My introduction to speech pathology began with a visit from a family friend when I was a junior in college. I heard about a new academic field where educators were addressing individuals who learned differently from the traditional academic model and usually had difficulty with focus and attention. Physicians and educators could not determine a physical cause. This group of people are now referred to as having “Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder” with another group labeled as having “Sensory Integration Dysfunction” (now termed “Sensory Processing Disorder”). I was fascinated by the exercises that were being implemented to get the brain “talking to itself” using stimulation of movement, touch, vision, and hearing.
At the time I was in Speech, Drama, and Debate with a minor in biology, and was trying to figure out how those very disparate areas could merge into a vocation. When I spoke with my current Dean about my interest in this new teaching avenue, he directed me to enter the field of speech pathology within the same Department of Communication.
I found Speech Pathology perfectly combined my divergent interests in science (biology) and performing arts/ humanities (speech and drama). From my first class in Speech Therapy I would get chill bumps from the information I was learning about the brain and communication processes. However, when it came to clinical practicum which involved mostly children, I was out of my element. I had not baby- sat for other families nor been around young children. I felt inadequate, so I developed a practice of praying to center myself and connect to God to teach me the people skills I felt lacking. That spiritual practice, begun in graduate school, connected me to focus on other people’s needs and what I had to offer them. This change in perspective gave me confidence to show up as a teacher and therapist. I also found I could use my performing skills to role play and have fun, which made learning happen more organically. I adopted the motto at that time that “A wise teacher makes learning fun!” I have maintained both of those perspectives throughout my whole career.