Meet Jacinta Ser – Our New Speech Pathologist
Jacinta completed her final work placement with My Therapy House® as part of her degree in Speech Pathology and will be joining us as a permanent team member in 2022.
Why did you choose Speech Pathology as a profession?
My interest in Speech Pathology began with my father. Being a businessman meant that he had to constantly converse and communicate with people. Unfortunately, due to a growth of tumours in his throat he lost the ability to do so. My father had to undergo three painstaking and excruciating surgeries to remove the tumours which left him without his voice for many years because the tumors were located on his vocal cords. This meant he couldn’t speak and therefore couldn’t work for years as he concentrated on his recovery. These years were the hardest years of his life as he could still do everything but speak.
I was aware of his frustration and my desperation to help him and make his life easier lead me to the path of Speech Pathology. My father became an inspiration for me to become a speech pathologist because seeing him in that vulnerable state where he could not communicate helped me to understand and empathise with people who were in similar situations, and help them to get their message across to the world.
Where are you originally from?
What University did you study at?
How long was your Speech Pathology course?
Why did you choose South Australia to come and study?
South Australia has a relaxed and affordable lifestyle, stunning coastlines and an abundance of leisure activities (i.e. hiking, camping). I enjoy being away from the hustle and bustle of the big city.
What have you enjoyed about your placement at My Therapy House®?
Everyone works collaboratively as a close team and brings their own expertise and strengths to support every child’s unique needs and differences.
What have you found challenging?
Initially, it was challenging for me to adapt to a play-based approach, where we follow the child’s lead and interests to build their understanding of their world and ability to communicate. I had been trained and taught to use structured therapy approaches to support the children’s speech and language development and complete all the tasks and assessments mainly at the table (i.e. learning to say ‘s’ sound, learning to use all the prepositions etc.).
To me, play-based therapy was very subjective and it was hard for me to ‘tick off’ a box indicating what a child has achieved. However, after a few weeks, I started to realise that play is so powerful and it allows me to connect and engage with the children. This allows the children to learn all the ‘tasks’ in a way that is meaningful and motivating for them in shorter time periods. Being able to get down to the children’s eye level and interact with them using their topic/ toy of interest are the key to forming a trusting relationship, and they start to use words to share their ideas and thoughts with me.
And yes, I am still able to apply all the knowledge and clinical reasoning I learnt at University.
What did you learn?
I think it is all about regulation and having connections. Before achieving all the targeted goals, it is important to regulate the emotions, be it the therapist’s, the client’s or the caregiver’s. Once everyone has settled down and feel they are emotionally safe and ready to attend, listen and learn, they can then connect with people emotionally, and build a strong and trusting relationship to better support the children’s speech and language development.
How has My Therapy House® differed from your other placements?
All my previous placements had different policies and settings. Something that I enjoyed the most at My Therapy House® was it provides an amazing and meaningful platform for the children to explore all the wonders of the world using their own strengths and interests. The children are able to initiate and extend their ideas through play and they learn and master the use of speech and language to express their thoughts and emotions, to socialise with peers and even learn how to problem-solve in a more meaningful way in a fun and safe environment. It has been a very meaningful placement within a friendly, caring and nurturing team. I think this line succinctly summarises how I feel when I am here:
‘It is not about how intelligent your brain is, but your lovely heart that drives you to do the best for the clients and their family.”
What are you planning on doing after you graduate?
I am going to have a short break to try and catch up with my social life and get all the paperwork done before I start working as a speech pathologist at My Therapy House®.
Are you planning to go back to Malaysia to live?
I am planning to stay here for a couple of years before making any further career decisions.