Lori Overland, MS, CCC-SLP, N/NDT, CLC is a speech and language pathologist with more than 36 years of professional experience. Lori specializes in dealing with the unique needs of infants, toddlers, pre-schoolers and school-aged children with oral sensory-motor, feeding and oral placement/speech disorders. She has received an award from the Connecticut Down Syndrome Association for her work within this population. Lori consults with children from all over the world, providing evaluations, re-evaluations, program plans and week-long therapy programs. Lori also provides consults to local school districts and Birth-to-Three organizations. Her goal in addressing feeding and speech challenges is to improve the quality of life for both the children she serves and their families. In addition to her private practice, Alphabet Soup, Lori is a member of the TalkTools® speakers bureau. Lori has lectured on sensory-motor feeding disorders across the United States and internationally. She teaches TOTs, Feeding and Down Syndrome courses in addition to her pre-feeding webinar. Lori holds degrees from Hofstra University and Adelphi University and has her neurodevelopmental certification and is a certified lactation counselor.
WHY I BECAME AN SLP... It’s crazy… but I was a pre-law major undergrad. After two semesters of required classes (still not sure how biology is related to pre law) and introduction to justice research, writing and reasoning, I was closed out of an introduction to judicial process course (that I am sure would have been equally boring and just as much writing!). One of my friends was registered for an introduction to speech and hearing sciences class that fulfilled an elective requirement. Needing to fill my schedule, I reluctantly signed up for the course. The professor was the most entertaining and interesting speakers I had thus far in college. One class led to another and before I knew it I had a dual major, and the unintended major was much more appealing. When my “future” sister in-law, who was coincidentally an SLP, invited me to spend the day observing her practice, I was hooked. It was easy to give up reading law briefs to work with children!
MY OPT STORY... The phone rang and a woman introduced herself as Sara Rosenfeld-Johnson. Sara said, “I never get reports from Speech Pathologists that talk about feeding, do you want a job?” 'Who is this crazy lady,' I thought. I thanked her and graciously declined the offered, wondering who would offer a job to someone they had not met. Sara was persistent and talked me in to a co-treat session with this child we were sharing.
My journey as an SLP, at that time, was filled with more questions than answers. Some of my frustrations included how I should work with children who did not have the underlying motor skills to support intelligible speech (and could not look, listen and imitate the sound) and WHY I was asked to write language goals to increase the length of utterance in a child who was unintelligible to the uncued listener. Sara was the first therapist I met who was looking at underlying motor skills. Many years before she defined OPT, she was asking the question "Where does your mouth have to be to make the sound?" and looking at the underlying motor skills to support intelligible speech. I DID take the job the “crazy” lady (who became my good friend and mentor!) offered me, and it changed the way I evaluate and treat my clients. It opened the door for me to apply similar task analysis to the motor skills used for safe, nutritive feeding and allowed me to figure out why so many of my clients were picky or problem eaters. This career has always been more of a marathon than a sprint, and the day I hit the finish line I will retire!