Pediatric Speech Language Therapy

Speech language pathologist may be able to help you and your child develop improved articulation, modify and develop feeding strategies, address fluency issues or stuttering, provide techniques to address expressive and receptive language impairment, or
develop alternate communication strategies for children unable to speak

Infants and toddlers often have trouble with pronunciation and difficulties putting sentences together. A child between the ages of 18 months and 3 years will generally mispronounce many words. For example, many substitute an “f” or “d” sound for “th” (“I’m taking a baf”) or a “w” sound for an “l” or “r” (“The wion wawed” = “The lion roared”).
You want to watch for your toddler’s speech improving over time. By age 3, most of what your child says should be pretty understandable.
If the problem is not pronunciation but rather that your child isn’t talking or is talking very little, you should act more quickly.

POSSIBLE REASONS TO REACH OUT TO A MILESTONE SPEECH THERAPIST:

    • being overly sensitive to sounds such as vacuums or hair dryers, yet seem indifferent at other times when people call her name
    • doesn’t learn “bye-bye” or react to games like peek-a-boo
    • your child not reacting normally or consistently to sounds
    • talking using mostly vowels or single words only — no sentences
    • omitting whole consonants, saying “a” for “cat.”
    • use one catch-all sound or syllable to name most things (“duh” or “duh-duh” is a popular one).
  • use a word once and then not use it again frequently or at all.
  • Not pointing to common objects in books.
  • Answering questions by repeating part of your question. (If you say, “Do you want milk?” responds by saying “Milk!” instead of a head nod or “yes” response — this is called echolalia, and may be an early sign that lots of work is ahead.

As with all our disciplines, it is imperative to have the commitment and support of the family throughout the therapy process, which is why home programming is a staple of any successful outcome at MST. This home programming will educate and reinforce specific skills and behaviors, which will be used to improve and facilitate the child’s performance and long term functioning.

Interested in learning more about speech therapy in the clinics? Check out our Highland, IN,  Olympia Fields, ILKankakee, IL or Merrilville, IN clinic pages.

Speech Therapists

MEGAN POWELL MEGAN
POWELL

Megan graduated from Saint Xavier University in June 2010 with her master’s degree in communication sciences and disorders. She’s had a variety of clinical experiences during graduate school, working with children and adults. After working with adults in skilled nursing for several years, she made the decision to transition to the pediatric population because her passion for working with kids never went away.

She is excited to continue working with children and watch them grow, while she grows as a clinician too. She feels seeing a smile on a kiddo’s face because she helped them communicate is an awesome experience.

BROOKE TRUEBLOOD BROOKE
TRUEBLOOD

Brooke is a Speech-Language Pathologist Clinical Fellow. She graduated from Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions in Provo, Utah with a master’s degree in speech and language pathology with a medical emphasis. Prior to attending graduate school, Brooke worked as a Speech-Language Pathologist Assistant for the School City of Hammond and All of Me Therapy LLC., a private clinic located in Dyer, Indiana.

Brooke completed her final clinical rotation at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, California. As part of this externship, she worked exclusively with children birth-3 years old and their families. She had the opportunity to treat clients with a variety of genetic and acquired disorders, and worked on developing and expanding their expressive, receptive and play skills. Brooke is a strong believer in taking a team approach to therapy and loves to involve family in this special process.

OLIVIA ORTIZ OLIVIA
ORTIZ

In 2017, Olivia received a bachelor’s degree in communicative sciences and disorders and Spanish from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana. She continued at Saint Mary’s for her graduate studies and received her master’s degree in speech-language pathology in May 2019.

Throughout her clinical rotations, Olivia had the opportunity to learn in a school, clinic and an outpatient facility working with various disorders and diverse populations. She is excited to begin her clinical fellowship at Milestone Therapy because she is passionate about working in pediatrics and incorporating her Spanish skills into therapy programs. In her spare time, Olivia enjoys attending baseball games, traveling to visit friends and spending time with her family and dog.

ABIGAIL ZURLIENE ABIGAIL
ZURLIENE

Abby graduated from Maryville University in 2019 with her master’s degree in speech language pathology. She has experience working with children and adults in clinics, skilled nursing facilities and public schools. Since graduating, she has been a stay-at-home mom before accepting a position at Milestone Therapy.

Abby is excited to begin her career as a pediatric Speech Language Pathologist in Early Intervention and cannot wait to continue to grow as a clinician while helping young children reach their full potential. Abby lives in a small town in Illinois with her husband and new baby girl. She enjoys spending her free time Jeeping, hanging out with family and friends and watching Cardinals baseball!

