Speech-Language Pathology SLP

| 7 May 2024

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Elevating Early Speech: MS-SLP Alum and Children’s Author Champions Montessori Methods

B. Daugherty Headshot_hi-res

In the realm of speech therapy, Briona Daugherty stands as a symbol of creativity, empowering both parents and children to embrace speech development as an integral part of their daily lives.

A 2022 University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences (USAHS) Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology (MS-SLP) graduate, Briona Daugherty, MS, CCC-SLP, is an enthusiastic advocate for early intervention. Daugherty has cultivated a thriving career as an Early Intervention Speech Therapist and authored over 35 children’s books, each crafted with a keen focus on promoting speech development.

Education to Ignite a Career Shift

A former professional singer in Las Vegas and New York City, Daugherty also performed on cruise ships and spent five years in China, Japan, Korea and Thailand. She was heartened to help other vocalists adjust to life on board and maintain their voices for more than two hours a night in a 2,000-seat theater.

Daugherty decided to pursue a graduate degree in speech-language pathology at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Her life-altering choice led to a career change and the discovery of speech therapy. She found solace in the hybrid model offered by USAHS, which allowed her to study online and chart her course.

Reflecting on her journey from a graduate student to an Early Intervention Speech Therapist, Daugherty recounts her pivotal time at USAHS.

“I lucked out,” she says, “I was interested in helping people and speech therapy called to me as a lifelong pursuit.”

She describes how the University bent over backward to help her get a vocal disorders placement because of her background. “During my clinical experience, I started seeing professional vocalists. I felt like I belonged again. I knew exactly what they were dealing with in their injury, the fear of losing their livelihood and the pressures of the job, and for the first time in my life, I finally knew how to help them,” Daugherty explains.

Daugherty connected with top-tier mentors and was deeply moved to pursue early intervention speech therapy. Her commitment to helping children reach their full potential became apparent during her clinical placements, especially while working with children on the autism spectrum.

“There was something about these kids that was so intriguing. Their unique needs challenged me to listen and adapt, ultimately leading me to specialize in early intervention,” she says.

Montessori Speech at Home Book Cover Image

Inventive Strategies for Early Speech Therapy

Daugherty’s methodology centers on integrating speech development into daily activities, such as leaving Easter eggs around the house for children to find. “It is about creating an environment where speech becomes a natural part of the family dynamic,” she says.

She clarifies that whether through greeting rituals or mealtime routines, each interaction presents an opportunity for speech development. By shifting the focus from isolated speech exercises to immersive, holistic learning experiences, Daugherty aims to alleviate the pressure – on children and caregivers – often associated with speech therapy.

“We need to empower parents to embrace speech development as a collaborative journey rather than a daunting task. By creating a culture of speech within the home, we instill confidence and autonomy in both children and parents,” she emphasizes.

A Prolific Passion for Speech Development  

Daugherty’s dedication to early speech development paved the way for her writing career. She was motivated by the desire to provide tailored resources for her clients.

Daugherty’s first speech delay book, Tik Tak the Doggy Dog, was born of a client’s needs. The child solely sang and showed interest in dogs, prompting Daugherty to blend these interests to find a written solution. “The book and its focus on repetition was instrumental in correcting her articulation delay,” she says.

Her upcoming book, Montessori Speech at Home, epitomizes Daugherty’s innovative approach to speech therapy. Integrating Montessori techniques with speech development, the book offers parents a fresh perspective on fostering speech skills through child-led techniques and everyday activities.

Her approaches emphasize play and promote independence in learning.

“Instead of asking the child to speak directly, we embed speech into everyday routines,” she elaborates, “Montessori education resonated with me as it aligns seamlessly with early intervention speech therapy.”

Daugherty draws parallels between Montessori principles and speech therapy and emphasizes the importance of flexibility and individualized learning. “Montessori encourages independence and exploration, much like the approach we adopt in speech therapy. By following a child’s interests and adapting to their needs, we can effectively promote speech development,” she asserts.

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The Interwoven Paths of Therapy and Authorship

Reflecting on her multifaceted career, Daugherty highlights the symbiotic relationship between her professional pursuits. “My work is a fusion of creativity, education and therapy. By blending these elements, I aim to engage children and parents in the speech development process,” she shares.

Through her books and therapeutic interventions, Daugherty continues to witness success stories, each reaffirming the transformative power of early intervention. Looking ahead, Daugherty remains committed to supporting families and promoting speech development.

She looks forward to her upcoming wedding, establishing a private practice, delving further into in-home care and expanding her repertoire of resources for the families she serves.

Daugherty’s journey exemplifies the impact of innovation in speech therapy. She links learning and therapy to improve children’s lives and inspires a fresh wave of speech therapists and parents to see speech development as a united, joyful adventure.

Read a previous blog post about Daugherty and The Montessori Post article about her book, Montessori Speech at Home, available on May 1.


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