We sat down with Alexia Derma, M.S., CCC-SLP, to dive into her background and experience, clinical approach, inspiration for becoming a speech therapist, and more. You can read more about Alexia here.
Can you spend a few minutes talking about your experience and background as a speech therapist?
I graduated about three years ago and took a position at an early childhood center. I worked with mostly bilingual children with a significant need for services. I had completed an internship in the outpatient setting, which I really enjoyed, and I also fell in love with the significantly involved populations, such as augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) users and those with feeding disorders. For my second year, I switched to an outpatient clinic, home health, and early intervention mix, and did that for about a year before I transitioned to home health fully. I love working with children and their families, as I believe it’s the best way to make a greater impact. Then I had my own baby and started thinking of doing teletherapy - especially after the pandemic happened - so I ended up at Expressable and I’m loving it. AAC and feeding are still what I’m most passionate about, but I love working with all clients and learning more every day.
Why did you decide to become a speech therapist?
It was that or becoming a doctor. However, I just loved the fact that as an SLP I got to not just “diagnose” something, but actually make a difference. I wasn’t quite sure what the field of SLP was, but I took my first class in college and just fell in love with it. That’s pretty much been my story since then; the more I learn about this field, the more I love it.
What areas of speech-language pathology interest you most?
AAC, feeding, and early communication are my favorite areas and the ones I have the most experience.
What part of your job do you find most enjoyable?
How rewarding it is. It doesn’t matter if one day I get spat on or a kiddo runs away when I show up for the session - nothing beats seeing their little faces when they do something they weren’t able to do before.
Among all the clients you’ve taught throughout your career, is there a particular success story that stands out in your mind?
I believe that each kiddo is special and each story is unique, but overall, I think the ones that stand out the most are the children that say their first word or take their first bite after months of work!
How do you assess and monitor your clients’ progress?
Talking to parents about how their little ones are increasing their functional communication at home/school/with peers, as well as tallying their success during sessions. I’m far more interested in the progress children make outside of the session versus within.
What attracted you to online speech therapy?
Honestly, it was the perfect way to continue doing what I love, while at the same time staying home with my baby. From the moment he was born, I just couldn’t seem to say goodbye for a moment.
What are your hobbies or passions outside of speech therapy?
I have tons of things I enjoy. I love baking, knitting, and reading. I also do crossfit and occasionally play cello. I’ve always had indoor plants, but this year I started gardening and have really enjoyed it. Lastly, I’m a huge nerd… I read and take continuing education classes as if I got paid to do so. It's actually kind of a joke/pet-peeve my husband has because I always have a new class I’m saving up for and, of course, that means he has to put it in the budget - lol.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I’m super passionate about making an actual difference in the lives of the kiddos I work with.