CARI BURKE CARI
BURKE

Cari graduated with her master’s degree in speech language pathology from Illinois State University in 1996. She has worked with both children and adults over the years, helping individuals find their voices. She specializes in augmentative and alternative communication to help her patients reach their goals. She worked with both children and adults. However, she has developed a passion for her clients in Early Intervention.

She believes every human being has the right to speak and tell their stories and feels honored to be a part of their journey in achieving that. She is very passionate about family involvement and teaching her clients’ support network how to encourage that same independence. She began working with Milestone Therapy in 2019 where she continues to help her clients communicate to the best of their abilities. She is married, enjoys staying active, loves to cook and is involved in her community.

LAURA JONES LAURA
JONES

Laura Jones graduated from Illinois State University in 2012 with a master’s degree in communication sciences and disorders. Throughout her career, she has worked with children of all ages. After graduating, she worked for four years with bilingual students in grades K-8. In 2016, she began working in a high school. She has also always worked part-time for the Early Intervention program with children 0-3 years old. Laura is married and has two young daughters.

CAROLINE CLAYWELL CAROLINE
CLAYWELL

Caroline graduated from Murray State University in 2018 with her master’s degree in speech-language pathology. During her graduate school clinicals, she gained experience with children ages 2-17 and found her passion for working in pediatrics. Upon graduation, she began working with elementary-aged children in the school system.

She is grateful to have joined the Milestone team as a part-time therapist. She is eager to get back to working in Early Intervention and hopes to make a difference in many families’ lives. During her free time, Caroline enjoys playing tennis and spending time with her family and friends.

NIKOLINA MEDINA NIKOLINA
MEDINA

In 2019, Nikolina graduated with her master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology from Western Illinois University. She completed a variety of clinical experiences, including deaf and hard of hearing, elementary school, rehabilitation unit, inpatient hospital and more.

She has always known her passion is to work with the pediatric and school-aged population, specifically children with special needs. Nikki joined the Milestone Therapy team to continue pursuing her passions. She works with children through Indiana First Steps and in Milestone Therapy clinics. Her biggest hope is to continue making a difference in people’s lives.

DESIREE GONZALEZ DESIREE
GONZALEZ
DESIREE GONZALEZ

I am a speech language pathology assistant. I graduated from St. Xavier University with a bachelor’s degree in Communicative Science Disorders in May 2018. I have been a licensed speech language pathology assistant since 2016. I have worked with special needs children for the last six years and am very passionate about providing therapy to this population.

JENA BOYLAN JENA
BOYLAN
JENA BOYLAN

Jena received her bachelor’s degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2011. Shortly after, she had the opportunity to work as a Speech-Language Paraprofessional for a special education cooperation with a variety of children and young adults working on their communication skills. She then went on to receive her master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology from Nova Southeastern University in 2018. Jena’s clinical and externship rotations provided her with opportunities to work in a number of settings including clinic, schools, and an outpatient rehabilitation facility, and was exposed to a variety of speech and language disorders. Jena’s true passion is working with the pediatric population, as they hold a special place in her heart. She believes every child deserves a voice and it is her obligation to her clients and their families to let their voices be heard!

ISABEL HERNANDEZ ISABEL
HERNANDEZ
ISABEL HERNANDEZ

I am originally from Gurnee, IL., but lived in Mexico until I was 15 years old. I graduated from Northern Illinois University with a bachelor’s degree in communicative disorders and in Spanish language and literature in 2012. I also attended College of DuPage to earn my SLPA certificate in 2016. I completed my clinical practicum in Early Intervention. I am now recently hired at Milestone, working at three amazing high schools under the best supervisors I could have ever asked for. I am extremely excited and fortunate to have been given the opportunity to learn and grow as a therapist at Milestone, and to eventually go back to school for my master’s degree in bilingual speech therapy. I currently live with my boyfriend and have no children. I love to cook, entertain and garden.

ALLISON GEARY ALLISON
GEARY
ALLISON GEARY

Allison obtained her bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2016 and received her master’s degree from Rush University in 2018.  Allison has had a variety of clinical experiences, including working in hospitals, rehabilitation units, schools, and pediatric clinics.  It was while working in both craniofacial and private clinic settings that Allison cemented her love for pediatrics and working closely with families to help children reach their full potential.  Allison is excited to begin her Milestone journey servicing children and families in both Illinois and Indiana.

