Speech-language therapy addresses the communication needs of children. Speech therapists work on what children understand (receptive language), what they have to say (expressive language) and how they say it (articulation/phonology and pragmatics). Speech therapists use a total communication approach – incorporating the use of sign language, picture symbols, and other modes of augmentative communication into therapy.
Meet our wonderful Speech-language Pathologists who help Early Bird shine!
Barb is a graduate of the University of Nebraska and Florida State University. She comes to us with over 20 years of experience treating in outpatient hospitals, schools and private clinics. She is skilled in working with children with receptive and expressive language disorders/delays, phonological and articulation disorders, autism spectrum disorder, sensory processing disorders, Childhood Apraxia of Speech, Down Syndrome and a variety of developmental/neurological disorders. Her passion is treating children with feeding/swallowing disorders. She has received training in the SOS Approach to Feeding, Shaker Infant feeding and various Talk Tool programs. She places an emphasis on making meal time more enjoyable for the entire family. She enjoys collaborating with other professionals and the family for success with treatment. When she isn’t working, Barb enjoys spending time with her family and friends, hiking and reading.
Caroline is originally from Knoxville, Tennessee. She graduated from The University of Tennessee in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology, and in 2020 from East Tennessee State University with a master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology. She loves empowering the children she works with by teaching them skills so that they can communicate effectively and independently. When she is not working, she enjoys cheering on the TN Vols, going to trivia, running, exploring new restaurants, and visiting with friends and family.
Chelsey Bostelman went to The University of Toledo where she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Speech-Language Pathology and played on the volleyball team. She currently holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology and is Level 1 certified with the American Hippotherapy Association. Hippotherapy has become a special area of interest for her, as it combines her love for animals, the outdoors and speech therapy! She also loves being able to play outside and incorporate sports into therapy sessions. She is from Grand Haven, Mich., but has been living in Charlotte since 2009.
Christin graduated with a Bachelors in Science with a concentration in Speech Language Pathology from Western Michigan University in 2008. She received her Masters in Arts Degree with a concentration in Communication Disorders in 2010. Christin in originally from a small town in Michigan called Corunna, and moved to Charlotte a few months after finishing graduate school. She loves working with little kiddos, primarily with the Early Intervention ages. She finds it so incredible to see them learn new things and how they absorb so much and learn so quickly. It’s so rewarding to see families grow and learn to communicate more functionally and effectively through the strategies provided through therapy. To see overall growth in a child, knowing she helped shape their speech and language, is so rewarding. Christin is bilingual in English and Spanish. She lived in Mexico for two years and has worked with Spanish speaking families for the duration of her career. She has two female pit bulls, Moka and Micha, who are her “kids.” She loves to travel and spend time with her friends and family. She could/would eat sushi, cereal and bbq chicken nachos every day if it were allowed.
Christine is originally from Buffalo, NY but relocated to Charlotte in 2011 and quickly called Early Bird home. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Buffalo in 2008 and her Master of Science degree from Fredonia University in 2010. She holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology and has taken on the role of Clinical Supervisor for the past three years. Christine has a passion for children with Autism, although loves all pediatric therapy. She enjoys out of the box therapy including walks, visiting playgrounds, cooking, obstacle courses, and arts and crafts. In addition, she finds it extremely valuable to collaborate with other service providers, teachers, families, and loves learning from others. She is a wife and mother of three beautiful girls ages 4, 2, and 1. She never has a dull moment and is always on the go!
Irene DeGangi is originally from Staten Island New York. She moved to North Carolina in 2018. Irene received her BA in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology from St. John’s University in 1999. She received her MA in Deaf Education from Adelphi University in 2001 and her MA in Speech-language pathology from St. John’s University in 2003. She holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) from The American Speech Language and Hearing Association. Irene’s graduate studies included a variety of experiences working with both children and adults. Post graduate she has worked with children ages birth through high school, providing both school and home-based therapy. Her experiences have developed her clinical skills working with expressive and receptive language impairment, articulation and phonological disorders, developmental delays, and feeding delays. Additionally, Irene has training in the treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders (including ABA), and pediatric motor speech disorders/apraxia (including PROMPT training), as well as training in working with children using Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC) Devices. When she’s not working, Irene enjoy spending time with her husband and three boys.
