Interview with Cheri Chin of Super Power Speech
Cheri Chin is an Ivy League graduate and creator of one of the first and longest running speech therapy blogs in the world, Super Power Speech. Since graduating with her master’s degree in 2000, she has worked in schools, clinics, hospitals and private practice. She is a national presenter and has taught students around the world with her online courses. In her free time, you can find her playing soccer with her two teens or reading three books at the same time (in front of the fire, while crocheting).
Note: You should consult with your doctor or speech pathologist for recommendations on treatment. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Cheri Chin and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeechPathologyMastersPrograms.com
What was it like starting Super Power Speech at a time where speech pathology blogs were uncommon?
Super Power Speech was inspired by the mommy blogs, which were all the rage before 2010. I posted stories about my own kids for a while and built up some strong connections with other new bloggers. I then realized that other moms out there might want to read about something besides my children – especially because I wouldn’t show any pictures of them for privacy reasons! It did not occur to me that the web was missing speech therapy blogs, because in fact, the web was missing most kinds of professional blogs at that time. In fact, when I started, most people I knew didn’t even know what a blog was.
What do you hope your readers get from your posts?
My goal for blog readers to come away knowing a little bit more about me and to spark their own creative ideas for speech therapy.
Super Power Speech is 10 years old now- congratulations! What have you learned along the way and what has changed the most about your blogging style?
One of the biggest lessons that I have learned from my blog is that writing is not as scary as I once thought it was! I had a bad experience in high school English classes and gave up on writing altogether. I never took an English class in college and was relieved that that part of my life was over. Now 700 posts later… Although I still have to challenge myself to write, it is one of my creative outlets. I am proud of (many of) the posts I have written and consider them to be accomplishments.
How has your style been affected by the increase in speech blogs over the years?
As I read more speech blogs, I have changed my style significantly. I have fancy cover headers (never thought of those until recently), more bulleted points, and images. I still try to keep my posts a little different from my peers by adding personal stories into each blog post.
You had once intended to practice speech pathology with adults, after being inspired by your father’s stroke recovery process. Are there any ways in which taking on a role as a school SLP has surprised you?
I honestly never thought I would work with children again. I was a high school teacher for one year and hated it. I knew it was not the right job for me. All of my graduate speciality classes and projects were focused on adults. However, when I graduated mid-year, there were no adult jobs to be found. I reluctantly took an elementary school position for a few months. When I moved to the west coast and took on an AAC intern year, I thought again that I would be working with adults. But it was the children that interested me the most. And so I accepted another elementary school job after my intern year; the rest is history! I fell in love with the creativity, play time, and silliness that working with young children not only allowed but encouraged.
It’s really hard to come up with a subject specific question to ask you about your practice because you cover so many subjects thoroughly! That being said”what are the most fun posts to write?
I’ve come to love writing list posts. I think in lists (and I think many others do as well). It is fun to write posts that simply list out the advantages of a specific method, topic, or product.
You wrote a post about how you don’t simply help people speak, you help them communicate. In this post, you mentioned parents who weren’t able to accept the distinction between these two things and understand the progress that their son was making. Do you have any tips for how you can try to improve a situation such as this one? How do these attitudes affect a child’s progress?
I think that in the family situation to which you refer there was talk of a restraining order! It was a very challenging situation. Since then, however, I have not had as much resistance. Most of the families that I work with understand that their child may not be verbal and are excited to try anything to help them communicate. With high tech AAC being more prevalent and more socially accepted, I have had many parents who are completely on board with multi-modal communication.
What is your advice for SLP graduate students?
Please DON’T think that working for the schools is “selling out” or “less than” working in a medical or private practice setting. It makes me sick and sad that talented grad students won’t even consider working in (what I feel is) the best setting out there. I have written multiple posts about this topic (mostly top 10 lists). And if you do end up working in those other settings, do NOT view yourself or your services as “better” than school based therapists, because it just isn’t true.
Also, no job cares about your grades. They just don’t. Or your final project. Or any of your scores. Stop trying to get great grades because unless you are going on to additional schooling, they don’t matter. Focus instead on learning how to actually do therapy. Make your own materials and do your own lesson plans. Take over meetings. This is your chance to really learn and explore and be creative. I would do so much differently if I could do it over again knowing what I know now!