We recently had the opportunity to meet Kelsey Thompson of Thrive Speech Pathology, a speech and feeding practice in Chapel Hill. Her practices focuses on pediatric speech, language, and feeding issues, and loves supporting the entire family through her individual therapeutic approach. She is also very flexible in where she holds each session, be in your home, her office, or even a day care if that works better for your family. Overall, she is a great resources for families in the Chapel Hill area for speech therapy!
How did you become interested in pediatric speech, language, feeding and literacy therapy?
As a child I was always pretending to be a teacher and as the oldest child on both sides of the family was always playing the role of mother/teacher. While in high school, I began to research professions that would allow me to impact children. I had the opportunity to shadow the speech-language pathologist at our local elementary school and found the work they did one on one with children with a variety of learning differences was so impactful. This led me to attend an accelerated Bachelors/Master’s degree program in Speech Language Pathology at Northeastern University in Boston.
It wasn’t until I attended Northeastern University that I realized speech pathologists do more than just articulation therapy. Once exposed to the full field, from infants to geriatrics, I was able to find my niche in working with the pediatric population specializing in feeding, cognitive development, and literacy. While seemingly unconnected, these areas all involve complex neurological processes that have a tremendous impact on a child’s growth and development.
When is the optimal time for parents to bring their child to you?
Ideally, parents should reach out to us as soon as they have a feeling that something isn’t exactly right. It is much easier and research shows, more effective, to intervene early. For speech, language, and cognitive delays, I encourage parents to be familiar with expected milestones. The American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) has resources for parents on typical development . Pediatricians and teachers can be great resources for this as well.
It can be more difficult for parents to identify feeding challenges, and many expect their child to ‘grow out’ of feeding difficulties. Some signs of feeding difficulties that we see frequently include: feedings taking > 30 minutes and/or falling asleep during most feedings, your child is eating only a few foods and is not adding new foods, coughing, choking, gagging, or watery eyes during feeding, food refusal, and/or mashing instead of chewing foods. Parents should reach out to their pediatrician or a speech pathologist who specializes in feeding.
At Thrive, we offer families a free 15-minute consultation, in person or by phone, which can help us determine if a full evaluation is warranted.
How can your services help families?
We offer comprehensive evaluations and therapy in the home, daycare/preschool, or office for children birth to 18 with a variety of speech, language, feeding, and literacy challenges. Therapy focuses not just on the child, but on the whole family, as therapy is only effective if it is carried over at home. We operate from a play-based approach and believe in meeting the child where they are at and then teaching, not testing, them as they develop the skills needed to communicate and participate in the world around them. For feeding specifically, we work with parents and young children to develop oral motor skills and modulate sensory responses so that children are able to safely, effectively, and happily enjoy a variety of foods. Equally important, we coach parents on how to introduce new foods and interact with their children during feedings in a way that is natural and stress free.
Overall, our services provide children with individualized, engaging therapy and families with the resources and tools they need to support their child’s continued growth.
What is your favorite part of your work?
Family counseling and education is the most rewarding part of my job, and the aspect that parents are most appreciative of. I enjoy taking the time to get to know my clients and their families and try to provide more than just exercises to work on at home, but also support and education on how to make the changes that will help their child continue to make progress. A large part of engaging with parents is helping them troubleshoot roadblocks and challenges and I love working together to explore creative solutions that are feasible for the family and beneficial to their child. It is always rewarding to see my clients grow and achieve their goals.
When not working with kids, where can we find you?
When not working, I am outside taking advantage of the warmer weather in NC! You can find me walking my dog, Gizmo, in Carolina Forest, perusing the farmer’s market, sitting outside with a good book, or kayaking. We also love to travel and visit our family up and down the East Coast!