A Day in the Life of a Speech Therapist
About Emily´s dedicated time at NPH-DR
June 6, 2016 - Dominican Republic
This is a look at the day in the life of a speech therapist. Well, I guess that is me, as I’m the volunteer speech-language pathologist to be exact! My Monday through Friday rarely looks the same, the days are full of training caregivers, brain-storming ideas, researching diagnosis’ and treatment strategies, and collaborating with others about the children I see; then on top of that, actually administering therapy to those in need. Here in our home in the Dominican Republic I split my work day between San Marcos, our home for children with special needs, and our on-site school. I see children of all ages, with a varying degree of delays and disabilities. For example, there are children with autism, articulation disorders, language delays, cerebral palsy, severe cognitive impairment, stuttering disorder, as well as an array of other disorders and delays.
If I could give you an example of a typical day, this is what it would look like. First thing in the morning I head to San Marcos as they finish up their circle time routine. I bring one child to my therapy room where we work on signing “my turn” to request the use of a favorite toy. Then I pull out my oral motor tools to work on strengthening his lips, cheeks and tongue to help him control liquids, foods and the saliva in his mouth. We would work on closing his lips and swallowing, and on independently using a towel to wipe his mouth when he drools.
After lunch, I head to the school. Each afternoon looks a little different.
Normally my first session is with a child with an articulation disorder. Then session number two is with a group of children with social and language development needs, and the last session is a vocational training group. I usually incorporate games and other fun activities such as races, competitions, crafts, and various activities to target the main concepts and challenges.
Finally, I end my day with a group of teenage girls who have cognitive deficits. In this group we focus on vocational skills such as reading a calendar, filling out forms, counting money and writing the date. As young women, in low grades for their ages, they struggle with self-confidence and easily fall behind in their classes. This group has been one of my pride and joy’s here at NPH. I have seen them flourish with their curiosity of how the world works. Also, independently I have had the privilege of taking them into town to show them how to use public transportation and practice buying groceries. The truth is that they will struggle for the rest of their lives with their delayed cognitive abilities, but hopefully this year they have learned a few ways to better manage these delays and overcome a few of them.
As you can see, my day is full of a variety of activities. That is part of the reason I love what I do. I am challenged to think on my toes, be flexible, and come up with fun ways to learn. As you can imagine, these children here at NPH make it all the easier to get out of bed in the morning! This work may be tiring and challenging at times, but every time a child takes a step towards reaching one of his goals, I am filled with joy and know that it is worth every ounce of effort that I have put in.