Paying It Forward With Patience and Passion First Person on the Last Page First Person on the Last Page
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First Person on the Last Page  |   July 01, 2010
Paying It Forward With Patience and Passion
Author Notes
  • LeeAnn Smith, is a graduate student in speech-language pathology at the University of Montevallo and works in the university’s Speech and Hearing Clinic. She plans to pursue a clinical position focusing on low-incidence populations and autism spectrum disorders. Contact her at hsmith10@forum.montevallo.edu.
    LeeAnn Smith, is a graduate student in speech-language pathology at the University of Montevallo and works in the university’s Speech and Hearing Clinic. She plans to pursue a clinical position focusing on low-incidence populations and autism spectrum disorders. Contact her at hsmith10@forum.montevallo.edu.×
Article Information
Development / Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Dysarthria / School-Based Settings / First Person on the Last Page
First Person on the Last Page   |   July 01, 2010
Paying It Forward With Patience and Passion
The ASHA Leader, July 2010, Vol. 15, 39. doi:10.1044/leader.FPLP.15082010.39
The ASHA Leader, July 2010, Vol. 15, 39. doi:10.1044/leader.FPLP.15082010.39

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To say I was a difficult client is an understatement. I entered Shannon Fletcher’s speech class in fourth grade due to my terrible habit of gliding. I fought her tooth and nail because “wabbit” just sounded cuter than “rabbit.” Mrs. Fletcher never showed her frustration and always encouraged me to “give it one more try” or to “scrunch up that tongue tighter.” It was the best day when I finally said the name “Ursula,” which was promptly followed by the sentence “like in the ‘Little Mewmaid.’” Mrs. Fletcher was there to calm me down and remind me of my small success.
I fought the urge to be a speech-language pathologist, but once I entered high school I knew there was no way I could deny my passion for the field or my overwhelming need to encourage children, just as Mrs. Fletcher encouraged me. Now I’m in graduate school, where I work with children as difficult as I was, and I can’t help but smile. These students may be a handful, but I hope I can be the clinician that Mrs. Fletcher was. Her passion for helping children and her unwavering spirit were instilled in me and I try to pass this along to every client.
I am a tough student clinician, but only because I know each client has potential. I push my clients to strive to achieve their best, but I make sure that every step they take—no matter how small—is a huge event. I may be a tough coach, but I also try to be the best cheerleader.
My first client was an 11-year-old boy with dysarthria who could produce only a few sounds and could not read or write. On the first day of treatment I brought in games, worksheets, and books and watched as my carefully formed intervention plan was destroyed. We spent the rest of the hour drawing on the chalkboard, and I spent the next 20 minutes in the bathroom crying. I was overwhelmed and I couldn’t help wondering how Mrs. Fletcher must have felt. Every sound the student produced was a major accomplishment and although he was a challenging client, we powered through.
My desire to be an SLP was shaped by Mrs. Fletcher, and my clinical skills are based on those two years I spent in speech intervention as an absolute terror.
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FROM THIS ISSUE
July 2010
Volume 15, Issue 8