The Magic of Words

I love working with a team to help children with complex communication needs. It helps diversify my skills, allows me to educate about speech and language development, and mos
​                                         “Words are, in my not so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic,”
                                                                                      - Albus Dumbledore
Of all the quotes referring to the power of communication, this one speaks to my heart. As a pediatric Speech Language Pathologist (SLP), I get to see the wonder in a child’s eye when we play with a new toy or share an experience outside. I get to hear the joy in a parent’s voice when they tell me about the first time their child said, “I love you,” or even when that same child won’t quiet down when it’s time for bed. What I do isn't magic, but their words are and I’m lucky enough to get to help them create their own form of magic.

I love working with a team to help children with complex communication needs. It helps diversify my skills, allows me to educate about speech and language development, and most importantly, makes such a huge impact for the child when we are all on the same page! There are many complexities to working as a team, and often times, there is overlap between the goals that the Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) set and the goals I set as a SLP. It’s wonderful to accomplish these goals through a team effort!

What do SLPs do?

​Speech language pathologists work across the lifespan to improve communication skills. We have 9 “big areas” of focus which include helping your child use (expressive language) or understand (receptive language) words. We can improve your ability to understand your child by targeting speech sound development, fluency (stuttering), and voice. We are trained to work with individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing and how those differences impact communication. SLPs also work on the social impacts of language (“Can this child use language for a variety of purposes?”, “Does this child exhibit unexpected behavior?”). Because individuals eat with the same muscles that we use to talk, SLPs can help with feeding and swallowing concerns. Speech language pathologists also have background knowledge of neuroanatomy and can help with the cognitive communication concerns. These involve supporting attention, memory, and problem-solving skills. We are experts in augmentative and alternative communication and can help develop functional communication skills in ways which do not consist only of a “natural voice.”
How does it work at Constellations? 

My services are currently available at the Portsmouth Early Intensive Learning Center. In the future, there is room for expansion to other branches. At the center, a family can decide if they want to receive communication services within their child’s therapy day. If they opt in, I complete an evaluation which allows me to look at their communication skills and collaborate with their BCBA to set goals. These goals are often similar to the ones in their treatment plan; however, these goals are written, and will be targeted, from the treatment approach of speech and language pathology. Your child’s BCBA and I meet and collaborate frequently to discuss progress and set new targets. Each week, I have floor time where I overlap with the Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs) to address any questions they have or to show them some of the tricks of my trade.

As a parent, you are the expert on your child. I love getting to overlap with families during our sessions, setting up meetings, or touching base via email or phone calls. I encourage everyone to come check out the magic that is happening! 

-Cherise Tompkins, ​ M.S., CCC-SLP

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