Career Story: Speech Pathologist Assistant

Speech Pathologist Assistant

Job Title: Speech Assistant

Type of Company: I work for an elementary school in a suburb of Boston.

Education: BS, Communication Disorders, UMass-Amherst

Previous Experience: I worked at numerous camps around the state. I held a position as a residential camp counselor for both able-bodied children and special needs adults. I was also a recreational specialist at a day camp for children both able-bodied and not. I found jobs working with children whenever I could. The more experience I gained from working with various types of children, the more experience I could offer in a public school setting.

Job Tasks: As a speech pathologist assistant my job is to help support the building's pathologist in any way I can. Usually this means taking on a caseload of students of my own and providing them with speech therapy throughout the school year. Therapy can be administered both in and out of the classrooms and usually involves working on a student's speech or language skills (the way in which the child understands and uses language). I always work under the supervision of a certified speech language pathologist. My supervisor has to have at least two years of experience in order to supervise me effectively. Under his watchful eye, I can also write students' progress reports and attend annual meetings regarding students' special ed. progress. The meetings include the student's parents and any educator or special education staffer who works with him.

I plan, develop and execute weekly lesson plans for different students. I track the progress of each of the students I work with. I also work closely with teachers and other specialists and consult as needed to serve the students in my groups. My job also requires some administrative tasks. I aid the speech pathologist in organizing and making different materials that we use with our students.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best and most fulfilling aspect of my job is working with children. I love watching them learn and gain new skills, especially if it's something I had a part in. Communication is essential to everyone, so helping a child to communicate can be a huge boost. I have to say, the hours are also ideal. I work 8:30-3:00 (regular school hours), Monday through Friday. I rarely take my work home with me. I also get full insurance benefits, which is nice.

The down side of my job is that I'm only paid for 10 months of the year (Sept-June). I am not contracted for the entire year like teachers and other specialists. I usually have to find my own work for the summer to supplement my income. However, I have always found summer camp jobs readily available.

Another aspect of my job that is difficult is the scheduling. It can be difficult to find a good time in which to provide speech support on a weekly basis that works for the student, his teacher and me (and any other specialist involved).

Job Tips: Always seek jobs that will give you experience working with children of all ages and all different abilities. When you interview for a position also request that your supervising Speech Pathologist be there. Please be careful NOT to accept a position in which you do not have a supervisor. This is unacceptable and unethical according to the American Speech and Hearing Association.) But know your worth. You are not a classroom aide; you're a specialized assistant with an educational background in Communication Disorders and some great experience with children of all abilities.

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