Celebrating My Career Choice An international SLP reflects on the many ways and places in which she has used her credentials. First Person/Last Page
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First Person/Last Page  |   September 01, 2016
Celebrating My Career Choice
Author Notes
  • Ann Roberts, CCC-SLP, LCST, is a clinician in the Brevard (Florida) Public Schools, working with high school and preschool students in regular and special education. She is a member of ASHA and the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, the professional body of speech and language therapists in the United Kingdom and Ireland. roberts.ann@brevardschools.org
    Ann Roberts, CCC-SLP, LCST, is a clinician in the Brevard (Florida) Public Schools, working with high school and preschool students in regular and special education. She is a member of ASHA and the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, the professional body of speech and language therapists in the United Kingdom and Ireland. roberts.ann@brevardschools.org×
Article Information
Professional Issues & Training / First Person/Last Page
First Person/Last Page   |   September 01, 2016
Celebrating My Career Choice
The ASHA Leader, September 2016, Vol. 21, 72. doi:10.1044/leader.FPLP.21092016.72
The ASHA Leader, September 2016, Vol. 21, 72. doi:10.1044/leader.FPLP.21092016.72
I knew that I wanted to become a speech therapist (the term used in England) when I was about 7 years old. I remember seeing an old black-and-white movie about a deaf child. In one scene the teacher held a balloon to her face and the child’s, while making a /b/ sound. The child could feel the vibrations of the sound and was also able to make the sound. I thought at that moment, “I want to do that.” I didn’t know that it was called “speech therapy,” but I understood for the first time how silence, isolation and lack of communication skills cause anguish for children and their families.
The film was made at the Manchester School for the Deaf, and I interviewed there years later to train as a speech and language therapist (SLT). It was a very competitive field—only 13 schools in the United Kingdom trained SLTs and there were about 100 applications for each spot. I was overjoyed to be accepted at a school in Leicester, where I started training in 1979.
I had researched my career choice carefully. The variety of opportunities available to SLTs had interested me, and I was right to be intrigued. I have been a speech-language clinician for 34 years, in five different countries. The challenges of the different types of communication difficulties and how they affect my students mean that I’m always researching, and I’m excited to attend trainings where I can learn new things.
I maintain my credentials in the UK and in Florida. I love the flexibility of the job. I have worked with people age 0 to 90 as part of the National Health Service in England and Wales, as a private clinician in Dubai and Florida, and as a volunteer in Belize for three years. I was also funded by UNICEF to train special education workers and teachers in Belize. I remember traveling to the rural south of the country in a small plane to work with teachers and workers. I was particularly struck by a mother, who carried her 10-year-old child with cerebral palsy for six miles to see me because she didn’t have transport or a wheelchair. The desperation of parents worldwide to give their children the best they can, whatever their circumstances, inspires me in this work.
I’ve worked with children, parents, teachers, nurses and doctors in many situations. I believe that the ability to communicate is a fundamental human right, and helping children access education because they can communicate is the greatest thing I can do with my life. I still get a special feeling when a child learns a new sound or skill or to communicate with an assistive device. I’m proud to be an SLP and I try to inspire others to enter what I consider to be the best profession in the world. My daughter has become an exceptional education teacher, specializing in autism. I know I’ve passed on my passion for communication to her and, I hope, to others.
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FROM THIS ISSUE
September 2016
Volume 21, Issue 9