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Deborah DeLong's Speech Pathways

Apr 27, 2015 10:48AM ● By Brandi Barnett

Every Step of the Way

May 2015
By Fache Desrochers
Photos: Jacki Potorke

“Communication skills are the pathway  to life’s opportunities.” So reads the tagline at the top of Deborah DeLong’s business card. It’s a slogan that is philosophical, intriguing and entirely appropriate for the kind of speech pathologist and person that DeLong is: gentle, thoughtful and utterly committed to helping others connect to the world, to their potential and to each other.
Talking with DeLong inspires confidence, a sense of being in the right hands. Even though her trade centers around the spoken word, DeLong seems to communicate on every level, including the subtler ones of gesture, inflection and pure presence. She exudes a knowledgeable self-possession perfectly tempered by a palpable human interest that broadcasts her intentions loud and clear: I am here for you. I hear you. I would love to help.
DeLong has been a speech pathologist for more than 20 years, and has applied her expertise and passion in just about every way one can: from acute care hospitals to outpatient rehab facilities, from schools to home health care, from very small children who have trouble forming their early sounds to adults recovering from cancers that have damaged their speech and swallowing muscles. In working with such a range of conditions and ages, one might imagine that a person could start to feel a bit overtaxed. But not DeLong; it seems that she was born to do this. “I love it. It is so wonderfully gratifying,” she says. “I feel so blessed that I have this profession that opens up so many opportunities to work with people in different ways. From a child who isn’t able to communicate to an adult who suddenly can’t swallow anymore…it’s amazing to know that I can help them. I can help them all.”
In many ways, DeLong is far more than a speech pathologist: she is a guide on the path to communication. “In my work, I am coming alongside families and joining with them on their path,” explains DeLong. “I’m there not just to provide therapy to my clients, but to give them the tools to go forward, and to walk along with them.” This philosophy has guided DeLong throughout her career, and was the foundation upon which she has built her private practice, Speech Pathways.
Located in Tulare, Speech Pathways is the result of DeLong’s years of multi-faceted service cumulating in one special office where DeLong offers her expertise to those in the South Valley who need her. And DeLong’s helping hand does not stop with the needs of her clients; it extends beyond the bounds of speech therapy and into the realm of others who need support. “I call it The Giving Tree,” DeLong says. “My goal was to give back, to pay it forward and to make a difference. So I’ve selected five charities that are meaningful to me: Angel Babies, Hospice Care, The Wounded Warrior Project, The National Children’s Leukemia Foundation and The Cat House on the Kings. Out of these, my clients choose the one to whom they’d like me to give 10 percent of my assessment fee.”
For DeLong, Speech Pathways is a gift that she has been given to pay forward in every way she can. From the first steps of basic speech skills, to the summit of communication, to the joy of involving her clients in her mission to give back, DeLong knows well that the path to life’s opportunities can be a beautiful and rewarding one. Especially when you walk it with someone who is committed to walking with you, every step of the way.

Speech Pathways  • (559) 859-2891
1581 18th Ave, Kingsburg • 1126 E. Leland Ave., Tulare •