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Lindsey

Generally SpeechyThings, Personal

Clinical Fellowship Year

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You just graduated. You are burning bright with a fiery passion to change lives and start your career as a speech therapist! You go girl/guy! Now bookmark this post and set an alert for yourself to check back here in one month. Your CFY is a magical time but it is gonna get rough. You are not alone!

This blog post is for you when you are in the thick of it. Because there will be a day where you feel down and worn out.

I am offering you some advice. I just know as a CF, there were a few times I was feeling overwhelmed and went looking for a blog post like this to no avail. This is definitely one of those times where you can take what you like (or what you need) and leave the rest. Here are just a few things to keep in mind as you navigate this incredibly exciting and challenging new adventure:

 

15. Connect with your tribe.

There is a facebook group called Speech Pathologists at Large. Go find it.

 

14. “Comparison is the thief of joy.” -Theodore Roosevelt

Don’t compare yourself to other therapists. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses.

 

13. If you make something – LAMINATE IT.

And if you’re using velcro- put the rough side on the pictures so it can be used on felt boards letter if you want.

 

12. ASK QUESTIONS.

You are clinical fellow. You should have a bajillion questions every day and that’s normal. It’s almost a guarantee that no matter what walks through that door… you’ve never treated a kid just like that before. Try to find the answer yourself but if you can’t, ASK!

 

11. “She made a promise to herself to hold her own well-being sacred.” -unknown

Try not to take your work home. You need to relax. Your brain is going to be a big puddle of mush for the better part of this experience (and beyond) so let yourself binge on Netflix now and again (and again).

 

10. Your best is enough.

All you need to do to be successful each day is make this session a little better than the last. If you can do that, you can be proud of yourself. I often wondered how much more progress my patient might make with a more experienced therapist. We will never know. But as long as you give that kid 100%- you are doing your job.

 

9. Grad school introduces you to the tip of the iceberg.

It does not (and cannot) adequately prepare you to meet the needs of every kid on your caseload and it’s no one’s fault. Birth by fire is necessary. Do your best to fill in the gaps.

 

8. Write it down.

Write down the things you’re learning. It helps you process and encode. You can look back later to see how far you’ve come.

 

7. “If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.” – Jack Kornfield

You are most likely going to have a family complain about you. It happens to everyone. But you will also have families who LOVE you. Learn from them both and don’t take the first one personally. Their child is the most precious thing in the world to them- it’s not meant to hurt you. We can’t all be perfect matches for every kid. 

 

6. Think outside the box.

If after a few sessions with a really tough kiddo you are still having a difficult time- figure out what kind of support they need from you that they are not getting. Maybe they need visual supports. Maybe they need some sensory input so they can organize. Talk to your supervisor.

 

5. “You is kind. You is SMART. You is important.” -“The Help”

Just remember that there was a day when the words “speech hierarchy” and “Brown’s Stages” meant nothing to you. You are smart. You know LOTS. Don’t forget that. Most of your families are totally unaware of what’s fully going on with their kid, so you at least know more than them and can help guide them through it.

 

4. Fake it ’til you make it. (Your confidence, that is.)

If you don’t feel confident in your answer to something- don’t keep talking in circles around it. Make your point quickly and, if needed, let the person know that you are going to look into it and get back to them. Also, try to remember that not everyone is a naturally friendly person. It doesn’t mean they think critically of you. It literally might just be their face. Be confident in your response and don’t let it get to you.

 

3. You will have ups and downs.

Even therapists I work with that have been at it for 15 years (and who are AMAZING) go through slumps where they feel ineffective. Just make note of the ups so you can remember those happy feelings. It will get tough at times but remember another peak is around the corner where something will click for your kiddo and your heart will explode with joy.

 

2. “Living is like tearing through a museum. Not until later do you really start absorbing what you saw, thinking about it, looking it up in a book, and remembering…” -Audrey Hepburn

Know that the more kids you treat, the more you will see patterns and get a sense of the “big picture.” It’s okay to feel lost. Trust your training and lean on your colleagues to be sure you are on the right track. You will navigate these waters together. You’ve got to work on faith for a while until you are backed by experience.  Everything is scary until you have a few under your belt. (During my CFY I was terrified of treating R and now I’m like “pffft” no problem- here is some help if you need it.) You’ve got this!

 

1. You can do this.

Remember the thousands of therapist who have been where you are right now. Your CF supervisor? She’s been here. Barbara Hodson? EVEN SHE’S BEEN HERE. Everyone was once brand new. Everyone, at one time, didn’t have a clue what they were doing. But they learned from their mistakes, sought answers, perservered, and got better and better until they got great. That will be you too.

