I am very fortunate to work in a profession that allows me to combine my passions: working with children with developmental differences and their families, using my knowledge of languages to bridge communication and cultural gaps, and applying what I’ve learned about orofacial development to support all of the systems that depend on these structures: speech, chewing and swallowing, and breathing. Before becoming a speech-language pathologist, I completed my bachelor’s degree in English literature. I taught English abroad in Portugal, which is how I learned to speak Spanish and Portuguese fluently. When I returned to the United States, I decided to teach elementary school and went after my teaching certificate in the state of Utah. I loved teaching elementary age students and seeing their curiosity in the world and the growth that took place during the school year. But, I also felt overwhelmed with the large class size and felt unable to help students in the way I knew they needed. If only I knew then as much as I know now about speech and language development! Because I was struggling with the idea of continuing as an elementary educator, I decided teaching at the college level might suit me better, and I applied for graduate programs in Portuguese and Spanish literature. I was accepted to some amazing programs across the country but on the eve of needing to make a decision about which to attend, I talked with a good friend of mine who is also an SLP. My friend, Ana, who also earned an MA in Spanish literature told me she had decided to return to school to become a speech-language pathologist. At the time, I didn’t even know what that was. She talked about all of the different areas that this specialty covers and how I could combine my love of languages with helping other people. I told the universities who had accepted me for a Masters in Spanish & Portuguese literature, no gracias, and began my prerequisites for speech and language pathology so that I could apply to graduate school.
I was accepted to the University of Colorado Master’s program in Communication Disorders in the spring of 2010. During my two years of graduate school, I found many areas that interested me. I was surprised to find how much I enjoyed counseling groups of families whose children had learning differences. Working with small children with autism during my externship in Fresno, California was also a rewarding experience. When I finished graduate school, I began working in the public schools with preschool to elementary-age students. I also began working with early intervention county services to provide speech and language therapy in the home for little ones. I completed a three day training from Hanen on working with children with social communication challenges and their families. I’m a play-based therapist and love working language and speech learning into daily routines. A few small changes in how we interact can make communication so much easier for our little ones! A few years ago, I became interested in learning more about orofacial development. In other words, how does our facial and oral development impact speech, feeding and swallowing, and breathing. This area truly fascinates me, and provides me with additional tools in my toolbox to work with children (and adults) who have persistent articulation issues, voice disorders, and difficulties chewing and swallowing, which sometimes manifests itself as an overly restricted diet. I love that there is always something new to learn in my field and try to stay on top of the latest research. I love working with clients individually and with coaching parents. I find that parents are way more knowledgeable than they may realize. I look forward to continuing in my career as an SLP in private practice so that I can tailor therapy to client’s needs rather than school or county mandates. I am not yet a parent myself but have just recently married an amazing man, who also speaks Spanish (que bueno!) who is very supportive of my career endeavors. I feel honored that parents put their trust in my skills to support their child’s development. Thank you!