Interview with Tatyana Elleseff of Smart Speech Therapy

Tatyana Elleseff MA CCC-SLP is a bilingual speech-language pathologist who specializes in working with multicultural, internationally & domestically adopted as well as at-risk children with complex communication disorders in a hospital, school, and private practice settings. She has been published in several magazines including Adoption Today, Adoption Advocate, Advance for Speech-Language Pathologists as well as ASHA Perspectives on School-Based and Global Issues.

She has also presented for a number of medical, academic and non-profit organizations as well as speech language hearing associations including, American Academy of Pediatrics: Council on Foster Care, Adoption and Kinship, New Jersey Taskforce on Child Abuse and Neglect, New Jersey, Long Island, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Wayne County, and Illinois Speech-Language-Hearing Associations, New York City Department of Education, Greenwich Public Schools, Butler County Educational Service Center, Los Angeles Unified School District, Speech-Language & Audiology Canada  North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) as well as American Speech Language Hearing Association.

Note: You should consult with your doctor or speech pathologist for recommendations on treatment. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Tatyana Elleseff and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

What inspired you to start the Smart Speech Therapy blog?

I started it a few years ago, when there was a dearth of articles on the topic of translational research. I wanted to bridge the gap between research and clinical practice by writing a variety of posts on topics of high interest to SLPs.

What do you hope your readers get out of your posts?

I really hope that after reading my posts readers will learn new (to them information) regarding the implementation of evidence-based practice in order to better serve the clients in their care.

You have a long and varied list of specialties- from dyslexia to internationally adopted children to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders to behavioral disturbances- impressive! What is it like to work with such a variety of cases?

When one gets down to the basics, one quickly realizes that these diverse populations have quite a bit in common, mainly they all present with a variety of language and literacy deficits which exist on a continuum. While, some have milder and others more severe deficits, at the end of the day, it’s all due to language! So that’s what I do, I assess and determine their areas of strengths and needs and then provide them with scientifically based interventions specific to their needs.

Your practice mostly does consultations. How have the services you provide and your caseload changed over time?

When I first started my private practice on Christmas Day in 2008 (when I saw my very first private client) I was doing therapy almost exclusively. My caseload almost at that time consisted of early intervention clients with very complex communication profiles as well as internationally adopted clients of various ages. Over the years that has changed dramatically. I began branching out to working with older clients, doing more assessments, performing comprehensive evaluations for attorneys, etc. I became very interested in literacy and started shifting a lot of attention and focus on that area. I also found that I liked working with adolescents with complex language and literacy needs because I was able to make very significant progress with them academically in relatively short periods of time. As my interests shifted, I also found myself besieged with phone calls, emails and social media requests for assistance from clients who did not reside in my geographical area. This eventually forced me to add an additional telepractice component to my services. Sometime early last year I found myself so busy with assessments and consultations that I realized that I no longer have adequate time and interest in focusing on therapy services. Consequently, I shifted my private practice model to the one it is today: providing comprehensive assessments and consultations with only a smattering of therapy clients remaining on my caseload.

How do you like providing telemedicine services? What advice do you have for others who wish to do the same?

I enjoy providing services via teleconferencing. I find it very useful for clients located in other states as well as internationally (I consulted on cases in a variety of countries including: Russia, Canada, Israel, Japan, Germany, Switzerland, France, etc.). My only advice for SLPs wishing to do the same is to find their specialization areas and really refine their abilities by learning as much as possible to gain expertise. Once others recognize your skills as valuable to them, the offers for consults will simply pour in.

Are there certain types of cases that you find most challenging?

All cases are challenging and unique in their own way. As such, one can never relax too much or let one’s guard down, if one doesn’t want to miss anything. But if I absolutely had to choose one particularly challenging area of focus, than working with clients with complex literacy needs and intellectual disabilities would be one such area which provides quite a significant amount of challenge.

From your latest post, “It’s all Due to”Language” to several of your ASHA Leader Blog posts, one theme that keeps coming up is the importance of honing in on early signs of language deficits and not overlooking difficulties because a child is reading or speaking “fine” overall. What is your advice for parents or SLPs working with children who some would just say are “on the fence” or “will get by”?

Always dig deeper! Don’t be overconfident and assume you ‘know your truth’. Until these children receive comprehensive language and literacy testing appropriate to their needs, you truly don’t know anything. You just think you do! Assumptions and overconfidence are dangerous without proof!