As a school-based bilingual speech and language pathologist, May is typically the time of year when I am buried under evaluations and IEP meetings. However, I try not to let this month pass me by without doing an activity at school for the American Speech and Hearing Association’s “Better Hearing and Speech Month”. It is a wonderful way to share what I love to do. Being a bilingual speech and language pathologist can be very challenging, but I continue to love what I do every day.
This month, think of how you can help those around you understand what makes you who you are. Many times, I’ve heard people say, “Oh, I thought of being an SLP, but I don’t think I could deal with the paperwork and then you have to do it in Spanish too!” While paperwork is part of the job, it isn’t what this profession is. It’s hard to put into words–how amazing it is to watch communication unfold. It is those moments that keep me focused in the middle of stress. Here is information that I plan to share about bilingual speech and language pathologists:
- We help children communicate in their native language so they can be more successful when learning, maintaining and generalizing speech and language concepts.
- We are “myth busters”. We have knowledge regarding typical bilingual language development and culturally and linguistically diverse populations. We use that information to educate or dispel misinformation that may lead to bias.
- We are extremely flexible. We typically function between multiple cultures, languages and socioeconomic statuses. That allows us to see cases from multiple vantage points so that we can better serve the populations we work with.
- We never get bored. Every day brings with it changes in the way that our students respond and react to their environment. We get to see and hear those “Aha” moments. Sometimes these moments are joyous and sometimes they are downright funny. Once a student of mine asked, “Como se llama un Chihuahua dog en English?”
We have all had those proud moments when someone does that “thing” in therapy that no one thought they would ever do. I hope that this month, you take the opportunity to share those experiences to promote what you do. It may change someone’s perception of who a bilingual speech and language pathologist really is.