Throughout our question and answer series, we have talked with a number of professionals who are not speech-language pathologists (SLPs) but work closely with them. We have learned all about a variety of different fields from audiology to occupational therapy to behavioral analysis. The field of speech-language pathology is broad, with SLPs working in schools, hospitals, and everywhere in between. SLPs work with a wide variety of individuals with different needs, so we have different experiences and specialties.
Becca Eisenberg, who is a fellow SLP, lives and works in New York and wears a number of different hats. She works closely with individuals with complex communication needs who use AAC but also writes books, hosts podcasts, and teaches graduate courses. Becca also has a great website and YouTube channel! We are grateful she was willing to communicate with us, and we hope you learn something new about SLP pathways and opportunities.
How did you get into the field of speech-language pathology?
I found my path to speech-language pathology throughout my life. As a child, I received speech therapy and as I got older, I became passionate about helping others (volunteering in a nursing home, joining a youth group, etc.). When I entered college at Penn State University, I knew that Health and Human Development was definitely the category of options I wanted to choose from. I also had an interest in linguistics and working with individuals across the lifespan and with different disabilities. When I learned more about speech-language pathology at Penn State University, I made my decision and never looked back! I continued on to get my Master's in Speech-Language Pathology at Teachers College, Columbia University.
What are some of the things you are involved in?
My daily job is working on an assistive technology team at Westchester Institute for Human Development in Valhalla, NY. My caseload varies with age, cognitive abilities, and disabilities. However, all of my clients have complex communication needs and focus primarily on augmentative and alternative communication.
Outside of my daily job, I am involved in many things and really enjoy all of them. I began my blog, Language During Mealtime, many years ago because of my passion for children’s books. As a natural progression, I began a podcast where I interview authors, illustrators, and educators about their books. During the pandemic, I began a YouTube channel called Life Skills 2 Learn, which includes playlists about AAC parent training and video series for Teens and Adults with Developmental disabilities.
I also have a website, Life Skills 2 Learn, which focuses primarily on AAC and life skills. I love writing children’s books and currently have six children’s books published. I hope to continue writing more books because it is so much fun!
What does a typical day (or week) look like for you?
Every day is a little different! Most days I work at different schools helping students and staff implement AAC. I also do home consults, teletherapy, and community trips with my students. In the summer and fall, I teach graduate students in the field of assistive technology, which varies by semester.
What excites you the most about this field and what you do?
There are so many exciting things about AAC! My favorite part of my job is connecting with my clients, staff, and their families. The greatest gift in the world is to give an individual with complex communication needs the ability to communicate. Communication opens the world for people and to be a part of that is very gratifying.
The greatest gift in the world is to give an individual with complex communication needs the ability to communicate.
What challenges you the most?
What challenges me the most is when my students/clients are misunderstood due to their communication difficulties. Many of my clients are mislabeled and oftentimes thought of as not competent or difficult. As clinicians, we have to believe in our client’s potential and be their advocates in a variety of contexts. We also have to validate their communication, which is key!
Do you ever collaborate with other SLPs? In what ways?
Everyday! I collaborate all of the time with SLPs. I love working as a team and find that it is so beneficial to work together to help an individual. Also, I love hearing different perspectives and learning from others.
What is one thing you like to discuss with caregivers or other professionals?
Modeling! I can’t emphasize enough the power of modeling and being natural with AAC.
What are you looking forward to in the future related to speech-language pathology?
I am looking forward to continuing the path of helping individuals with complex communication needs. I would also love to write more children’s books in my All About series.
Outside of work, what can we find you doing?
I love to spend time with my two children and husband. Every day, I spend quality time with my 3 chickens, which keeps me entertained and busy. I am also an animal lover and have many saltwater fish and 3 rescue parakeets. I love taking long walks, hiking, and traveling too!
We are so thankful to have had the opportunity to speak with Becca! Check out some of her books below.
The Monkey Balloon books