First I would like to thank the Frenzied SLPs for this linky where people can read our journeys into becoming SLPs. My journey was a long one and spanned many years.
My journey started when I was 18 and I worked at an Easter Seal Summer Camp for children, teens and adults with intellectual difficulties. It was my first real experience working with people with all sorts of challenges. I loved working with the campers and was excited to go back the next year.
My second year there, we had a camper who was Deaf (along with cognitive disabilities). He used ASL (American Sign Language) to communicate and, oh course, we only knew the very basics. Naturally his behaviours were off the charts because he could not communicate. We all frantically learnt as many signs as we could to help him. The next year, he came back and this time he had a worker who could communicate with him. He was a different child. This was my first big lesson in how important communication is to a person’s well being. It also got me very interested in ASL.
After camp was over, I started taking night sign classes. Later, I looked to increase my knowledge and ended up in an 10 month ASL immersion program. This was (and still is) a fantastic program. I even started to pursue a career as an ASL interpreter but this was not for me and worked in group homes/day programs with Deaf and Deaf-Blind Adults with intellectual disorders. I loved working with the residents and ended up spending lots of time working on building communication skills. I loved making schedules and communication boards. I loved watching these adults slowly improve their abilities to communicate but the government was cutting funding and there were rumours of layoffs.
Being at the bottom of the seniority list, I knew my job was on the chopping block. I had been tossing the idea of going back to school and the possibility of being jobless was the push I needed. I went back and got my pre-requisites and ended up being one of the lucky ones who were accepted into the Masters program at the University of Alberta. I never looked back.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my journey!