 

 

There you have it. My best advice and a big ol’ virtual hug.

The paperwork sucks. Sometimes the parents are difficult to deal with. Sometimes the kids spit at you and hit you. So of course there are bad days but overall- I love my job and cannot imagine a more amazing career. How many people go to work and actually experience *joy*? Not just being happy at work- but feeling heart-warming joy?

 

You are making your debut in the BEST profession on the planet. It will be really hard some days, and then it will get easier. Then it will get hard again. Just know that eventually the hard days get less frequent and less intense- so push through! You’ve got this!

-Lindsey

Articulation Therapy

Making Speech Personal

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Photo by Lindy Baker on Unsplash

One of my favorite things to do as an SLP is brainstorm with families on how to improve their child’s and their family’s daily lives. I am a firm believer that an effective communicator is a confident communicator and that confident people are nicer and make the world a better place.

(So really… we’re saving the world  here, folks.)

Speech therapy is great and sure I want you to know how to say “poP” with a strong tail sound…

but what I really want is for that little person to be able to function beautifully in their environment. (Or at least to the best of their ability.)

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A goal I typically target early is a list of functional words provided by the family. I ask them to brainstorm at least 10 words that their kiddo might use on a daily basis, preferably high motivators. This may include family names, pet names, favorite foods, beloved toys, and anything else that is important to that particular child or that particular family.

If it’s important to them, it’s important to me.

I try to have the family bring in photos representing these words so they can serve as their child’s own set of personal flash cards.

I’ve used this for all sorts of ages, diagnoses, and levels of intelligibility. I find it especially important for kiddos who have phonological processes or other diagnoses that severely impact their intelligibility.

I just think to myself…

What can I start doing TODAY that could change this child’s life?

It may be being able to pronounce his own name when asked. It may be clearly stating “potty” when he needs the restroom at school. Anything functional is fair game.

It’s such a simple idea (and one I credit my CF supervisor for giving me) but it’s one I’ve used with just about every kiddo with severely impacted intelligibility that has come through my therapy room.

Do you already do this with your kiddos? I’d love to hear your thoughts and additions to this concept!

Go Team!
Lindsey

For Parents, Personal

Inclusive Vacations for Friends with Special Needs and All Abilities

We ALL deserve a break but for so many of our families…. the thought of a vacation may seem like just too much to tackle. Is it accessible? Too much sensory input? Is it safe? What food do they serve? Ayayay.

Recently, one of my favorite families told me a bout a vacation they took where specially-trained ski instructors taught kiddos with various delays and disabilities how to ski. “Well is that not just THE COOLEST THING!?”  <<that was me

It got me thinking… and thinking led to googling… and googling led to this:

 

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Photo Credit: Sai Kiran Anagani via unsplash.com

 

–  Ski Apache Adaptive Sports – Ruidoso, New Mexico –

Ski Apache is BEAUTIFUL and will be sure, no matter the needs of your kiddo, that the whole family has a great time. With specialized training and equipment, everyone can be a skier!

 

– Myrtle Beach – South Carolina –

Myrtle Beach has taken great strides to be an Autism-friendly destination. They provide quiet rooms, a specially-designed playground, and safety bands with GPS trackers. All you need is sun screen!

 

– Tradewinds Island Resorts – St. Pete Beach, Florida –

Tradewinds is your classic beach resort with a twist. They offer special diets, and even social stories that provide photos of virtually every space, activity, and restaurant available. Well done!

 

– Shared Adventures – Santa Cruz, California –

Shared Adventures provides camps specifically designed for all friends. Families and caregivers are welcome to join as well! They provide activities such as archery, rock climbing, ziplining, and so much more.

 

Splore – Salt Lake City, Utah –

Splore provides rafting, rock climbing, paddleboarding, canoeing, snowshoeing, and skiing. They are dedicated to creating an individualized experience for each guest. They set no limits on age or ability – they just want you to come “splore” with them!

 

Morgan’s Wonderland – San Antonio, Texas –

Morgan’s Wonderland offers water-proof wheelchairs, inclusion-themed packages (such as “make new friends!”), and specially-designed rides that allow friends (who travel by foot or wheel) to get the same wonderful experience.

 

Dollywood – Pigeon Forge, Tennessee –

Dolly wants to take care of all of God’s children, y’all! This theme park includes accessible rides, calming rooms, and good ol’ wholesome southern fun.

 

 

This, of course, is not an exhaustive list. (A few other honorable mentions are Atlantis Bahamas, Smuggler’s Notch, Hershey’s Park.) This post is simply meant to inspire and encourage! We could ALL use a vacation now and again! (and again and again)

 

Happy Summer!