We recently sat down with Kaylee Onderko, M.A., CCC-SLP, to dive into her background and experience, clinical approach, inspiration for becoming a speech therapist, and more. You can read more about Kaylee here.
Can you spend a few minutes talking about your experience and background as a speech therapist?
I graduated from Akron in 2018 with my Master's of Arts in Speech Pathology. Since then, I have worked in a variety of settings with diverse populations. My youngest client has been 8 months old, while my oldest client has been 100! I love working with both adult and pediatric clients.
I have worked in a private practice setting with kiddos with autism, articulation disorders, phonology disorders, fluency disorders, and much more. I have also worked extensively with adult patients at a rehabilitation facility. In particular, I have a lot of experience with post-stroke patients, fluency, voice, and memory/cognition.
Why did you decide to become a speech therapist?
I became a speech therapist because I believe that communication is the root of connection. I love helping my clients communicate more effectively and connect more meaningfully with others.
What areas of speech-language pathology interest you most?
It is hard to choose just a few! I love this field in part due to all the possibilities it offers. As far as pediatrics go, I particularly enjoy working on articulation and phonology. Another area I have a lot of experience with is childhood autism, both in speech and in social development. I also love working with adults and have extensive experience with stroke patients, public speaking, and fluency/word finding.
What part of your job do you find most enjoyable?
I absolutely love my career. The moments I love the most are what I call “light bulb moments.” The first time that a client begins to reach a goal - whether it is the first correct production of the /s/ sound, the first time a client can effectively introduce themselves, or watching a client use a strategy we practiced - these are the moments I live for. It gives me chills every time!
Among all the clients you’ve taught throughout your career, is there a particular success story that stands out in your mind?
I had a patient who came to me 4 years post-stroke. When he began speech therapy, he was struggling to initiate sentences and had a lot of disfluency issues, which was causing him high levels of anxiety. As I always do with new clients, we developed a list of his goals relative to his speech. One of his goals was to go to the barber independently. About five weeks into his treatment, he showed up with a brand new haircut and more confidence than I had ever seen him with before. He showed me how he used his cue cards and strategies to go to the barber, and I was so proud.
How do you assess and monitor your clients’ progress?
I am careful to assess and monitor progress through a variety of avenues. First, I keep data throughout our sessions, so I am able to objectively compare. I also keep tabs on less tangible progress, like how the patient feels and their success stories outside of therapy.
What attracted you to online speech therapy?
I love online speech therapy for its flexibility and accessibility! I can offer clients therapy in the comfort, convenience, and privacy of their own homes.
What are your hobbies or passions outside of speech therapy?
Outside of speech therapy, I am a dog mom and a proud big sister to three brothers. I love to read, paint, and watch movies. On the weekends you will usually find me with my husband and the rest of my family. We love to bike ride, hike with the dogs, and make homemade pizza.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I love Expressable’s approach to speech therapy, and their outreach and team member support is awesome. I love being able to offer speech therapy that is both accessible and affordable. I am so excited to be a part of the Expressable team!