I am not JUST an SLP
This year was a tough year for me. This year I experienced working with students with very severe disabilities, I learned how to evaluate and start an AAC program with a student, I teamed with new/different teachers, and I worked with students who had severe emotional and other sorts of needs that, while they qualified for speech and language services, had far more concerns than simply improving their speech and language skills.
It's a shame that this year was so tough because I went into this school year feeling strong and confident about myself and my skills as a clinician. I was beginning my third year at my school district, I was working with a special education director who is simply amazing, and I had great relationships with other itinerant professionals in the building. It's sad that I ended this year feeling totally exhausted.
This year I experienced one devastating moment when an individual told me that I was JUST an SLP. I will not discuss who this individual is and what his or her role is, but an extremely heated meeting led to great frustration for all team members, and this individual hit below the belt. Luckily this was said privately so that I could have my own moment to feel my feelings once the individual left.
Upon great reflection, and through the comfort of friends, family, and other SLPs on the SLP Facebook groups, I realized that I am not JUST an SLP. I am an individual who wears many different hats in a day. While my profession is as a speech-language pathologist, I am also a team member who contributes to meetings not only to discuss speech and language information, but to share thoughts, ideas, and collaborate with other itinerant staff (social work, OT, and PT to name a few). I have many great ideas regarding working with students with emotional impairments, dealing with student behaviors, and incorporating OT and PT IEP goals in my own speech and language sessions. Something I pride myself on is not only my knowledge of speech and language, but my knowledge about other topics that are important to discuss and consider at any team meeting.
Not only am I an SLP, but I am also a wife, sister, daughter, granddaughter, mom to two great cats, neighbor, friend, and so much more than I could possibly list right now. To some of my students I am a speech lady, speech teacher, friend, advocate, and therapist.
I am valuable. I have thoughts and ideas that may sometimes help students. No, these ideas may not always be speech and language centered, but being a speech therapist does not mean my thoughts and ideas are any less worthy of consideration.
I would never tell another individual that he or she is JUST a _______ (be it parent, teacher, administrator, OT, PT, etc.). How is that appropriate? How is that professional? How is that acceptable? It simply isn't.
While this experience this year was one that I don't want to experience again, I feel like I'm a better person because of it. I feel like I was able to truly reflect on my skills as a speech-language pathologist and truly get to know myself as an individual, and that's not something that I can regret.
I am not JUST an SLP. I am so much more than that, and so are you. Celebrate your individuality, your differences, and the reasons that make you YOU. Celebrate your thoughts, ideas, and values. Celebrate you.