Bryn Quinlan’s Passion for Speech Therapy Ignited After Caring for Grandmother

August 15, 2023
Mike Ralston
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A native Californian, Bryn realized her passion for speech therapy when she was in her 20s. Her grandmother suffered a stroke and developed severe communication challenges. She flew to California often, caring for her grandmother and taking her to speech therapy sessions. They also performed recommended rehab tasks at home and devised their own activities.

“We made up our own flashcards and blundered our way through confusing conversations with makeshift visual supports. I read her poetry aloud and she still enjoyed it.”

“I realized one night that I could spend the rest of my life doing this and never get tired of it. It was the first time I considered finding out how to work with communication disorders. My grandmother never really did recover from aphasia, though she became increasingly skilled at living with it over the years,” adds Quinlan.

Bryn had already completed a Bachelor’s degree in Russian and Eastern European Studies at the Claremont Colleges in Claremont, CA. The year after her grandmother’s stroke, she applied for the Master’s program in Communication Disorders and Sciences at the University of Oregon. 

Establishing a Career With THF

After starting her SLP career in skilled nursing in Maryland, Bryn transitioned to working for an outpatient private practice. 

“I spent happy years at that practice seeing clients across the lifespan, developing a special interest in AAC, and eventually working as associate director,” adds Quinlan.

After moving back to Oregon to be near family, Bryn worked for Care Options for Kids, formerly The Hello Foundation (THF), part-time at The University of Oregon as a clinical supervisor, and a few hours per week as a specialist mentor - training other SLPs in the area of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). 

She currently works full-time for THF as a SLP for Tehama County, California. Bryn and her colleague, Katelynn Macedo (SLPA), serve the Gerber campus, which includes a K-8 elementary school, a Deaf and Hard of Hearing program, and an Extensive Needs program. 

“We work on a modified Hello There model, each of us alternating months so that our school has one of us onsite for a week most months of the year.”

“My favorite part of working for THF is working for a company that values work/life balance and lifelong learning. I really appreciate the live professional development offered by Hello and try never to miss it.” 

At THF, a work-life balance is essential. Staff is supported both professionally and personally, at work and at play. This simple concept guides everything clinicians do on a daily basis, and it proves beneficial for the kids and families THF serves.

Essential Work-Life Balance

Bryn works from home the majority of her time, with 4-5 scheduled trips a year to her school eight hours away in California. She typically starts work at 7:30 a.m. and maintains a busy workflow, which includes IEP meetings, meeting with her SLPA, treating kids and completing paperwork.

“My favorite part of my daily work will always be laughing and learning with my students. What I like best about this current school placement is being a part of a friendly and relaxed team, having an administrator who supports and respects my work, and having the chance to work with a great AT specialist to support AAC/AT users,” adds Quinlan.

THF focuses on a culture of professional development – fostering a commitment to growth for one another and the kids it serves. THF acts as an advocate between the district and the clinician, handling any issues or challenges that may arise so that the clinician can focus on serving the kids.

“The Hello model is a wonderful way to work from home, while still getting to do some hands-on work and build some in-person connections with your team.” 

“For me, it means I get all the benefits of being a teletherapist with fewer of the drawbacks. THF itself has a unique culture where the company values are more than just talking points. I have felt truly supported in doing my job for the right reasons, maintaining my work-life balance, and investing in a relationship with the school I work for. I hope THF stays this way as we grow and change,” adds Quinlan. 

Bryn notes her proudest work accomplishment is hearing from teachers that some students who used to "hate speech" or "refuse to go to speech" love seeing Bryn and Katelynn and now look forward to speech. 

“My SLPA and I put a lot of energy into connecting with students and developing their intrinsic motivation to communicate and it's rewarding to see that work pay off.  Learning shouldn't be miserable - life is way too short for that,” adds Quinlan. 

Personal Growth

In her spare time, Bryn enjoys growing indoor plants, gardening outdoors, and reading. She also enjoys walking, running, hiking and snowboarding. 

“I've spent the past few years on a journey of learning more about native Oregon plants. I have a book club (now virtual since our members are spread across the country). Also, I recently stuck a toe into the rafting world and just finished a nine-day rafting trip down the Grand Canyon.”

Bryn is inspired by so many people in her profession, including Janice Light, Gail Van Tatenhove, and Christopher Bugaj - all from the AAC world. 

“In my personal life, I'm fortunate to have many inspiring friends and family members, but I usually highlight my grandmother who lived her life full of dreams and curiosity and put a lot of effort into big and small things,” adds Quinlan.

Bryn’s three tips for new clinicians include:

  1. Ask questions. When you don't know something - ask  questions. When you're doubting yourself - ask questions. When you feel something is wrong or unethical - ask questions.
  2. Keep your heart and mind open. All the people you work with and work for will be different. You can learn something from most of them and you can connect with most of them, but it won't always look the same.
  3. Be patient with yourself and others. No one is perfect and our systems are incredibly imperfect. It's not your job to fix everything in the world. When you're overwhelmed, go make one thing better for one person and call that enough.

About Us

Care Options for Kids, formerly The Hello Foundation is proud to be a part of the Care Options for Kids Community. At Care Options for Kids, we are committed to making a difference for our people through empowerment and encouragement to be there for themselves and their own families. We provide the choices and opportunities our people need to enhance their lives and grow their careers so they can provide better care for others. We believe in making a difference in every way, every day.

With locations in Colorado, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Florida, Oregon, Washington, California, and Wyoming, the Care Options for Kids Community offers a wide range of pediatric health services, including pediatric therapies, ABA therapy, nursing, Family Caregiver Services, and school-based services.

At THF, we hire speech-language pathologists, speech-language pathology assistants, school psychologists, and occupational therapists. Our community of professionals fosters growth for one another and for the kids we serve. Join our team!