Get to know our speech-language pathologists during the month of May for Better Hearing and Speech month!
Why did you become a SLP? I realized early on that I had a heart for working with individuals with special needs. While in elementary school I enjoyed volunteering in my local nursing home and in high school I loved spending time with my friends in the special education class. I wanted a job where I could make a difference and help people everyday. I discovered that speech pathologists could work in a variety of settings such as hospitals, private practice, nursing homes, schools, early intervention in home based settings, home health, etc. This also attracted me to the field, knowing I had many options.
What is your favorite therapy activity? My favorite therapy activity is family mealtime where I can work alongside a family to help make mealtime a more enjoyable, engaging activity that a family can share. Mealtimes are such an important part of everyone’s life. It is where we connect, communicate, celebrate, and spend quality time with the people who are most important in our lives. Due to mealtime difficulties, many families cannot share this experience with one another in a positive way. I like helping mealtimes become more meaningful and enjoyable for families by addressing the issues that stand in the way such as food aversion, swallowing difficulties, weak oral motor skills, or tube feedings.
What is your favorite part of your profession? I love working on feeding and swallowing skills. Feeding and swallowing are vital to life. Quality of life also improves when feeding or swallowing skills improve. Being a speech pathologist that specializes in feeding and swallowing, I get to be a part of many firsts in the lives of the families I treat. I get to be a part of the first time breast feeding successfully after the release of a tongue or lip tie, first oral bottle feeding after being fed by feeding tube, first positive experience with solid food, first successful drink from a cup after prolonged bottle feeding, first drink without choking, first time eating a healthy fruit, vegetable or protein, first time chewing and swallowing a food without gaging. I love being able to be a part of these “firsts”. It makes my job so worth it when I hear a family say “We can sit together as a family and eat a meal!” “We can enjoy meal time now!”
What is something you don’t know about me? I started The Therapy SPOT in 2007 with one other speech pathologist. I am happy to say that we have grown and expanded to provide multidisciplinary therapy services and have made a positive impact in our community over the past 10 years. Lea Lanier and I make a great team and I cannot imagine doing this without her!!
I am currently working on a specialty certification in speech pathology, certification in Orofacial Myology. Orofacial Myology is the study of the motor patterns of the mouth and face and their relationship to dentition, speech and other oral functions. This includes addressing tongue thrusts, correcting abnormal swallow patterns, tongue and lip ties, correct oral rest postures of the lips and tongue, weak oral motor strength and coordination, and oral habits such as prolonged thumb sucking or pacifier use . Oral facial myology has opened my eyes to look at the oral structures in a different way and address the foundational causes of speech and feeding disorders.
I have been married to my husband Kevin for 21 years this summer. We have 2 children, Carter, age 11 and Madeline, age 7 and 2 Labrador Retrievers, Lucy and Gunner . Our family has a BIG fruit and vegetable garden and we enjoy growing as much of our own food as possible. We have blackberry bushes, blueberry bushes, pear trees, apple trees and lemon trees. Every summer we grow corn, green beans, tomatoes, okra, peas, butterbeans, potatoes, peppers, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, watermelons and cantaloupes. We like to can our own vegetables and pickle okra.
What is a surprising fact about our field? Did you know that it is perfectly normal to have to try a food 10-20 times before your brain can determine if it likes that food? Studies have shown that typically developing eaters may need to try a food up to 20 times before they enjoy eating it. That is why many adults learn to like a food in adulthood that they did not eat as a child. They finally achieved enough experience with a food that their brain could determine it liked the flavor/texture of a food. This proves that we should not give up on a food we offer our child just once and they reject it. We should keep trying and give them multiple experiences with a food over time. This does not mean force feeding. This is NEVER OK! We should offer a food repeatedly and encourage it and when a child is ready, they will decide to try it. Trying a food does not have to mean chewing and swallowing it. It is OK to play with foods, put foods in our mouth to explore only then spit it out, lick a food or kiss a food while learning to eat it. All of these add up to more tries! Don’t give up, remember it could take up to 20 tries for a child with typically developing eating skills to like a new food! Don’t every give up, keep trying! This applies to everything we do as speech-language pathologists. Don’t ever give up, today is FULL of POSSIBLE!
The Therapy S.P.O.T. – Speech, Physical, and Occupational Therapy
Our multidisciplinary therapy center was established in 2007, and is committed to providing quality therapy services in a fun, family and child centered environment. We provide pediatric speech, feeding, physical, and occupational therapy as well as adult speech and swallowing therapy. Our therapists have unique and specialized skills and training, and we strive to pair our patients with the therapists who will best meet their specific needs. You can learn more about our services at http://www.therapyspotstatesboro.com. Questions or concerns? Call us at (912) 681-7768 for a free consultation.