As a certified speech-language pathology assistant (CSLPA) working alongside knowledgeable and competent ASHA-member speech-language pathologists with a keen eye on technology, the latest treatment advances, and the future of speech-language pathology and audiology, I am blessed to be a CSLPA licensed physical therapist assistant (LPTA) and at the Children's Therapy Center of Easter Seals Oregon.
I work with SLPs, occupational therapists, physical therapists, mental health therapists, and counselors and family service providers. We strive to provide the best possible care for the 0- to 18-year-old patients who present with varied and broad diagnoses, thus requiring multidisciplinary, family-focused treatment. I often multi-task, providing office-based treatments or augmentative and alternative communication-focused interventions, broadening our literacy program, or assisting with therapeutic riding at the local stables. I have the support and knowledge of my supervising clinicians to guide me every step of the way.
After working as an LPTA for more than 20 years, I found myself at a crossroads. My own children's challenges—as well as observations of the concern and competence of SLPs, SLPAs, and speech-language pathology students—drew me to the field of speech-language pathology. The competent, caring, and conscientious nature of fellow students and other CSLPAs solidified my desire to become more involved at the state level.
I have been a member of my state and national physical therapy association for many years. It seemed only natural as an SLPA student to join the Oregon Speech-Language-Hearing Association (OSHA). I benefited from attendance at OSHA's annual conference and efforts to promote speech-language and hearing services across the state. I furthered my knowledge and gained contact information from the best and brightest in the field. These contacts were extremely knowledgeable and also quite accessible and willing to provide information that improved my knowledge base and subsequently helped the clients and patients I served.
After graduating and obtaining certification, I joined OSHA as a new committee chair for CSLPAs. This position has afforded many opportunities to advocate for CSLPAs across the state. We focus on increasing awareness of the depth and breadth of the CSLPA education program and the state laws governing certification and supervision of CSLPAs. We also encourage others to join the state organization.
Healthy state and national speech-language-hearing organizations with active and motivated membership benefit the field as a whole. Advocacy to promote our role in communication and life skills and keeping the professional and paraprofessional speech-language and hearing community abreast of local and national issues come from involved and knowledgeable clinicians and assistants. With this awareness and enthusiasm, I welcome and applaud ASHA for the new Associates Program.
I encourage all CSLPAs and audiology assistants to be a part of this exciting venture. Access to ASHA website information, periodicals, and networking opportunities is only one of the many benefits. I also highly recommend state organization membership and involvement. A healthy and active clinician and assistant community is essential to provision of quality care—regardless of practice area, ASHA affiliation is a must.