Kathleen Considine, manager of speech pathology, found her calling in life in elementary school. Kathleen, who comes from a large, close-knit family, saw how speech and language therapy helped her younger brother transform from a struggling first grader into a straight-A student. By the time Kathleen graduated from high school, she had decided to become a speech-language pathologist.
Initially, Kathleen worked in Dayton, Ohio, at an adult hospital. But after a job opportunity brought her to Akron Children’s, she discovered how rewarding working with children was for her personally and professionally.
“We work with so many children, helping them reach their potential,” she said. “When we see them understand something for the first time, or communicate their thoughts and feelings, or read and understand what they read, it never gets old.”
Kathleen remembers her first encounter with Akron Children’s as a scared 6-year-old after she fell and fractured her clavicle.
“I have vivid memories of how kind and patient the nurses were,” she said. “They were so careful in removing my shirt without hurting me so they could take an X-ray. I also clearly remember the orthopedic surgeon, who showed me the fracture on the X-ray, explaining it all to me in words that I could understand. We never know the lasting impression we will leave in the hearts and minds of little children.”
After 41 years at Children’s, Kathleen retires on November 5. She looks forward to spending time with family and friends, traveling, volunteering, gardening and bicycling in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
What brought you to Children’s?
I applied at Children’s and despite my having minimal pediatric experience, Jay Gibson, who founded Children’s speech and hearing department, hired me. At the time, I thought Children’s would be an okay place to work for a few years. I didn’t know I’d be here for the remainder of my career!
Have you always worked in the same department and role?
I’ve always worked in speech pathology. For 20 years, I was a therapist, benefitting from Jay Gibson’s wisdom and guidance. Everything he taught me rings true today. For instance, with dyslexia, an often-misunderstood learning disorder, Jay taught us how to look for its root causes rather than its symptoms, which enabled us to develop individualized strategies for the child.
When I started, speech pathology and audiology were combined, but eventually separated. In 2000, I became the manager of the speech pathology department.
What have your biggest contributions been while here?
I’ve always been interested in the impact traumatic brain injuries (TBI) have on speech and language and how best to treat them. Working with Children’s clinicians, therapists and support staff, I helped to develop the head injury clinic and school success clinic. Additionally, the TBI data we collected was later submitted to researchers and incorporated into a standardized pediatric test of brain injury that is widely used. Finally, I was involved in developing the protocols we use to treat vocal cord dysfunction.
How has Akron Children’s changed since you started here?
Children’s pediatric speech and language therapy has become more specialized. We can treat many conditions that cause speech and language delays through numerous specialty programs that provide early intervention. During the past 20 years, it’s led to our department’s growth from 11 speech pathologists at one location to 48 staff at 12 locations. I’ve been fortunate to hire and work with outstanding speech pathologists and witness their constant drive for excellence.
What’s your happiest moment at Akron Children’s?
When Jay Gibson dressed as Santa Claus at a Christmas party that we hosted for our speech-language therapy patients. He was quite convincing!
What do you look forward to the most in retirement?
I lost a dear friend recently. It made me realize that tomorrow is promised to no one. I want to enjoy having more time with family and friends.
Do you have any advice for people just starting at Children’s?
It’s important to learn as much as you can from one another, be kind and treat others as your family.
What couldn’t you live without?
God, faith, church and my family and friends.
What music do you like?
Classical, traditional Irish and contemporary Christian music.
What’s the last book your read?
“Taste: My Life Through Food” by Stanley Tucci
What’s the last movie you saw?
“In the Heights”