Dana Doss knows what most of the public doesn’t — that if toddlers just hear language, they don’t automatically pick it up.
Doss, a certified speech pathologist with a master’s degree, recently opened her private practice Dungeness Speech and Language in Carlsborg after a 10-year career serving adults with communication problems due to stroke or brain injuries.
Fifteen years ago she focused her practice on children. She’ll split her week between the Carlsborg office and her primary clinic in Olympic.
“I work with children from 18 months through the teen years in speech and language communication,” Doss said.
“I help children match their speech sounds, learn vocabulary and expand learning to understand play and social communication skills. There are children with receptive language deficits who struggle with the process in language. Others are not even wired for how and why we use language to communicate. They may struggle using language in conversation.”
Doss said the causes of speech and language disabilities may be from brain development, before and after birth, environmental influences, illnesses and disorders across the autism spectrum, structural and facial difficulties, such as cleft lip and palate.
Whether a child has no concept of language cognitively or understands but doesn’t speak at all or clearly enough to be understood, Doss accepts each individual’s challenge. She said she knew she wanted to be a speech pathologist after seeing as a teenager the difference one made in her nephew who stuttered badly.
Doss describes her practice as “fun” and becomes animated when she talks about making a difference in her young clients.
Sessions are 45 minutes and parents of young children can watch Doss in play therapy through a one-way window. Referrals are from pediatricians, early intervention specialists, word of mouth and school speech pathologists.
“For example, with an 18-month-old you’d look for early communication milestones not being met or not understanding simple language and very limited play interest,” Doss said.
“I really want to get the word out about early intervention. About a third of my clients are on the autism spectrum and early intervention is especially important with them.”
According to her website, “Dana brings expertise to the community in serving children with speech sound delays and disorders, language deficits, auditory processing disorders and phonological processing/reading deficits.”
Doss’ face brightens when she speaks about progress from play therapy she’s seen in her young clients. Her enthusiastic personality lets her get down to each client’s age level.
Of her modern office, brimming with children’s tables, chairs and lots of toys and color, Doss said, “This is going to give me a big beautiful space for parenting education classes. I can teach parents how to give their children more strategies in order to help with development and to get the kids talking and understanding. My longterm goal is to have a reading specialist and occupational therapist and develop a full pediatric clinic for therapy.”
To get acquainted with the community, Doss is offering free screenings from 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. on each Friday through March for parents and their children in a play session.
On Thursday, March 20, Dungeness Speech and Language will have an open house from 3-6 p.m. and parents and children with any communication issues, as well as the public, are invited for questions.