What I Do – by Leanne Shapiro M.S. Reg. CASLPO

Jamie Sutherland
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I often meet people who ask me “what do you do?”. When I reply that I am a Speech-Language Pathologist I often hear comments like, “Oh, I went to speech therapy when I was a kid for my /s/ sound”. While Speech-Language Pathologists still work successfully with children on a wide range of areas, speech therapy isn’t just for kids!

I have spent 17 years working with adults with a range of disorders in both rehabilitation hospitals and in the community. What do all the people I have worked with have in common? They all need to communicate!

“Communication is to relationships what breath is to life” – Virginia Satir

How frustrating would it be if you were unable to make simple wants and needs known? What if you were unable to make a choice either as simple as what to eat or express something as emotional as, “I love you” to your family?  Without speech and language, you would not be able to speak your mind, converse with loved ones, or advocate for your needs.

“Once a human being has arrived on this earth, communication is the largest single factor determining what kinds of relationships he makes with others and what happens to him” – Virginia Satir

When I work with people with acquired communication disorders, my focus is on increasing their functional communication and independence in the context of their own personal goals and life situation. Over the years, it has been very satisfying to help clients with brain injuries successfully return to school, work, or participate/volunteer in the community. For example, Bob suffered an acquired brain injury in a motor vehicle accident and while he could speak, he had difficulty getting his point across clearly due to challenges with word finding and language formulation. When he spoke there were lots of pauses and words such as “um” or “uh”, and he often lost track of what he wanted to say. His goal was to coach his son’s baseball team. His therapist worked closely with him to develop strategies to allow him to take on this important role again!

Joshua also suffered an acquired brain injury in a bicycle accident and desperately wanted to go back to school to complete his degree.  He learned and applied various compensatory strategies, including technology, to assist him with understanding lectures, taking notes in class, keeping up with class readings, and writing succinct essays. He successfully graduated with help and guidance of his speech-language pathologist and rehabilitation team.

I could go on with stories about client successes.  I am thrilled to be part of this wonderful and rewarding profession. On behalf of the Speech-Language Pathologists at FunctionAbility, we wish you a wonderful “Speech and Hearing Month”.

Leanne Shapiro is the Director Speech-Language Pathology Services at FunctionAbility Rehabilitation Services.  She is a qualified speech language pathologist (SLP), registered with the College of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (CASLPO). She obtained a Master of Science degree from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts in 1999. Over the past 17 years she has assisted individuals with acquired brain injuries at various stages of intervention, from coma to community reintegration, including return to school and return to work.