Where did you grow-up and what is special about your hometown?
Maura grew up in Tucson, Arizona. Her parents are both professors at U of A. Tucson has a small-town feel, even though it is a big city. She grew up with both the desert and the mountains.
It was extremely hot, so Texas was not such a bad change. Sometimes it would be 105 degrees on Halloween. She and her sister even tried cracking an egg on the ground and it really did fry! She moved in 2007 for grad school after attending Arizona State for undergrad.
Where did you go to school for college?
Maura attended Arizona State for her undergrad and UTD for grad school
Why did you decide to become a speech therapist?
When she first went to college, she was actually an English Major, and sort of fell into Speech and Language Pathology.
One year, during her attendance at Arizona State, she went to see family in Ohio. She had a cousin who actually did therapy with Adult Neurology. Her cousin also had a son who had autism. Maura was fascinated by the ability to reach kids who were unable to communicate with the world around them through therapy. When she got back to school in the fall, she swiftly changed majors and never looked back.
Why did you choose to work in pediatrics?
Maura was convinced she was going to follow in the same footsteps from interest in her cousin exposing her to Adult Neurology, but after an internship at a Learning Center in Dallas- she was exposed to the world of Pediatrics and felt like that was where she needed to be.
What is your favorite thing about working in pediatric speech therapy?
Said that it is an honor and privilege of being there for A LOT of firsts. I.E. drinking from bottle, sipping water without thickened liquids, first words, hear a baby say “momma” for the first time. They are awe inspiring moments- it is truly unmatched and humbling.
What advice would you share with someone looking to become a speech therapist?
If someone is interested, Maura recommended taking some classes, and not be afraid to follow a different path. She, personally, went from Adult Neuro to Developmental Pediatrics. “Don’t be afraid to explore different fields and take advantage of SLPs you know”. They can be great mentors and advisors. And she said CEU’s have truly helped, along with outside perspective from other therapies.
When you are not at work, how do you like to spend your time?
She spends time with her husband and their two boys. The boys are 1 & 4. She and her husband are both runners, so they like to go for double stroller runs with the boys, as a family. She lucked out and her husband pushes the stroller.
Maura is also a Baker. She said it is all about balance!
Maura, her husband, and their boys outside enjoying a social distancing Birthday Party as family and friends drove by!
During her time of staying safe at home, they have actually made 3 birthday cakes so far. Both of her boys have April birthdays, and she and her husband’s birthdays are in May!
How do you make pediatric speech therapy fun?
She said, to be honest, she is usually making a fool out of herself. It’s a lot about having a fun time. She uses engaging games and just loves being silly. Superheroes and cartoons are a favorite go-to and she plans activities around that. Reading books and getting messy or silly with food are also some go-to’s for engagement.
What is the best part of working at Viva Pediatrics?
Everyone is so genuine, nice and kind. VIVA is truly a team that supports their therapists, nurses, and patients. She could not say enough about the internal support she receives.
What is an obstacle you have, personally, been able to overcome through Speech therapy?
Hard to think of something specific, but when she first started, she said she did not know a lot about pediatric feeding therapies. Mentors were so helpful (and CEU’s!!)! Home health has encouraged adaptability for her. “You never know what you’re going to walk into”.
What has been your greatest achievement through Speech Therapy?
She was working was a young boy who had sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury through an accident. It left him with pretty severe communication impairments. As a result of the accident, he was in wheelchair and could not talk. The prognosis for regaining motor functions were extremely poor. The boy really needed a communication device, but he was resistant. Every device they tried, he continuously turned down or was uninterested in participation. Maura said she could tell he was just so sad that he could not talk anymore and was moved into group home all due to the accident.
Around Christmas time- Maura came up with an idea to have them use the device to make a Christmas list to send to his mom. FINALLY, this 13-year-old boy agreed and was able to communicate that he really wanted a picture of Selena Gomez to put on his wall. Maura took a video of him saying his Christmas wish with his communication device. After Christmas break (2 weeks later), Maura came back to find that he had a life size picture of Selena Gomez in his room. She was so excited for him and joyfully encouraged that this was the result of being able to communicate his wants and needs. From there on he continued to learn to use his device.