Listening to a skilled speaker can be a welcomed treat for any student. I was fortunate enough to not only listen to Smita Joshi as an invited speaker at the Illinois Speech-Learning-Association’s 63rd Hybrid Convention, but I saw how engaged her audience was as she spoke. She told a personal story about a friend of the family whom she loved dearly and the terrible illness that slowly took his life. I watched these students listen to the humanistic side to science. Smita turned that loss into a passion that would ultimately fuel her Speech Language Pathology journey.
As we all know, you can’t learn everything inside the classroom. Smita told the room of over 50 speech pathology students to think outside of the box. Look for the missing piece. Observe other disciplines. Solve the problem together. Where can they access additional information to help their patients?
She challenged her audience to truly observe the way a typical toddler eats, not just the atypical ones they will encounter in their profession. For example, Smita volunteered at daycare centers. By observing the average kid eating, she explained how you might just get that different perspective you need. Applying childhood development at its own pace can be a good starting point.
Smita reminded the audience to be curious about the child as a whole. Observe other disciplines. Tag along at dentist appointments, or try to connect your observations with those of a primary care provider or GI specialist. Find that colleague who can fix a problem from another angle. Because, ultimately, feeding techniques will only improve if we all continue to learn and grow together.