Jennifer graduated from North Carolina A&T State University with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communications in 2008 and graduated from North Carolina Central University with a master’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders in 2011. She is a, “military brat” who has lived all over the world, including: Texas, Germany and South Korea, but calls Fayetteville, NC home. Jennifer enjoys working with children from all different backgrounds and cultures to help them improve their expressive language skills and has an interest in working with children with Apraxia. She feels that she has done her job if a child/parent leaves the session confident and happy with their progress. When she is not working, Jennifer enjoys watching and discussing sports, probably more than most men!
Justine Burns, M.S. CCC-SLP is a certified and licensed Speech Language Pathologist through the American Hearing and Speech Association (ASHA) and North Carolina Board of Examiners for Speech and Language Pathologists and Audiologists. She graduated from New York Medical College with a Master’s of Science in Speech Pathology and has a Bachelors of Arts in Communication Disorders from SUNY at New Paltz. Justine has worked in a wide variety of settings including schools for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and developmental disabilities, private outpatient clinics, homecare, children’s hospitals, and feeding disorder clinics. She specializes in oral-motor and feeding disorders, childhood language disorders, and developmental delays. She is a certified Vital Stim Therapy provider (i.e., NMES). Justine relocated from Astoria, NY in June 2013, and is excited to explore Charlotte. She enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking, paddle boarding, and biking, and spending time with family and friends.
Katie is originally from Horseheads, New York. She graduated from Elmira College in 2001 with a Bachelors of Science degree in working with the Speech and Hearing Handicapped, and a Bachelors of Science degree in Pre-K, kindergarten, and grades 1st-6th grades. Nazareth College in Rochester, NY in 2003 with a Masters of Science in Speech-Language Pathology with a concentration in working with the Deaf/Hard of Hearing population. Katie’s special interests include working with preschool, elementary aged children with speech, language and feeding/swallowing delays and with working with adolescents and adults with traumatic brain injuries. She is MBSImp certified and qualified to perform MBS and FEES to assess feeding/swallowing skills and concerns. She enjoys working with children and adults and making a positive impact in their lives in regard to speech, language and swallowing skills. Katie enjoys teaching fitness classes at the YMCA and spending time with family. She loves traveling and relaxing at the pool and beach. She is married and has one daughter who is 4 years old.
Katie Norberg graduated from SUNY Geneseo in 2008 with a bachelor of science in Communications Disorders and Sciences and from Buffalo State College in 2010 with a master of science in Speech and Language Pathology. She is originally from Long Island, NY. Her special areas of interest are autism, augmentative and alternative communication, and articulation. Out of all of her job responsibilities, she most enjoys working with the kids.
KELLY GAINER-SCHALLA (POWERS)
Upon graduating from UTEP in 1998 and earning my CCC, I was employed with an early intervention agency in San Antonio, TX. It was my very first experience working with children and I learned so much from my colleagues, families, and other professionals that I felt I had found my niche. I have worked in a variety of settings, including home health, nursing homes, hospitals, and schools, and early intervention is by far my favorite and where my passion lies. I have worked with children with many different diagnoses: Down Syndrome, Autism, Ataxia–telangiectasia, Treacher Collins Syndrome, Fragile X, cerebral palsy, genetic syndromes, selective mutism, FAS, etc. I have experience in oral motor and feeding intervention, developmental delays, apraxia, autism, articulation/ phonology, and early language acquisition. In addition, I have a grown son (age 20) who was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome as a child and whom I homeschooled, along with his sister, through middle and high school. My first EI experience in Texas trained me to use the coaching method and it has become a natural part of my sessions, both in person and through telepractice. I find that asking questions and having expectations of families to follow through is the most effective way to facilitate progress in therapy and establish a supportive relationship with caregivers through sharing my knowledge and experience.
