For this Staff Highlight we’re shining the spotlight on Erica Lord, speech-language pathologist and lead therapist for our Tiny Talkers School-Readiness Program. Before we get to Erica’s thoughts on being an SLP, here’s what our Founder, Mandy, had to say:
“Erica is a ray of sunshine. She infuses our entire team with positivity, and inspires a continued love of learning in everyone. She has embraced the role of developing and leading our Tiny Talkers program, and under her guidance the children involved have blossomed. Erica is quickly becoming an early childhood expert and we all look to her for consultation when toddlers walk through our doors. She is not only a genuine, compassionate presence, but also a leader in her constant quest for knowledge and proactivity in applying what she learns. Erica is an incredibly special, very valued member of our team.”
Erica, why did you get into the speech therapy field?
I was inspired to get into speech therapy when my great-grandmother developed dementia and it affected her ability to communicate with her family.
What do you appreciate most about your role as an SLP?
I appreciate that my role as an SLP doesn’t stop at being an SLP. As my mentors at ICT say, we wear many “hats” as therapists. I love the delicate dance of being what the child needs to help them grow as a confident communicator. If the child is motivated by pretending to be animals, I have perfected my “elephant sound”. Our other “hats” include being a supportive listener/advocate for the families and a collaborator with occupational therapists, physical therapists, psychologists, teachers, and other professionals to develop a holistic approach for therapy.
What stands out to you about working at ICT?
I love being part of a supportive team that brings so much positivity and warmth to ICT. We are always working together to share ideas, problem-solve, co-treat, and celebrate successes. ICT really holds the standard of having a strong team-based approach to ensure that children and their families have a support system to ultimately help kids be kids.
What is an intervention or strategy that you find especially useful?
I believe it’s so important to validate children’s feelings to nourish the minds and hearts of our little ones. Whether they’re happy, sad, frustrated, or excited, we can help them identify with the dynamic range of emotions that make them human. It is a simple yet meaningful way to help all children, especially those with communication differences, feel understood. Using validation in my therapy sessions not only helps me connect with the child, but opens an avenue of trust by supporting them emotionally.
What is your top tip for parents?
Children are amazing at staying in the present moment. My top tip for parents would be to set aside special time every day, even just for 10 to 15 minutes, to be completely present with your child. See where your child takes the lead, follow and enjoy their curiosity alongside them. After all, it’s the parents’ and caregivers’ presence and attention that enriches children the most!