Why SLPs are the Closest Thing to Jedi Masters

I am a speech-language pathologist (SLP). This profession has taught me many wonderful things over the years, but there is one incredibly profound truth that has risen to the top and stayed there. As it turns out, language is much more than just the modality by which we convey our ideas, thoughts, and emotions. To borrow from my beloved Star Wars, it is “The Force” that kick starts and guides the development of the human brain. It is the single most important ingredient to raising little humans. Ok - oxygen might one-up language. And love. Also love. But you get my drift.

This isn’t just me trying to put an area so integral to my profession up on a pedestal. It has been researched and backed up by countless studies. To put it simply, the more (face-to-face) language a child hears growing up, the better they perform in school and in life in general. It’s a fact. Children who grow up in a rich language environment are consistently better readers, mathematicians, scientists, critical thinkers, creative thinkers, and even have higher IQs.

The more I learned about this fact, the more I realized the gravity of a profession whose primary focus is to understand how to analyze and teach the building blocks of language.  Anyone can talk to a child and teach them language, but it is the job of a SLP to know how to teach language in specific WAYS. Ways that ensure these building blocks are sturdy, effective, and can support tall buildings. SLPs don’t just teach words, we teach about the beautiful and intricate webs that are woven around words.

I find a good comparison in growing plants. Sure, you can give a plant some water and soil and it will grow. But if you take the time to figure out a plant’s specific needs (the right amount of water, the best type of soil, the right amount of sunlight, how best to prune it), the plant will grow even stronger and provide you with endless fruits and flowers.

When it comes to teaching language, SLPs have relatively simple yet highly effective “tricks of the trade” that are time-tested and proven to work. The science behind language pathology is as proven as the science behind addressing any human pathology. The difference with this science is that we don’t need to wait until a pathology is present to put it to use. Every child can (and should) benefit from the knowledge of language pathologists.

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If we know that children who grow up in a robust language environments perform better in life (and we do), why would we not turn to the profession that fundamentally understands language and how to best use it?

So why in the world does this somehow equate SLPs to Jedi Masters? I don’t know…language itself sure seems like magic to me. Where does language even come from? Ultimately from electricity in the brain, right? Then we coordinate some body movements and send some things through the air (words) that are literally invisible. This “Force” is somehow responsible for nourishing the minds that will change our world. Now, who knows how to use this force better than anyone on the planet? Eh-hem…SLPs. By definition, they are the masters of this powerful force.

Ok, so that is a long way to go to try and say that SLPs have magic powers. I'm obviously being silly, but that is not the purpose of this post. The real purpose is to illustrate that a knowledge base exists that is needed now more than ever. In some ways, we are facing a pathology in humankind that the world has never seen. We now live in a world where adults and children are turning toward screens instead of turning toward each other and talking. Our most crucial brain food is diminishing. It is time to take this knowledge base out of the closet-sized SLP rooms of schools and clinics and get it out into the living rooms, and bedrooms, and kitchen tables, and bathrooms, and cars, and hearts of all households with children.

Go out and spread your powers SLPs. I’d say “may The Force be with you,” but it already is.

- Corey Walker, SLP

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Corey Walker