Yesterday I spent most of the day teaching at City University in London. Perhaps teaching is really too strong a word, as I'm not professionally qualified in any way to teach. But I, along with two others, spent time talking to a whole year group of student speech and language therapists about our experiences of parenting children with language and communication difficulties and helping them understand how to communicate with parent carers in their professional lives.
I've been doing these occasional sessions for about five years now and find them very enjoyable. Yesterday, as I was recounting some of our experiences to the room, it struck me how much easier it had become. Not just to speak out to so many people, but to discuss the past without getting upset. That, I think, is a measure of how far son 2 has come and perhaps also of my ability to deal with his autism.
The first year students always seem to appreciate our input. We guest speakers arrive after they've already had a short academic session and we then take turns to tell a little of our histories. After lunch the students undertake a fun written exercise in smaller groups and we circulate the room, helping them and enabling them to ask lots more questions if they wish. It works well and the students all seem to enjoy it.
As always, I was impressed by how well the students had taken in the themes under discussion and the intelligence of their questions. There is no doubt that they are all entering their chosen profession with genuine motivation. But there were also fears being expressed privately about the uncertain future of the NHS. There is already a shortage of speech and language therapists in frontline services and the future does not look bright for either therapists or service users.
Although I never had any desire to be a teacher like my father, I really do enjoy my brief forays into higher education teaching. It's fun. Maybe I actually missed my vocation somewhere!