Welcome back, readers! HeadStart for Life was fortunate enough to have Tiffany join us from May through the beginning of August this year as an intern, and she has kindly agreed to share her thoughts and experiences with us today.
My name is Tiffany and I have had the privilege of interning at HeadStart for Life beginning May 2019 for about 11 weeks. Stepping into this internship, my main aim was to walk in the shoes of a pediatric speech therapist and catch a glimpse of everything that this profession entails. I believed that this would help me in my decision to pursue a career in pediatric speech therapy.
Instead, what I gained far exceeded my expectations.
The importance of communication is indisputable. Or as Paul J. Meyer puts it,
“Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success”.
Successful communication is more than just the successful exchange of ideas and feelings among people – it is about the human connection. Thus, communication is not just important but it is essential for a successful life for anyone. This is why I believe that pediatric speech therapists and teachers are of crucial importance, as it can provide children with a headstart in life.
In my time at HeadStart for Life, I had the opportunity to shadow both speech therapists and the educators in the School Readiness programme. Being able to follow through the sessions in the School Readiness Programme, I have witnessed how the multidisciplinary team, with their different fields of specialization, work together to provide the most customized care for each child.
As everyone knows, every child is different. Furthermore, children are always growing and evolving at a rapid pace. This means that the way every child should be taught is different, and should evolve along with them. At HeadStart, one of the many things that I admire about the team is that they are constantly discussing, sharing and trying to employ new techniques to teach each child with the most effective outcome, evolving along with the complexities of each child.
Throughout the duration of my internship, I have had the privilege of witnessing the improvements some of the children have made. Looking back, it has been truly heartening to see how far they have come in a mere 11 weeks. I watched while one of the clients went from having trouble making eye contact with people and being restless during sessions to being able to sit through a full session and make eye contact with greater ease. By the end of my internship, he was able to formulate short sentences by himself, something which he had found very hard to do when I first observed his sessions. It has been extremely rewarding to be able to witness the progress of the children in both their communication and social skills, as well as their level of independence.
I strongly believe that the improvement in the clients who attend the School Readiness Programme is not just due to the strong competencies in each therapist and educator, but also a result of the supportive, loving environment and culture in the HeadStart team. From the friendly administrative staff who greet each child by name the moment they come in through the doors, to the supportive teachers that come out to receive the children with big smiles on their faces, the support and love in the environment is palpable. Having had a glimpse into the culture of the team, I am convinced that every member of the team is always willing to support one another, from sharing their knowledge and expertise to offering to buy lunch for one another everyday. I believe that there are many individually competent therapists and educators out there, but a team that has such a strong, supportive and healthy culture is probably harder to come by. I have no doubt that this culture greatly contributes to the progress of the clients.
It has been an absolute pleasure to be able to intern at HeadStart for Life. I will always be immensely thankful to have been given the opportunity to not only learn how to teach and work with children through different methods such as the TEACCH method and The Zones of Regulation, but also to have learnt how important a healthy, sincere team is and what a well-oiled machine of a team looks like. It is with great fulfillment that I step out of this internship, having been able to intern with the best.