Am I the worst SLP in the world?

I NEVER wanted to take a job as a school SLP.

When I first took my school-aged language disorders course, I thought that it had officially pushed me over the edge and confirmed that the school systems were not for me.

I walked out of that course completely confused, without a clue where I was supposed to start with my language cases. I thought it was just me, and that I just didn’t have the ability to work with this population, but I was hopeful that I might figure it out after my clinical placements.

For sure I’d know what I was doing by the time I got a “real” job, right?

Not quite. So I hoped that I’d find something in a medical setting so I wouldn’t have to deal with school-aged language, but when the best job offer in the area I wanted to live was for a school district, I took the job thinking that I’d bail as soon as I found something better.

At that time, it never dawned on my that the the reason I hated language therapy so much was not because I wasn’t capable, or because it wasn’t interesting…but rather because it was ambiguous and messy.

But that was the truth. Language disorders were not clear-cut, and there really wasn’t a packaged program or step-by-step protocol I could use for each case, which made me uncomfortable because I felt like I never knew what I was doing.

Since I was never quite sure where to start or how to proceed with these types of cases, I usually ended up guessing, and sometimes that meant grabbing some random language games off my shelves for those sessions. There was no method to the madness.

Needless to say, my students didn’t get better. I felt like a FRAUD because I was supposed to be the expert. But I sure didn’t feel like one.

I swore each week that I was going to work extra hard to get to work early, get organized, and plan for these language sessions, but I was so overwhelmed I would rarely do it. I thought I must be the WORST SLP IN THE WORLD. If I wasn’t, my students would be getting better, right?

I was convinced for a long time that I was the only one who felt this way…but I imagine if you’re reading this you know that’s not the case.

The truth was, I wasn’t the only one, and when I realized that other people felt the same way, I decided to do something about it.

Treating a language disorder can be one of the most challenging things we as SLPs do, because we don’t ever really get a clear-cut guide for doing it.

And if you work with the school-aged populations, especially if you are in the school systems, you know that planning and treatment are just ONE of the things an SLP has to do in their job.

But most of us didn’t realize this when we were bright-eyed graduate students ready to change the world, because no one told us when we signed up for this that we’d be trapped behind our computers doing paperwork, or playing phone and email tag with teachers and other professionals trying to figure out what exactly we should be doing with our students.

No one warned us that we wouldn’t get a straight answer about what our role in in the school systems, and that sometimes we’d be treated like teaching assistants.

No one warned us how much all of these little things would add up, sending us down the road to burn out.

Which was exactly where I was a few years ago, when I came to the realization that I needed to come up with a better way to handle language therapy…and fast…before I lost my mind.

I searched for a system or a curriculum that would outline it for us, but I couldn’t find one that was designed specifically for SLPs.

I was sick of having to constantly modify and put things together, always reinventing the wheel. It was exhausting.

Since there wasn’t any program that “fit”, I decided to create my own.

And when I started using it and realized it WORKED for some of those cases that I thought were STUCK, I knew I had to share it.

Finally, I was dismissing cases not because they weren’t making progress, but because they were better. And finally, I saw some students who could barely function in a regular classroom become independent enough to function outside the special education classroom for some classes.

It wasn’t perfect. They still had to work hard. But FINALLY, it was progress. Because I’d found a way to help my students think about language differently by focusing on the right things in therapy.

I know I can’t keep this to myself. I don’t want other SLPs to get down on themselves like I did and have the “worst SLP ever” feelings like I did.

That’s why I’m creating a new Facebook group for SLPs called the Language Therapy Advance Online Community, so I can share some of these strategies with you, and we can have a place to help SLPs learn exactly how to do language therapy.

And that’s not all. Therapy is just one part of our job. In order to be effective, we need to tackle EVERY aspect of our jobs, from consulting with teachers, learning the curriculum, mastering paperwork, writing reports and goals for language, collecting data, and picking the right techniques to get the most out of your treatment time…so I’ll be sharing information on these topics as well.

Yet even though I’m the one starting this group, I don’t have all the answers. That’s why I’m looking for other qualified SLPs working with the school-aged population to join, so we can get the discussions going.

I know many SLPs out there have created their own products, done research, and started blogs to give back to the field. I also know how challenging it can be to spread the word about these valuable tools you’ve created, so I want to create a place where you can share it with people who have been searching for exactly what you have to offer.

That’s why in the Language Therapy Advance Online Community, I’m going to encourage members to share their own content (both free and paid). There are going to be specific guidelines for doing this, such as themed threads and featured posts to ensure that everything being posted adds value to the members (in other words, it’s not a free-for-all, but rather a guided discussion where you’ll be able to share things you have that are relevant to the conversation).  If you decide to join the group, you can check the rules of the group for details and check with me before sharing your content.

If you are an SLP who wants to be part of a dedicated group of clinicians treating language therapy, I invite you to join the Language Therapy Advance Online Community. 

Here’s what you can do if you want to join:

Click on the button below and join my mailing list. I ask that you join so that I can share free articles and resources with you, and also keep you up to date on events and opportunities going on in the group. As soon as you complete the form to join the list, I’ll send you to the link for the group.

I’ll also deliver a free gift to your inbox when you join the mailing list (the 30 Tier 2 Words for Language Therapy download).

Are you in? If you are, click the button below:

DrKaren

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