Hi friends! This week, I am honored to host a series of posts from four licensed clinicians and therapists who work with children on the autism spectrum. These four amazing women will share some of their insight and perspective on ASD, and also how these #ausome children have impacted their lives. I hope the series will be helpful and invite you to share any thoughts or questions you may have in the comments section of each post!
By: Amanda Rosenthal, MS, CCC-SLP
Is speech and language pathology a career kids dream of having? Perhaps it is for some, but my journey began a little differently. Growing up, our next door neighbor was a speech therapist so I was familiar with the profession, but, from age six to twenty-one, I dreamt of becoming a writer or an English professor. It was only in my junior year of college, when my mother reminded me that I needed to think about job security and suggested speech and language pathology as a career, that I began to think about pursuing it as my profession. I liked kids. I liked language. I liked the idea of having summers off in school. Why not!
I had no idea that this field would become not only my career but my passion. Specifically, I had no way of knowing that working with children with autism would not only be the majority of my caseload but also would impact my life profoundly.
When I meet new people and we exchange typical small talk questions (“Where did you go to school?” “Where do you live?” “What do you do?”) I almost always get the same response when I share my profession: “So you work with kids with lisps?”
“Yes,” I reply, “but it’s so much more than that. I work with children of all ages with language, articulation and developmental disorders. My kids range from nonverbal children on the autism spectrum to kids who can’t produce their /k/ sounds.”
At the word ‘autism,’ brows typically furrow, faces drop. “Autism?” they say, “Wow.”
I wish in those moments that I had the time to explain just how amazing these children are and how much they have taught me in my own life. I am currently completing my third year in a public school preschool, and this is the first time that children I evaluated at 2 years old for Early Intervention will be heading off to kindergarten and I could not be prouder of what they have achieved.
While others might be confused by their anxiety, their social quirkiness, their disorganized syntax, their emotional extremes, I look at these children in awe. I see how they have learned to verbally request what they want and need and to protest without hitting. I see how they have learned to ask questions to gain information and to be a part of a peer’s conversation. I see how they have learned to play in the dramatic play area. These are all skills that we so often take for granted, but that children on the autism spectrum work diligently to learn every day.
When I think about how difficult it can be for these amazing children, as others in their community might not realize their social challenges just by looking at them, and may roll their eyes or frown when these children bump into them at the grocery store or grab a toy from a child at the playground, I want to encourage anyone who may observe these behaviors to view them through a new lens, as there is such joy in helping these wonderful children to make friends and feel comfortable in their own skin.
These children are my heroes. As we near the end of this school year and I hear one of these children yell down the hallway to a peer, “Hi, Abigail! You are my best friend!” I can’t help but tear up.
Working with these children who have learned and adapted so much and continue to work so hard to reach new heights is a joy. My profession and my passion. And I would not change it or the children and families I am lucky enough to work with for anything.
Amanda Rosenthal received her undergraduate degree in English from the University of Richmond. She received her Master of Science in Communication Sciences & Disorders from Emerson College. Amanda received her certificate of clinical competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and is licensed to practice speech-language pathology within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. She has experience working in the public school setting and has worked with children who have a variety of speech-language difficulties/disorders including Autism Spectrum disorders and Childhood Apraxia of Speech. She also has experience using the DIR/Floortime approach for Autism Spectrum Disorders and has been with Let’s Talk Speech and Language Therapy Services since April of 2013. To learn more about Let’s Talk, visit their website or follow them on Facebook!
Thank you, Amanda, for sharing your beautiful perspective and insight. Friends, if you have any thoughts or questions, please share them in the comments section below!