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Careers in Therapy-Speech Therapy at BY YOUR SIDE

Treating a child on the autism spectrum often involves different types of therapists. Speech language pathologists, or SLPs, play an important role in helping children with communication issues such as conversation, non-verbal communication and concept skills. At BY YOUR SIDE, we are very fortunate to have several SLPs at both our Burr Ridge and Schaumburg centers who are highly skilled and very dedicated to helping our kids with skills that will be with them for the rest of their lives.

What is a Speech Language Pathologist?

According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, Speech-language pathologists (sometimes called speech therapists) assess, diagnose, treat, and help to prevent communication and swallowing disorders in patients.  Speech-Language therapy focuses on meeting language needs by expanding the client’s repertoire of communication. These needs may be in the areas of speech production (articulation), understanding of language (receptive language), language output (expressive language) and social use of language (pragmatics).

How do you Become a Speech Language Pathologist?

To become a Speech-language pathologist, you typically need at least a master’s degree. You also need to be licensed in most states.  Jana Kohn has been a Speech Language Pathologist with BY YOUR SIDE since June of 2013.  Jana’s interest for working with kids with special needs started when she worked as a camp counselor and speech-language specialist at an overnight camp for kids with disabilities, in a very naturalistic setting. Jana shared that BY YOUR SIDE has a naturalistic environment that lends itself to learning new skills and making friends!

Here are the top three things Jana loves about being an SLP at BY YOUR SIDE!   

1. I love finding a way for all children to communicate. Communication is such an important and powerful part of our lives. Some children have very limited communication prior to beginning speech therapy. It is really rewarding when you find an effective way for a child to ask for their favorite toys/snacks, ask for help, or to tell you “no, I don’t want to do that!” instead of screaming. Once children learn the power of communication, they begin to be more consistent and frequent communicators. I love when that clicks for the child and you can see they understand why they should use their words, gestures, vocalizations, and/or augmentative and alternative (AAC) communication systems to express their wants and needs. There are so many times that I have been fortunate enough to witness this “click” with a child.  One of our kids started speech therapy in May and was using a simple picture exchange system to communicate. He is now proficient at using a much more complex AAC system on the iPad and the first time he told me “I want stop” and “please leave me alone,” instead of of having a tantrum was amazing.

2.  I love when friendships are created at BY YOUR SIDE! It is so awesome to see children in one of our social skills group become more comfortable with each other. We spend a lot of time working on asking/answering questions, playing games, and compromising. It is so exciting to hear the parents share that their kids are having play dates outside of BY YOUR SIDE, or are attending each other’s birthday parties! It is so rewarding to see that the children are learning how to make friends and how to engage in more appropriate social conversation with each other. One time, one of our kids brought birthday party invitations to the social skills group. He practiced handing them out to his friends and invited them all to his birthday party! The next week, he showed me pictures of him and his friends and they were all able to share with me what their favorite parts of the party were. It was really exciting to see that the skills we have been practicing in group have carried over to the home environment.

3. I love being a speech pathologist because of the wide variety of skills we get to work on in therapy! We are able to work on many different skill areas, like expressive/receptive language, social skills, articulation/phonology, feeding, and many other areas. It allows us to have a lot of creativity in our therapy sessions, as we are constantly working on different goals! We are able to create different games and activities that cater to each of our clients, based off of the many different skills we can work on. It makes each therapy session different and allows our kids to have fun and stay engaged! For example, we spend a lot of time working with our kids on different language concepts, like prepositions, describing adjectives, and pronouns. It is very fun to create different materials to teach the kids new skills in a motivating way.

We are really privileged to have Jana on the BY YOUR SIDE team. In addition to her hard work as an SLP, she loves spending time with friends and family, traveling, and eating deep dish pizza:).

To learn more about careers in Speech Language Pathology, please visit the American Speech- Language-Hearing Association.

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