SLP and blogger Cheri Chin and her family
Name: Cheri Chin
Position: Speech-Language Pathologist, David Douglas School District
Hometown: Portland, Ore.
If you could have a super power what would yours be? Flying? Invisibility? For school-based speech-language pathologist Cheri Chin, it would be the ability to get enough sleep, end poverty and chronic pain, get children to stop whining with a "look," and to have a fabulous body with no effort involved (to name only a few).
"These are all things I've struggled with personally or emotionally through my own family and/or church involvement," Chin says.
But the reality is that Chin actually does have super powers—she juggles work, family, and a popular speech blog, "If Only I Had Super Powers..." in which she writes about cooking, her husband and children (aka "Professor X," "The Flash," and "Marvel Girl"), her foray into the P-90 X exercise regimen and the Paleo diet, and, yes, speech-language intervention ideas. These ideas include her recent creation of Chillville, where Chin's students can go unwind to avoid "explosive behaviors." Much of Chin's creative sense of humor explains not only the popularity of her blog, but also its longevity. Started in 2008 (which, if you think about it, makes it an antique in the realm of blogs, particularly speech-language blogs), "If Only I Had Super Powers..." has grown from a handful of regular followers to more than 300, many of whom are SLPs.
"When I first started my blog, there were a ton of mommy blogs, but not speech blogs," she recalls. "I remember thinking I needed to write about stuff I knew. I knew speech."
Being an SLP by day and a blogger by night wasn't always the plan, Chin says. As a kid growing up in Oakland, Calif., she taught herself and all her friends in second grade how to use sign language and toyed with the idea of becoming a teacher of children with hearing loss. But later, as an undergraduate student at Brown University in the mid-90s, Chin was set to become a marine biologist. In retrospect, she admits that choice may have been more of an escape from becoming a dentist like her mother and uncle because she thought the idea of looking into people's mouths was "gross."
"The irony isn't lost on me that now I still get to look into people's mouths but get paid a whole lot less," she says, laughing (mostly).
Her first move away from marine biology came during college, when she earned credentials to teach high school science. After graduation she found a job as a high school biology teacher—but soon regretted it.
"It was horrible!" she recalls. "I was in a struggling school, and I was 22 years old and had no behavior-management skills. I was in way over my head."
She lasted a year and then applied to the graduate speech-language program at the University of Rhode Island. Her father had suffered a stroke her freshman year in college, and the work of the SLP during his recovery intrigued her. She intended to work with adults, and hadn't given the thought of working in the schools much thought...until a school position was the only job open after graduation. In fact, the job was with the Woonsocket School District in Rhode Island, the same one where she abandoned her biology teaching career. She liked it. But by then her college boyfriend had turned into her husband, one thing led to another, the couple moved back to the West Coast, and the appeal of the school schedule and type of work began to gel in Chin's head—especially as they began to plan their family. But it's not just the schedule that appeals to her—it's the whole role.
"I really enjoy what I do—I love the freedom of being as creative as time allows and working with the students," she says. "Every now and then I play with the idea of starting another career, but I like what I'm doing and see myself doing this for a long, long time."
As for the blog, even though Chin has threatened to shut it down because of the explosion of speech blogs, she can't bring herself to do it. Just as Superman won't call it quits and hang up his cape, Chin won't step away from the keyboard. She still feels she has relevant posts to write—such as homework printables and her adventures following the Paleo diet.
Reinforcing the habit, she admits, is the growing number of followers she sees every day ("Thank you, Pinterest").
"Even though there are so many speech blogs out there, and sometimes I just wonder why I keep posting, I look at my stats and it's a huge ego boost—it keeps me going."