Pediatric speech clinic opens in Vestavia Village

Connect Pediatric Speech-Language Services recently opened in Vestavia Village, offering parents a way to find early intervention for their children and treatment for a number of developmental issues.

Owner and speech-language pathologist Courtney Hamilton said they see patients from birth to age 18, offering evaluations and treating developmental issues including talking, swallowing and not eating, among others.

Hamilton worked for a school system for a while, which she said was a great way to get introduced to the world of pediatric speech-language work.

Vestavia Hills is a somewhat underserved area when it comes to pediatric speech language treatments, Hamilton said, and she’s hoping to alleviate some of that. The business is located in Vestavia Village, the shopping center along U.S. 31 that includes Walgreens across from Publix. Hamilton said they’ve been getting new referrals daily since opening Feb. 22.

“I felt like we would be a good fit,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton, a Vestavia resident, has a background in public relations and spent time working in that field before realizing it wasn’t for her. After seeing a relative struggle with dyslexia, she said she felt the Lord leading her to get involved in speech-language pathology, helping people overcome language and other related issues.

The business includes six individual therapy rooms, with room to expand. One specialist focuses on feeding therapy, while another works with children, particularly in early intervention for those who aren’t speaking as they should. Hamilton herself also continues to work with patients.

“We kind of do it all in terms of kids and communication,” Hamilton said.

Parents should make a visit if their child is showing signs of struggling to communicate, not imitating sounds, babbling and not growing in their language skills, or if they are falling behind in schools.

For children with special needs, Hamilton said they often start treatment, as issues are so common. Early intervention is vital to helping kids with language problems, she said.

Parents should expect a newborn to imitate sounds, babble and learn consonants, Hamilton said. By the age of 1, they should be following some directions and answering questions, and as they continue to get older, they ought to be identifying colors and growing in their academic skills, she said.

“Communication is one of, if not the most important tools a person has,” Hamilton said.

Often, students who are falling behind in school might be dealing with language impairment, Hamilton said.

Hamilton said she wants to help children have the tools they need to communicate with everyone in their environment, and if something is caught earlier, there is a better chance of correcting it.

COVID-19 presents some challenges, she said, as pathologists and patients need to see each other’s faces, so the therapist can understand how to help. Children don’t have to wear a facemask, and the specialists wear clear shields. Parents are required to wear masks, she said.

The clinic also offers telehealth for those whose treatment can be done over the internet. In addition, Connect also takes insurance, Hamilton said.

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