When the COVID-19 pandemic struck last year, new mom Casey Crosby’s best friend was Google. With her husband out of the house as an essential worker, the Yardley resident was desperate for tips on how to keep her 7-month-old stimulated throughout the day, all while balancing her own remote work as a speech therapist with the Bucks County Intermediate Unit.
“I realized that there’s probably other families that are looking for advice for their kids,” she told The Times in a Zoom interview.
Utilizing her seven years of experience, Crosby launched a Facebook and Instagram blog centered around adolescent speech. Crosby was flooded with messages from other working-from-home parents who noticed a decline in the number of words their child was saying. With in-person therapy sessions throughout the county and state temporarily halted, Crosby received countless requests to provide her own.
In December, she took a major leap of faith. Crosby left her Bucks IU position of over six years behind to fully dedicate herself to Play With Words Speech Therapy. It was the best decision she ever made.
“I feel like I have a new passion for my career and it’s just been amazing to be able to impact even more people now,” Crosby said.
When a parent notices that their child is pronouncing words incorrectly or is speaking minimally, Crosby will conduct an initial consultation over the phone for free. She’ll troubleshoot what’s going on and determine the best next steps. Depending on the results of a comprehensive speech and language evaluation, she may recommend therapy one or two times per week.
Since many families are nervous to send their children to a clinic as COVID-19 continues, Crosby conducts all sessions at their home. She currently sees 15 kids. While most are in the Langhorne, Newtown and Yardley areas, Crosby sometimes drives a little past Doylestown to help a client. Parents typically reach out when the child is between 12 and 15 months, though Crosby will help someone up to 18 years old.
At the heart of Play With Words Speech Therapy is individualization and, of course, fun.
“I need to tailor it to that child to make it as meaningful as possible. For example, some children love Elmo, some don’t know who Elmo is,” Crosby explained. “I start with what’s in a family’s home so I can teach them how to use what they already have to help their child. So when I leave, they’re able to help carry over those skills and the things that we’ve been talking about.”
Crosby has utilized everything from Play Doh to Pokémon word scrambles to engage the kids. Lessons range from 30 minutes to an hour depending on the child’s need as well as the family’s schedule.
When Crosby enters the house, COVID-19 safety protocols are in place. Anyone over the age of 2 wears a mask, social distancing is practiced, and she sanitizes the toys and materials between each session.
“I also wear a clear mask so they can see my mouth,” she said. “So all of the speech therapy things that you would typically do in-person, they can see all of my cuing and my mouth and how I’m making sounds and talking.”
According to Crosby, providing private therapy grants her more freedom when crafting lessons.
“It’s very play-based,” she said. “The difference between school therapy and private therapy is sometimes, parents don’t realize that you can do both. You can access it in the school and in a private setting as well. I feel like now that I’m doing it privately, I have a lot more flexibility to make it for their interest. I have more time set throughout the day that I can make it more fun and engaging for them.”
When asked how it feels to see a child catch on to what she’s teaching them, Crosby filled up with tears.
“It’s the most rewarding thing in the world. Seeing these kids, as a parent now, I know how important it is to give these children a way to communicate with their family. There’s nothing better in this world than knowing I could make that difference,” she said. “I got into this career because I wanted to help people. In the grind of life, you lose some of that. Doing this business, being able to truly work with families, being in their homes and engaging with them in such a meaningful way, I couldn’t ask for a better career and a better track for my life right now.”
For more information and for a free consultation with Crosby, call 267-658-9634, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit playwithwordsspeech.com. Follow on Facebook and Instagram @PlayWithWordsSpeech.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at email@example.com