At a local elementary school, there is a new job opening for someone to come in and observe young children while they communicate. One day, an excited college student comes in to fulfill the observation.
The classroom is a typical one. There are children running around, screaming and playing. One child catches the student’s eye. The little boy is near a secluded corner, playing with a toy truck by himself.
The student quietly walks over and tries talking to the boy. “What’s your name,” the student asked. After several attempts, the little boy still did not utter one word. The teacher soon walks over and tells the student that the boy is ashamed about his stuttering issue, that is why he barely talks.
A speech pathologist specializes in the field of speech language pathology. They begin studying various speech impediments and ways to cure or improve them. As they dive deeper into the field, they begin working more closely with individuals who have these impediments for a more hands on experience.
The average person does not consider how “fortunate” they are to be able to communicate effectively without any assistance from a professional. Also, in many circumstances for example, a patient becomes “mute”, meaning they have lost their ability to speak from their mouth altogether or they simply choose not to do so.
“I love this major,” Jamaya Adams, University of West Georgia student says. “It’s very interesting.” She reveals that she didn’t always know that speech pathology was her calling, but after switching her major from accounting, she quickly realized that she had made the right choice.
“Speech pathology is a wonderful field,” Adams says. “It’s very diverse, you can do so much. You can work in hospitals, private practices, schools, and rehabilitation centers.”
Adams is very specific about working with young children, because for her, they have so much potential. “I love kids,” Adams says. “I want them to grow up and be able to communicate properly.” However, she says that if it came down to it, she would not avoid working with elderly adults.
“We also work with older patients who have aphasia and dysarthria,” Adams says. Aphasia is a disorder in which a patient is not able to comprehend or formulate language because of damage to the brain. On the other hand, dysarthria is a speech disorder in which a patient’s speech is slowed or slurred.
Speech pathology is a great institution for improving human language. However, the process of getting there can be tough for some. Adams expresses how she would handle a potentially unpleasant situation. “If a parent or guardian was in denial about their child’s speech issues, I would sit them down and let them know that it can improve over time,” Adams says.
Much like a parent, a child who is dealing with a speech impediment can also become upset, or irritable. “You have to be patient,” Adams says. “Even if the patient is crying or being stubborn, we talked about that in my counseling class.
“I want to specifically work with kids who have fluency issues,” Adams continued. “I want them to know they aren’t the only one.”
Adams admits that the academic side of speech pathology is quite difficult. “The hardest part for me is getting into grad school,” Adams says. “I have to pass the GRE in order to be accepted into a grad program, it’s very competitive.” Adams explains that even if she “passes” the GRE, it does not necessarily guarantee that she will be accepted into grad school. A lot of graduate programs require high scores, Adams has yet to meet this requirement.
However, she has an optimistic view on her journey to becoming a successful speech pathologist. “Even if I don’t get into grad school right away, I can be an assistant to the SLP,” Adams says. “They basically help with things like patient room set up.”
Like many other college students, Adams knows what her passion is, and she is determined to get there. Speech pathology gives her that extra boost to further her education, even after she receives her bachelor’s degree. It is quite difficult now for her personally, but she is aware that if she wants to be a part of a positive change within the speech pathology community, she must stay focused. The many details and the issues it entail are rarely talked about, Adams and those who share her passion have the ability to change that and bring more awareness to it.