Welcome to the Cyber Speechie site. Join me for my adventures in Cyber Speech Language Pathology as I begin my journey into tele-practice! Here's some background into my choice to become a Cyber Speech Therapist:
I began working as a Speech-Language Pathologist in Florida immediately after earning my Master's degree in my home state of Pennsylvania in December 2013. I worked in a center school for students with cognitive and language impairments, working primarily on alternative means of communication (AAC) with students 3 through 21-years-old. While I had 80 students to service on my caseload, I actually "saw" just about every student in that school due to their other health impairments and developmental delays which affected how they communicate.
As a contracted therapist, I unfortunately did not continue with my students into the following school year, but was placed in a general education school, working with students with speech and language impairments, including fluency, speech sounds, and language deficits. My students ranged from 3-years-old to 5th grade, which was a smaller range but a bigger challenge, in my opinion. My previous position focused mostly on Augmentative and Alternative Communication devices or methods (think, sign language or communication devices), while in this school, every one of my kids was a talker!
Mid-way through the year, I had a big life change (read: began a long-distance relationship) and chose to move to Ohio when the school year finished this June. I knew that living in Ohio while my boyfriend completed his Master's degree would be a challenge, but I didn't realize how much it would impact my career choices and professional goals.
Come June, we packed all of my belongings in a 10-foot U-Haul (I thought I had more junk than that!) and cruised up to Ohio. NOTE: if planning to move cross-country, do NOT decide to pack a truck and make the journey all in one day. Split it up for your mental health and your passenger's. Many, many, many coffees later, we made it. While I had been searching for positions while still living in Florida, I remained hopeful that something would come my way when I actually lived in Ohio. I had my license already, so I had been confident it was going to fall into my lap, much like my Florida positions had.
Four anxious weeks later, I found a listing for a position in a Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) about an hour away from where I was living. My mantra in undergrad and graduate school had been "I'll never work in a nursing home," but I realized that the circumstances were karma's way of forcing me to be flexible. Initially, I was a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed (-haired?), young SLP in a setting where the clients closest to my age had me beat by 40+ years.
I enjoyed the change of scenery, but it was too different from the educational settings I knew. I'm glad I tried working in a medical setting, but for me, it's part-time or summer work. I have no interest in making an SLP career out of medical settings. To each, his (her) own!
When my contract expired, I was hopeful that a maternity leave or retirement would leave a spot for me, but day after day and hour after hour of searching proved me wrong. Plus, my boyfriend is looking for a permanent position and has the opportunity to complete his Master's degree online for the final semester (read: I'm a transient nomad). This complicates things for school positions, and as I realized, the SNF is not for me.
Two companies contacted me about a relatively new tele-practice position in the same school district I had worked in Florida. Cue my squeals of happiness! I already knew the IEP systems, some of the SLPs, my supervisor, and the student population. Now, I could do it from behind the screens. Except for that adage, if it sounds too good to be true..., because two weeks later, and no word about it.
Picture me, a new SLP with a couple student loan payments and bills down on her hope. It's hard not having a regular income. At least at the SNF, I knew I could screen clients and I had a meager caseload, but it was something. No schedule (Type A's worst nightmare), no income, no plan.
Lo and behold, a position opens up: tele-therapist wanted for Speech Therapy services. Too good to be true? Maybe. I inquired nonetheless.
And here we are! I'm currently finalizing applications for licensure in a few states to add to the collection. So far, I'm licensed in 3 with 2 processing. A trophy case, of sorts.
Stay tuned for my journey into Cyber Speech Therapy!