Every day, most of us talk without thinking about it. But for what comes naturally to many, there are others who need the gift of speaking.
Dr Shannon Salley, Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) who works at Longwood University as an Associate Professor in the Department of Social Work and Communication Sciences and Disorders, teaches students how to best serve those in need of speech services .
Salley is currently supervising graduate students of the Speech-Language Pathology Masters program.
They provide speech, language, swallowing and feeding services to children and adults in the area.
“Some of these families come to us because other places have long waiting lists, or because they cannot travel long distances for the services they need, or other facilities will not accept. not their insurance, ”Salley said. “Our clients can get the help they need while our graduate students learn valuable skills and techniques they will need when they self-license as speech-language pathologists. My role in this experience varies, but I hope that through my experiences and guidance, I can make an impact on our current clients and have a long-term impact on the future clients that our graduate students will serve.
“I tell my students every day that our work makes a difference even if we don’t see it right away,” said Salley.
Salley has, in fact, had an impact on a lot over the course of his career.
While working at a long-term care facility before coming to Longwood, Salley said she brought in a man who had suffered a stroke.
He couldn’t speak and couldn’t swallow. He was on a feeding tube.
His communication skills improved to the point where he could at least communicate with small sentences and small gestures, but his swallowing deficits were what frustrated him the most.
“I asked them when he admitted to my facility what their therapy goals were. His wife wanted him to be able to eat Thanksgiving dinner with his family because he was a big family man and loved big social events that included them, ”Salley said. “He worked so hard, did all the exercises I gave him, and his family supported me so much. Just before Thanksgiving, his wife asked me if I would come join them for Thanksgiving lunch at the facility to hopefully celebrate his success and make sure he could eat safely for the first time since. many months. I gladly accepted. He was able to safely eat a small Thanksgiving meal with his family.
It was the first time the family had eaten together since he suffered a stroke.
“His wife was crying. He was crying. Her children were crying, all tears of joy, ”said Salley. “He kept taking my hand and patting it, and his wife kept saying what ‘gift’ I gave him and the family, helping him regain his capacity to swallowing.
“It was one of the first times I knew my profession could improve the quality of someone’s life.
In addition to teaching college students, Salley is currently working with a young child who does not speak and is having difficulty feeding due to his diagnosis.
“He came to me drinking PediaSure to meet his nutritional needs,” said Salley. “I’ve been seeing him for two years, and he’s now communicating with an alternate communication system, and he’s eating sandwiches, spaghetti, cereal, fruit, carrots, peas, potatoes and more.”
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