Viva Pediatrics is honored to have some of the best therapists in the business. In celebrating Better Hearing and Speech Month we asked a few of our Speech Language Pathologists to share more about their role as an SLP. This blog features our very own Dr. Paula Kay Van Houten Ed.D, CCC-SLP. We wanted to learn more about the lady with the amazing letters behind her name. Here is what she so graciously shared with us, so we can share with you. Thank you Paula for being an allstar!
Why do you decide to persue a career as a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP)
I went into the Communication Disorders program as an undergraduate with the intention of going on to a deaf education/translator program. For a long time I had wanted to work as a medical interpreter. My undergrad program was absolutely amazing and provided me with so many opportunities to do therapy before graduating. By the time I completed my Bachelor’s degree I had fallen in love with therapy and saw all the potential opportunities for serving others and making a difference for children and their families.
What is your favorite part of being an SLP?
There are so many fun aspects to being an SLP it is hard to pick out my favorite. The kids are so fun and always keeping me on my toes. I think the most amazing part of the job is getting to experience those “firsts” with families. Hearing a child say “mama” or “dada” for the first time after the parents have worried so much about development is a truly beautiful experience. Being able to feed a child who may be 2 or 3 years old and never had the opportunity to eat by mouth brings so much joy to the family. It really is a bonding and somewhat intimate time for parents and their child. I feel privileged to be able to be a part of that milestone.
Please share one success story that stands out in your SLP career.
In thinking about a success story I’ve had with a Patient, I have to reflect on a little girl named Samantha who has Down Syndrome. I met her when I was first out of graduate school and she was 4 years old. She and I worked together for nearly two years, after which I moved on to a different work setting. She was one of those kids who I loved and knew would always hold a place in my heart. Then three years ago I got a message through social media from Samantha’s mom. She reported that they had seen a number of therapists through the years and never found anyone who connected with Sam the way that I had. She asked how they could get me back on Samantha’s team. I began seeing her through home health visits. Samantha was now 14 years old and had grown into a beautiful young woman. She and I worked on her language skills, articulation skills, and feeding abilities. Samantha has done public speaking in Washington DC and just recently led the Pledge of Allegiance at the Special Olympics. She is an amazing young lady who is just finishing up her first year in high school. I truly feel honored to have been part of her life and her journey in helping her develop her speech and language abilities.