People ask me all the time why I chose to go through so much school! The simple answer is that I developed an obsession with the therapy professions ever since stumbling upon a class called "The Biology of Sensation" as an undergraduate student back in 2001. This was a gen-ed class offered by the Department of Speech & Hearing Science at University of Arizona and it was an unexpected game changer for me as a business major. I found the content fascinating, the instructors inspiring, and the work effortless. This was in stark contrast to my business courses which felt cumbersome, awkward, and all around exhausting. I changed my major to Speech & Hearing Science during my senior year and from that point on, I was that obnoxious student who signed up for every additional learning or volunteer opportunity offered! My goal was to become someone who had something intelligent to say about any therapy-related topic. I continue striving toward that goal to this day.
In 2005, I started a masters program in Communication Disorders at Arizona State University. While most of my classmates had a clear area of focus, I was one of the few who could not decide because I enjoyed it all! After graduation, I completed my clinical fellowship year and earned my ASHA certificate of clinical competence.
It was around this time that my first son was born. From day one he gave me a run for my money! He did not sleep for more than an hour at a time for many years and had extreme difficulty with feeding. This led me to go to every course I could find on feeding therapy! When my second son was born a few years later, we felt very lucky to have a child who could sleep however the feeding issues continued. Both boys ended up with a variety of diagnoses, which has required me to be their full-time advocate. My sons continue to teach me new lessons relevant to my work as a therapist.
One thing became very clear from watching my boys and other children: without a regulated nervous system, no higher functions were going to happen - including speech/language, learning, and social engagement. Sensory integration strategies were a precursor to language and cognitive functions.
By this time, I had switched from school-based work to medical settings. While working with my adult patients I found it frustrating that while working on reading, vision issues interfered or while working on writing, pencil grip issues interfered. It also seemed silly that I would have them formulate sentences about pictures of people doing daily life tasks but not actually practice the tasks and the language together in an authentic way. All of these observations led me to pursue a doctorate degree in occupational therapy. I wanted to be able to treat the whole person instead of inefficiently attempting to treat bits and parts.
After completing my doctorate, I worked in a variety of settings with both children and adults. I still felt very passionate about being a therapist but I was deeply troubled by the sad realities of our healthcare and educational systems which left therapists feeling completely burned out and patients with inadequate care. After years of searching for an organization with standards on par with mine, I realized that no such organization exists. This is why I created Evolve Therapy & Wellness.