Andrea Toth, MA, CCC-SLP
Thank you for coming to my site and looking into services with me. I am a life-long Alaskan, attended Service High School and left the state for college at The University of the Pacific in Stockton, California initially pursuing International Relations and Journalism. I quickly found that my idea of International Relations was more about wanting to work with people and that this career was along the lines of politics and business. I chose to take a course called Communication Disorders as an elective the spring of my freshman year and the rest is history.
I look forward to meeting you!
I graduated with my Masters in Communication Disorders in 1993 and started at Providence Hospital a week later in primarily adult rehabilitation. There, I treated stroke, head injury, laryngectomy, ALS, MS, Huntington's Disease and some services with children. Once having children, I transitioned to a stay-at-home mom, but continued to enjoy working with others. I led Brownie Troops, coached CYSA and AVA volleyball, helped to run the MOMS Club (Moms offering moms support) and was active in my children's classrooms. When it appeared I had some time while my girls were in school, I started to explore returning to work.
I decided to work in the Anchorage School District as I could have the same schedule as my kids. The majority of my time was spent at Tyson Elementary where I had the pleasure of working with Susan Diemer in her Life Skills classroom and with Amanda Goodrich in Special Education. This started my experience in the world of Autism. These ladies taught me a lot about what it means to get through a school day with a disability and allowed me to hone my skills so that I understood how a speech pathologist could affect the school day. I was at the majority of the IEP, Behavior Plan meetings, took part in the Response to Intervention team and have a very good understanding of the IEP process.
I found myself wanting a more whole family approach to working with children with communication deficits and discovered an opportunity at FOCUS in Eagle River. FOCUS is a non-profit agency that services individuals with developmental needs from birth to adulthood. They had recently opened an outpatient clinic and were looking to expand. I started in June of 2014 and was a part of developing summer camps, social groups and individual services for clients from 18 months to young adults. Families joined me in treatment sessions and I taught and guided them in how they could help their child advance outside of the clinic. I ran social groups for ages 7-20 for kids who have a hard time navigating the social world. It was a great learning experience that I am thankful to have had. I left FOCUS in August 2019 to go full time with my private practice that I started in January 2018. I still work closely with the therapists there and work to bring the school district and private practice therapists in Eagle River together so we can collaborate and do what is best for our clients.
• Articulation or patterns of speech that are not age appropriate or developmentally expected. A child should be 25% intelligible at 18 months. They should be 50-70% intelligible at 2. They should be 80% intelligible at 3 and 90% intelligible at 4 years of age.
• Receptive & Expressive Language: comprehending directions, questions, vocabulary and concepts and then being able to formulate to effectively communicate ones wants and needs. A good measure of language abilities is a child speaking many single word utterances at 1 year, combining 2 words at 2, 3 words at 3 and so on.
• Fluency: speaking smoothly at an appropriate speed. Speech should flow. We all are dysfluent at times and functional fluency is measured at less than 5% of dysfluent utterances.
Why is it "More Than Speech"?
Often times people only have certain experiences with speech therapy.
Maybe you knew someone who stuttered. Maybe you knew someone with an "R problem" or a lisp. These are common areas that speech therapists address; however, there is so much more.
• Joint Attention: We have to be able to join attention with another person to communicate. Does your child attend to you? Do they imitate you and respond to your voice? Do they enjoy eye contact?
• Play Skills: Does your child enjoy other children, play appropriately with toys, take turns, attend and stay engaged? Or, do they get easily distracted, frustrated, attempt to control play or are more interested in their own activities than other people?
• Social Competency: This skill requires a person to know how to share space with other people. Social interaction is not just about talking, in fact, more of our social communication is through body language, facial expression, figurative speech and inferring in the moment. It is very complicated. If you are not good at it, you can misunderstand and make mistakes that cause you problems in making or keeping friends, getting and keeping jobs and affect any relationship.
• Executive Functions: They are a set of mental skills that help you get things done. They are controlled by the frontal lobe of the brain and help you to manage time, pay attention, follow-through and self-assess. They require mental flexibility, self-regulation and self-control.
I am a nationally certified Speech and Language Pathologist with over 20 years of experience in adult and pediatric services. I grew up in Alaska, attending our local schools, and received my BA and MA at The University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA. Since that time, I have served individuals with communication disorders at Providence Hospital, the Anchorage School District and at FOCUS through inpatient, outpatient and home health care. I have now opened my own clinic and currently focus on pediatric speech, language and social language deficits.