Whyalla Staff Profile – Ellen Rowley

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Broad range of clients for speech pathologist Ellen

A broad range of clients – from young kids to adults in their 60s – is a highlight of working in Novita’s Whyalla therapy hub for speech pathologist Ellen Rowley.

Ellen moved from Adelaide to Whyalla at the start of the year, and has had a smooth transition to regional work and life.

“It was quite an adjustment for me. I moved out of home in Adelaide to come to Whyalla, and the fact that everyone has been really lovely, including the Novita team here at Whyalla, has made the whole transition really smooth,” said Ellen.

“Speech pathologists work with people of all ages, ranging from new-born babies to older people living with disability, on issues such as speech, language, fluency, and feeding, along with working with families so that they can support their loved ones.

“I work with a range of different people. My youngest client is about three-and-a-half years old, and the oldest client that I see is in their mid-60s. We also have more young adults coming to us – in the 19, 20, 21 age range.

“We have two speech pathologists here at Whyalla, as well as two occupational therapists, a physiotherapist and an educator, and we spend a lot of time working together to get the best outcomes for our clients.”

Ellen explained how she worked with one particular young client – a boy aged about five – to support him with literacy skills, transitioning from one task to the next, and focussing on a task.

“I visit him at his school, and the first thing we do is sit down and I lay some activities I brought with me on the table, and he can choose the order that we complete the activities,” said Ellen.

“The activities might include a book that we read, and I ask him a lot of questions as we go to make sure he’s listening and taking in the information. We might also do some drawing which focusses on his fluency, so we draw a straight road to indicate smooth speech, and a bumpy road for when he stutters and his speech is bumpy.

“I also include a bubble blower, which he loves, and it gives him a break from some of the other more complex activities. He can get up from the table and jump around bursting the bubbles.

“One of the main things I’m trying to achieve with him is improving his ability to sit down and focus on a task. We’re also spending time focussing on his literacy skills, as well as transitioning from one activity to the next, or from our speech session back to his classroom.

“I’ve only been working with him for a few months, but I’m already seeing that his ability to sit and focus for an hour-long session is getting better. When I first worked with him it was hard for him to focus on anything for longer than 10 minutes or so.

“I love working with the younger kids. I do love working with everyone, but the younger kids are lots of fun.”