A Speech Therapist's Breakthrough With A Student Went Viral On TikTok & OMG All The Feels
"A lot of people are already doing the things that I'm doing, they just don't see how amazing it is," she said.
When Liza Selvarajah started filming videos for friends and family on Facebook, it wasn't about the views. Stuck at home during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Selvarajah, a speech and language pathologist at Montreal Speech Therapy, started by posting a video of herself reading a story to her daughter.
Although she expected comments about how adorable her child is, she didn't anticipate how much curiosity there would be around the techniques and parenting strategies gained from her training.
"I was just tired of all the gatekeeping," Selvarajah told MTL Blog over Zoom. "It felt like a secret, what speech therapists did. We went into a room, shut the door, did something and then they came out, you know, speaking or making a sound and no one really knew what was going on."
That's why, when she eventually pivoted to TikTok, Selvarajah made a point of sharing information about her practices as a pathologist. It's not just about rigid pronunciation and grammar guidelines: it's really about communication.
"I think it might shock people [to know] that SLPs [speech and language pathologists] do sometimes just observe and meet children where they're at," Selvarajah said.
In her mega-viral video, which boasts nearly 830,000 likes and 3.5 million views as of the time of publication, she talks about doing just that: observing and interacting with a child on their own terms.
It seems scary to let go of our agenda sometimes but there is so much power in just observing and following their brilliant minds. #neurodiversityaffirming #autistictiktok
The child, whose identity is protected for confidentiality reasons, was playing a game of placing torn pieces of paper into a mailbox when Selvarajah decided to play along, creating some mini envelopes for the girl to use. By engaging with the young girl openly and participating in her game, Selvarajah was able to make a personal connection where there previously hadn't been one.
But the SLP wishes another video of hers had gotten some of the attention: a clip in which Selvarajah explains how she models feelings-based language for her daughter, who is then able to empathize and express herself more clearly in turn.
#slpsoftiktok #narration #languagemodeling #honestywithkids
Being able to share any information about listening to children, especially neurodiverse children, is crucial to Selvarajah, who loves when parents see pieces of themselves, or their children, in the content she makes.
"Maybe our collective healing of the inner child might be my favourite part" of her TikTok journey, she told MTL Blog. "In any field you go into, ableism is heavily ingrained. So you have to fight against the current the whole way through."
That paper-ripping envelope moment would have been just as meaningful, she added, "whether three million people watched it or, you know, two people watched it."
"I really do hope that this message is spread as much as possible," Selvarajah said. "Maybe not me, or my face or whatever, but just the message of listening, the message that there's nothing wrong with your kid, they're just wired differently."