Meet Maria Kouspos, Speech Pathologist at Monash Health.
Can you tell us about your role at Monash health, the program you work in and what a normal day looks like for you?
I am a speech pathologist that works in various outpatient clinics as well as the inpatient setting. I work in the Developmental Paediatrics clinic, Healthy Koori Kids clinic, Victorian Foetal Alcohol Spectrum (VicFAS) clinic, and the inpatient Special Care Nursery setting.
Every day looks different as each clinic runs on a different day. Typically, on the day that I am working in the inpatient setting I would see babies and children that have a feeding or swallowing difficulties.
Depending on the day, I will attend either the Developmental Paediatrics Clinic, Healthy Koori Kids clinic or Victorian Foetal Alcohol Spectrum (VicFAS) clinic. All these clinics are multidisciplinary teams that consists of Paediatricians, Psychologists, Neuropsychologists, Occupational Therapist, Speech Pathologist and Oral Hygienists.
Generally the children that attend the clinic have a developmental concern. My role in the team is to assess and provide recommendations about their communication skills. This includes, speaking, listening and social skills development.
What major project or initiative is your team currently working on?
At the moment the new VicFAS Clinic has commenced. It involves intensive neurodevelopmental assessment of children between ages 4 to 12 that have possibly been exposed to prenatal alcohol.
I am also involved in assisting Monash Health become communication accessible. The aim is to enable people who have communication difficulties to communicate and interact successfully with all staff members at Monash Health.
I’m a strong believer that all members of the community have a right to be treated with dignity and respect, and people with a communication impairment should be able to communicate successfully no matter what their communication method is. This may include using words, pictures, gestures or a communication device.
How did you first become involved in speech pathology? What has your journey to Monash Health looked like?
I have been a speech pathologist for 18 years and have always worked in paediatrics. I first started at Monash Health in 2009 in the Developmental Paediatrics Clinic.
Can you tell us about the overall role speech pathologists play at Monash Health?
Speech pathologists play an extremely important role at Monash Health. We work in a range of areas across the life span. For example, we work with the premature infant that has feeding difficulties, the pre-schooler that has difficulties with language development, the school age child that has learning difficulties, the adolescent that has Autism Spectrum Disorder and the adult that has had a stroke.
What is the most rewarding part of your role?
Being part of teams that help families understand their child and provide individualised recommendations that assist the child in the present and the future.
This year’s theme for Speech Pathology Week is “Communicating with confidence.” Can you tell us what this means to you?
“Communicating with confidence” means that all members of our community have a right to communicate their needs, wants and desires whether they have a communication difficulty or not. There needs to be more awareness of this hidden disability.
Are there any special moments in your career that stand out in particular?
It’s always special and exciting when a child starts to communicate their basic and functional needs using a range of strategies that I have implemented with the family, such as Key Word Sign, pictures and of course verbal communication.