SLP Margaret Blackwell Crook with her two daughters, Megan and Stephanie, at ASHA's 2012 convention in Atlanta.
For as long as I can remember, I had two very bright dreams. The first dream was to work in the medical field, and the second was to have a family and be a mom. I have been a practicing speech-language pathologist for 32 years and a mom for 25 years. Dreams do come true, but mine have become even more magical because both of my daughters are also becoming SLPs.
As much as I would love to take full credit for their inspiration, there was a very special angel helping me along the way. Beverly Bailey, owner of Bailey Speech and Language Services in Lawrenceville, Ga., helped me continue my career and be a mom. She was looking for a part-time SLP for Saturdays. I quickly convinced her that I was the perfect SLP for the job. It was a match made in heaven.
As many part-time SLPs have experienced, working only Saturdays gradually grew into a few more hours during the week. We had our staff meetings on Tuesdays and Bev, a mother herself, encouraged me to bring the girls. They played with the toys in the waiting room and ate our tangible reinforcers. They also occasionally participated in our special-needs preschool language group as the neurotypical role models. When we had to create an advertisement board for a special-needs resource fair, they posed as the clients in the pictures. In short, they became my official speech helpers.
I wasn't trying to shape their destiny to become SLPs. My intent was to teach them that every person deserves respect and a way to communicate and to see through a person's disabilities. I also wanted them to give back to the community and volunteer. Every autism race, garage sale or volunteer opportunity that came my way also included them.
Fast-forward 13 years, and Megan, my oldest, was writing her college essays on the topic of "If your life experiences control your destiny, then it is my destiny to become a speech-language pathologist." Meanwhile, Stephanie, my middle child, was looking only at colleges that had a communicative disorders program.
When I first read that the ASHA convention was going to be held in Atlanta in 2012, I was overjoyed. Megan—who is in her final semester of graduate school at University of Montevallo in Alabama—and Stephanie—who just completed her first semester of graduate school at Valdosta State University in Georgia—are NSSLHA members. They would be able to attend their first ASHA convention with me. As we sat in the opening ceremony and listened to Maya Angelou's eloquent speech about SLPs being rainbows in the clouds for our clients, I was overcome with pride. My daughters—who will far surpass me with the excellent education that our young SLPs are receiving—will truly be rainbows in many future clients' clouds.