Jackson — Rebecca Laskin spent a decade as a sole practitioner speech/language pathologist. She started hiring other speech therapists in 1990. In 2003, she decided to broaden the scope of her practice by hiring occupational therapists, and then physical therapists were added in 2004. Now her Laskin Therapy Group allows families to have one place they can go for physical, speech and occupation therapy for special needs children.
Laskin said multidisciplinary treatments such as provided by her group, which has 23 speech/language, occupational and physical therapists on staff, are what make her practice unique. Children make greater strides when they receive co-treatment. As therapists from two or more disciplines work side-by-side with a child, the progress in each area increases exponentially.
“How wonderful we speech pathologists have found it to have occupational therapists and physical therapists to consult with or, even better yet, to co-treat with,” Laskin said. “We found that even our most difficult clients progress much faster and farther with the assistance of the occupational therapists addressing sensory issues or the physical therapist addressing trunk stabilization during the course of our therapy.
“Our parents and referral sources are very happy to have one ‘therapy home’ where the child can have all therapy needs met in a coordinated manner. As therapists we really like having all three disciplines in one facility because we can easily consult each other or have a different type of therapist take a quick look at a child before determining if a referral is actually needed.”
Laskin said it occurred to their speech therapists that even when another discipline could not co-treat with them, they were learning a great deal they were able to utilize in their own therapy sessions. Eager to share what was happening at their facility, Laskin Therapy Group presented the program, “Multidisciplinary Treatment -The Pathway to Success,” at a convention of the Mississippi Speech-Language-Hearing Association (MSHA). This year, at the MSHA Convention, Laskin was recognized with the MSHA’s Clinical Achievement Award.
“I am very proud of what has come to be Laskin Therapy Group and concluded that perhaps something in this creation is what the award is all about,” Laskin said. “Laskin Therapy Group is a dynamic and innovative team of licensed and certified professionals providing speech, language, occupational and physical therapies to a diverse group of clients in the Jackson metropolitan area. Striking a unique balance of traditional treatment techniques and leading edge technology, the group carefully evaluates, plans and implements programs designed to meet the specific needs of each individual.”
Some of the non-traditional treatments include The Listening Program and Therapeutic Listening. Both of these programs have been shown to help improve attention, focus, sensory integration and language development. Computer programs such as Fast ForWord and Earobics are utilized to work on pre-literacy and language skills. In addition, something called interactive metronome is used to improve attention, concentration, coordination and to control aggression and impulsivity.
The most gratifying thing for Laskin and the other women she works with is seeing children improve and thrive. “The growth in the children is the most rewarding thing,” Laskin said. “Very often we get a family that has been searching for the right resource for their child and finds we are able to help them achieve what they want for their child. They come here and are so pleased with the changes they see in their children.”
Laskin Therapy Group conducts parent and teacher training sessions, which is helpful because the children they treat benefit from home and classroom practice to assist in the carryover of therapy sessions. Most children are able to come only once or twice a week, but need more reinforcement of newly learned skills in order to facilitate long-term improvement. Parents are given what they need to know to work with their children at home.
Laskin said the key to Laskin Therapy Group’s success is the staff. “The group’s diversity of background, training and career development has allowed Laskin Therapy Group to flourish,” she said. “In our search for the best staff possible we have to compete with other facilities and job settings where salaries or work schedules may be better than we are able to offer. What I wanted to achieve was a place where therapists would want to work not because of their salary or hours, but because it was the best place for them professionally and personally.
“We are flexible in the arrangements our therapists have for meeting their personal and career needs. For example, while a number of our therapists are with us on a full-time basis, some work at other facilities or schools for the better part of the day, and then come work with our children in the busy after school hours and into the early evening to accommodate our many clients whose parents work outside their home. A number of our therapists are parents who want to stay home part-time with their own children. As a result, schedules accommodate nursing mothers and parents of school-aged children alike.”
A strong commitment to continuing education is another effort that helps with retention of employees. Laskin therapists attend continuing education courses offered by MSHA and other groups. Therapists have attended workshops on early intervention with hearing impaired children, dyslexia, Speech Easy, sensory integration and autism this past year alone.
“A number of our therapists possess or are on the verge of earning the Award for Continuing Education from American Speech-Language-Hearing Association,” Laskin said. “When someone has been here three years, they get a continuing education bonus. This bonus allows them to go anywhere in the country for a conference or class of their choice with most if not all of their expenses covered. We do believe very strongly in continuing education and increasing our knowledge base. So, the business funds employees attending a number of workshops through the course of the year.”
Laskin is also very involved with the American Academy of Private Practice Speech Pathologists and Audiologists, having served on their national board as secretary, and on committees. Laskin said her participation in this organization helped her set new goals for her practice and learn the ropes of being a business owner.
“My speech/language pathology training programs did not prepare me to be a business owner,” Laskin said. “This organization has been a great resource for me in that capacity.”
As a matter of fact, as much as I’ve always loved being a speech/language pathologist, my overlapping career as a business owner is refreshing and stimulating. It’s where I’m thankful to be at this point in my life.”
Contact MBJ contributing writer Becky Gillette at email@example.com.