My name is Katie Bally, I am the Coordinator for Infant/ Toddler Services in Sumner County and Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) with Rainbows United. I have an undergraduate degree in Communications Sciences and Disorders and a Masters in Speech-Language Pathology. I completed both degrees through Wichita State University - GO SHOX!
Previously, I was a stay-at-home mom for over 12 years with my own four children. This time gave me hands on learning and experiences in the overall development of children. When the time came for me to go back to work, I chose to take a position as a paraprofessional in special education classrooms because I have always had a passion for kids with special needs. Through the years as a para, I gained a tremendous amount of experience through working in the different types of classrooms, working with other professionals, and working with a variety of children with special needs. It was during this time that I realized my passion for language development and communication. As I continued to work part time in the schools, I finished my Bachelor’s degree. During this time, I was also involved in event planning for a nonprofit company that provided respite care on the weekends for children with special needs ages 3-21. Between the summer of graduating with my BA and starting the Master’s program at WSU, I worked as an ABA therapist with 2 children in their home.
Flash-forward to now, where I currently work as an SLP with children ages birth-3 and their families and caregivers. I chose to come work at Rainbows because I love working with children, especially these ages. I have a strong belief that so much growth and progress is seen when caregivers are on board and willing to follow through with recommended strategies that we know encourage speech and language development. I also love working side-by-side with professionals from other disciplines. Not only do I learn so much more about all developmental areas, but we often get to work together to provide the best services possible. It's an awesome feeling when we can collaborate with our ideas, knowledge from our own disciplines, and past experiences to create the most beneficial learning environment for each one of the families we serve.
A typical day for me at Rainbows usually starts out with home visits. I work and live in the North West quadrant so I can usually get to most of my family's homes anywhere from 5-15 minutes. Most of the kids I have on my caseload I initially see on a weekly basis, depending on the needs of each family and child. This helps me get to know the child and the family dynamics better, so that I can guide them appropriately. A week between visits also allows the family time to implement some of the strategies I model for them. As we start seeing some progress, I might back them off to every other week.
I usually have 4-6 visits per day and, in between, I do paperwork as needed. Sometimes I have time to stop in at the office and other times I work from my car. Every Tuesday morning, I start my day doing 2 evaluations for children that have been referred either from Screen for Success, parent referral, or doctor referral for potential developmental delays.
I would have to say my favorite part of this job is being able to watch the little ones grow and develop and the excitement and relief the parents experience through the entire process. My biggest achievement while working for Rainbows is, hands down, being on the front line and witnessing caregivers grow in confidence as parents and as their own child's number one educator and advocate. I also love that we can easily transition children to the school districts who continue to need support, as I feel this is so important to start them young.
The work environment at Rainbows is so special to me. We have awesome teamwork and we all strive to collaborate and work together in order to help families be the best they can be for their children. Overall, being able to offer resources and strategies to help improve family's lives is truly rewarding. There is nothing better than witnessing a first for a child and watching a caregiver come to tears because they never thought the day would come. That is pretty special!
I have a lot more admiration for what some parents have to go through with their children. Raising kids is the toughest job and then add in developmental delays that makes it even more difficult. I have so much respect for the families we serve and their courage as they navigate through all the ups and downs.
Outside of work, I like to ride my bike around the paths in Wichita and have recently become a regular at Zumba. I'm not very good at it, but each week I improve a little bit. I try to stay active and get out to walk in the area parks as much as possible. I like to read, watch my regular shows on TV, and hang out with family and friends. One of the best times of my week is gathering recipes and planning meals to prep food for my family’s week. I love to watch cooking shows, and if I'm not watching the shows, you will find me in my kitchen cooking up the latest recipes and tweaking it to fit our tastes (and ingredients I have on hand). Last but not least, I love Wichita State and watching WSU basketball games is one of my favorite things to do!