Speech and Language therapists help prevent, assess, diagnose, and treat speech, language, social communication, cognitive-communication, and swallowing disorders in children.
Speech therapists help children:
- Exhibit ready to learn behaviors, such as: maintaining eye-contact, remaining quiet on another’s turn, visually attending to structured learning activities and play, and using words, rather than physical means to gain access to toys or materials.
- Increase their receptive and expressive vocabulary to enable them to participate in their daily routines at school and home.
- Use words/signs/picture exchange/augmentative communication for a variety of social functions, such as: gaining attention, using social greetings, asking questions, answering questions, refusing/protesting, commenting and labeling.
- Establish a functional communication system (words/signs/picture exchange/augmentative communication) to reduce a child’s frustration behaviors and to enable a child to communicate his/her wants, needs, and information to others efficiently and effectively.
- Help a child become independent with utensils and cups at mealtime, as well as to increase the number of food in a child’s diet while promoting developmentally appropriate chewing and swallowing.
- Help a child establish successful peer relationships so that he/she can turn-take and participate in play and conversation independently.
- Produce developmentally appropriate sounds in all positions of words and increase a child’s intelligibility of conversational speech. Help a child understand the rule-based relationships of our language at both the word level (morphology) and sentence level (syntax).
According to the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA), Speech therapists also provide:
- Aural rehab for children who are deaf or hard of hearing
- Provide augmentative and alternative communication systems (AAC) for children with severe receptive language or expressive communication disorders. These AAC systems include picture exchange (PECS), sign language, or the use of speech generating devices (SGDs) or apps.
Kids who might need speech therapy:
- Children who have Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Children born with birth defects or who are born premature
- Children who are deaf or hard of hearing
- Children who have difficulty producing age-appropriate sounds. These children might leave sounds off of words, substitute one sound for another, or distort developmentally appropriate speech sounds. Children who exhibit errors that appear to be rule-based or follow a pattern would have a phonological disorder.
- Children who have poor intelligibility of conversational speech and cannot indicate their wants, needs or information to others
- Children who have difficulty identifying family members/objects in their environment, following routine directions or understanding others.
- Children who have difficulty with the structure of words (morphology) or grammar of sentences (syntax).
- Children who are non-verbal or do not have a functional communication system in place.
- Children who are exhibiting dysfluencies and/or frustration behaviors during communication.
- Children who exhibit anxiety at mealtime, have a limited food repertoire or who have difficulty eating and drinking independently.
- Children who have difficulty initiating and maintaining play or communication with others, or who rely on adults to facilitate their play or conversation.
Lisa B. Len, M.S. Ed. CCC-SLP
Speech Therapy Supervisor, Delanson Site Supervisor
I began working at Whispering Pines preschool in 1997 and have over 25 years of experience in the field of communication disorders. I am a mother to two amazing teenage boys, one on the Autism spectrum. My experience parenting a child with special needs has strengthened my perspective, compassion, and patience throughout the years. It also ignited my interest in working with children on the autism spectrum and their families. My role as a speech and language pathologist at Whispering Pines includes providing related services, center-based services, and early intervention services to children ages 1 month to 5 years of age in a variety of locations throughout Albany and Schenectady counties. In addition, I conduct multi-disciplinary and preschool speech and language evaluations for the preschool with a fantastic team of professionals across developmental disciplines. In addition to providing therapy and evaluations, I provide supervision to graduate level students from The College of Saint Rose and clinical fellows new to our field, and act as a clinical and building supervisor at the Delanson site.
Whispering Pines has been my home for 25 years. I love the diversity of clients we have at our agency and the opportunities to collaborate with professionals on my team and work directly with parents. I continue to strive to know more and do better and I always embrace a challenge. Some days I have to work really hard to figure it all out, but I get to laugh and play along the way! It is the most rewarding job because there’s nothing like watching the joy in a child’s eyes when they have even the smallest of successes!
Bethany Ference, MS, CCC-SLP, TSHH
Speech Supervisor, Clara Bacon Site Supervisor
My name is Bethany Ference, and I have been working at Whispering Pines Preschool with early intervention and preschool students for over 15 years. I enjoy sharing my knowledge of sign language with my toddler students, engaging preschoolers in Sounds in Motion articulation and preliteracy groups, and collaborating with other therapists and special education teachers as part of our multidisciplinary evaluation team. I enjoy spending time out in nature with my husband, two daughters, and Border Collie (Lucy). Sharing my love of children’s books is one of my favorite things as a speech-language pathologist.
