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

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.

DEANNA SWEIS DEANNA
SWEIS

Deanna received her undergraduate degree in communication sciences & disorders with a minor in psychology from Saint Xavier University in Chicago, IL. She received her master’s in health sciences in communication disorders from Governors State University.

She has worked with children and adults, of all ages and abilities, in the field of speech pathology during her graduate clinical rotations. She was exposed to different settings such as schools, hospitals, rehab, and outpatient therapy clinics. In all of these settings, she has worked collaboratively with many other disciplines (i.e., occupational therapists, physical therapists, teachers, nurses, doctors, etc.). She loves working with children of all ages and has an interest in communication devices/technology and feeding/oral motor/sensory disorders. She is bilingual in English and Arabic. In her spare time, she loves to spend time with her family and friends, volunteer at her church, listen to music, exercise, and try new restaurants.

MARIAH MURPHY MARIAH
MURPHY

Mariah graduated from Northern Arizona University in 2010 with her Master of Science in Clinical Speech Pathology. She started her career in early intervention, however, she also has experience working with a variety of ages in school and clinic settings. In 2019 she began working with the Early Intervention Program at Milestone Therapy in Illinois. Mariah moved to Illinois to be closer to her friends and family.

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.

JAMIE GRONKOWSKI JAMIE
GRONKOWSKI
JAMIE GRONKOWSKI

Jamie received her undergraduate degree in Speech and Hearing Science from the University of Illinois in 2014. She went on to receive her Master of Arts degree in Communication Disorders from Truman State University in 2016. Since graduating, she has worked as a public school and early intervention speech therapist in Indianapolis, Indiana. Her experiences have included working with children 0 to 18 years old with the diagnoses of autism, childhood apraxia of speech, cognitive delay, language delay, speech delay, and aphasia. She is excited to return to the Northwest Indiana area to provide services in a similar manner to those she received as a child.

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.

KIMBERLY THRELKELD KIMBERLY
THRELKELD
KIMBERLY THRELKELD

Kimberly received a bachelor’s degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2008 and her master’s in Communication Disorders from Indiana State University in 2013.  Upon completion of her graduate studies, she has primarily worked in the school setting providing services for various conditions including developmental speech disorders, language disorders, fluency, and autism spectrum disorders. Being able to see the children she works with grow in their self-esteem and independence  as they gain stronger speech and language skills is what she loves most about her job.  Kimberly enjoys spending time with her family, shopping and listening to a multitude of podcasts!

LAURA TYLER LAURA
TYLER
LAURA TYLER

LAURATYLER

Laura graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelor’s Degree in English. She returned to the University of Illinois and graduated with a Master’s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology in 2017.

She has been with Milestone Therapy since then, serving the pediatric population across various settings including schools, an outpatient clinic and home environments.

JENNIFER PUFAHL JENNIFER
PUFAHL
JENNIFER PUFAHL

JENNIFERPUFAHL

Jen graduated from Ball State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Speech Pathology & Audiology in 2015. She recently graduated from University of Central Arkansas with her Master’s in Communication Sciences and Disorders. Throughout her graduate school clinic rotations, she has had experience in schools, developmental preschools, adult centers, and pediatric outpatient clinics. Her love of the pediatric setting stems from wonderful experiences in these settings. Originally from Northwest Indiana, she is excited to be moving home and joining the Milestone Therapy team! In her spare time she enjoys traveling, spending time outdoors, and hanging out with friends and family.

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.

RACHEL GARD RACHEL
GARD
RACHEL GARD

RACHEL GARD

Rachel Gard received her Bachelor of Arts in Speech and Hearing Sciences in 2009 and Master of Arts in Speech Pathology in 2011 from Indiana University. After one year of treating the geriatric population, Rachel decided to switch paths and pursue her passion of working in the field of pediatric speech language pathology. Since 2012, Rachel has been treating a variety of pediatric age groups with speech, language, and cognitive delays/disorders. Children with communication disorders have a special place in her heart, and she is grateful to be able to share her knowledge to help them communicate.

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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