Blog author: Miriam Fruchter, MA, CCC-SLP
"It's all About Who You Know" is often said. I find this statement to be increasingly true in my personal life. I recently took one of my kids to a specialist and asked the doctor to recommend another specialist in his field who treated adults. He not only provided me with the name of the doctor. He then assisted me in getting an appointment with that doctor within two weeks. When I thanked him, he responded, "Nowadays, it's all about who you're connected to."
It is no different in the therapy world and specifically within the community of speech therapists. A parent concerned about their child's speech can reach out to a friend who may have gone through a similar situation to get the name of the right evaluator and even the name of a good speech therapist to provide the services. The American Speech and Hearing Association knew what they were doing when they chose the topic for this year's Better Hearing and Speech Month May 2022: "Connecting People."
How do we connect as parents, educators, and community members?
If you search the word connect, the literal meaning is "to join together to provide access and communication."
As a parent, your child may be struggling in his or her ability to tell you what they want or need. You suspect there could be a problem in their ability to speak clearly and coherently. Your child may be coming home from school upset at being made fun of for not being understood by others. You might even hear a stutter. Don't be afraid to ask for help! You can reach out to your child's teacher or another parent or talk to your pediatrician about your concerns. You need to "connect" to the right person. Your child's teacher often will know of a different student receiving services (speech, OT, special-ed services) and will be able to guide you as to who to reach out to next. Your pediatrician can discuss with you what your child should be doing by their age and whether you might need to seek further help.
As educators, we are always driven to learn more, gain more information and help others. We speak and connect to other educators, attend conferences, and join multiple Facebook groups, Twitter, and Instagram accounts, hoping there is someone who can share their experience and expertise with us. We can form a further connection by sharing our expertise and knowledge and maybe assisting someone else. These "connections" can help us gain new insight into how to deal with a problematic situation within our classrooms and therapy sessions, learn about new materials and digital resources, and lead us to form even more connections with other educators and therapists.
As community members, we tend to have our inner circle of friends followed by an even greater community. We are part of group chats started by our friends, neighbors, religious affiliations, and even other parents within our children's classrooms. These all provide several ways to connect to others, share experiences, assist others, receive assistance in return, and give us access to so much more information from other people. Within my community, whether you're looking for a specific doctor, need a plumber due to an emergency leak, or your babysitter cancels you at the last minute, there is a community chat that you can count on. I am still amazed how a week's worth of meals for a family in need comes together in minutes. As Eric Fischl put it, "Connecting to another is one of the most important things in the world. You can keep expanding that connection- one person, a family, a community, a country, a society, a culture."
In my search on connecting with others, I stumbled upon an article in Forbes magazine, "The 7 Pillars of Connecting with Absolutely Anyone". The author goes on to discuss that these 7 pillars of making a connection with another person are always the same, no matter whom they are used with:
I want to end with a challenge for each reader to make an effort to connect with someone. It can be a friend you know is going through a tough time, someone you don't know too well asking for advice on a chat you are on, or another parent waiting to pick up their child at dismissal. You never know the impact you can have on someone else and the impact that person may have on you!