The hearing loss community is so unbelievably small! There is a real sense of six degrees of separation. Last Tuesday, I met Monica, the blogger of Speak Up, as she was in my hometown for EDHI conference. We went out to dinner with a speech-pathologist named Christine Evans who was also attending the EDHI conference. Shortly after I met Christine, we quickly learned that we were truly networked to each other. She went to the same university as Elizabeth’s. She is good friends with Acey Ossman. She knows of the people whom I treasure in my life – Mary Ann Costin, Warren Estabrooks, Lea Watson, and Judy Simser. Christine was generous to take her time to write a story about her passion as a professional in listening and spoken language.
Let me first start by thanking Rachel for the privilege of being a part of this wonderful resource. It is a true honor. As far as when I developed my interest in this field, there is some debate. If you were to ask my parents, they would say that my interest in the area of spoken language began when I was born, because that is when they swear I began to talk. I say that I found my vocation the moment it was suggested that I try speech pathology as a major at TCU. From that point on, I fell in love with the field, and my true experiences with teaching children with hearing loss to listen and talk began.
As I moved through my undergraduate coursework, I became fascinated with Auditory-Verbal therapy. I loved the way parents were such an integral part of the A-V therapy process. It just seemed so intuitive and natural to me to play the role of “coach” rather than “therapist.” I was blessed to get to work with the wonderful Helen Morrison who really helped me develop a passion for the field of aural habilitation. It was through her mentorship and teaching that I decided to begin my work towards becoming a certified listening and spoken language specialist.
I knew in order to accomplish this goal, and best work with families and children with hearing loss, I would need training in both audiology and speech pathology. After completing my undergraduate degree, I spent a year in the Northwestern University Doctor of Audiology Program learning more about the auditory system, hearing aids, cochlear implants, and diagnostic audiology. After a year at Northwestern, I began the next step in accomplishing my goal by earning my master’s degree in speech-language pathology at TCU.
I used my opportunity at TCU to capture every chance I could to get hands-on experience doing A-V therapy. When it came time to write my thesis, I decided to investigate a way to measure parent progress in Auditory-Verbal therapy. I examined interactions between a mother and her daughter with cochlear implants in hopes of developing a “tool” for measuring parental behaviors. Since guiding and coaching parents is the core of A-V success, I hope to find a systematic way to measure a parent’s skills and progress. Perhaps along the way we can even learn if certain techniques are more effective than others in helping parents teach their children.
I am still a young professional as I have just a little over two years out in the field as a speech-language pathologist and aural habilitation specialist. It’s been a wonderful two years though! I worked with families in schools, homes, and clinics through my clinical fellowship at Chattering Children, and now work with families at my own private practice clinic. I even have the pleasure of continuing my research through collaboration with the ENT department at the Medical College of Virginia. I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to work with each family I have encountered, and love sharing in their daily accomplishments. I’m working through the LSLS certification process, and hope to finish soon. I learn everyday and rely on the mentorship of the many professionals, and teachers who have helped me along the way. It seems the more I learn, the more I realize I have left to learn. I am passionate about what I do, and desire to contribute to the field through my clinical work and research. I was taught to leave a place better than I found it, and that is exactly how I plan to leave the field of aural habilitation.