SPOTlight on Speech-Language Pathology! Meet Lea Lanier, Ed.S., CCC-SLP

Get to know our speech-language pathologists during the month of May for Better Hearing and Speech month! 

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Why/how did you decide to become a SLP?  

In high school, when I was asked what I wanted to do I always responded with “I just want to help people!” I always enjoyed spending time with children.  I worked in my church nursery as a teenager and babysat almost half the town I grew up in, so I was really interested in finding a helping profession that would allow me to work with children.  I explored many medical professions with my mother (who was also my guidance counselor in high school) in trying to decide on a major, and it was my high school tennis coach who encouraged me to consider speech-language pathology. In high school I observed with some SLPs and this sealed the deal! I love that being an SLP means having options and numerous settings to work in.  I have worked in many settings, but private practice is my love and is where I feel called to be.

What is your favorite therapy activity?

Without a doubt, music!  Music can be a powerful motivator.  It can make a sad child feel happy.  Music can teach children new concepts and skills including turn taking and joint attention.  Music can help children learn to imitate sounds, motor movements, and words.  It can even help children learn to make transitions and engage with others.  All of these skills are necessary to become effective communicators.  I’m glad that the kids I work with don’t mind that I don’t have the best singing voice!

As far as specific toys and therapy tools, I have been loving the animal face posters from Talk It Rock It.  I love to pair visuals with songs to improve attention and comprehension and these are colorful and FUN!  Created by a pediatric SLP, the talkitrockit.com products we use at The Therapy SPOT are used often and loved by our therapists and children.

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What is your favorite part of your profession? 

My favorite part of being a SLP is the magic moments.  It feels like magic to me when a child learns to say his first word, or communicate for the first time using sign language or a communication device.  Magic moments might also be the times in therapy when a child laughs hysterically because he’s having so much fun.  Kids will do so much MORE for us when they are having FUN and feel loved.  I want the kids I work with to know that I love them and believe in them, even the kids that might seem harder to love.  The late Maya Angelou said it so well when she said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  I believe that all children can tell if you like them, so I try really hard to love them all!

I will never forget an afternoon several years ago when I ran into a child I had worked with at Walmart in the check out line.  His mom laughed when she saw me and said, “you just cost me a lot of money here today!”  I must have given her a confused look because she went on to explain that her son was finally able to tell her what he wanted in the store and she was so happy that he could communicate this to her that she bought him all the things!  Seeing that child and his mom walk out of the store with smiles on their faces that day made my heart feel so full.  Communication means connection and joy!  One thing I love about working at The Therapy SPOT is really getting to feel like I can make a difference in a child’s life.  I enjoy getting to know not just the children I work with, but their parents, siblings, and sometimes even grandparents.  I love getting to experience magic moments with the families I work with.  I learn something new everyday!  I learn from the families and children I work with and also from our amazing group of therapists!  I love being able to collaborate.

What is a surprising fact about our field? 

Parents are often surprised when their child’s pediatrician refers them for therapy when they are baby/toddler/preschool age.  Pediatricians refer their patients to us when they notice the child isn’t communicating at an age appropriate level, and parents may wonder why?  Isn’t speech therapy for older kids, learning to say their sounds correctly?  Yes, it is, and it is also important for babies and adults when they are having difficulty communicating or swallowing.  Babies may need speech therapy to address feeding or swallowing difficulties and toddlers may need speech therapy if they are not talking or are delayed in their development.  Beginning therapy at a young age when it is needed can be life changing.  Families are often so grateful and experience a huge stress relief when their children are able to ‘catch up’ developmentally with same age peers and communicate their wants and needs at home.  “Wait and see” is risky and it is possible that when they wait to get help they may fall further behind.  Another skill SLPs are able to help children with that many people are not aware of is social language skills.  We can help children who may not understand the unspoken rules of social situations learn how to act and communicate appropriately with others, which can help them to be more successful and happy in school and life!

What is something you don’t know about me?

I have been married to my husband, Jason, for 16 years and we have two boys, Hudson and Henry.  Jason is a realtor here in Statesboro but he also serves unofficially as our Therapy SPOT IT department and handyman.  I wear many hats as an SLP and business owner but my mom hat is my favorite.  I get to be tennis mom, chess mom, baseball mom and all around proud mom to my boys and I try to enjoy each age and stage they are in.  I love to read, shop, and visit St. Simons Island as much as possible.

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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.

www.jasonhurstphotography.com ©Jason Hurst Photography 2014-2015

 

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