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news News Friday, May 31, 2019 Friday, May 31, 2019 11:27 AM - Friday, May 31, 2019 11:27 AM

Celebrating National Speech Therapy Month

Celebrating National Speech Therapy Month

In honor of National Speech Therapy Month, we sat down with one of our speech-language pathologists, Andryce, to talk with her about the importance of speech therapy and how the care she provides impacts her patients in their daily lives.

Q: What is your title and how long have you been working for the Portland Shriners Hospital?

A: I am a speech-language pathologist (SLP) who specializes in pediatric augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), as well as feeding and swallowing. Part of my time as a clinical SLP fellow was here at the Portland Shriners Hospital during that 12-month period. I was hired on as an official member of the rehabilitation department in the fall of 2014.  

Q: Can you tell us about the speech therapy team at the Portland Shriners Hospital?

A: The speech therapy team at the Portland Shriners Hospital includes Diana, Brandon, Megan and myself, in addition to our current speech fellow, Amy.

Q: What does your job entail?

A: A typical day in the life of a Portland Shriners Hospital SLP involves evaluating and providing intervention for children who have complex communication needs. Our speech therapy team members are also part of the feeding and cleft lip and palate team, where we evaluate and treat inpatients for swallowing or communication concerns as needed. When not directly serving patients, we are completing funding paperwork for speech-generating devices and other assistive technology needs, planning the annual AAC Camp, prepping for an educational presentation, collaborating with school teams to ensure implementation of AAC in the classroom and organizing events with community partners.

Q: What is speech therapy and why is it important?

A: In general, speech-language therapy addresses concerns in the areas of speech, language, literacy, communication, augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), voice, resonance, fluency, and feeding and/or swallowing across the lifespan. SLPs typically focus on a particular age range, and/or specialty based on the population they serve and setting where they work (e.g., outpatient clinic, school, NICU, private practice, inpatient rehabilitation units).

Q: You also work with augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). Can you explain what this is and why it is so important to your patients?

A: Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) includes all the ways we express ourselves and share our ideas without talking. In fact, all of us utilize AAC when we use facial expressions, gestures, writing or texting to communicate with others. Individuals with complex communication needs may need AAC all the time, while others may rely on it to repair communication breakdown when their speech is not understood. Unaided AAC only requires your body to communicate, such as facial expressions, body language, signs and gestures. Aided AAC involves an external tool such as a symbol-based communication board or book, pen and paper, a button with recordable voice output, or a speech-generating device with thousands of vocabulary words and a keyboard. 

Q: What does the therapy you provide enable your patients to achieve?

A: AAC gives kids the means to express their wants and needs to many people (not just their parent), connect with others by sharing about themselves and asking questions, and participate more fully in what we want kids to do – PLAY! Ultimately, we, as SLPs, believe every individual should have the opportunity to communicate what they want, to whom they want, when they want. 

Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

A: Every individual human being is a puzzle with the various pieces that form the whole person. As an SLP who serves children with complex communication needs, it’s essential to see the various pieces of receptive language: cognitive, motor, vision, and hearing abilities, as well as the social and cultural components that are inseparable from the ways in which we communicate. The most rewarding aspect of my job is when the pieces reveal the whole child in a way that others did not see previously given the implementation of AAC – their intellect, their preferences, their fears, their humor and their kindness.