“It’s a magical feeling when you see someone else light up”

Clinician reflects on ISTAR’s impact

Anne-Marie Aguilar - 22 October 2021

What inspired you to become a speech-language pathologist?
I always wanted to be an SLP. In high school I thought I would go into nursing like the rest of my family, but I wasn’t as in love with the field as everyone else seemed to be. I registered for a professional placement course at my high school and was placed in the hospital’s child development department. I immediately fell in love with the diversity of speech pathology. It wasn’t until years later, however, that I had the chance to work with a teenage client who stuttered. That sparked in me a fascination to learn more about the disorder and eventually specialize in this area. 

How did you find out about ISTAR and why did you choose to work at the institute?

ISTAR has a well-known reputation — I’d learned about its programs during my undergraduate degree. I wanted to work at ISTAR as it’s one of a few centers in the country that specialize in fluency.

Where did you complete your schooling?
I completed my undergraduate degree in the speech and language sciences at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario. I completed my Master’s at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York. Their program provided a unique opportunity to complete a specialty placement in fluency disorders. This was important to me because I hoped it could lead to a job at ISTAR once I returned to Canada to work after school.

How did you feel when you first started at ISTAR? How does the work you do make you feel every day?

It felt like a dream come true. I love what I do and I love the meaningful impact I’m able to have on the livelihoods of the people that I work with. It’s a very rewarding feeling.

How has working at ISTAR helped you grow and learn as a clinician?

It’s definitely not an easy job, and it has come with a steep learning curve. However, it has not only helped develop my clinical skills, but also myself as a person.

What is your favourite thing about working at ISTAR?

It’s hard to choose a single favorite thing! Working with such a variety of different client ages provides so many different types of satisfaction.

With my younger clients I really just enjoy getting on the floor and being able to play. With my adult clients I love being able to have higher level and deeper discussions and really learn about them. Another favourite part is when a child, teen, adult, or parent has an ‘A-ha moment’ or I see all of the education and practice come together and click. It’s such a magical feeling when you see someone else light up with excitement and enjoyment.

Answers have been edited for length and clarity.