The Faces of Autism/Therapist's Stories/Hannah

The Faces (Helping the Faces) of Autism: Meet Hannah, SLP

Meet Hannah, a Speech/Language Pathologist at Red Door Pediatric Therapy in Bismarck, ND. She works with many children with Autism, as well as those without.  Speech Therapy is very important for  children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.  According to study by Boston University, about 30% of people diagnosed with Autism "never learn to speak more than a few words." For the rest of the children on the spectrum, speech delays, articulation, and social communtication are a few of the other issues that are addressed in speech therapy.  

I have included a bit about speech therapy in this year's project because, not only should the people that have such an impact on the lives of the children and families they work with get praise, there are many people who don't know, or maybe don't understand, the extent of what speech therapy is or how it can help.  Many believe speech is only about verbal communication, delays, and articulation. So here are a few things I asked Hannah.  Please feel free to comment if you have any questions about speech, language, communication, evaluation processes, or anything else.

What made you choose to be a Speech/Language Pathologist?:
" I chose to pursue a career in Speech-Language Pathology because I’ve always loved working with children. I’ve also always loved to help people! What could be better than helping children and their families achieve one of our most fundamental human rights-successful communication?"

Tell me a little about how your job relates to working with children with ASD: 
"I work with children and young adults with ASD ranging in ages. Many individuals with ASD require Speech Therapy due to difficulties with verbal and nonverbal communication. Nonverbal communication includes the use of gestures, facial expressions, and body language. Many young children with ASD require some form of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). This may include using picture exchanges using the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) or using programmable speech-generating devices. All children with ASD have a social communication impairment. These impairments often become more pronounced as children grow older and social rules become more involved."

Why is this therapy important for a large percentage of kids with ASD?:
"All children with ASD are candidates for Speech Therapy due to the qualifying criteria of a social communication impairment. Skilled intervention with a trained therapist is necessary to teach children with ASD new skills with the proper cuing and support. Repetition of skills and visual support is also necessary to facilitate learning and generalization of new skills to natural environments."

What is the most rewarding part of your chosen profession?: 
"The most rewarding part of working with these children is seeing the progress they make. Helping children make breakthroughs is what makes it all worth it!"

Anything else that you feel is important to let others know about working with kids with ASD?: 
"The only other thing I would want to make sure people know is that everyone who has ASD is different! No two people are the same, everyone is unique in their own way!"

If you have concerns about your child's speech or language skills, Red Door, as well as most other local rehabilitative therapy centers, offer a free screening to  determine whether your child may need to persue a more in depth evaluation.  My children go to Red Door, so I will admit to the bias I have.  They are AMAZING.

If you suspect your child may have an Autism Spectrum Disorder, there are great supports in the community.  One of my favorites is BisMan Autism Families on Facebook, the people there can help guide you in the right direction, through the process.