By Sarah Whitman
Speech pathologist Jill Vought has a passion for helping children with speech and developmental delays. This summer, while school sponsored speech programs are no longer in session, Vought is accepting new clients at her office, More Than Words Speech Therapy, Inc. in Wesley Chapel.
“Without proper speech and communication skills a child can fall behind, develop learning disabilities and start showing behavioral problems,” Vought said. “It’s important to catch speech problems early on.”
Vought has a Masters degree in communication disorders from the University of Miami in Ohio. She began working as a speech pathologist in 1996 at The Children’s Hospital in Columbus and later worked at All Children’s Hospital in Ft. Myers. A move due to her husband’s job brought her to Florida and eventually to Tampa in 2006. She opened her own business Talking Tots that year. The business grew and grew until she was able to open her Wesley Chapel office. It was then she decided to make a name change.
The name More Than Words came from her belief that communication affects a person’s overall life and happiness.
“I’ve always known I wanted to work with children and that I wanted to help families,” Vought said. “When I first started college, I sat in on a speech therapy session and I knew it was what I wanted to do. Speech therapy can make such a difference.”
Vought works with people of all ages but most of her clients are in the pediatric age range. She currently has 32 clients.
“I work with adults who have had a head injury or strokes, and with infants on feeding and swallowing,” she said. “Mostly I work with children who have a speech, language or reading disorder.”
When Vought first meets a client, she does an evaluation to determine the child’s level of functioning and what services are needed. The evaluation includes a verbal assessment and standardized testing.
“It depends on the disorder what we need to work on,” Vought said.
Clients meet with Vought once or twice a week for 30 minute or one hour sessions.
Land O’ Lakes resident Leslie Church- Robinson brings her son Lance to weekly appointments. Lance is 4-years-old and struggles with a severe speech deficit. Robinson said he’s improved greatly since beginning therapy at More Than Words.
“Working with someone like Jill, who does a fantastic job every week, has made a world of difference,” Robinson said. “His personality is different. He communicates better and because of it, his behavioral issues are improving.”
Vought has two daughters, ages 6 and 4, so she can relate to worried mothers.
“I became a better therapist after becoming a mom,” she said. “Now, I really get it.”
Vought has open appointments available throughout the summer. She hopes anyone who suspects their child may have a problem will call. She said the key to success is to seek help as early as possible.
“If you can fix the problem at age 3 or 4 why wait until the child is 6 or 7,” she said.
More Than words is located 26908 Foggy Creek Road, building 23, suite 102. For appointments, call (813) 862-8692.