In Chile, I learned that Fonoaudiología is the Spanish translation of speech-language pathology. Many people always wonder what exactly do speech-language pathologists (SLPs) do? SLPs work to prevent, assess, diagnose, and treat speech, language, social communication, cognitive-communication, and swallowing disorders across the lifespan. Speech, language, and swallowing disorders can result from a variety of causes, such as a stroke, brain injury, hearing loss, developmental delay, Parkinson’s disease, a cleft palate, etc.
My travel group and I had the opportunity to visit a public school for students with special needs called Colegio Amapolas in Ñuñoa, Chile. I was able to observe a kinesiology therapy room, where I witnessed some students with severe needs receive therapy to improve the mobility of their muscles and joints. It was interesting seeing the kinesthesiologist work with the students. I could tell that these professionals enjoy their jobs and are an essential part of this schools environment.
In a room called Salas de Profesores (teacher's room), the principal and teachers of the school shared with us unique aspects of the school. I found out that there are about 137 students at the school and 54 professionals who contribute to their well-being on a daily basis. I learned that they have an SLP who works full time inside the classrooms with the special education teachers in the first half of the day (8:30am-1:00pm). The SLP attends to all the students and works on communication. Also, in the afternoon the SLP is open to students, who want to see her, which I thought was a fascinating because students get the option to choose what they would like to do. I appreciate the fact that special education teachers and SLPs collaborate with one another in the classroom, which is similar to how it is in the U.S. Colegio Amapolas requires all professionals to evaluate each others lessons once every term to provide feedback in order to improve their work. Collaboration with other professionals is important because students are able to receive all the necessary resources that they need to succeed. Teachers, SLPs, and other professionals are able to learn together, which allows them to provide the best services to their students.
This experience helped me realize that my peers could very well be my colleagues in the near future. I realized that knowing the roles and responsibilities of general education teachers, special education teachers, and other professionals is important for me to know as an aspiring SLP in the school setting. At the same time, I also need to educate and advocate the roles and responsibilities of my profession with others. I believe this will allow me to work effectively as team member and create positive relationships in future professional settings.