MORGAN FEENEY MORGAN
FEENEY
MORGAN FEENEY

Morgan received her bachelor’s degree from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in 2016 and graduated from Murray State University with her master’s in Speech-Language Pathology in 2018. She received valuable clinical experience working with children at a pediatric clinic in Tennessee as well as preschools and elementary schools near Murray, Kentucky. Morgan is excited to move back to her home state of Illinois and continue working with the pediatric population at Milestone Therapy.

MARY ALCOTT MARY
ALCOTT
MARY ALCOTT

Mary received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2016 and recently graduated with her master’s degree in Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. During clinical rotations, Mary had the opportunity to work in school, clinic, and hospital settings with multicultural populations and a variety of disorders. She is excited to start her clinical fellowship with Milestone Therapy, as she is passionate about working in pediatrics and providing the highest quality of care for all populations. In her spare time, Mary enjoys going to baseball games, spending time with family, and playing the ukulele.

KATIE ZILTZ KATIE
ZILTZ
KATIE ZILTZ

KATIEZILTZ

Katie completed her undergraduate and graduate studies at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, IN.  She graduated with her Masters in Speech-Language Pathology in May of 2017.  Katie spent time in clinical internships working with children of a variety of ages and abilities in the clinic, preschool and elementary school settings as well as working with adults in the outpatient and clinic settings.  Katie is eager to begin her career at Milestone Therapy serving the pediatric population in First Steps and the Highland outpatient clinic.

STEPHANIE PENDLEY STEPHANIE
PENDLEY
STEPHANIE PENDLEY

Stephanie Pendley

Stephanie received her graduate degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology at Ball State University in Muncie, IN. She continued her education at Elmhurst College obtaining her masters in Communication Disorder. Following her graduate degree, she works at Crown Point School Corporation full time and Milestone therapy in the evening, which allows her to treat many children with varying speech needs. She adores the pediatric population. She has experience with a variety of disorders and age ranges due to treating the pediatric population across different settings.  Each child is unique, which makes the job exciting to help each individual with specific needs and help them shine.

KELLY ZAPCHENK KELLY
ZAPCHENK
KELLY ZAPCHENK

KELLY ZAPCHENK

Kelly received her Bachelors Degree (2010) and Masters Degree (2012) in Communication Disorders from Governors State University. She began her relationship with Milestone Therapy during her student clinicals in 2012 and joined the team shortly after that. Although she has practiced as a speech-language pathologist in the school setting, her greatest memories occur in the early intervention setting, which serves children birth-three years of age. She will never forget the reaction from a mom when an EI child said “love you” for the first time. She feels honored and grateful to be welcomed into family’s homes and accepted as a part of their family. She enjoys working with the pediatric population for the rewarding feeling she gets when progress is made. She is very passionate about helping children and their families attain goals and reach new milestones.

KATIE WOLFER KATIE
WOLFER
KATIE WOLFER

KATIE WOLFER

Katie Wolfer earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Speech Pathology following six years of study at Purdue University. Following graduation in 2013, Katie returned to her home in Northwest Indiana where she began working in the public school system. In 2014, Katie joined Milestone Therapy as a part time employee working in Indiana EI. In June of 2016 she transitioned to working full time at MST and now works in the Indiana clinic and Indiana EI. Katie’s first experience to the world of pediatric therapy began in 1998 when her younger sister was born with Down syndrome and began receiving services through First Steps. Early on, she gained an appreciation for the role of a therapist as partner and, often, cheerleader for the child and family. Katie feels very privileged to be given the opportunity to work with special children and families as part of the Milestone team!

JENNIFER WIKEL JENNIFER
WIKEL
JENNIFER WIKEL

JENNIFER WIKEL

Jennifer received her undergraduate degree in speech-language pathology from Miami University before returning to her home state of Michigan to attend graduate school. She received her master’s degree from Central Michigan University and upon graduation, moved to Chicago. She was exposed to a wide-variety of clinical experiences throughout her education and in her first year as a clinical fellow, but after being in an early elementary school placement, she found that there is no other place she’d rather be. She has been working in the school system since 2005 and has loved every minute of it.

MELISSA GRAHONYA MELISSA
GRAHONYA
MELISSA GRAHONYA

MELISSAGRAHONYA

After her studies at Northern Illinois and Governors State Universities, Melissa was introduced to the world of early intervention speech therapy when she joined Milestone Therapy in 2004. Since then she has honed her skills as a Speech-Language Pathologist, working with kids aged birth to 18. Although she loves her full-time profession working with school-aged children, some of her greatest moments have occurred in her part-time work in early intervention. She will never forget the look on his mom’s face when her first early intervention kiddo said, “mama.” That was the day she got hooked. She considers it an exciting and humbling privilege to help change the lives of kiddos and their families by helping them find the power of communication. Melissa provides early intervention speech therapy in both Indiana and Illinois.

