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Career Story: Private School Speech Therapist

Private School Speech Therapist

Job Title: Speech Therapist

Type of Company: I work in a private special needs school in a suburb of Boston.

Education: MA, Special Education, University of Massachusetts

Previous Experience: While still in high school, I volunteered in deaf schools and early educational settings.

Job Tasks: I teach elementary and middle school students with language-based learning disabilities. I work with small groups, rarely more than a handful of kids, and help them with their reading, focusing on improving their vocabulary and word finding skills. I help them too to organize their thoughts and ideas for oral and written expression. I also teach students how to read and spell. Using a structured program, I teach them to feel what their mouths are doing so they can better understand how to read and spell words.

When I am not working with students I attend meetings and write reports about their current level of performance and progress. Additionally, I administer norm-based tests in order to evaluate receptive and expressive language skills. Many people have the mistaken idea that speech therapists only help children with speech. However, my job requires me to spend more time developing reading and writing skills. It is the best part of the job because you can be very creative and flexible in your lessons. You can choose any topic to teach language. By choosing a topic of interest to the students, you motivate them to learn.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is that I work with students in small groups. Also, I work in a department with eight other therapists so there is a lot of collaboration. I am also not overwhelmed with paperwork so I can spend more time focusing on the kids.

The worst part is that, because the students have such complex learning needs, their progress is often very slow and it can be frustrating having to teach the same concepts over and over.

Job Tips: The field can be very broad so concentrate on a specific area: language, stuttering, fluency, etc. Spend time in different settings early in your career so that later on you can settle down. If you are interested in working in the schools take any reading remediation classes that are offered while you're still in graduate school.

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