Born and raised in small town western Pennsylvania, Krista Lengacher earned a bachelor’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from PennStateUniversity in 2002. After graduation she moved across the country to Colorado to attend graduate school at The University of Northern Colorado (the other UNC), earning a master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology in 2004. Following graduation, she married and stayed in Colorado where she worked for the public school system in Denver. During her time in the schools she developed a real interest in helping the population of Latino families she served become better connected to their surrounding community. A few years passed and once again Krista found herself packing her bags for yet another long-distance move; this time to Guatemala where she immersed herself in culture and language for two years. There, she achieved her goal of becoming conversationally fluent in Spanish before returning to the states and finally settling down in Charlotte. Over the past decade she has developed a passion for the Latino culture and loves that Early Bird affords her the opportunity to help Charlotte‘s Latino families prepare their children with the tools they need to be successful.
Lauren Sussman is originally from Princeton, NJ and relocated to NC in August of 2014 to enjoy the warm weather and to make a change with her husband. She is a North Carolina licensed and ASHA certified SLP. Lauren received her undergraduate degree, which was a B.A., in Hearing and Speech Sciences in 2008 from the University of Maryland. She received her M.A. degree from Queens College in Flushing, NY in 2010. Lauren worked as a SLP in New York, NY for four years at a special education preschool and elementary school. She enjoys working with the special education population and has always enjoyed working with students who learn in different ways. In addition, Lauren has worked with the early intervention population and has taken the first PROMPT course. In her free time she enjoys exploring restaurants, cooking and working on her new cooking blog!
Lindsay Starr, originally from Indianapolis, Ind., is a North Carolina licensed and ASHA certified Speech-Language Pathologist. In 2006 she received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Milligan College where she also minored in French. She then earned a Master of Health Science in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Missouri. (Go Tigers!) Lindsay worked as a school based SLP in the Chicago area before relocating to Charlotte with her husband in 2013 where she continues to work in the school setting. Lindsay’s professional areas of interest include Autism Spectrum Disorder, Augmentative and Alternative Communication, and developmental delays. She is trained in PECS as well as Structured TEACCHing. In her free time, Lindsay enjoys exploring her new city, taking advantage of the great weather in the southeast, and spending time with her family and friends.
Lynda Shorter graduated with a master’s degree Speech Pathology and Audiology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in December of 2005. She holds a North Carolina permanent SLP license and Certificate of Clinical Competence through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Lynda is originally from the UK, however, she has lived in the USA now for more than 20 years. She holds The Hanen Program ® ‘It Takes Two to Talk’ Certification, and she is an Independent Certified Instructor for the Baby Signs ® Program. Her special areas of interest include fluency disorders, childhood apraxia of speech, autism spectrum disorder, language delay, late talkers, and articulation/phonological disorders. She enjoys gardening, jogging, practicing yoga and spending time with her three daughters.
Pete is originally from Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He graduated from Indiana University in 2000 with a Master’s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology. He has been a full time therapist for over 20 years. His wife a 3 teenage kids moved to the Charlotte area in 2015 after living in the Chicago area. The family also includes 2 yappy little dogs and an antisocial cat. His philosophy is that therapy should be a fun experience where children learn through play!
Rachel was born in New York and raised in a small town in northeastern Pennsylvania. In 2009, she earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Queens University of Charlotte. After serving 7 years as a classroom teacher, she decided to pursue her passion for speech therapy. She attended North Carolina Central University in Durham, NC, earning a master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology in 2018. Rachel’s special interests include articulation/phonological disorders, language disorders, early language development, and literacy. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking Italian meals, running marathons, and spending time with her husband, family, and friends. The most rewarding part of speech therapy is partnering with families and seeing each child achieve their goals.
Sarah is originally from Doylestown, PA. She received a BA in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of Florida in 2003. She received her M.S. from Nova Southeastern University in Speech Language Pathology. She holds an ASHA Certificate of Clinical Competence. Her special area of interest is working with children diagnosed with autism, and she has spent over 5 years in this area. Sarah is also passionate about working with children who have sensory feeding disorders. What she most enjoys about her job is making connections with children and watching them progress and achieve their goals. She is a proud mother of two wonderful teenage girls. They love to spend our time outdoors, playing tennis, walking their dogs, and they particularly love the U.S. National White Water Center.
Stephanie Tolley, M.S., CCC-SLP, CLC graduated from University of South Alabama. She is a North and South Carolina licensed and ASHA certified Speech-Language Pathologist. She has been providing feeding, swallowing, and communication therapy to families in the Charlotte area since 2011 and has practiced in outpatient hospital, home-health, daycare, private practice, and school settings. She is specialized in oral function, feeding, and swallowing problems from infancy through
adolescence. Stephanie enjoys helping families take the stress out of mealtimes. In her free time, she is hiking with her husband, Robert, and #darladog, doing yoga, or exploring the city.