School: Clara Bacon School
Alyssa Kennedy-Saar, MS Ed., CCC-SLP
After earning my Master’s Degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from The College of Saint Rose, I began me clinical fellowship year working at a skilled nursing facility. During this time, I was presented with the opportunity to work with the pediatric population in addition to working with adults. It was then I realized that I wanted to pursue a full-time career in the pediatric setting. I have been a speech language pathologist for 6 years, in which 3 of those years I have been employed by Whispering Pines Preschool. My position at Whispering Pines Preschool allows me to closely work along the side of parents/caregivers and their children ranging from birth through five. I believe that speech and language skills are best developed through play therapy, family education, and evidenced based practices. Outside of my speech room, I enjoy being a mom to my 9-month-old daughter, traveling to interesting places with my family, reading a thrilling mystery novel, keeping my two golden retrievers entertained, and spending quality time with my friends and family.
Serving: Clara Bacon School
Claire Hammond, MS, SLP-CFY
My name is Claire Hammond. I am Speech-Language Pathologist at Whispering Pines Preschool. This is my first year working here! My favorite part of my job is helping the kids learn and grow. In my free time I enjoy reading and playing with my cats.
Kaylah Kennedy, MS Ed., CCC-SLP
After earning my Master’s Degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders at The College of Saint Rose, I started my career treating adults in a skilled nursing facility. After two years in this setting, I decided it was time for a change. I started off my pediatric experience to explore my passion for working with young children. As a Speech Language Pathologist at Whispering Pines, I have been able to focus on working with infants and toddlers in our UPK and special education classrooms with a variety of speech and language delays. I look forward to growing my expertise in feeding and swallowing disorders in preschoolers. Outside of work I enjoy spending time traveling, exploring the outdoors, and playing with my Bulldog, Bruno.
Serving: Clara Bacon
Sarah Viola, M.S. SLP-CFY
I am a recent graduate of Syracuse University and began working as a Speech-Language Pathologist at Whispering Pines in July, 2021. Currently, I provide center-based services, home-based services, as well as administer speech and language evaluations for children ranging from 1 month of age – 5 years. I chose to work with these ages because I have always enjoyed the energy and drive to learn that young children have. Working here at Whispering Pines has also helped me to learn and grow as a clinician!
Elizabeth Pierce, MS CCC-SLP
I started working as a Speech-Language Pathologist at Whispering Pines Preschool in July 2020. Currently, I provide center-based services, home-based services, as well as administer speech and language evaluations for children ranging from 1 month of age – 5 years. I chose to work with this age group because I love helping children find their voice to communicate. I enjoy providing therapy sessions through play and various language activities.
Serving: Cobleskill Site
Taylor Chavanne M.S. Ed CCC-SLP
After earning my master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology, I entered the world of early childhood education to explore my passion for working with young children. My time at Whispering Pines Preschool has given me the opportunity to work both in and out of the classroom to help promote development. Outside of work, I enjoy watching Netflix and completing a good puzzle.
Serving: Clara Bacon School
Nicole Scanlan, MS, SLP -TSHH
Hello! I am Nicole Scanlan, a Speech Pathologist at Whispering Pines Preschool, on the Amsterdam site. I have been working as a SLP for over 15 years. I love working with babies, preschool aged children and their families. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family, doing yoga and watching my children play lacrosse.
Serving: Clara Bacon School
Ann Sidoti, MS, CCC-SLP
Hello! I’m Anne I grew up in Albany, NY. I have been a Speech-Language Pathologist for 23 years. I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Communicative Disorders and Sciences at The University of New York at Buffalo. Then I earned my Master of Science Degree in Communicative Disorders-Speech-Language Pathology at The University of Southwestern Louisiana at Lafayette. I have worked at Whispering Pines for almost 12 years. I love my profession ! I love working with children helping them to communicate and I love working with their families, teachers and other therapists. I enjoy travelling, going to concerts and spending time with my family, friends and pets !
Serving: Clara bacon School
Rachel Gamache M.A. CCC-SLP
Hello! I’m Rachel Gamache. I received my Bachelor’s degree from Elmira College in Communication Sciences and Disorders in 2019 and my Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology in 2021. I began working as an SLP at the Amsterdam site in June 2021. I enjoy finding each of my student’s interests and incorporating them into our sessions to make our time together as engaging as possible. Outside of work you could find me baking, crafting, at the gym, with my cat Ellie, and with family & friends.
Serving: Clara bacon School