First Person on the Last Page: Reversing the Curse This SLP found that being a parent and being a professional don’t always mix— and learned when to seek help. First Person on the Last Page
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First Person on the Last Page  |   March 01, 2014
First Person on the Last Page: Reversing the Curse
Author Notes
  • Alexandra Krayets, MS, CCC-SLP, is a bilingual certified speech-language pathologist working with middle and high school students in a New York City public school. ■akrayets@gmail.com
    Alexandra Krayets, MS, CCC-SLP, is a bilingual certified speech-language pathologist working with middle and high school students in a New York City public school. ■akrayets@gmail.com×
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Professional Issues & Training / First Person on the Last Page
First Person on the Last Page   |   March 01, 2014
First Person on the Last Page: Reversing the Curse
The ASHA Leader, March 2014, Vol. 19, 72. doi:10.1044/leader.FPLP.19032014.72
The ASHA Leader, March 2014, Vol. 19, 72. doi:10.1044/leader.FPLP.19032014.72
As speech-language pathologists, we enjoy listening to other people’s children on playgrounds or in supermarket lines, evaluating their speech and language skills and, of course, secretly diagnosing. When I was an undergraduate student taking prerequisite classes in speech, I used to believe that children of SLPs must have clear speech without any misarticulations. I thought that children of SLPs have an innate privilege being raised by experts in teaching sound production. How could the children of SLPs not say all the sounds correctly?
My opinion changed after I had my own children, one of whom has a lateral lisp. As parents, we notice our child’s problem, think about it, research it and seek help. So in the case of my son, a non-SLP parent would not have hesitated to consult with a speech-language professional. However, I, being a speech professional, was in denial and refused to think that my child needed help. I chose to think that my son would naturally outgrow his sound distortions. In conversations with relatives and friends I continued to insist that my son had time to “get it right,” and that it was not a speech problem to be concerned about.
I made multiple attempts to begin speech-language intervention with my son, and it turned out to be the worst time for both of us. He was not interested in working with me, as he was “huffing and puffing” trying to avoid our sessions. It was difficult for me to combine and separate the roles of a mother and SLP; and for my son, I was first of all his mother.
I had to admit that I could not improve my son’s speech production, nor could I tolerate hearing his distortions. My son once asked me why I was concentrating on his sound production more than on the actual message he was trying to deliver. I knew that with “mother and son” speech work I unfortunately increased his awareness of his lisp, and decreased his self-esteem regarding communication. As a mother and an SLP, I did not want to make my son ashamed of his speech or to stop speaking in my presence. I felt helpless and discouraged.
It was hard for me to realize that my son and I needed to seek help from another SLP. Moreover, it was not easy for me to reveal to another SLP that I could not remediate my son’s lisp. I shared my problem with several of my colleagues, and was surprised to learn that their children also struggle with misarticulations of various sounds or even groups of sounds. I realized that, when addressing their own children’s speech problems, they were going through the same feelings of concern, hopelessness and shame. I thought that being an SLP and raising a child with a speech disorder was a professional taboo, or a silent curse of an SLP. With collegial support, I recognized that speech-language disorders in children of SLPs are common, and it should not be embarrassing to refer to other SLPs for help.
Now, my son receives private services from an SLP. He has made some progress in auditory discrimination and articulatory placement, but as of today, continues to lisp. My son is not embarrassed about his speech, and (like many of our clients) he loves his sessions with his SLP. As a mother, I am happy that my son is communicative and sociable, and that his speech deficit does not stop him from enjoying his childhood.
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March 2014
Volume 19, Issue 3