Today we’d like to introduce you to Deann O’Lenick.
Deann, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I have had the pleasure of working with children, young adults, and adults who have complex communication needs and who are unable to communicate verbally since the very beginning of my career. Over the past few years, the lack of development of language utilizing augmentative communication has become more and more apparent. As I reflected on the reasons for the lack of progress, I arrived at the conclusion that development and developmental milestones were not the focus. Somewhere along the way we start thinking about developing language and the activation of the devices became the goal. By returning to language and language development, children and young adults could continue to develop their language skills.
The idea for Hear MY Voice was born out of this frustration. In order to have better outcomes for children and young adults with complex communication needs, it was apparent that we needed to do things differently. Hear MY Voice is a non-profit committed to educating and training parents and caregivers alongside educators and therapists, using a variety of adult learning strategies that we call the experiential learning series. The goal of the courses in the experiential learning series is to establish language as the sole goal for augmentative communication, and to provide the participants with activities, discussions, hands-on experience, combined with information in order to shape their understanding of how to develop language through AAC.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The journey has been interesting and character building, as we have entered into the world of 5013C nonprofit. I had experience with owning my own private practice, as well as being a partner in an outpatient rehabilitation clinic, and those skills helps in the development of the nonprofit, and at the same time the nonprofit world is very different. I feel very fortunate that we have a wonderful Board of Directors, each of whom comes from very different backgrounds. But together, the Board of Directors provides a thorough foundation for us to meet our mission.
Hear MY Voice- Language Through AAC – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Hear MY Voice- Language Through AAC is committed to providing education and training so that children who are unable to use their own voice have the opportunity to develop language utilizing augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). The hope and dream is for each child to have their own voice, and when it is not possible to produce their own voice, AAC provides a way.
I am most proud of the development of the experiential learning series and the impact that the training has already had on speech – language pathologist, educators, and parents. It is remarkable to be a part of such an energetic learning activity, and to witness the impact on the children and young adults.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I am humbled and honored to be at this point in my career where I am able to apply what I have learned through the past 34 years in working with children and their families, and to see that develop into what has become Hear MY Voice. I am honored to be in partnership with my husband, Dave O’Lenick, one of my former students, Courtney Garcia, one of my patient’s mother, Michelle Lunday, one of my former doctoral classmates, Dr. Lisa Cook, and longtime friend, Russell Ivy. I am blessed to see that formations transformed during the experiential learning series. And I am honored to be a part of the lives represented.
- Address: Hear MY Voice
5501 Sierra Ridge Drive
Fort Worth, TX 76123
- Website: www.languagethroughaac.org
- Phone: 817-301-2682
- Email: languagethroughaac@gmail
- Facebook: Language Through AAC
- Twitter: Language Thru AAC