By Amy Chouinard, M.A. CCC-SLP, COM™
While at the grocery store yesterday, I walked by a mother who was obviously at her wits’ end. She had a crying baby in his infant carrier in the cart and a child lying on the floor in a full-on tantrum about candy. As I walked by, she looked at me and said, “I’m sorry.” I smiled and said “No need to apologize, I have three of my own and we have all been there.” As I walked away, I could hear her toddler screaming through her tears, “I want it!”
For those that do not know me, I am a Speech-Language Pathologist. I help little people talk and eat and everything in-between, but mostly I help them find their voice. I love my job and it is one of the greatest feelings in the world knowing you are helping a child and their family be the best they can be.
Yesterday I happened to be wearing one of my SLP t-shirts. It reads, “I teach children to talk back.” It made me smile, and as I walked away from that screaming child who was definitely using her voice, I began thinking of past clients and current ones. There are parents out there who would give absolutely anything to hear their child tantrum over candy at Hy-Vee or use their words to protest going to bed. To hear their child say, “more milk”, “hi” or “I love you” would mean everything to them. They would even welcome hearing an angry teenager say “I hate you” because their phone was taken away.
As a SLP, my job is to help people find their voice. That can be verbally, with sign language, pictures or a communication device. We all just want to be heard; to have our wants and needs met, to comment on our daily life, and to let people know how we are feeling. We all have something to say.
I encourage you the next time you are irritated by your own child or someone else’s because they are using their voice, to stop, take a deep breath, and be grateful that that child has the ability to use their voice for communication, because not everyone is so fortunate. As for me, I will continue to help children “talk back” to the best of my ability. Because in the end, we all just want to use our voice and be heard, don’t we?