I've been a therapist working in the field for 16 short months and there are some things I have learned so far that are important to remember and worth sharing.
1.) I cannot change the world. I cannot fix everything. I don't have all the answers. And that's okay. I am here for one purpose and I need stick to it! It is natural for people who do what I do to feel the need to come in and fix everything. We're nurturing and motherly and want to help out in every way we can. This builds the relationship between the family and the therapist.
2.) I need to document EVERYTHING as it's happening. If you don't write it down, it didn't happen. I have not yet mastered the art of remembering all the pertinent information that I come across in one hour of a therapy session. Granted, although I do not spend the entire time writing, I do have my handy dandy pen & clipboard right next to me to jot down sounds/words I hear, parent report, important dates, new behaviors, phonetic transcriptions of errors, relative medical information, motivating reinforcers and things we need to work on or do differently next time. This comes in handy when it's report time!
3.) I need to talk less and listen more. Sometimes these little guys need a little more time to process and respond and I need to use pauses more often. Did you know children with autism need at least 10-15 seconds to process information given to them. I shouldn't be talking more than 50 percent of the time. I struggle with this. I tend to use lots of auditory bombardment and this isn't always helpful for every child.
4.) There's ALWAYS something new to learn in this line of work. Information and research are evolving everyday and it's important to educate myself and stay current. I've learned so much just with the advance of social media alone. Join groups that are of interest to you and check them out every now and then. Network every chance you get, the possibilities are endless. If you haven't joined LinkedIn, you should. Lots of good relevant information (and jobs) flowing through that site. There are free conferences, webinars, etc. available all the time-you just have to look for it.
5.) It isn't necessary to always find out the WHY and the diagnosis. We should be treating the symptoms no matter what, right? I especially don't push for any diagnosis with the children I see who are all under the age of three. This doesn't mean I don't talk with the parents about the possibilities of what might be going on in order to get them on board with the treatment program. Early intervention is key!
6.) Staying positive and polite makes for a better client, a better outcome and a better Speech Pathologist. There are times when I'm overwhelmed, there are times when I'm stressed. Breathe. Take it one day at a time and be happy. Life is short.
7.) It's easy to become overwhelmed. Don't let yourself! Write three things down on a sticky note each workday that you HAVE to get done. If you have time, move on to the next three, but don't feel like you have to. Be content with completing the three planned for the day. This has helped me big time with prioritizing and multitasking more effectively.