Working with children who have Autism Spectrum Disorder is a dream come true for Shabana Alavi, who works at the Northern School for Autism.
Speech pathologist Shabana Alavi, who completed her Master of Speech Pathology in 2016, is passionate about advocating for people who do not have a voice, such as those she works with who have Autism Spectrum Disorder.
“I have witnessed firsthand the difficulties faced by the populations that I work with, and it is great motivation to do my very best to support them,” she says.
Why the University of Melbourne?
As a high school student, my family and I visited the Open Day at the University of Melbourne. I was immediately fascinated by the vast campus and the approach to tertiary learning.
The generalist style undergraduate degree was suited to my learning needs at the time. Having thoroughly enjoyed my undergraduate degree, University of Melbourne was the obvious fit when I chose my masters.
What are your strongest memories of university?
The time spent with my cohort during the Master of Speech Pathology degree. I enjoyed the collaborative approach to learning and the consistency of students in the class.
Who motivated you?
My cohort was close-knit, and I feel that we all supported and motivated each other to achieve our highest potential. This was particularly evident during shared placement blocks.
What goals did you set, and have you stuck to that plan?
Upon finishing university, I was determined to find a job that I loved, not just settle for anything. I feel that I definitely succeeded, as I fell into a role that I still work within over five years later.
What drew you to your field and what do you love about it?
Many of my casual jobs throughout high school and university revolved around the education system. As a result, when I began my career as a speech pathologist, I was drawn to the idea of working within a school.
Working at an Autism-specific school has allowed me to build a niche skillset in working with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. I absolutely love this area because the work is so varied thanks to the diversity of the population ... never a dull day!
Tell us more about your current role and how university helped you prepare.
I currently work as a speech pathologist at the Northern School for Autism. Both my undergraduate and post-graduate degrees supported the development of general skills including time management, [and the] ability to change and modify behaviour, give and receive feedback etc.
What does a normal day at work look like?
Never quite the same! I work within the collaborative model, which means I work alongside teaching staff within the classroom. This allows me to upskill staff in the implementation of communication strategies so that they can continue the same work throughout the week when I am not … in the classroom.
As such, my day consists of running sessions to work on learning goals, supporting educational staff members to develop their skills and lots of language modelling using augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems.
What are some career highlights and what’s next?
Finding a supportive, dedicated and hardworking team has been a bright point in my working career so far – being surrounded by like-minded and driven people helps us to constantly strive to be bigger and better in our workplace.
Through my work with the University of Melbourne, I have also developed a passion for clinical education, and I hope that whatever is next for me will allow me to delve even further into this newfound interest.
What advice do you have for current students?
Really find the purpose in what you are learning. When you understand WHY it is important to build this knowledge, it makes it a lot easier to make the effort to learn and strive for success.