May is Better Hearing and Speech month—a time dedicated to raising awareness about communication disorders and the role speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and audiologists play in providing life-changing treatment. This is a month where we, as hearing and speech professionals, educate and celebrate. As a speech-language pathologist, I know all of the incredible things that SLPs do and all of the awesome knowledge and skills they possess—and this month, I want to share that appreciation with the world.
If you’re lucky enough to have an SLP in your life, there are so many reasons to give him or her a high five this month—or any month, really. Here are just a few:
- SLPs know when each phoneme (speech sound) develops in children. This is important when it comes to helping children acquire these phonemes in their speech. It also helps SLPs calm new moms when their 3-year-old is not yet using the /r/ phoneme.
- SLPs are really good at throwing fun vocabulary words into everyday conversations. You may hear, “Oh, I just aspirated a bit!” Or, “Stop yelling, you’ll hurt your vocal folds.” Or the ever-popular, “My buccinator is tired!” These vocabulary terms help SLPs to understand, diagnose, and treat a variety of speech, language, voice, fluency, and swallowing delays and disorders—but they’re also just fun to say.
- SLPs have the best diadochokinetic rate in town. You may have never heard the word “puhtuhkuh,” but SLPs can produce this word quickly—and use it to help those demonstrating difficulty in producing a series of rapid, alternating sounds.
- SLPs are everywhere! You can give an SLP a high-five in a public school, private school, clinic, hospital, outpatient rehabilitation center, skilled nursing facility, profit/nonprofit agency, home health environment, corporation/business, early intervention environment—and the list goes on!
- They are always learning. Even SLPs who have a master's degree or doctorate must obtain 30 hours of professional development and training every three years. This means SLPs are always working to stay current in research and best practice. They are learning innovative techniques and constantly seeking out new, helpful materials. SLPs who are dedicated to continuous learning definitely deserve a solid high-five.
- SLPs are creative! They create materials for Teachers Pay Teachers, develop therapy apps, start their own companies, and more. This creativity directly impacts their clients in wonderful ways.
- SLPs write top-notch, thorough reports—and they do so with clients and caregivers in mind. They set goals that are lofty, yet attainable—and they incorporate data into report-writing as well. SLPs are great with words (it comes with the territory), and they use that skill in their reports, too.
- SLPs are amazing listeners. Their profession is rooted in communication, but SLPs truly understand the value of listening instead of always talking. They consider what is being said and have a dialogue when appropriate. Their ability to really listen to clients, caregivers, staff, and others allows them to continue fully supporting their clients.
- They advocate for their clients and families—and that’s something that is truly deserving of a high-five. SLPs have a strong conviction for those they serve. That passion—combined with their strong knowledge base—allows SLPs to tirelessly advocate for their clients. And their dedication to their clients extends beyond traditional working hours. In fact, SLPs are usually thinking about ways to help their clients—even at home in the evenings or over weekends.
- SLPs see potential in every person. While many people will dismiss a person’s abilities or underestimate his or her potential, SLPs always believe in their clients. They believe that anybody can, with wonderful support, make great strides toward their goals. SLPs do not give up on clients; they problem-solve until they find what works.
So, as you can plainly see, SLPs are awesome—and when somebody is awesome, you give that person a high-five! So this month, as we celebrate and educate in honor of Better Hearing and Speech Month 2018, take some time to celebrate the wonderful SLPs in your life—even if that celebration is as simple as a genuine “good job” in the form of a high-five.
Danielle Reed, M.S., CCC-SLP, is an ASHA-certified school-based speech-language pathologist with experience in preschool-eighth grade and early intervention services in Kansas City, Chicago, and Phoenix. Danielle currently serves as her district’s lead SLP, providing professional development, coaching, mentorship, and other support for the related service providers in her district. In addition to being the author of the blog Sublime Speech, Danielle is the Chief Experience Officer and Co-Founder of XceptionalED. Danielle is a graduate of Missouri State University and continues to cultivate her passion for technology, AAC, and leadership within the SLP community and schools. You can connect with Danielle on her website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest.