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Career Story: Speech Therapist In A Suburban Public School

Speech Therapist In A Suburban Public School

Job Title: Speech Therapist

Type of Company: I work for a school district in suburban Boston.

Education: BA, Psychology, UMass-Amherst •• MS, Communication Disorders, Boston University •• Certificate of Clinical Competence, ASHA

Previous Experience: I worked as a research assistant for psychological studies of learning, using students with mental retardation and autism as subjects in the studies.

Job Tasks: I have to evaluate and treat students in grades five and six who have speech and language disorders. I decide which tests to use in my evaluation, and test areas of receptive language, expressive language, pragmatic language and articulation, voice and fluency of speech. I design treatment plans and activities, as well as working with the students in treatment to meet the goals I've designed. On an average day, this means I go into classrooms and pull kids out to work with them separately in groups. We may work on their ability to follow directions (receptive language), their ability to express themselves using correct grammar (expressive language), vocabulary and word-finding, or we may drill correct productions of a particular sound, such as an S. When not working with students directly, I am often writing reports for evaluations or progress, meeting with teachers to facilitate treatment techniques, or meeting in a yearly gathering of teachers and parents to discuss a student and write an individualized education plan (IEP).

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is the constant change and different schedule. Each day, I make my own schedule, work with different kids, design different activities and get to take kids out of class then bring them back. I move around the school, depending on where I need to be, instead of staying in one class all day long.

Some of the worst parts of the job are the mundane duties I have to do, such as take kids off the bus and line them up, or monitor recess or the caf. The good part of these activities is that I get to know kids that I wouldn't meet otherwise, but the bad part of these jobs is that kids can be mouthy and disrespectful to teachers and the rules.

Job Tips: Try to get as varied experience as you can in grad school. Go to as many different practicum settings as possible. Continue earning CEU's in areas that you don't know much about; if possible, train with other SLP's while you are still in school. You can do it when you get out, but you feel silly being a certified professional SLP watching someone else. Still, our field is so broad, there's no way you can be an expert in it all - and you may find you want to change jobs to a specialty area you don't know as much about.

Additional Thoughts: People often have misconceptions about how broad our profession is and how many sub-specialties there are in the field. For example, if we work in a school, they don't realize that we can do swallowing/feeding as well.

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