Meet Karen, bilingual speech-language pathologist

Karen Guerra has been a bilingual speech-language pathologist at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta for 8 years. Fluent in Spanish and English, Guerra helps our Spanish-speaking patients with speech and hearing problems. Children’s has two full-time and one part-time bilingual speech-language pathologists.

Q: Who benefits from a bilingual speech-language pathologist versus a traditional speech-language pathologist?

Children who may benefit from bilingual speech-language therapy include:

  • Those exposed to two or more languages from birth.
  • Those who learned a second language after learning their native language.
  • Those with speech and language concerns.

Q: What types of issues do bilingual speech-language pathologists treat?

We evaluate and treat disorders in the same way as a speech-language pathologist who speaks only one language, including:

  • Apraxia and dysarthria
  • Articulation and phonology
  • Child hearing loss
  • Language delays and disorders
  • Neurologic disorders
  • Resonance (nasality)
  • Stuttering
  • Feeding and swallowing problems
  • Voice pitch, rate and loudness

Q: What specific child-focused activities do bilingual speech-language pathologists do with patients?

We try to engage the child in age-appropriate games. This will all depend on disorder and level of severity. Regardless of whom the child is or what the disorder is, it is always important to use culturally sensitive materials, such as ethnic food items, when possible to mirror a child’s home environment.

With bilingual children, our approach is family-centered. Many times, we include grandparents in the sessions and other siblings and friends.