When people ask me what I do I tell them “I play games all day long.” When people ask me if I like my job, I reply “Of course, I get to play games all day long.”
Now, of course, anyone who knows what an SLP does, realizes that although the official title is Speech Language Pathologist, the P really stands for paperwork…and that for every minute we spend playing games, we probably spend 5 minutes doing paperwork of some sort. Seriously…between taking data for graphing and progress monitoring, we have the documentation for contact with parents, suggestions for teachers, progress report writing, and the dreaded IEP preparation. The good news is… wait… there isn’t any good news with paperwork.
But, even with a severe case of the paperwork blues…I still love my job. I remember reading somewhere (maybe it was in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, or What Color is your Parachute, or How to Make Friends and Influence
Enemies Others…or whatever those titles are – please don’t jump down my throat these titles aren’t the important part of the post) that you know you’re in the right career when you would do your job for free. I’m happy to report – I’m there. If I were independently wealthy and had no job worries, etc. I absolutely can see myself doing my job for free (granted, I might change the hours a bit). I love my career choice… Why? Glad you asked…
In my work, I know – beyond a shadow of a fact – that I make a lifelong difference in not only my client’s life – but in the life of his or her family. Yes, even if it’s just articulation therapy – it makes a difference in the quality of their lives. For more severe problems – phonology, language, reading…the work I do makes all aspects of their lives better. From being able to have their wants and needs met, to speaking clearly in the classroom, to saying “I love you” to Mom who has been waiting for years.The fact that we get to play games while working on all of this – well that’s a bonus.
I always tell my students what we’re working on – what our goals are and why…but what they tend to remember is what game we played, who won or lost (and yes, I win sometimes!), and whose turn it is to pick out the game. They don’t remember (until I remind them) how many they got wrong or what percentage was right. But they recognize that when they use their “good sounds” or “easy voice” or ask questions the right way people are able to understand them and respond appropriately. They recognize that they are not as frustrated…and they LOVE coming to speech.
I may not get paid a lot in money (hey, I work in the schools so you know I’m not rolling in the dough) but when I walk into a room and fully 80% of the kids in that room (even the ones I’ve never seen before) can’t wait to come with me, it is fabulous. When I complete an articulation progress monitoring session and I can show my student how much he’s improved in numbers and see the huge grin and feel the hug as he jumps for joy, it’s even better. When I can sit next to a parent and say, “You know…this sucks…but it’s going to be okay and we’ll get through it…” and then we do, it’s priceless. Really truly, I love my career. I love touching the lives of these people in such a positive way. That I get to play games while doing it … that’s just a bonus.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about why you chose your career. What prompted you to choose your setting? What’s your favorite therapy game or routine? What do you need to do differently to make sure your clients love seeing you walk through the door?
Until then…Adventure on!