Making Connections: Speech-Language Pathology, a series of short documentaries Season 2

[bright music] There are very few
people who will say eating’s not important to them. Cooking and eating is probably
my favorite thing to do. If I was sitting in a
hospital room at 7:30 am, and somebody comes [laughing]
and knocks on my door and wants to watch me
eat breakfast, I mean, I would probably
be kind of irritated. So, I go in. I’m super smiley.
I say, “Hi, my name is Faith. I’m a speech and
swallowing therapist.” When you’re in the hospital,
you’re already in a situation that you don’t want to be in.
You don’t feel good. You’re getting poked
and prodded all the time. These situations
can be very intense. It’s like night and day: They lose a lot of
their independence. For me, one of
the things I love most about speech therapy,
specifically working with people with swallowing disorders,
is that so many things have to be in order for your
swallow to work. The slightest thing can
kind of throw it all off. The research is
constantly changing. There are these
new methods to try. There’s an investigative
piece towards it. And you have to be a person
who’s interested in details. You have to be a
people person, I think. You have to enjoy working with
your coworkers and with patients and other disciplines. So, there are a lot
of moving parts to it, and I like all of them. To me, the anatomy and
physiology piece is what really gets me,
and investigating. And then I love when you
see somebody at bedside, and you’re giving them
things to eat and drink. You’re seeing these things, and
you’re like, mm, does that mean what I think it means?
I don’t really know. And then, if appropriate,
you can actually figure out by doing an
instrumental assessment. What I saw at bedside and
what I thought was happening, was it actually happening? The exciting thing is, is that
we have the opportunity to make sure that people are
able to eat and drink safely or give them
strategies to help them. Whereas, if we weren’t in
the hospital, either nobody would be doing it, or there
wouldn’t be somebody skilled and specialized who has
the education and training to be able to make it happen. [upbeat music] What I get to do every day
is go someplace different, and I support individuals
across the state of Oregon in every area that
they live, work, and play. I get to see them in their
setting and meet the people in their world and see where
their barriers might be. When I develop a communication
system for an individual, it can be a one-page support.
It can be on an iPad. It can be in a
speech generating device. Griffin has taught me
many, many lessons. He is a remarkable
young man who initially, people didn’t have a vision that he had the
potential that he did. When I first started
working with him, he had a very restricted life,
by his own choosing. He loved hanging out in his
room, and that’s what he did. I just realized the potential
really quickly and offered some additional
environmental supports. So, he got a daily schedule
up, and it was composed of just pictures that showed him
what he got to do that day and when he had choices and
when he would go to school and when he would
eat and just kind of broke down his day for him. He did really
well, and he loved it. He got out of his room,
and he started to do more. Now, he’s working three
days a week, part-time. He’s volunteering. He’s got a full, rich life. He goes to the grocery store,
he cooks all of his own meals, he does all of his own laundry,
he does his chores, he has a social life. And that was because we
had the expectation that he could continue to thrive. A communication system, for me,
is something that provides an individual both an ability
to express what they want– so, vocabulary so that they can
communicate to their world– but also receptively gain
information about things. It really is empowering them to
understand where they’re headed and allowing an individual
to start to understand that their future belongs to them and
that they get to be a piece. They get to be the driver of
that and where they want to go. [mellow music] ANDRYCE: When I started the
speech-language pathology program, I didn’t
even know that augmentative and alternative
communication, AAC, existed. So, I came here and
discovered so much about AAC and what communication
really means. That it’s not about necessarily
the words we use or how we pronounce them,
but it’s more about what is on our minds and hearts
and how we communicate those. YOUTH VIA DEVICE: Hello.
ANDRYCE: Hello! YOUTH: Hola. ANDRYCE: The augmentative
and alternative forms of communication are
primarily what I focus on. So, just finding ways in which
they can make sure that their message, the
content of the message, what they want
to say, is not lost because they get
frustrated and give up. I mean, ultimately, my biggest
goal for a family and for a child is
for them to be able to share the story
of themselves. Communication is about
getting our needs met and getting our wants met, but it’s also about giving
our opinions and just to say things like, “I love you,”
or, “Please, thank you.” Those are the things that really
connect us, and I want to make sure that these children
that have complex communication needs are able
to have that same opportunity. I put a lot of heart
into my work, and so, I think the joy
comes from that. The joy comes from seeing
the look of a child’s face when they light up for the first time
in being able to communicate something that they
haven’t in the past. Or the joy of tears in a
parent’s eyes because they are able to hear what their child
has been trying to communicate or trying to say
to them for so long.

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