Tammy Ofsanik has been a licensed Speech Pathologist since 1994 – first earning her Bachelor’s degree from Bowling Green State University, in Ohio, and then her Master’s degree from the University of Redlands, in California. Her first job was as a school Speech Pathologist in Ohio working with children, K-12. She next took an unexpected, but blessed opportunity to work with adults of all ages in a variety of settings including hospitals, skilled nursing, assisted living, home health care, and outpatient. For a few years she had the added responsibility of being the Director of Rehabilitation, overseeing a couple of skilled nursing facilities and a team of therapists, in addition to providing Speech Pathology services. In 2000, Tammy and her husband moved to Charlotte from the Los Angeles area and started a family. In 2003 she took a break from working as a Speech Pathologist to stay home with her 2 young children but returned in 2007, focusing primarily on early intervention, but working with children of all ages. Tammy is currently serving the Charlotte area between Uptown, South Charlotte, Southwest Charlotte, and West Charlotte. Tammy enjoys the hobbies of genealogical study, scuba diving, biking, camping with her family, and gardening.
Tori Jacumin graduated with both her bachelor’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders and master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Appalachian State University. Tori grew up in Hickory, NC and moved to Charlotte upon graduating with her master’s degree. She holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association and is licensed by the North Carolina Board of Examiners for Speech Language Pathology and Audiology. She has clinical experience with children and adults of all ages in preschools, elementary schools, hospitals, and private clinics. Tori also has special interests in early language development as well as the evaluation and treatment of pediatric feeding and swallowing disorders. In her free time, you can find her spending time with friends and family, hiking, traveling, and playing with her dog.
Wende Toth was born and raised in Schenectady, NY. After high school she attended and graduated from the State University of New York College at Geneseo with a bachelor’s degree in Communicative Disorders and Sciences in May of 1998. She also graduated from Western Illinois University with a master’s degree in Communicative Disorders and Sciences in May of 2000. She enjoys the field of Speech-Language Pathology for its ever changing challenges and opportunities. Throughout her career she has enjoyed working with children of all ages, from toddlers to high school students. When she is not working she enjoys spending time with her husband and children, especially at the beach or lake.
Whitney Miller is from Mooresville. She moved to Charlotte in 2010 from Wilmington, where she worked in a private practice serving children from 2 to 18 years old. Whitney graduated from UNC Greensboro with a bachelor of science in Communication Science and Disorders in 2007. Her family is largely made up of Appalachian State graduates. Much to their pleasure, she attended Appalachian State University for graduate school where she graduated with a master’s degree in Communication Disorders in 2009. While working with the pediatric population for the past four years, she attended the PROMPT course developed by Deborah Hayden and the Sequential Oral Sensory Approach to Feeding course developed by Kay Toomey. She also has experience using eye gaze systems with augmentative communication devices and enjoys the variety of her caseload. In her free time, Whitney enjoys being active outdoors and spending time with her husband at the Whitewater Center.
Ziya graduated from UNC Wilmington with a Bachelors of Science in Biology in 2008, she graduated in 2012 from University of Houston with her BS in Communication Sciences and Disorders, and she recieved her Masters in Communication Disorders from Texas State University in 2015. Ziya was born in Kenya and moved to Canada for a brief period of time before moving to Cary, NC. She spent the majority of her childhood in Cary and moved to Wilmington, NC to pursue her first degree in 2004. After receiving her degree in biology, she moved to Texas to be closer to her parents and brother, she lived in Texas for 9 years before moving to Charlotte. Her special areas of training include, feeding and swallowing disorders, stuttering and childhood apraxia of speech. She is fascinated by the brain/cognitive function and how it pertains to speech acquisition and swallowing. Ziya loves working with families in their most functional and natural settings so that she is able to assist in maximizing opportunities for learning and development within the daily life and routines that are already in place. In her free time, Ziya loves trying new restaurants, traveling, listening to music, spending time with her loved ones and reading. She would like to continue to learn about new cultures and immerse herself in learning about people and places.