The Rewarding Field of Speech Language Pathology

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I am currently pursing a Speech Language Pathology degree. A Speech Language Pathologist is a trained professional who evaluates and treats children and adults who have difficulty with speech or language.  When I graduate, I plan to work with young children with speech disorders.

I had the opportunity to interview Mrs. Penny James who is the Speech Language Pathology coordinator for Lincoln Parish. She graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a masters degree in Speech Language Pathology (SLP). She has worked as an SLP in Lincoln Parish for thirty-three years. For the past fourteen years, she has served as the coordinator for Lincoln Parish in Pupil Appraisal. 

Mrs. Penny chose Speech Language Patholgy because she wanted to work with children and families. She believes that Speech Pathologists are, “a vital part of the school,” because they positively affect a child’s life and future. SPLs are a big part of literacy and language development and they serve as a resource to the teachers.

One of Mrs. Penny’s main responsibilities is the Early Steps Transition program. This is a program for children that are placed in an early intervention program in Louisiana. These children range from birth to three years old.  Through this program she is responsible for communicating with parents about their child’s progress. She contacts co-workers, doctors, and patients by phone, fax, letter or email, and even makes personal visits. When the child is about to begin school, she meets with the parents to discuss the need for the continuation of Speech services in the school system. She uses her technical writing skills to write evaluation summaries and recommendations for each student based upon their need.

She said, the amount of time a child receives Speech services varies on the severity of the speech problem. It is difficult to tell how long someone will work with a speech pathologist because something may be going on that wasn’t obvious before. On average a speech pathologist will work with a student two times a week for thirty minutes in a school setting. Communication is especially important for students receiving Speech services. The SLP writes Individualized Education Plans (IEP) with specific goals/objectives and fills out Therapist data sheets to monitor a student’s progress

Mrs. Penny works with children with speech problems to overcome difficulties such as stuttering, lisps, and omission of sounds in speech. She also gives the parents and families of the children ideas of how to continue to work with their children to stimulate their speech and language development in all kinds of settings, other than school.

When asked about what kinds of technical communication was required in this field Mrs. Penny told me that she must communicate with doctors and audiologists as well as write technical reports of her evaluation findings. Which require a more formal style of writing because of the importance that the information be conveyed correctly and so the data will be easily understood. 

When asked what advice she had for someone thinking about following the career path to become a Speech Language Pathologist Mrs. Penny said, “Take a few classes, because the classes are all based on skills, and I think that you find out just by the classes and the presentation of the classes and the information whether you’ll like it or not.”

Mrs. Penny said, the best part of her job is, “Working with the children and the families, meeting the children and really trying to make a difference in the life of a child is very rewarding.” She likes to see the students that she has taught in the community and realize the impact you’ve made on their life it gives you a feeling of accomplishment that you were able to help someone.

Darby Rowland, guest blogger