Bridget Giraldo of Speech Therapy TalkBridget Giraldo MS, CCC-SLP is an ASHA certified, practicing speech-language pathologist with over 12 years of experience. Bridget earned her Bachelor’s degree in Speech and Hearing Science and a minor in Spanish from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. She earned her Master’s of Science in Communication Disorders from the University of Wisconsin. Bridget founded a private speech therapy company, Speech Therapy Talk Services in 2017 and runs the website www.speechtherapytalk.com. Before starting her own company, Bridget worked in acute care, inpatient rehab, sub-acute care, outpatient clinics, private and public schools, and private practice. She is passionate about creating functional, individualized therapy programs to help others improve their communication skills using only evidence-based therapy practices.


What inspired you to start Speech Therapy Talk?

Having moved around quite a bit during my husband’s Ph.D., I had to change jobs frequently. Luckily, I had the amazing opportunity to work in extremely varied settings and I LOVED it! During all these experiences, one common thing kept popping up though…there seemed to be a gap between current research, professional practices, and parent education. My goal for Speech Therapy Talk was to bridge that gap. I wanted to bring all the pieces together and provide everyone with real, research-based information and activities.

Unfortunately, another common theme was a lack of resources and funding. From nursing homes to insurance coverage in outpatient facilities to strict state standards for special education, there were always patients who needed therapy but couldn’t get it covered or didn’t quite qualify. To help these people, I also created Speech Therapy Talk. It is my way of giving back and reaching as many people as possible! There are so many things that parents, teachers, and caregivers can do at home or in the classroom!

 

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

When I write a post, I aim to provide readers with clear, research-based information. My ultimate goal is that readers understand how communication skills develop, what to expect by specific ages, when to seek professional advice, and how to find free, functional activities that can be effortlessly woven into daily life. Communication development and speech-language therapy just can’t happen in 30 minutes per week. It can’t happen by completing worksheets. It has to happen throughout the day within motivating, natural communication occurrences. Cueing, activities, and expectations are what needs to be adjusted. I also hope my readers realize that it doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming or even require a printer/laminator.

 

How did you become passionate about bilingual speech-language pathology?

My interest in bilingual speech-language pathology has both professional and personal roots. Spanish was my minor during my undergraduate studies at the University of Illinois and I studied abroad in Granada, Spain. My husband is a native Spanish speaker and we are raising our children bilingually.

Professionally: During my first job in a public school, I worked with a heavily bilingual population and there were many different languages spoken. I immediately noticed the over-identification of bilingual students as students with speech-language needs. I also realized that there was a lot of misinformation on bilingual language development. Due to these factors, I became interested in learning more about bilingual speech-language pathology. I needed to learn how to identify and treat bilingual children with speech and language disorders and I needed to create parent-friendly education materials.

Personally, my husband and I are raising our children bilingually. I have been fascinated watching my children learn both languages and observe how it affects/enhances their language development. My children are still young and I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds on a personal level!

 

You stress the importance of integrating therapy into real life. What are your top 3 tips for SLPs who want to get better at this?

Open a line of communication with the child’s caregivers and/or teachers. This is the most important! It is crucial to listen, really listen, to how the child is doing in different settings. Take observations from teachers/caregivers into account when designing goals, cues, and home practices. Relish all feedback and use it to plan your therapy program.

Adapt your home program activities to fit the family’s lifestyle, activities, and interests. For example, during school, provide teachers with concrete ideas on how to weave speech and language practice into the classroom. This may require some observation to see how the child is performing in a classroom and which strategies may or may not be beneficial. At home, learn what activities families already perform daily. Do they eat as a family or do the kids eat separately? If they eat as a family,  dinner is a great way to work on requesting or 2-word phrases. Create a specific home practice for dinner time. Do they spend a lot of time driving to activities? Maybe playing “I spy” in the car is a great way to target vocabulary development.

Be flexible and adjust. Assessing the child’s progress as well as your plan is essential! Does the family or teacher follow through with the home practices? If not…why not? Figure out how you can adjust the plan. Maybe the child is too hungry to work on language during dinner, and therefore, is constantly breaking down out of frustration. Working on requesting during snack time might be easier, or during playtime, etc…

 

What would you say can be the biggest challenges of integrating therapy into everyday life?

Creating a truly individualized home program is the most challenging thing. Unfortunately, there aren’t any cookie cutter programs out there that will work for everyone. It takes time, reflection, and critical thinking. The speech-language pathologist must really think about the child’s preferred activities, learning style, and needed cueing. It is important to create successful activities but at the same time fade cues in order for the child to gain independence. It also takes time to educate parents and make sure they understand exactly how to practice.

 

Where do you look to find new evidence-based ideas for your practice?

Thanks to the internet, there is a lot of information out there waiting at the tip of our fingers. However, there is some “not so evidence-based information” as well. It is crucial to stay up-to-date with credible information. Some of my favorite sources are the “The informed SLP” (subscription site with the synopsis of the best of the current research), reading ASHA journals, evidence-based speech therapy facebook groups, ASHA courses, and credible conferences.

 

What is your advice for SLP graduate students?

Get a well-rounded education with clinical placements in all types of settings with all types of clients. In graduate school, I thought I only wanted to work with adults in a hospital setting. Most of my clinical placements reflected those interests. However, during my second job at a rural hospital, I worked in acute care, inpatient rehab, sub-acute care, and outpatient pediatrics. While working in outpatient pediatrics, I  realized that my true interests were in pediatric speech, language, and feeding disorders. The moral of the story is….you just never know!


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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 Bridget Giraldo and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeechPathologyMastersPrograms.com