On November 21st, 2021 at the 2021 Asha Convention two powerful events triggered me to write a book. I arrived in my room after a long day at the exhibit hall and started to write. I was not sure what exactly I was writing: it could have been a blog post or an article; but it became a book and it is now available on Amazon. When I arrived from Washington DC, I set a goal to write a book that would have 37,500 words – a number I picked out from another book on my bookshelf. I set a goal to write 2,000 words a day and with that speed I would have written that book in less than 20 days.
By the time I reached that word count, around Day #20, I realized that I had a lot more that I wanted to write about and decided to ignore the word count and write until I felt like I had reached a point where I had exhausted all I wanted to say. I reached that moment on day 28, and I had reached nearly 60,000 words. Writing this book was an emotionally exhausting undertaking. I wrote every day, and many days I wrote with a lot of pain from a back injury. Early in the process I realized that my stories, and I have plenty of stories, were not enough to get the speech pathology world to understand that some things have to change. I reached out to close friends, their contacts and even reached out to random strangers online and asked if they would like to share a story or some words of survival or of important things they wish they knew sooner that helped them thrive. The book includes stories and words from 18 other women from several generations. They are students, business owners, clinicians, friends, and most importantly they are women who belong in this field and are contributing in their own way to make things better for everyone.
I have contributed a lot to this field, and more specifically I have contributed a lot to the increase of representation, diversity and inclusion in this field. I have not started doing this 6 months ago. I have been doing it for 13 years with my business. I have made sure my apps were available in as many languages as possible and I have introduced the concept of diversity in visual support in 2014, with symbol of choice on Smarty Symbols, which the entire AAC industry has adopted as of lately. Nonetheless, the book Sis, you Got this! From Surviving to Thriving as a Minority Speech-Language Pathologist is my biggest contribution to this field and the world.
You can watch a video that I recorded sharing more details about this process:
I wrote this book to help women like me, who needed to believe we belong in this field. This is not a book filled with research references, pie charts, and data that you may find hard to connect with. This book is filled with stories of my experiences and the things I learned from them. It is filled with confessions about my journey, my mistakes, and the effects of others on me. This book was written for women who are looking for a sense of belonging in one of the whitest professions in the United States (with a staggering 91.5% of SLPs being white, only behind veterinarians, farmers, and mining machine operators [According to the US Bureau of Labor]). This book is my attempt to give you a sense that you are not alone. You have the power to make your very own contributions in our field through your unique experiences and background.
Topics of racial bias and cultural sensitivity toward our clients have been, for some time, a very prominent subject in our field. Yet, the discussion on these biases and their impact on CSD students and colleagues of color, immigrants, and other minorities has been largely absent. While you might have hoped that the skills learned and discussed for one population would be generalized to include another, they are not.Barbara Fernandes, Sis, you got this!
On January 29th, 2022 – Just two months after I started writing, the book was made available on Amazon. It was actually an accidental release. I planned on putting the book available for pre-order just to discover that I had actually made the book live for sale. Since this book was written for women, I wanted the book to be released on International Women’s Day – March 8th. However, as some have told me: “Maybe someone out there was thinking about leaving this field now, and could not wait until March 8th.” As someone who almost left the field, and who knows many who have been forced to leave- I know the power of these words.
This book was released at a time in which I believe we need to give everyone so much grace and support. What started as two triggering events at one of my favorite events of the year, became a wave of words that will impact the lives of many young SLPs.
I am so proud of what I have published. You can get a copy on Amazon: See Book here