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Friday, November 13, 2009

Speaking out: A speech pathologist makes treatment fun

Monica Orbe/MEDILL

Speech pathologist Arnell Brady said he believes in making a better community through better communication, his specialty. He holds the Smart Palette that allows him to screen how children form the sounds of words and letters.

by Camille M. Doty and Monica Orbe
Nov 12, 2009

Speech pathologist Arnell Brady empowers children through speech therapy.

Speech and language pathologist Arnell A. Brady likes to make the job fun for him and his young clients.

From the time the children walk through his door in Hyde Park, they are ecstatic to work with Brady on correcting speech problems. They bounce through the door and run right to the room where their treatment involves computer games and even a high-tech gadget called an Interactive Metronome.

“Mr. Brady, I am done,” proclaims one high-pitched voice from one of the rooms that line the corridor of treatment areas.

Brady rushed over the see the “score” as little girl eagerly exclaimed, “I did better.”

“I see that, I see that,” Brady assured her as the exuberant face searched his face for acknowledgment. She struggles with a lisp and difficulties with expressive language, two treatable conditions Brady sees frequently.

Brady rewards children with playtime on the computers after they complete their treatment. The games coupled with Brady’s constant encouragement plays a big role in their desire to come back and overcome speech challenges.

Brady clearly values being personable and engaging with his clients. Kimberly Jackson said Brady has been important to her daughter’s development. She has “enjoyed watching her grow and watching her confidence level increase,” said Jackson, a Chicago native.

Jackson’s daughter has been seeing Brady five times a week since this summer. She switched from another speech pathologist to Brady because she lives in the neighborhood near his office.

The 38-year-old mother said that Brady really cares and “has a concern about your child elevating their communication skills.”

He is, “helping you shape your most important asset, which is your child,” she said. Jackson said she has noticed an added benefit since her child started treatment with Brady - a display of higher self-esteem.

“The only way a person can survive and thrive in their life is that they have to study and learn and then, when they have acquired those skills, they must take it back home,” he said.

He runs his practice with his son, Arnell A. Brady III. He initiates a session by doing an evaluation and assessment to determine each patient’s strengths and weaknesses. Then he selects a treatment plan to correct disorders. Speech pathology involves both the mind and the body, the father said.

He works on developing his patients' control of both with the use of devices, such as the Smart Palette and the Interactive Metronome. Smart Palette is a screening device that allows him to see computer models of how a child's tongue and mouth form sounds. This equipment helps Brady measure some speech pathologies that are innate as well as those that result from illness or injury.

He uses playful computer programs to mask the technical approaches to diagnosis and treatment. Children are excited about the testing methods, because evaluations can be stressful. The programs also help him discover the person’s speech pathology, gauge their progress or instill in them techniques to treat their pathology.

Arnell Brady III is his father's business manager and shares Brady Sr.'s commitment to helping children develop strong communication abilities. “I think that communication is a big part in this world, so I think that anytime that you can help an individual succeed or articulate their thoughts, I think you are helping the community,” he said.

His father is personally invested in the Hyde Park community because he was raised there. He graduated Morgan Park High School and attended Saint Xavier College. He earned his master’s degree from Northwestern University in speech and language pathology.

Brady gives back to the community beyond the job, serving as the President of the National Black Association for Speech-Language and Hearing.

People should, “enrich the area that they came from, otherwise they are doing nothing but surviving," Brady said.

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