Meet Jana Pearson, SLP. A recent, essential addition to the RehabVisions team of therapy professionals, Jana is a speech therapist whose current patients range in age from 15 months to 14 years old. She treats speech sound disorders, receptive/expressive language disorders and orofacial myofunctional disorders stemming from diagnoses of autism, Down Syndrome or developmental delays.

In celebration of Better Hearing and Speech Month, Jana shares some insight into her passion for speech therapy.

When did you first know you wanted to be a speech therapist? I was interested in psychology and human behavior from a young age. I knew I wanted to work in the healthcare field, but my fear of broken bones kept me away from nursing and medical school. When I learned about the field of Speech-Language Pathology, I knew it was a match for me.

Tell us a little about your studies and the process of getting your masters in speech therapy. I graduated from the master of science program at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. As with many master’s degree programs in my field, Lamar has a campus clinic that allowed us to treat patients in our very first semester of graduate school. My field work included the opportunity to serve at several Head Start facilities in southwest Texas.

Who would benefit from speech therapy? Anyone that has difficulty with communication and/or swallowing would benefit from speech therapy. At RehabVisions, we treat across the lifespan, from infants to geriatrics.

What is a typical day for you? My day starts at 8:00 am and consists of ongoing 30-45 minute sessions throughout the day. I can also be found working on documentation for daily session notes, progress notes and recertification. Between patients, I respond to emails, write letters to schools on behalf of my patients to help teachers understand how my patients’ issues might affect them within the classroom setting, and collaborate with hospitals, physicians, psychologists and school therapists on patient evaluation, diagnoses and progress. I also plan activities to do with my patients for the following day so I can be well-prepared.

What’s the best piece of advice you have for parents to help children develop speech and language skills? PLAY is extremely important for development of speech and language skills. I always recommend that parents get down on the floor at their child’s level and follow their lead in play. Children love repetition, so making routine tasks such as bath time or putting on shoes are a great time to model language for your child. Reading books together is another activity I recommend. If your child wants to read the same book every night, you read the same book every night! Get creative.

PHOTO: Jana Pearson, SLP, works with a pediatric patient on jaw stabilization using a “bite block.”

What are some areas you specialize in? Being a therapist means mastering an ever-evolving caseload. I am constantly educating myself in new areas. My first certification was in LSVT-LOUD, a program which helps patients with Parkinson’s disease improve communication by helping them speak with a voice and volume that’s easier for others to hear. Later, my focus shifted to pediatrics.

Some of my training and certifications include PROMPT therapy for apraxia of speech, Hanen’s It Takes Two to Talk for language development, SOS Approach to Feeding and Talk Tools’ A Sensory Motor Approach to Feeding. I am completing coursework in orofacial myofunctional disorders to target oral rest posture, tongue and lip ties, thumb sucking and other noxious oral habits, tongue thrust. I use a team approach with ENTs, dentists, orthodontists and airway specialists to address structural impairments that may be impeding a child’s success in meeting important developmental milestones such as eating, drinking and breathing patterns.

After a long work week, how do you like to relax or spend your free time? My husband works very hard for a gas and oil company in Watford City, so we appreciate our time off together. Our weekends start by taking an evening to relax or go for a nice dinner. We enjoy exploring North Dakota, the state that has become our new home. Living less than twenty miles from the north entrance of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, we have lots of opportunities to explore, hike and look for wildlife.

What do you wake up looking forward to? Coffee!!

To schedule an appointment with Jana or another RehabVisions therapy professional, call us at 701-483-9400 or our partners at CHI St Alexius at 701-456-4000. The RehabVisions therapy team can help you live your best life with specialized physical, occupational or speech therapy treatment plans.