This is the question I hear after I tell anyone that I have hearing loss. The surprise that comes with the question really proves that all my years of speech therapy have benefitted greatly.

I was born with bilateral hearing loss which after multiple tests were completed and misread, I finally got diagnosed at 16 months of age. Therefore, causing me to be 1 ½ years delayed in my speech. My Mom and Dad did anything and everything to make sure that I did not struggle socially nor academically. As soon as I received my hearing aids, I started doing speech therapy 2-3 times a week. My parents would drive from Cullman to Children’s in Birmingham for every single session. I developed a strong bond with my speech therapist and loved her and speech therapy interventions. We threw her a wedding shower with other hearing loss friends from Cullman. I have even been to Dallas to visit her since she moved there while I was young. Once I entered Kindergarten, I started speech through the school system. After years and years of speech, I FINALLY completed and graduated from it in 6th grade before entering middle school.

My main goal during speech therapy that took the longest to accomplish was my ‘S’ and ‘Z’ sound. Having hearing loss had little-to-some effect on my life. I only struggled in school in 2016 after I had surgery for a cochlear implant that summer. Getting used to a new hearing device was tough, but I had no help or motivation from my audiologist. I then just stopped wearing it and only relied on a hearing aid in my right ear. I was a cheerleader, I was a part of NHS, even a member of the Key Club. I am actually a 2x State Champion in cheerleading. I graduated from Cullman High School in 2017 and immediately went to Wallace State community college and prepared for the OTA program. I worked hard throughout those 2 years and graduated as an OTA in 2019. If it wasn’t for speech therapy, I would have not been able to successfully accomplish what I have. I am very thankful for my speech therapists throughout the years and all their help.

Parents: If it is recommended that your child should be evaluated for speech therapy, please don’t hesitate! Early intervention is KEY, and the results can be LIFE CHANGING! 


Abbie Wallace

My name is Abbie Wallace and I am a COTA/L, dog mom, big sister, and a travel-loving adult. I am 21 years young with a beautiful husky named Nova that I love and spoil. I graduated from Cullman High School in 2017 and Wallace State Community College in 2019. I have a bilateral hearing loss in which I wear a cochlear implant in my left ear and a hearing aid in my right. I knew at the age of 16 that I wanted to be in occupational therapy. My little sister was going into middle school when she had brain surgery and had a stroke during the procedure. She woke up with poor control of her right side and required occupational and physical therapy. I watched her complete OT and became very interested in the field and job-shadowed and fell in love.

During these uncertain times of COVID-19, many parents find themselves asking hundreds of questions.

Am I letting my child stay up too late? Are they spending too much time watching TV? How do I navigate being both a parent and a teacher? How is it possible the house is messy again?

So many parents are asking the same questions you’re asking. They have similar doubts, fears, and anxieties. You’re not the only one, and there’s definitely no “right” way to navigate this unique situation. This post, in honor of Better Speech and Hearing Month, is meant to provide some encouragement and insight on how to navigate these common daily uncertainties.

To start, develop a daily routine. According to ASHA, embedding opportunities for children to participate in every day routines is an evidence-based practice recognized as an important component in development (Bronfenbrenner, 1992; Dunst, 2006; Wilcox & Woods, 2011). Children thrive when they have a routine and clear expectations.

Take 5 minutes to write down 3-4 tasks you want to complete every day. Start small, generic, and keep them reasonable. I suggest including designated meal, work, and play times.

See the example below:

Today I want to…

  • Eat dinner at the table
  • Play outside with the kids for 1 hour
  • Read the kids a book before bedtime
  • Complete 1 load of laundry

Review your accomplishments at the end of the day! As you feel comfortable, add to your list. Children yearn for structure, so don’t be afraid to add specifics.

Today I want to…

  • Eat dinner as a family at the table: 6 pm
  • No electronics: 2-4 pm
  • Play outside with the kids for 1 hour: 3 pm
  • Read the kids a book before bedtime: 7:30 pm
  • Clean the bathroom during nap time

Developing a routine should not be dreaded or stressful. In fact, routines should help ease anxieties and help you feel in control during these unknown times. Go easy on yourself and take it one day at a time. As therapists, we’re here to lend a listening ear and provide support for you and your family. Celebrate the small victories and remember: you’ve got this!

