I’m a school SLP.
That means that I focus what I learned in graduate school on children from ages 3-21 with a wide range of abilities. I can help your child who has trouble with his “s” sound. That also means that I can help the student who stutters while presenting in front of the class. That student who is nonverbal? Yes, they are on my caseload too. Don’t forget about the student who has language difficulties, and sometimes answers questions with the wrong ‘wh’ question. Or how about the student with autism that keeps getting in fights because they have difficulty interpreting social situations? I am on their team too.
Some students you may not realize that I also see could be the child who just had their cleft lip repaired. The student with a life long syndrome that affects their ability to swallow, and eat at lunch with their peers. The student who was in a car accident, and now has a Traumatic Brain Injury affecting their speech.
You may see us playing games in the room, or see us walking around school with one student and think it’s easy. I’m a professional who is constantly evaluating and reassessing my students so they get the best therapies possible.
School SLPs have to ride this fine line between the school and medical communities. What I say next is not everyone, but it’s enough to be said. We are often alone (or greatly outnumbered) in our school districts. Most teachers, staff, and administrators don’t fully grasp our scope of practice. Medical SLPs, OTs, PTs, and doctors don’t always think our evaluations, recommendations, or therapy practices to be up to their level. The letters after my name are the same whether I work in a school or hospital. School SLPs play games, love hands on activities, and participate in school spirit days that to some in the medical community may diminish our professionalism in their eyes. It’s difficult to for me to find my place, and that’s not something that grad school prepared me for. I think this feeling is why school SLPs feel so connected to each other via social media.
I love puns, bright colored classrooms, silly sock days, classroom parties, eating school lunch with my students, and working with teachers, paraprofessionals, nurses, and counselors to help our students.
We (myself included) need to help educate both the school and medical communities on the importance behind what we do. Only through this can we better help our students, families, colleagues, and our own importance in serving the school districts. Be that importance show it’s self in salary, supplies, or even a room larger than a janitors closet.
I am a school Speech Language Pathologist.