Saturday, March 15, 2014

Soapbox Saturday: No, I'm not assessing your speech and other ridiculous things people say when you are a Speech Language Pathologist

Years ago, I went to a very fancy destination wedding for a relative.  I'm from Minnesota and hang with the crowd that gets their fanciest dresses at the local department store or maybe Kohl's if they have one of those coupons.  This was the kind of wedding where everyone wore designer one of a kind cocktail dresses and carried expensive handbags.  I remember talking to one person who worked on the set of a popular soap opera.  He asked what I did for a living and I told him that I was a Speech Language pathologist.  This is often followed by a pause as the general public rarely knows what this means.

I explained that I helped teach children how to communicate.  He responded by saying, "Oh wow.  I really admire that.  I could never work with children all day long.   Plus, I would never go into a field where I couldn't make a lot of money like in the schools.  I think people like you are saints."
Umm....what do you say to something like that?  Maybe I should've asked for a little money for trinkets at the airport since I make so little money.

Usually when I meet someone and tell them what I do, they may act a little self conscious or say something like "I'd better watch what I say then."  Completing a language sample at a party seems like it would be frowned upon-so usually I'm not paying attention to their speech.  Well at least until they ask-then I totally am.

Many times people mention that they had speech when they were younger.  I'm not sure if I should ask what they were there for or not.  Sometimes I will just smile and say, "Well you can't really tell."  I should ask what their favorite speech therapy game was.  I wonder if they remember.

Every once in awhile, I get someone who immediately pretends like they have a speech impediment once I tell them what I do.  This is usually cause for some eye rolling but I thank god that I don't have an even more awkward job like being a gynecologist.  I'd hate to see what they act out when they meet someone in that profession.

Sometimes people will have specific questions related to development.  They may have questions about their own children or more often the neighbor's child or the cousin of a friend.  I love having the opportunity to educate people about speech and language services but sometimes I wish I'd double checked my developmental charts before I headed out to the party.  How many words are kids suppose to have by 3?

If I asked, I usually suggest that they seek out a speech and language evaluation but I know that people are hesitant.  I recently got stuck at Target with a daycare provider grilling me about a little girl in her care.  I kept suggesting an evaluation and she kept speculating about what she could do.  You could recommend that the parents get a speech and language evaluation.  

When I first started working, I used to drive my non SLP friends crazy by geeking out too much on what I do in therapy.  Now, I know that most people don't want to know the ins and outs of speech therapy-I save that for my online SLP friends and coworkers.

How about you?  What is the most outrageous thing someone has said to you?


fireflyjar said...

I also always get the awkward pause after I say what I do! I think my biggest pet peeve though is that even my family members still don't understand that there is so much more to my job than fixing kids' lips no matter how much I explain.

annied said...

Gynecologist...You crack me up!!!

Jennifer Moses CCC/SLP said...

Fun blog Kelly. I've gotten "So you teach dead people how to speak?" The "pathologist" part confuses a lot of people. I think we've got the best job in the world.

Jennifer Moses CCC/SLP said...

Fun blog Kelly. I've gotten "So you teach dead people how to speak?" The "pathologist" part confuses a lot of people. I think we've got the best job in the world.

Jennifer Moses CCC/SLP said...

"So you teach dead people how to speak." A comment made with a laugh. The pathologist part confuses many. Anyway you look at it we've got the best job in the world.

Speech2U said...

Jennifer-LOL. I suppose people do get confused with the pathologist part.

Twin Sisters Speech and Language Therapy said...

You are funny! I enjoyed this post and your humor. I get blank stares a lot when I say my full job title, but more often than not, I too get a ton of questions about someone they know or their own child about something that the child is going through. Love my job and how I can help people out everywhere I go! Manda, SLP

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