NIKKI CHENOWITH NIKKI
CHENOWITH
NIKKI CHENOWITH

NIKKICHENOWITH

Nikki has been providing Speech & Language services within the school setting since 2011. She is passionate about creating appropriate and exciting therapeutic services to the children on her caseload. She firmly believes that each child has the potential to learn and teach us all about perseverance.

ELIZABETH HERMANSON ELIZABETH
HERMANSON
ELIZABETH HERMANSON

ELIZABETH HERMANSON

Elizabeth is a licensed speech pathologist who graduated from Governors State University with her master’s degree in 2000. Her experience has focused on pediatric speech and language therapy, specifically birth thru seven. After graduation, she worked in a clinic for four years, where she was allowed to work closely with a variety of professionals, assisting in comprehensive treatment approach. For the past 10 years, Elizabeth has worked in the early intervention system evaluating and treating children, ages birth to three. She currently is working in school district, servicing children three to seven as she continues to target the little ones in early intervention. Elizabeth has a high level of expertise in the area of autism spectrum disorders, oral sensory feeding concerns and motor planning speech disorders. She has worked collaboratively with team members to maximize each child’s development as she feels it is crucial to look at a child as a whole. On her time off, she enjoys spending time with her husband and four children.

ELIZABETH HAVERSTOCK ELIZABETH
HAVERSTOCK
ELIZABETH HAVERSTOCK

ELIZABETH HAVERSTOCK

W.O.O./Speech Language Pathologist

Elizabeth graduated from Miami University, Oxford Ohio with her Undergraduate degree in Communication Disorders and Audiology and her Masters degree in Speech Language Pathology. She had a number of clinical placements within the pediatric population but decided on the adult population with a variety of diagnosis in the rehab and outpatient setting. Most recently, Elizabeth has enjoyed working with children in the school setting from early childhood through junior high.

BRITTANY DUNN BRITTANY
DUNN
BRITTANY DUNN

BRITTANYDUNN

Brittany received her undergraduate degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology from Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI. She went on to receive her Masters of Health Sciences in Communication Disorders from Governors State University in University Park, IL. Following her graduation in 2011, she excitedly accepted a position with Milestone Therapy, which allowed her to fulfill her dream of working with the pediatric population. During her career, she has treated pediatrics in the home, school, and clinic settings. She has experience with a variety of disorders including but not limited to: Down syndrome, autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, hearing loss, articulation and phonological disorders, stuttering, and language disorders. Since 2015, Brittany has been the Lead SLP with Milestone Therapy. This role allows her to mentor fellow employees and oversee various speech-specific tasks within the company. Brittany has dual licenses in Illinois and Indiana. She sees clients through Indiana First Steps, the Milestone Therapy clinic in Indiana, Illinois Early Intervention, and in-home private visits.

MELISSA DRAPAC MELISSA
DRAPAC
MELISSA DRAPAC

MELISSADRAPAC

After completing her undergraduate degree at Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne (IPFW) in 2008 and while working on her masters at Governors State University in 2010, Melissa realized that the pediatric and school age population was her true calling. Melissa started working with Milestone Therapy as a speech language pathologist in 2011. Nothing is more rewarding than helping a child learn to communicate with family, master a difficult sound, or understand the world around them. Melissa currently sees children through Milestone Therapy via Indiana First Steps and in the Milestone Therapy clinic. She has experience working with speech and language delays, articulation and phonological disorders, language processing deficits, stuttering, autism spectrum disorders, and AAC (Augmentative and alternative communication).

JESSICA DEGRAFF JESSICA
DEGRAFF
JESSICA DEGRAFF

JESSICA DEGRAFF

Jessica is a 2013 graduate of Saint Xavier University where she received her Master of Science degree in Speech Pathology. Jessica also completed her Bachelor of Arts degree at Calvin College’s Speech Language and Hearing Sciences program in 2011. Jessica has always loved working with children. It has been a passion of hers since she was young and has continued to grow over the years while on a mission trip to Guatemala working with children in orphanages, babysitting during college, and working with children during her graduate training. Throughout her clinical experiences at Saint Xavier and while completing externships, Jessica was exposed to a wide variety of clients in a number of different settings. She has also gained valuable knowledge and experience working in a school with the special education population and an outpatient clinical setting working with children ages 2 to 15 during her first few years out of school. Jessica is excited to begin her position with Milestone and hopes to learn and grow as a therapist during her time here so that she can help the children she works with reach their full potential.

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