Most speech therapists are drawn to our field by the idea of helping someone communicate. I know that’s what I initially thought the role of a speech therapist was about when I entered school. However, I was greatly impacted the first time I worked with a feeding client to help them eat for the first time in months. To provide someone with so much joy by helping them do something that most of us take for granted was amazing. That is when I realized that feeding and swallowing was what I wanted to specialize in.
Eating is more than just something we do for nutrition. It is a significant part of our culture and is embedded in almost all social activities. When a child has difficulty eating or accepting foods, it can affect them in so many areas of their life. Sitting down with a family and helping them solve this puzzle is a gratifying challenge!
I came to Barrett with a strong dysphagia (swallow) background and have been lucky enough to work with a team to help children with both swallowing and feeding disorders. I think that is what drew me to this facility: collaboration between therapists to help the child succeed. Together, Occupational and Speech therapists are able to brain storm and help develop a strong individual plan to make food fun.
I have seen kids who winced at the sight or smell of food make a mashed potato snowman or come to me smiling with a list of new foods they tried. Families who dreaded meal times are able to sit down together and enjoy a meal together for the first time.
When I was a graduate student I could not imagine that I would be able to help a child realize how enjoyable or fun food could be. That is why I love my job – because I am able to not only help a child but their whole family.