Much Love,

Gracie Franklin, MS, CF-SLP

Gracie graduated from Old Dominion University in December 2019, with a Masters of Education in Speech-Language Pathology. Since graduation, Gracie has received specialized training in AAC, therapeutic oral motor interventions, and Orofacial Myology. She currently lives in Birmingham and is looking forward to marrying her fiance, Kevin, later this year (her wedding was originally planned for May, but was rescheduled to September, Thanks, COVID-19). Gracie enjoys spending time outdoors, going on adventures with her friends and fiance, and loves the pediatric population.

Happy Better Speech-Language-Hearing and Swallowing Month!

When deciding on what to post or blog for this month’s theme, I went to ASHA’s website for ideas. This year’s recommendations are focused on the COVID-19 Pandemic the impacts we all face. At first, I thought I would probably best serve others along those same lines. Perhaps I could talk about telehealth and what an unexpected fun and rewarding learning experience that has been, hopefully, to parent and therapist alike. But, then, I came across a timely little article in this month’s ASHA Leader Publication, that immediately made me think of Mother’s Day, which we observed earlier this month. So, in honor of both BHBS Month and Mother’s Day, let me share what I found so exciting and relevant to what we do as therapists and what you do as parents…PLAY!

Play: A study from Princeton University found that “during face-to-face (play) time, the babies’ brains and adults’ brains synchronized in several areas, including the prefrontal cortex.” Researchers found this by using a new dual brain imaging system. The prefrontal cortex is a part of the brain that is involved in learning and executive functions. Furthermore, the study found that the babies were actually leading the play, and the adults would respond accordingly. The study consisted of 18 children, 9-15 months old. Though this is a small study, I found it to be quite supportive of what we do therapeutically. During both in-person treatments and teletherapy sessions, we promote guided play and increasing parent’s awareness of what the subtleties of nonverbal communication may be indicating.

So, in appreciation of all those mothers, mothers-to-be, fathers, and any caregiver of a young child (and older child for that matter), have fun playing with your children. Take the time to play with your children. It not only helps their brains grow and develop; it’s making us “smarter,” too. I hope that whoever is reading this will never again think of ooing, cooing, and gooing, making silly faces, and playing peek-a-boo as anything less than lovingly educational. I hope you had a wonderful Happy Mother’s Day, and Happy (soon-to-be) Father’s Day!

In appreciation for all caregivers,

Marilyn Hart, MA, CCC-SLP

P.S. Check out this article from ASHA’s Leader Live site, for ideas on how to stay connected during this time of physical distancing:

Marilyn is the Director of Speech-Language Pathology at APTS. She is a 1994 Graduate of UT (her last semester was Peyton Manning’s first semester = ). She has 26 years of experience, with most of that time devoted to children in various settings, including out-patient, hospital, Early Intervention, and schools. To keep up with her adult skills, she has been on rotation at Encompass for close to 15 years, and has dabbled in home health. Marilyn’s deepest desire for every child/person she works with, is to make a difference in their lives in a loving and meaningful way, no matter how small or big. She lives with her husband and dog, Smokey, in Gadsden.

The purpose of this blog is to provide caregivers with education on childhood development concerns, straight from the experts! We hope you find each post informative and educational. Please check back as we grow our posts in the near future.

Alabama Pediatric Therapy Services: Who Are We?

When a parent/caregiver has concerns about their child’s motor develop development, speech-development, or academic progress, they often don’t know where to turn.

APTS, with two locations in Rainbow City and Oneonta, provides a variety of therapeutic services to children age birth through 21, who may be struggling with functional participation in one or various areas.  At APTS, you will find a child-friendly, non-clinical environment, where children thrive and succeed. Services include occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy.  APTS serves children with a variety of needs and functional levels.

Following an initial evaluation, the therapist will collaborate with caregivers to develop goals and objectives based on the family’s needs and priorities. Family involvement in therapy is very important, and the therapists’ at APTS will include and educate caregivers in order for them to carry over the strategies and techniques in the home environment to accelerate success.

The friendly office staff at APTS can assist you with any questions about scheduling, insurance, or the services available. Make sure to check out our social story on our website to prepare your child for their first appointment. If you have any concerns about your child’s development, please call our Rainbow City office at 256-459-5051 or our Oneonta office at 205-274-2244. We look forward to hearing from you!

ONEONTA OFFICE: 315 6th St S • Oneonta, AL + PHONE: 205.274.2244 + EMAIL: + HOURS: Monday-Thursday 8:30 AM - 5:30 PM
RAINBOW CITY OFFICE: 3803 Rainbow Drive • Rainbow City, AL 35906 + PHONE: 256-459-5051 + HOURS: 8:30 AM - 5:30 PM