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The Misunderstood SLP Student

April 27, 2012

The other day I was daydreaming about my future life as an SLP studying for my final exams and, while taking a much deserved study break, I began to think about what my friends and family really know about what I have set out to become. The truth is, Speech and Language Pathology isn’t a well known a field to those who have had no experience with it, and more than once I have been faced with a blank stare as I tell people “I’m going to be a Speech Pathologist!” (I don’t mind though, it gives me an opportunity to spread the word about the best profession out there!) What I love even more than educating people about SLPs and the work they do, is correcting some of the funny misperceptions people have about what it means to be an SLP. Here are a few of the questions I’ve gotten (or heard of other people getting) when talking about my chosen career path:

  • “So are you going to write professional speeches for people?” — A taxi driver asked me this once while we were talking on the way to my destination. While it is true that we have the word “Speech” in our title, it refers to our ability to help people produce natural sounding speech, which can include working on reducing foreign accents, helping to correct stutters, working with children with articulation impairments, dealing with irregular voice quality…….(I could go on and on!)
  • “So, you have a linguistics minor? How many languages do you speak?” — Linguistics, which becomes an important part of speech pathology when we are analyzing the types of sounds people have in their mental sound representations, the way people put sentences and words together, and what people think about the meanings of words, is not about knowing different languages. Rather it is about analyzing language in general into the building blocks that make it up (for example, the sounds and rules of grammar).
  • “So you’re gonna help kids who have lisps and stuff?” — Yes! In addition to the adults and children with brain injury, strokes, motor speech disorders, voice and fluency problems, developmental speech delays and craniofacial abnormalities, clients who require alternative modes of communication, and the many other clients we may see on a daily basis!

And, my personal favorite, which was described to us by Teresa Hardy, our amazing lab coordinator and occasional guest lecturer.

“Are you going to analyze my speech now?” to which she replied “I already have!”

What other misconceptions have you come across when describing your future career to friends, family, or taxi drivers? Leave a comment below!

— Adele Courchesne

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Bobby permalink
    April 30, 2012 1:37 am

    Parents: “Sooo…your undergrad was just a waste of time then?”

  2. Anonymous permalink
    May 1, 2012 1:57 pm

    Can you do a post on what to expect in your first year? So nervous!

  3. Angela permalink
    May 21, 2012 6:39 am

    “I already have” So true. We just can not turn that part of our brain off can we?

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