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Speech Therapy

My philosophy: Self-expression is the essence of living. I believe in supporting family members using a holistic parent-child interaction approach to build communication skills for a lifetime.

My Background: Many people ask how I became a speech-language pathologist, knowing it normally ranks as a best job on the career lists. I admit, I did not dream of being a speech-language pathologist when I wrote my college essays. I was pretty unaware of this growing field with the exception of watching my brothers receive speech therapy for their respective sounds. I originally set off to study Psychology and minor in Education, and switched to Communication Sciences & Disorders in my last few semesters because the results felt tangible. I liked how therapy was goal-oriented and I could see myself affecting change with clients quickly. (See the connection to coaching?)

I received my graduate degree from San Diego State University in 2002. SDSU has been a top-25 ranked graduate school for speech-language pathology and one of the strongest programs on the west coast. (My little plug for my alma mater! My undergraduate program, James Madison University has a prestigious ranking and excellent training as well, for anyone asking what schools I recommend if interested in the field).

I returned to New Jersey in 2003, and completed my Clinical Fellowship at Children’s Specialized Hospital’s Early Intervention Program and Preschool-Primary School in Fanwood, NJ where I gained extensive experience working with children birth – 9 years old. I treated medically fragile children in feeding and use of Alternative Augmentative Communication (AAC) systems. I received my Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) from the American Speech-Language & Hearing Association in 2003, and I’m currently licensed to practice in California and New Jersey. I have been a Hanen-certified therapist since 2005, leading It Takes Two to Talk, More than Words, and Learning Language and Loving It workshops. I presented and developed workshops for medical professionals and educators in the areas of fostering communication and interaction skills with children, attachment, healing burn-out in the medical profession, respectful communication, feeding, augmentative communication systems, and specific speech and language diagnoses.

I held the roles of Early Intervention Evaluation Supervisor from 2005-2007. Since 2004, I’ve evaluated hundreds of children for the New Jersey Early Intervention program normally conducting between 4 – 6 evaluations per week, and facilitated trainings for evaluation teams to insure best practices. I was promoted to Clinical Coordinator for the Children’s Specialized Hospital Early Intervention Program from 2007 – 2013, supervising staff speech-language pathologists, clinical fellows, and graduate students. I am passionate about teaching and mentoring others, which led to personal transformational coaching work and coaching certification in 2014. 

I currently have a small private practice based in Ojai, California where I mesh my professional hats as a speech-language pathologist and coach to empower my clients’ understanding and appreciation of communication skills. I serve on the Board of Directors at the Nan Tolbert Nurturing Center, where I facilitate the Baby FloorTime class supporting maternal-child attachment. I’m excited to join a team of local speech-language pathologists who share my passion for teaching communication skills through Hanen workshops this fall.

If Your Child is Seeking Help in the Areas of:

  • Language Development
  • Articulation & Phonological Skills
  • Social Skills
  • Feeding
  • Fluency
  • Social Anxiety related to Communication: (see selective mutism resources)
  • Alternative and Augmentative Communication Systems
  • Fluency
  • Voice

Contact me for an initial consultation. I am an innovative therapist, and if you are looking for an “outside of the box” solution, this is where I shine. I create individual treatment plans based on your needs.

What parents are saying…

“My son seemed to be at a normal pace with development as far as I knew. It wasn’t until his second year of preschool that his speech development started to stand out as a little “slow.” As someone dealing with their first child, this was my first rodeo in figuring out how to best support him. Ellen Nightingale was there to support me for our first discussion of the situation. Parents need to know a process, they need to be guided through the steps that are going to offer their child the best treatment–Ellen excels at this. She in a way offers counseling for parent along with therapy for child, it works seamlessly with her to help the whole process to be unintimidating and actually FUN!My own understanding of speech and language has blossomed like crazy! Ellen takes time before/after each session with your child to review what she saw, what she was working on with your child, and where she hopes to be able to help to get your child through her sessions. I never knew how amazingly SPECIFIC language development is, for each stage there is an age and coordinating set of skills, it was SO helpful to me as a parent to be able to narrow down exactly where my child needed help, and exactly what we didn’t need to work on or worry about. It was so educational for me.Ellen is a mother of young children herself, she comes to each session with not only her educational background and deep knowledge, but armed with fun toys and a fun attitude that kids just open up to. My son started asking when Miss Ellen was coming over with more of her games. It was still hard work, you could see that each session with Ellen was more than just play, but it wasn’t intimidating and she worked so well at tailoring her sessions to cover the work she wanted to get done while still keeping my son engaged and happy.We saw real results in such a short period of time! I left each session with Ellen with a little homework, a new game or a book, something to focus on in the time before we saw her again. I was amazed at how quickly I noticed improvements once I had been empowered by Ellen to see the problems, identify them specifically, and then work on them at home with my son. It was a great process for our family.I wholeheartedly recommend working with Ellen for any variety of therapy needs your family might have. We focused specifically on my son’s delayed speech development, but I found so many other benefits from time spent with her. I feel that my entire family has benefited; we have opened our ears more to each other, and not just for proper enunciation of sounds, but for bigger picture stuff as well!”-Suzanne F., Ojai, CA mom
“Before my son started speech therapy, I was scared because he is my first child. I was worried since he had a speech delay. But after working with Ellen, I got lots of tips and help throughout the process. I now know which words to target first from sounds he was already close to saying with his babbling. Since therapy started, my son is more focused, he can communicate what he wants in more ways, and he is using more words. I like the way Ellen takes her time to teach him. She doesn’t rush him. She puts herself in his shoes and explains things from his perspective which has been helpful to me as a mother. Now we are able to understand each other. We communicate and play together more. Ellen has taught me different activities we can do together which are appropriate for his age. I’d recommend Ellen because I’ve received great help and I want other parents to get the same help for their children.”
– Ventura, CA mom

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Where are services provided?
A: Services are provided in your home or at your child’s school. There may be a travel fee added to the session for this convenience. Sessions are scheduled for 45 or 60 minutes.

Q: Can I be a part of my child’s therapy?
A: I absolutely encourage you to partake in therapy. My background consists of communication coaching and training for parents as a certified Hanen speech-language pathologist. You will get the most out of sessions if you are able to carry over strategies throughout the week

Q: Will you accept an evaluation completed by another facility?
A: The evaluation needs to be less than one year old, or I will conduct my own to make sure it is the most accurate and up-to date for your child.

Q: Can you put diagnostic and therapy codes on my invoice?
A: A formal evaluation needs to be completed in order for codes to be provided. Please note that if you provide an evaluation completed by another facility for review, you must have the codes the evaluating therapist used in order for me to document them.

Q: Do you have evening and/or weekend hours?
A: Yes, depending on my current availability.

Q: What methods of payment do you accept?
A: Cash, Check, Paypal.

Q: Do you take insurance?
A: No. My practice is a “fee for service” agency. Payment is expected weekly for services rendered. A monthly invoice will be provided for you to submit to your insurance company at your out-of-network benefit.

Q: What is your cancellation policy?
A: As a busy mother, I do understand that cancellations and illness happen. For non-illness cancellations, I request a 24-hour courtesy.