By Melissa Gautier | Photos by Karen McConaughey
Dr. Joey Davies knew deaf education would be her chosen career after taking an American Sign Language (ASL) class in high school. Throughout her life, she has struggled with multiple disorders, including auditory processing disorder and dyslexia. Her struggles made her acutely aware of how disabilities can affect a student’s capacity to perform and succeed. Her firsthand knowledge and understanding of that difficult journey allows her to empathize with those suffering from hearing loss and the disorders that can accompany them.
After working in speech clinics, deaf education, and audiology, Dr. Davies realized many programs for children and students with hearing needs often do not help them reach their full potential. She started planning The Davies Institute for Speech & Hearing (DISH) in 2010 and founded the company in 2022 to guide deaf and hearing-impaired adults and children through their educational journey.
DISH provides families with a supportive environment for their child’s language and developmental needs. The professional team of experts, teachers, and therapists are trained to diagnose and treat each individual child by utilizing progressive programs aimed at fostering their ability to succeed. “Working side-by-side with parents, we’re a supportive guide for them throughout their child’s program,” Dr. Davies said.
Therapies, Programs, and DISH School
Children have access to the school and clinic in one all-inclusive building. With spoken language at its core, the DISH school is specifically designed for children with hearing loss and language delays. Appropriate instruction and early intervention strategies are key as language is crucial to the children’s development from birth to five years. DISH teachers are experienced in spoken language therapies, tactile centers, and milestone development for children with communication difficulties.
Learning happens best through repetition across multiple settings. The DISH school uses this collaborative approach, cooperating and working directly with families for children to reach age-appropriate skill levels as they enter school programs. Each child’s developmental program is tailored to meet their needs. Teachers work directly with pediatric speech therapists, occupational therapists, and a doctor of audiology to determine proper treatment and instruction. An educational diagnostician also works with them to determine specific educational needs and help teachers implement strategies for support in the classroom and at home.
Speech and language pathologists evaluate and treat receptive and expressive pediatric language disorders and oral motor concerns. Multilingual assessments and treatments are offered in English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese.
Talking and Reading at Home
Constant communication and language exposure is crucial to a child’s development. According to Dr. Davies, language delays are often seen in children who have had no early access to sound or language. Today’s technology affords great resources, but parents are often guilty of putting children in front of TVs, tablets, or iPhones to keep them occupied. “The number one thing to do when a child is young is to talk to them,” Dr. Davies explains. She advises narrating your activities throughout the home and modeling language by pointing and saying an object’s name. This promotes the child’s use of words instead of pointing, and then immediately being given what they want. Dr. Davies encourages this to be a learning opportunity between parent and child. “The immediate response to pointing and gesturing is the most common mistake I see parents make,” she says. “When your child points to an object, say the name of the object and hand it to them while repeating the word.”
Reading is also important for language development. Turning pages and reading books (instead of reading from an electronic device) helps children develop strong language and coordination skills. Dr. Davies suggests pointing to the pictures while saying the words out loud.
DISH’s occupational therapists emphasize the importance of children’s independence. Therapy is designed to help children with developmental delays and/or fine motor coordination. Working on basic skills like eating, writing, and hygiene can help improve their cognitive, physical, sensory, and motor skills as well as general communication skills.
Comprehensive Pediatric Audiology
The ear and the brain work together for proper hearing. A child’s brain development is dependent on factors including senses of touch, sight, taste, and smell, as well as hearing, body awareness, and movement. Hearing evaluations are conducted by DISH’s doctor of audiology. The audiologist works with parents to design an individualized hearing plan and amplification if needed.
Educational Diagnostic Evaluations
The goal of diagnostic evaluations is to enable, nurture, support, and target a child’s individual needs while obtaining and tracking their progress throughout the year. Evaluations give DISH a baseline of their fundamentals within an educational setting. Disorders including ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, and dyslexia are addressed for therapists and teachers to grasp a better understanding of the child’s unique needs.
Did You Know?
Newborn hearing screenings are now mandated by law in hospitals when a child is born. “Forty percent of children with hearing problems are missed because they neglected to follow up with their pediatrician or because the hospital didn’t follow through with the screening,” Dr. Davies states. These children could have gotten hearing assistance and early intervention much sooner. Many children and families suffer due to this issue.
Dr. Davies has integrated her knowledge and experience into DISH programs and is well educated in hearing and developmental disorders. She received her Bachelor of Science in habilitation of the deaf and communication sciences and disorders from Texas Christian University. She went on to receive her master’s degree in deaf education from Columbia University in New York City, and her Doctorate of Professional Leadership specializing in curriculum and instruction from the University of Houston.
DISH always looks forward to welcoming new students and helping families in need of services. They are currently accepting new enrollments. Detailed information can be found on their website.
- DISH school
- Speech therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Comprehensive pediatric audiology
- Educational diagnostic evaluations
- Parent and child advocacy