Improving expression: Speech language pathologist launches new therapy practice
Ashley Boyes has always had a passion for helping people. In high school, she took time away from her studies to work as a swim coach and tutor fellow classmates. So, while an undergraduate at the University of the Pacific, it was no surprise that “Intro into Helping Professions” would jump out at her while perusing course offerings. That’s when she discovered the field of speech therapy.
“What I really love about this field is the one-on-one time I get with my clients,” said Boyes. “That time is really valuable, and I’m always thinking of new ways to help. This kind of therapy can really impact a person’s life.”
Speech disorders can affect a person’s self-esteem and overall quality of life, as the inability to communicate can be socially isolating. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2012, 7.7% of children aged 3 to 17 years old had a communicative disorder during the past 12 months. Speech problems were the most prevalent among these disorders. Clinical research has found that developmental language disorders can cause peers to respond negatively, and can cause a child to be perceived by adults as having emotional problems or challenging behaviors. On average, children with developmental language disorders have fewer friends and are less likely to take part in social activities. Teens have a higher rate of anxiety related to social interaction and are at a higher risk of dropping out of school.
If there is even the slightest concern, get an assessment, say professionals. Research suggests that educating parents of young children with language disorders about the benefits of early intervention is a key component to success down the road.
That’s where Boyes comes in. With over 10 years of experience as a licensed speech language pathologist, she has worked in a variety of settings with clients ranging in age from 18 months to over 90. She has worked in skilled nursing facilities, private practices and school settings with students from preschool through high school.
With a bachelor’s in speech language pathology and a master’s in communicative disorders, Boyes got her start as a vendor with the Alta California Regional Center, a state-funded agency established to support individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
When Boyes and her husband, Bryan, moved to Nevada County in 2017, they saw the opportunity to open their own practice, as small communities typically have less access to specialized services. As a result, the couple founded Achieving Better Communication, or ABC. While Bryan is not a speech pathologist, he plays a key role when it comes to the business details of the practice.
ABC currently has one clinic location in Grass Valley, in an office adjacent to the couple’s home. But Boyes also provides in-home services for early intervention throughout Grass Valley, Nevada City, Alta Sierra, Penn Valley, Lake Wildwood, Lake of the Pines, Auburn, Colfax, Granite Bay, Rocklin and Roseville. She also serves clients in schools and skilled nursing facilities.
IT’S A PASSION
Whether it’s helping a school-aged child learn to say his Rs or a senior regain speech after a stroke, Boyes says she’s found her passion.
“While working in a skilled nursing facility, a man in his 40s came to us who had been in an ATV accident,” said Boyes. “He wasn’t speaking or eating. We had to take gradual steps to get him to open his eyes, to even respond at all.”
Less than a year after leaving the facility, Boyes spotted the man at a local restaurant. He was walking, eating and chatting with his wife.
“It reminded me of why I love this field — it felt so great to have been a part of his recovery,” said Boyes. “The work we do can really have a profound impact. I’m so lucky to have found this profession. It’s added so much to my life.”
To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email her at Cory@theunion.com.
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