For the past 19 1/2 years I have been running my own private practice, providing independent evaluations and AAC implementation consulting and training.
And what's next, you ask?  Retirement is around the corner and I can't wait.  I have other fun things planned for my retirement, and I'd love to get to them.  My art studio is beckoning daily.

In the meantime, I'm still passionate about what I do and why I do it.  Every child deserves to have a voice!
So, Keep on Talking!



14 comments:

  1. What great experience you have! Thank you for linking up and sharing!

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    1. I think you've also realized that your background as a teacher has really helped you as a SLP, too! Thanks for reading.

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  2. Fantastic story! You must have been very frustrated through it all.

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    1. Oh, there were times. It's frustrating to go to school expecting to learn and to not have anything be taught that's new or interesting. But I suppose many of "our kids" feel that way, too, when they can't access what's being taught.
      Thanks for reading.

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  3. AHHHH, retirement. Sounds like it's been a wonderful life!! It's a special thing to end your career knowing that you have been a part of something so much larger.

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    1. Absolutely. I love that I've been able to give so many kids a 'voice.' But it is time to hand over the reins.

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  4. You worked hard to find this spot where you could help kids have a voice! So glad you did!

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    1. Thanks, Linda. I know we're both looking at the final stretch!

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  5. Thank goodness you were led to speech! I love your blog posts and materials for those who need AAC.

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    1. Thank you so much, Jessica! Thank you for coming and reading!

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  6. Susan... did you finish your undergrad degree by 19??? How exciting to join the ranks when services for children with autism were being pioneered, and you could help chart the course through your experiences. You are a woman ahead of your time, the profession is so blessed to have you, my friend.

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    1. I got my BA in 1975, when I was 19. Nobody wanted to hire a special ed teacher that young, so back to school I went. It's been an interesting and fun ride. I love being a SLP and doing AAC. And I love having met and connected with other fabulous SLPs like yourself!!

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  7. It must be fascinating to look back on your journey thus far. I wonder more about how Autism has been redefined over the years. Thank you for sharing your story.

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    1. You're welcome, Marcy. It has been an interesting road. And we've learned so much more about autism over the years. It's fascinating.

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