Speech-language therapy has proved to be not only life-changing for patients but a rewarding career for speech pathologists.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2008 and 2018, employment of speech-language pathologists is expected to grow by 19 percent, which is faster than average employment growth.
Speech-language pathologists work individually with patients to incorporate each of their special needs. Patients are taught to improve their voices by making sounds and performing vocal exercises such as strengthening muscles, that will enhance their speech capabilities.
These exercises are helpful for babies who were born with a disorder, or shortly after birth, develop one, all the way to adults who may suffer from a stroke and lose some, or all speech abilities.
Kristen Bond, a speech-language pathologist in Hillsborough County, works at a local elementary school and at a private pediatric therapy clinic.
She works with preK-fifth grade students that are language impaired, speech impaired, autistic, developmentally delayed, ADHD and have social communication difficulties. She also runs a weekly social group for children with Asperger’s and social communication difficulties.
In the clinic setting, Bond works with individuals in their home during a 60-minute period. Depending on the diagnosis of the patient, she uses certain skills and exercises.
“Being a speech pathologist has increased my appreciation and awareness of how lucky I am to have the skills and abilities to communicate effectively,” said Bond. “I appreciate that I am able to eat a meal without struggling and I am able to tell my family ‘I love you’ without needing a picture card to prompt me.”
Bond said her greatest reward being a speech pathologist is being challenged and having the opportunity to work with a variety of disorders and disabilities on a daily basis.
“It is a blessing to see the progress the children can make,” said Bond. “Sometimes it takes years, sometimes it takes weeks. It is a great feeling to give a parent and a child the skills to communicate and eat more effectively.”