Mary Barry knew from very early on that she wanted to do something in the helping professions. She fulfilled that desire by becoming a certified and licensed speech and language pathologist.
For most of her more than 30-year career, Barry has had her own practice specializing in speech and language therapy. She has worked in many different settings, including schools, medical centers, hospitals, home health care, and pediatric clinics, and she has treated everyone from infants to geriatrics that suffer from a wide variety of language and speech disorders.
Today, Barry and three other licensed speech and language pathologists focus on pediatric speech, language and swallowing treatments from her Hinsdale office, Mary Barry and Associates, LLC/DuPage Speech Therapy. They provide speech therapy, language therapy and feeding therapy, as well as literacy programs for pre-readers, beginning readers, and struggling readers. “Over time, we’ve seen the benefits of beginning services earlier, rather than a wait-and-see approach,” she says.
“Our families come to us directly, through their pediatrician’s office, teacher’s recommendation or neighborhood friend and it’s for all different kinds of reasons,” she says. “Programs are very individualized. For some children, they just need a little bit of help, and our time together is somewhat brief. For other children, we see them for extended periods of time because of the type of assistance they need. It becomes a long-term relationship.”
Barry and her team use play-based and instructor directed approaches in therapy and enrichment programs, so children are having fun, and it’s all in functional, meaningful contexts. They offer one-on-one therapy and enrichment programs as well as group programs. “For children who require a less intensive program, groups are led by specialized and highly trained professionals while children are given an opportunity to learn from their peers” Barry says, which makes group programs especially effective for many families.
Some of the newer services available today are literacy and emerging literacy programs. “As experts in language, we have become more involved in literacy, because language and literacy are very much related. Without strong oral language, literacy can be a challenge, and we are the professionals that can help with that language-literacy connection,” Barry says.
The office also offers treatments in executive function and readiness-to-learn skills. “We help children get ready to learn using instructor directed and play-based experiences,” Barry says. “If you’re not having fun, you’re not learning.”
Here’s the most important thing Barry advises: If a parent suspects a child is experiencing a delay or is need of any help with speech, language,
literacy development or feeding, she advises parents advocate for their children, and get a screening or evaluation. “There’s nothing like a mother’s gut or a father’s gut. If something doesn’t seem right, get it investigated.”
“I’ve had the privilege of keeping in touch with some families with whom I worked when their children were toddlers and are now in high school, college, and beyond,” Barry continues. “They tell me about how the help they received early impacted their future. It’s been extremely fulfilling, and families have been so generous to allow me to be part of their lives,” she says.
Mary Barry and Associates, 15 Spinning Wheel Road, Suite 117, in Hinsdale, 630-654-8888, dupagespeechtherapy.com.