If you’re an occupational therapist or speech language pathologist, it’s time to go back to school — elementary… junior high…or maybe even high school. Not as a student or teacher but as a healthcare professional. There is a great need for OTs and SLPs in school settings.
Helping kids succeed
The American Occupational Therapy Association describes the role of OTs in schools as working to:
“…ensure that a student can participate in the full breadth of school activities — from paying attention in class; concentrating on the task at hand; holding a pencil, musical instrument, or book in the easiest way; or just behaving appropriately in class.”
SLPs have similar roles. They are also in the schools to ensure kids are able to fully participate and learn by addressing communication disorders that adversely affect children’s performance. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association says:
“Critical shortages of special education teachers and related services personnel, including SLPs, exist in all regions of the country. These shortages impede the ability of students with disabilities to reach their full academic, social, and emotional potential.”
Benefits of working in school settings
Helping kids succeed is a great benefit that is made even better when you realize that many of these kids would otherwise receive no treatment and school is often the first place they are diagnosed or treated. Caseloads in schools vary and are usually quite diverse as you deal with a wide range of issues and disabilities. In addition, school settings also come with the benefit of working regular hours (no nights or weekends) and many have summers off.
Speech Language Pathologist Danielle Reed writes a blog dedicated to speech and language therapy called Sublime Speech. In it she discusses the pros and cons of working as an SLP in schools. She says:
“One reason that I became an SLP was to help people that could not communicate. As a school SLP we get to do that! We get to help students become effective communicators. Being an effective communicator can change a life. Maybe we help a student make their speech more intelligible or help them understand social language or help them to understand questions…all these things impact their lives. You don’t need to be in a medical setting or wear scrubs to change a life! School SLPs do this every day.”
Working as an OT or SLP in a school setting can be a rewarding and transforming experience for both you and the students you serve.