“My interest in speech pathology comes from having several family members who had communication disorders. I have an autistic brother who’s younger than I am and a cousin who communicates through sign language due to a severe hearing impairment.
“My family had an everyday need to understand what my brother’s communication disorder was. He was diagnosed with autism in the 60s, which was back in the days when people thought being autistic meant that you had a flare for painting, and there wasn’t a lot known about autism itself or how to help him with the challenges he was facing. My parents really needed to understand why he was communicating the way he was, what techniques we could use at home, and what the school was going to do to help improve his communication and behavioral skills.
“When my brother started going to therapy, we would all pile in the car and go with him. We went to many summer programs and clinic with him, and as a result, I met a lot of his preschool teachers and therapists. They were all so dedicated to helping him do better — very family oriented and concerned about how we felt he was doing at home. They gave us ideas for what we could do to work with him and help him to do better. They were very professional, and they all worked a little differently. I just thought that was so exciting and interesting.”