My name is Rita Ricciardella and I have been a practicing speech language pathologist since 2012. Most importantly I am a wife, mom to a beautiful baby girl, dog mama, and new business owner! Being with my family and watching it grow has been the most incredible experience and brings me so much joy!
My journey as a speech language pathologist began in 2003 when my youngest sibling was receiving speech therapy through early intervention at our home. I used to sit in on their sessions and watch all of the fun activities they would do together! I remember thinking, huh… This lady goes to people’s houses and plays with babies, how do I do that!?! Knowing what I know now, therapy is a little bit more complex than just playing, but at the time it looked AMAZING and I was hooked! A few years later I was off to college, and I initially enrolled undecided. I started taking courses in business and other fields to see what sparked my interest. By the end of my second semester and several courses later, I walked into the Dean’s office, declared my major in speech pathology (against the advice of my advisor, who told me it might be too hard), and NEVER LOOKED BACK! It was one of the first best decisions I ever made in my life.
Immediately I knew I wanted to work with children. What I didn’t know at the time was what setting and which populations. I soon came to love a challenge! I enjoyed learning about and working with children with more complex communication needs and feeding and swallowing difficulties. Give me your most challenging case, I’m in! In graduate school I carefully tailored my classes and clinical experiences to begin working with the exact populations I wanted to work with. I was even lucky enough to have been selected to participate in a study abroad program to Guatemala! There we learned and worked hand in hand with staff and patients in a hospital for children with severe disabilities, training staff on best feeding strategies and providing feedings.
After graduate school it was off to the work force and I was blessed to have found the perfect setting in a local public school. I was in a medically fragile classroom working with children with complex communication needs learning about AAC, feeding and swallowing, some very rare syndromes/disorders, speech, language, and understanding the child as a whole to help drive progress. I also spent time in the mainstream education setting working with children with language learning disabilities.
During this time, I took every opportunity to watch, learn, implement, and refine my intervention and clinical practice. I enrolled myself in TONS of continuing educational opportunities. Way beyond what was necessary to maintain my certification just because I wanted to know everything I could! As we speak I’m currently enrolled in a post graduate advanced certification program! With two additional trainings lined up for the summer!What can I say? I’m hopeless lifelong learner!
This brings me to today! On a new endeavor as a professional stepping out on my own opening a private practice! After many years of experience, I know exactly what I expect of myself and the way I practice! I’ve seen a lot of what doesn’t work and what does. Here’s the secret…..are you ready? IT’S YOU! The parent, caregiver, guardian! I wanted an opportunity to work closely with my families while providing high quality intervention! As important as effective therapy strategies are, the secret sauce is the families commitment and investment to their child. Half of my job is the direct service the other is educating and helping families help their children when I’m not there with the perfect model or cue to prompt that child to success.
My goal now is to work closely with my families, provide good therapy, and make progress! I’m excited to learn from my children and continuing educating myself on professional topics so I can help make each one of my clients as successful as possible!
I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit more about me and that this makes the experience….a little more personal!