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October 10, 2018

Healing through Speech Therapy

By Kevin Richardson

At the Speech Center of South Tampa, merely labeling the services they provide as ‘speech therapy’ would be wholly misguided. Erin Nitz, owner, and founder characterize the business as part of the healing arts. The Florida native and speech pathology veteran came up with the idea for The Speech Center with Kendra Potsubay, a coworker-turned-business partner.

“To me, being a speech-language pathologist isn’t just about the superficial,” says Nitz. “On the surface, yes, we help our clients overcome speech impediments. The real joy comes from increasing that person’s independence and confidence and giving them the support they need to reach their goals.”

Nitz and Potsubay met each other while providing speech-language pathology support at a skilled nursing facility in nearby Polk County. Nitz has a background in elementary education with an emphasis in reading, while Potsubay had prior experience in the NICU and early education fields. When discussing their shared history in pediatrics, they realized that the nursing facility wasn’t where their hearts pointed them. Their passion for pediatrics ultimately led them to establish The Speech Center. Nitz and Potsubay brought on SLP-Assistant Alexandria Maida to round out the team and increase the one-on-one attention time they can provide.

Communication disorders affect nearly 10 percent of the population. These disorders express themselves in a variety of ways: pronunciation and articulation difficulties, language delays, hindrances with auditory processing, reading and writing disorders, swallowing and fluency/stuttering. “Children develop at different rates,” Nitz explains. “Because every child is different, detecting a problem is sometimes difficult. There are developmental milestones for children that help us determine if a child is on track with the normal developmental arc. These are all areas in which we are experienced in assessing and then providing services to help patients overcome.”

Potsubay explains that the agency also works with social-pragmatic communication for clients with Autism Spectrum Disorder. “The results we see with our clients are honestly the biggest reward – giving someone the ability to communicate effectively with their loved ones is like nothing else,” she says.

In order to accurately determine if there is an issue, they encourage parents to contact a speech-language pathologist if they have any concerns. “Maybe the child isn’t talking as much as they should,” Nitz explains. “Perhaps the child has difficulty understanding and following directions, or maybe is struggling in reading and writing, or even just socializing with his/her peers. Sometimes a communication delay/disorder is not as recognizable as say, a stutter, or difficulty pronouncing the /r/ sound. That’s why we feel it is crucial for parents to at least have that discussion with a licensed speech-language pathologist.”

At The Speech Center, they offer free speech and language screenings. “It’s quick, about 15-20 minutes. We meet you and your child, discuss your concerns, interact with your child, and then give you our initial thoughts based on those developmental milestones,” says Potsubay. If indicated, the therapist would then conduct a full evaluation with your child and create a completely individualized plan of care. And by individualized, they mean individualized: You even get to choose the therapy setting that works best for you and your family! Services can be provided at their South Tampa clinic location (419 W. Platt St.), in your home, or at your child’s school/daycare. For more information, visit www.speechcenteroftampa.com or call 813-773-3536.