New Sentara Therapy Center Office Helps Children with Language, Speech and Feeding Disorders

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Emily Collado

Sponsored by Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center

Sentara Therapy Center has opened its newest office in the Century Building (2280 Opitz Blvd., Suite 210, Woodbridge) on the campus of Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center. The Therapy Center offers physical therapy for adults, chiropractic care and pediatric speech pathology treatment. In this series, hear from the professionals who make the center the superb community health resource it is.

Pediatric Speech Pathology: More than Just a Job

Meet Emily Collado, Pediatric Speech Pathologist at Sentara Therapy Center. Collado is a certified member of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) and licensed to practice therapy in Virginia and Puerto Rico. She received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico and her graduate degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Carlos Albizu University, Puerto Rico Campus.

Collado enjoys working with children of all ages. She is also bilingual (English and Spanish) and is currently working towards becoming a certified interpreter with Sentara to provide onsite services to patients.

As a speech pathologist, Collado has a unique background. She spent the first two years of her career working at Prince William County Public Schools and providing early intervention services in Prince William and Fairfax Counties. Her special interests were and are in the areas of articulation, receptive and expressive language, fluency, feeding and swallowing disorders and children with hearing impairments.

Collado was thrilled with the opening of Sentara Therapy Center and pleased that the center would include pediatric speech-language therapy services. “We are passionate providers who are committed to giving our patients quality services in order to provide them with a pleasant experience,” Collado said.

For Collado, the profession is more than just a job. “One of my biggest dreams has been to work as a speech-language pathologist in a medical setting,” she said. “Ever since I was in graduate school, I have had a passion for collaborating with medical providers.”

Why Sentara?

Why Sentara? Collado believes Sentara offers an excellent work environment that allows team members to work together to provide the range of treatments needed to keep patients healthy. She came to Sentara to provide a variety of services to children of all ages, including treatment of language delays, speech disorders and feeding disorders.

“The specific language delay areas I treat are receptive language (ability to understand spoken language – i.e., following directions, answering questions), expressive language (expression of wants and needs using words or alternative means of communication –  vocabulary, appropriate sentence length, grammar, and syntax) and pragmatics (usage of language in our social interactions –  turn-taking skills in conversation, eye contact, staying on topic, using gestures and body language),” she said. “I also work with sound disorders including articulation errors (mispronunciation of speech sounds), speech fluency (stuttering) and voice disorders. In addition, I treat patients with swallowing and feeding disorders (picky eating or rejection of certain food textures/consistencies).”

Recognizing when Children Need a Pediatric Speech Pathologist

Children develop at their own rate, according to Collado. However, there are milestones that can be used as guidelines for what parents should expect at certain ages. These milestones can help determine when the right time might be to seek professional consultation and assistance.

“Some red flags in early development might be if by 18 months old, a child prefers to use gestures over vocalizations/words to communicate their wants and needs, has limited vocabulary and is not imitating sounds or understanding simple verbal requests,” Collado said. “By two years of age, parents should expect children to follow one-step directions, respond to simple questions and use spontaneous (two-plus word) phrases. These are only some of the more generic and common skills that parents should expect to see, but there are many more signs to look for.”

Collado said that by school age, specific skills should be mastered, including the ability to follow longer directions, respond to questions, tell a story or keep a conversation going.

“Parents should also seek assistance if their children are not easily understood due to errors in pronunciation, if they notice an atypical pattern of speech fluency (i.e. stuttering), if they notice voice changes in pitch, loudness, and overall vocal quality that interfere with communication, or if they have concerns regarding swallowing and feeding abilities that are affecting their children’s growth/weigh. Some of these issued could include pocketing of food, problems breathing while eating/drinking, chewing problems, eating only certain textures, etc.”

Early Treatment is Key

According to Collado, some parents have told her that their children “catch up” to where they are expected to be in later stages of childhood. “My recommendation to parents would be if they do have any concerns whatsoever, they should seek assistance as soon as possible.”

“The best approach to mitigating speech and language delays among children is recognizing and treating them early on… [D]oing so can actually reduce the likelihood of children experiencing other difficulties down the road, such as frustration due to their inability to communicate or being understood.”

Anyone who has questions should feel free to call the Sentara Therapy Center office at (703) 523-1680. “We would be happy to assist you,” said Collado.

To schedule an appointment, please call Sentara’s scheduling office at (855) 852-9066.


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