Speech and language skills are at the root of a child’s cognitive and social-emotional development. Each conversation you have, each opportunity to add new words to your child’s word bank or to use words in different ways, is critical, not only for school adjustment and performance, but also for parent-child relationships and relationships with peers, friends, relatives, teachers, and even the dog! Research overwhelmingly supports the connection of speech and language to reading and math success and it also shows that social and emotional skills can be traced directly to language skills. Children need words to develop appropriate strategies for conflict resolution and to read the cues of others. Their emotional strength and resilience develop from the strength they have in understanding others and communicating their own needs. Assessing speech and language development is multifaceted, which is precisely why it is crucial your child is being supported and served in the best ways possible by an eminently qualified licensed speech and language pathologist (SLP) with a proven record of successful solutions.
Personable and proficient, with a passion to empower her clients, Ashley Small is a proudly practicing speech-language pathologist licensed in New York and New Jersey. She provides resources, evaluations, consultations, and individualized treatment for toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age children in the areas of language disorders, phonological/articulation disorders, and autism, as well as adults in the areas of dysarthria, and Parkinson’s. Additionally, Ashley provides synchronous (client interactive) tele-practice services with interactive audio and video connection in real time to create an in-person experience similar to that achieved in a traditional encounter.
Compassionate, kind, and caring, she strives to reach the highest potential of each individual’s communication abilities by using the most up-to-date speech, language, and social skills techniques for all ages. Ashley affords her clients the most effective, cutting-edge techniques to facilitate a successful outcome. She is trained in PROMPT therapy. PROMPT adds a multidimensional approach using tactile kinesthetic cues to produce sounds and words. It allows for practice of targeted sounds and words. PROMPT works where traditional speech therapy can’t. PROMPT therapy can be used for childhood apraxia of speech, motor planning deficits, articulation, and phonological disorders. Since Ashley Small is a speech and language pathologist first, with a specialty in PROMPT therapy, the child has the added benefit of the multidimensional approach using touch cues. Being a PROMPT therapist indicates a high level of expertise involving extensive hands-on experience.
Although she usually conducts her business through home and office appointments, she has transformed to telehealth due to the COVID situation. Despite the change in setting, Ashley has found telehealth to be just as effective as meeting her clients in person.
“Initially, I was worried that it might be somewhat difficult to do the therapy virtually with my younger clients, but there are lots of ways for me to keep them focused and attentive,” she said. “As a result, I’m able to successfully teach to their struggles and help them reach their goals. When I’m working with kids, they enjoy using the computer or phone. The one-on-one sessions are prorated for the perfect amount of time for each kid’s attention and engagement.”
A child without a voice is limited in his or her ability to make choices, interact socially, communicate basic needs and wants, and can be closed off from the world in many ways. In school-age children, speech and language difficulties can lead to classroom difficulties. Unable to fully immerse themselves in the lessons, students may feel disconnected from both the academic and social aspects of school.
“Children ‘learn to read’ at an early age but in first grade they ‘read to learn.’” she says. “That first building block is crucial for everything else to stand on its own. But if a student is struggling, I use multisensory reading programs to tackle different stages of decoding and raising fluency in a systematic and hierarchal way. The key to [working through] dyslexia is patience and understanding.”
A gifted professional, Ashley is blessed with great sensitivity and devotion to the needs of every client, customizing solutions to best serve them. Ashley helps a child’s overall sense of happiness and well-being grow by giving them tools to be able to form deeper bonds with their peers. She also works with children who have dyslexia to develop reading and writing skills, utilizing a multisensory approach for a successful outcome.
Passionate about helping each client achieve their full potential, Ashley views her work as a labor of love. “I want all my clients to feel comfortable not just in their abilities, because they are just as able to learn as their classmates. They just benefit from an approach that works for their learning needs.”
Ashley also works with adults, especially those with Parkinson’s disease. Speech issues can be debilitating regardless of someone’s age, which may result in poor self-confidence and other concerns. “Helping people correct those issues is something I find incredibly rewarding.” It is one of the reasons she decided to pursue a career in Speech and Language Pathology.
“Forming relationships is so crucial,” says Ashley. “When people have trouble doing so, it can really impact negatively on their lives. This isn’t a problem that is confined to certain age groups. I have had clients as young as one as well as adults of 93 who have grappled with this issue. What I find most rewarding about my work is that I am not only helping people to overcome their challenges, but also helping them feel good about themselves. I have seen how frustrating it can be for my clients when they are unable to articulate their feelings. After years of struggling to communicate, it’s empowering to find your voice and finally have the confidence to initiate or join a conversation.”
“I truly enjoy combining my knowledge and practice as speech-language pathologist with my training in many multisensory reading programs to help struggling readers,” she shares. “I treasure my role as a therapist where I help children reach academic success and educate parents about the laws regarding special education.
Spanning New York and New Jersey, her client base is multi-generational and ever-expanding. Consider the following enthusiastic and unsolicited comments, attesting to the exceptional quality of her work and services:
“We initially approached Ashley to work with our six-year-old daughter on her /r/ sounds,” shared A.D. of New York City. “At our first session she identified that her /s/ and /z/ sounds also needed some support and developed a thoughtful, progressive program to address all three. She makes the “work” feel like “play” for our daughter, which has helped her progress well. She is really good at explaining her methodology to me and to adapting it in given situations so that I’m able to support her when we’re not in sessions. Ashley was very supportive and gave us great suggestions for how to ‘gamify’ the homework. We feel lucky to have found her and have recommended her to close friends.”
“Ashley came to work with my 83-year-old father on his diminishing speech abilities and vocal projections with the LSVT loud program,” said W.R. “My father was initially resistant to the idea, but within two minutes, Ashley’s warmth, humor, kindness, and big smile won him over. She engaged him immediately and got him excited about the process. He made instant progress which was satisfying and he began to look forward to every session. Ashley was sensitive to his challenges and creative about finding ways to engage him. She has always been flexible, punctual, thoughtful, and lovely to be around. As a result of her work, my father has found his voice again, has regained his confidence, and is joining conversations with enthusiasm. She continues to work with him on a maintenance program to make sure that he sustains all of the progress he has made. Our whole family feels extremely fortunate to have found Ashley.”
Rochelle Maruch Miller is a contributing editor for the Five Towns Jewish Times. She is a journalist, creative media consultant, lecturer, and educator, and writes for magazines, newspapers, websites, and private clients. She welcomes your comments at Rochellemiller04@aol.com.