Four months ago, I was an excited, slightly nervous student attending orientation for clinic. I took in all of the information about clinic being different from class and about not being offended with the feedback from our clinical educators. I found out the client I would be working with had a stuttering disorder and I was nervous because I had not taken the class on stuttering. Even though I was nervous, I was still excited to learn about this disorder and I was excited to work with my first client. To learn about stuttering, I went on the websites for the National Stuttering Association and the Stuttering Foundation. I also read research articles about the difference between stuttering modification techniques and fluency shaping techniques and I looked over powerpoints from classmates who had taken the class on fluency. The first three days of assessing my client were okay. I collected language samples, administered the Test of Childhood Stuttering (TOCS), and tried to build rapport with my client.
Then it happened. An hour before my fourth and last assessment session with my client, I was asked how I was going to treat my client’s stuttering for that day and I started to cry. I thought I had another day of assessment before I even thought about treatment. I had no idea how to explain an easy onset or easy speech, let alone demonstrate it. I also still struggled with explaining blocks and part and whole word repetitions. Needless to say that session was a disaster. The activities went by too fast, and my client was not happy. From that point on, I had to work hard to improve my skills and to show that I belonged in the field.
Four months later, I can say that I survived the first clinical practicum! I did not survive this on my own. I had a ton of support from my classmates, friends, family and church family. The huge support from so many people was the silver lining in this experience. Sure there were times when I cried and felt sad and angry but the many prayers, words of encouragement, advice and hugs from people is what helped me to make it through. It was awesome to know that when I did feel sad I could pray and I could ask other people to pray with me and for me. Now that I’ve survived this experience I want to offer advice and encouragement to others who are struggling with clinic.
These are the 3 biggest lessons I learned from this experience.
Lesson 1: Use the right resources.
Instead of first reading through research articles, I should have read through a textbook on stuttering. Once I did read part of a stuttering textbook, I had a better understanding of the vocabulary. Also, I could have utilized YouTube for ways to demonstrate the techniques used with stuttering and then practiced those techniques in the mirror. For any slps2b it is beneficial to seek out resources that give a straightforward definition of the disorder and the techniques instead of seeking out resources that give convoluted explanations. I learned this the hard way.
Lesson 2: Ask your classmates for advice sooner rather than later.
I am an introvert and I tend to work by myself. Later in the semester I found that it is better to bounce ideas off of your classmates and to ask about what materials to use, how to cue, and any other questions you may have. Speech language pathology is a profession that is all about community not solidarity. Once again I learned this the hard way.
Lesson 3: Keep paperwork and materials organized.
This is a lesson I am still learning. I realize now that the semester is over that if I had kept my client’s paperwork more organized, this would have saved time. There were things from prior paperwork that I could have used to plan the next session instead of always starting fresh. When making pictures for my client’s picture schedule it would have saved time to use the same pictures instead of always printing out new ones because I couldn’t find the ones I had. Instead of putting SOAPs and lesson plans in folders I will use an accordion binder to place paperwork. I will also use a binder to place treatment techniques and materials for my client instead of flimsy folders. Organization is not my strongest quality so I will be referring to Lesson 2 for help in this area!
These are the three biggest lessons I learned. As I go through Clinic 2 and internships, I will continue to provide tips and lessons that I’ve learned. I hope this blog was encouraging and helpful and I will attempt to post more often instead of every five months!!
-See you in the next post.