February’s RCSLT’s 75th anniversary theme is Love. With so many things to love about Speech and Language Therapy I’ve decided to write my top 5 reasons of why I love the profession and why I am incredibly lucky to have a career I adore.
1. My work is varied and no two days are the same
Since qualifying in 2011 I’ve been fortunate enough to experience a broad range of roles working with children within the profession (in research, the NHS and directly in schools). In July 2019, I began working for my own Speech and Language Therapy business and this has brought a new sense of love to my job. I love the flexibility of being in control of my own diary and my own professional development.
Every child I work with brings something different to therapy and I love getting to know them and their family. I continue to have a varied case load currently ranging in age from 2 to 15 with a range of Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN). I love seeing the children and young people make progress over time and know that I am making a difference to their lives.
In addition to my own role, I love the variety of the profession. Speech and Language Therapists work from cradle to grave supporting a vast range of difficulties with SLCN and swallowing. I never tire of hearing about different roles within the profession. Working independently has also opened opportunities to talk to a wider range of SLTs at the local group meetings for ASLTIP (Association of SLTs in Independent Practice), where I’ve learned even more about different roles with adults and children.
2. There’s always opportunity to learn new things
Every child is unique and therefore no assessment or intervention is ever exactly the same. This means that every day offers opportunity to learn about how individual children respond to specific strategies and activities and I continue to update and change my practice to reflect each child’s specific needs.
Working independently also allows opportunity to select my own training courses for my Continuing Professional Development (CPD) at whichever frequency I feel is of benefit to develop my learning. I have been extremely fortunate to further develop my knowledge and skills with recent courses in a range of specialist areas (including Selective Mutism and Stammering). I am also about to update my Makaton (signing) skills and I am also studying for my PG Certificate in Speech Difficulties (online with Sheffield University).
As well as opportunities for formal training, I love learning new things from other Speech and Language Therapists through informal discussions about our client groups. I love hearing about new toys or resources that they have been using in therapy or something useful they have recently read.
I love that I’ve chosen a profession that means I will continue to learn new things every day.
3. I work with amazing people
The children are definitely the most amazing people I work with and they bring such joy to my working life. Working with their families and in their educational settings also means I get to meet the people who know them best and work with them all to get the best outcomes for the child.
Over the course of my career to date I have been incredibly lucky to work with some amazing SLTs (some of whom are now lifelong friends!) and other professionals too. I currently work closely with other professionals involved in the child’s care including Occupational Therapists and NHS SLTs.
4. I get paid to play
To the untrained eye most of my work may look like I am simply playing with the child and some toys and indeed on the face of it that’s exactly what I am doing. It is of course much more than ‘just playing’. Using a bag of specially selected toys I use a range of specialist skills to engage the child’s attention, assess their communication skills; their understanding of language, vocabulary, play skills and speech sounds (and analyse this as we play). I then use this information (and discussion with parents) to determine appropriate next steps for intervention (which with the younger children continues to be play based!)
Children learn best through play and activities they are interested in, therefore I incorporate this into what I do every day. For older children, the play is of course different, to suit their development and interests e.g. playing games as we practice speech sounds or language structures. I do of course love buying new toys and playing with them with the children I work with to help them achieve their full communicative potential. I do love a trip to a good toy shop to see what new resources (toys!) I can buy!
5. I change lives
I’ve saved the best until last because I love that my job enables me to change lives in a positive way every single day.
It is incredibly rewarding seeing the progress that the children make and also seeing the impact this can have on the wider family. Communication is what makes us human and I love that I have specialist skills to support children who find this difficult and enable them to reach their full potential.