Hi! I’m Kelly Welch, a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP), at Rainbows United and I love my job! I often get asked why I became a SLP. It is plain and simple…my niece, my son, my daughter, and myself. My niece, Jamie, now 25-years old, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth. According to her physicians, the likelihood of her walking, talking, or having any kind of independence was unlikely in her lifetime. Thankfully, their predictions did not hold true. As an infant, our family was introduced to early intervention services. With the guidance of physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists, and her dedicated family, she did walk, talk, feed herself, brush her teeth, etc. Introducing sign-language was the beginning of Jamie’s ability to communicate. Her ability to sign helped facilitate “speech” and let me tell you, she now talks and talks. My son, Brady, was diagnosed with a profound tongue tie and 30Db temporary hearing loss at age 3. When I discovered this was the reason he struggled with breast-feeding as an infant; why he often choked and gagged eating table food; and why his dad and I were the only ones that understood his speech, I was overwhelmed with guilt and sadness. I remember asking myself, how could I not have known? I too was tongue tied and received speech therapy services as a child. I will forever be grateful for the SLP that discovered Brady’s tongue tie, provided therapy, and referred us to an otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat physician).
As my children entered their school aged years, it was apparent that they both struggled with language processing. Both of my kiddos received alphabetic phonic services and attended other reading intervention programs. Yes, it was a struggle and there were lots of tears over the years, but I couldn’t be more proud of the strides my children have made as young adults. It was these life experiences that led me to a career in speech-language pathology and pursuing a job in early childhood intervention at Rainbows. Last month, my first Rainbows’ child turned 3-years old and transitioned into the public schools. Though it was difficult saying good-bye, I couldn’t be prouder of the progress she made. When we first met, her family understood 0-10% of her speech (mom understood 50%).
Today unfamiliar adults understand 50-75%! This was especially apparent when her family invited me to attend the zoo with them. It was there that I observed her carrying on a conversation with a zoo keeper. Needless to say, Mom and I were ecstatic! At our final visit, I was showered with gifts of love…Mom quilted a beautiful floral table runner, her sister drew a brightly colored bumble-bee, and she beautifully painted a flower pot adorned with purple flowers. Her grandfather was also there and thanked me several times for helping him and his granddaughter communicate. I was blessed to have them as my first Rainbows’ family. I love helping kiddos and their families. Thank you for my job, Rainbows.
This post was written by Kelly Welch, Speech-Language Pathologist, who is pictured with her family.