How I Became a Speech Language Pathologist

When I was 13 years old, my family was having dinner with another family whose daughter was studying speech and language therapy in college. She explained that she was learning how to teach kids who have trouble with their language how to speak. I thought that was incredible. Teaching someone who cannot talk, how to do so, sounded like a superpower. I knew then and there that’s what I wanted to do with my life. To this day, I’ve never looked back. 

In high school I began searching for good speech/language therapy programs and ended up choosing the University of Maryland. I majored in hearing and speech science and as I explored my passion, my aspirations were confirmed and my excitement grew. I took several years off between undergrad and graduate school to work in an elementary school as a Speech Language Pathology assistant. There, I worked under the direction of an SLP implementing speech and language therapy to the children at school. I loved how creative I could be in treatment and figuring out the best ways to access each child to motivate them. I was certain I wanted to pursue the field and I enrolled at a wonderful graduate school called Loyola University. There, I met three friends who I studied with and eventually graduated with two years later. I was armed and ready to pursue my dreams.

I worked as an SLP in elementary schools for many years before moving to NYC. Once settled in the city, I knew I wanted to work with children of many different ages and stages. I found that work at a sensory gym and in client homes as an early intervention therapist. I had always believed in and saw the importance of collaboration in elementary school, but when I started with early intervention, I really understood how critical it was. I learned so much from the physical therapists I collaborated with about how to position children for optimal feeding and speech production. I have learned invaluable insights from occupational therapists about the sensory system and how incredibly important it is to understand and regulate children that way. I still incorporate that daily into feeding therapy. 

When I started Creative Speech Therapy (CST) I knew I wanted to treat children with holistic and collaborative care. Myself and all the SLPs who work at CST maintain that to this day. I often tell parents that, once you come here you are part of our family and we are part of yours. When kids come for therapy they are vulnerable. They are going to be working on things that are hard and they will make mistakes. It’s important to remember those vulnerable feelings are uncomfortable for anyone, regardless of age. That is why my first job is to make each child feel comfortable, relaxed, loved, and respected. I genuinely find kids interesting and I love asking them about their favorite topics. Don’t tell, but I always have the inside track because we ask their parents about their favorite things in our intake paperwork. This kind of treatment inspires kids to want to come to therapy and look forward to their “speech days.” CST is a place where kids can feel loved and respected while making progress toward their goals. 

With 20 years of experience, I now teach college courses on feeding therapy and speak at conferences to educate parents and providers about speech and feeding therapy. I love to spread my passion and knowledge to as many people as possible. I truly feel I was born to do the career I am doing and it’s much more than a job to me. Every day I look forward to working with more children and making positive changes in their lives. 

Written by: Rachael Rose, Owner/Founder
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