• Erin Gaul MS, CCC-SLP

I’m a Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist. Here’s what I’ve learned from COVID-19.

When the COVID-19 pandemic started in China, I wasn’t worried. Things like that happen to other countries. Sure, I will wipe down all of my materials and furniture at work, but I do that regardless. It’s flu season after all. Sick kids come to my office nearly every day, and I’m used to it. Not worried at all.

Then I went to work on Thursday, March 12, 2020, and literally everything about my life changed within a 60 second announcement. Governor Tom Wolf closed all schools and non-essential businesses to help flatten the curve. At first, I thought, “Aren’t I essential?” I thought about it, and realized, I can’t control who’s coming in and out of my office. Of course I know my clients, and they know me, and we are all doing our part to stay healthy. The fact of the matter was, this virus is invisible. As much as I do, and as much as my clients do, we can’t control this. My Clorox wipes can’t control this. My work is ALL about contact. I am touching faces, giving high fives, touching game pieces, mirrors, picture cards; the list goes on. In all good consciousness, I knew I had to do my part. I closed my practice’s physical office immediately and jumped into teletherapy. Luckily, my feet had already been pretty wet from a handful of previous clients that participated in teletherapy. I knew it wouldn’t be the same, but it was a way to stay connected and maintain continuity of care for those who wanted it.

The silver lining to all of this- I thought I knew how amazing, special, and dedicated my clients were. I was 100% WRONG. My kids as young as three have shown up, smiles on their faces when I appear on the screen, and BRING IT. They are marking their final consonants, participating in DTTC protocol, and participating like champions. I have never been more proud of “my kids” and to be their speech-language pathologist. When they are done their work and want to sing to me, blow kisses; this is the good that can come out of a disaster. My clients are sending photos and videos saying, “I miss you” and “I can’t wait to come back!” I didn’t know sitting in graduate school, learning about anatomy and physiology, that this would be the real motivation in my day-to-day work. I never could have predicted how much love is in this field.

The field of speech-language pathologists has never failed to be a supporting, loving, “in this together” kind of group. Again, I thought I knew how much, but I have been floored with the outpouring of advice, materials, troubleshooting, and LOVE fellow SLPs are sending one another. This crisis resulted in me getting a phone call from my graduate internship supervisor, exchanging ideas and advice as we were both thrown into teletherapy. I’ve been texting with a previous CFY supervisor, now a fellow private practice owner, colleague, and friend, about what we were going to do with our caseloads, trouble shooting our teletherapy platform together. While COVID-19 is keeping all of us physically apart, I’ve never felt closer to my colleagues, friends, and clients than I do today.

There are SO many people worse off than I am. I am happy to have extra time with my hubby, my fuzzy babies, Elphie, and Finn (pictures below because it has to be done), and to gain a whole new appreciation for what my clients do. So on this very unordinary Tuesday morning, I’m so grateful to be in the field I am. I’m grateful something so terrible and deadly can still provide teaching moments.

Elphie, our black beauty (above) Finn, our pitbull baby (below with Mommy)


716 North Bethlehem Pike Suite 103 Lower Gwynedd, PA 19002


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