Speech pathologist, Mia Chow, describes her work with students at VMCH specialist school St Paul’s College, in Balwyn, as rewarding and full of diversity. She aims to equip students and teaching staff with the tools they require to ensure students with complex communication needs can be heard by the people in their lives.
What is your current role and what does it involve?
I support students with complex communication needs. Students with complex communication needs may have difficulties with using speech and language for communication, and may use different modes to add to, or as an alternative to their speech. I also support students with swallowing difficulties. Supporting teaching staff is another major role of mine, working alongside with them to trial any strategies so that they are able to support students’ communication in the classrooms
What do you like about working at St Paul’s College?
St Paul’s is quite a unique school because of the diverse student profile.
We’ve got students who are going to dual school- they go to mainstream and St Paul’s. We also have full-time students with different kinds of needs and different diagnosis. There are lots of learning opportunities.
We also adopt a multi-disciplinary model to working with teachers. We have occupational therapists, physiotherapist, psychologist, and speech pathologists. Together with the teaching staff, we work collaboratively as a team to ensure that there is consistency for the students and all of us are on the same page.
What do you enjoy about working with school children?
Because they spend quite a lot of time at school, we can see how they develop in different areas – academically, socially and physically.
It’s very rewarding to see them grow up from little kids to teenagers and adults and then graduate. That’s unique in a school.
What’s the most rewarding thing about your job?
I found it rewarding when I was able to help students’ develop their communication skills and help supporting teaching staff so that they have the confidence and skills to interact with students with limited speech and language.
What is your future wish for the people you support at St Paul’s College?
After our students graduate and move to different settings, I wish that they can still have their voice heard and the people around them will be able to communicate with them using their communication systems.
What does inclusion look like to you?
Inclusion means valuing the well-being and unique contribution of every student. Individual requirements to access and participate in education is acknowledged and we recognise the ability of every person to be included both at school and in society more generally.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I like going to the parks, eating out, and watching movies.