Kaylee O’Dell shares about her Summer 2021 externship experience:
“This summer, I was given the opportunity to complete my summer offsite placement at Timber Ridge Neurorestorative Ranch in Benton, Arkansas with Julia Hartis. While I was very excited for my placement, I was also incredibly nervous and anxious. I was going to be working with children with traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) – a population I had never worked with before. I did not know what to expect, nor was I prepared for how life-changing this experience was going to be for me.
I will never forget the memories, learning experiences, and sweet people from Timber Ridge Neurorestorative Center. My apprehension and nerves quickly went away after I learned how special of a place Timber Ridge was. My supervisor, Chelsey Pfeiffer, was incredibly welcoming, accommodating, and informative. She quickly made me feel “at home” and gave me all the information I needed to treat the kids on her caseload.
One thing I loved about Timber Ridge is its uniqueness. No day really felt the same and I was constantly given new learning opportunities and experiences. I worked in the onsite school with the pediatric TBI population. I also worked in the “dual school” treating children with psychiatric diagnoses who had an individualized education plan (IEP) for speech therapy. I treated kids with articulation disorders, language disorders, voice abnormalities, and executive dysfunction. I also had the opportunity to learn how to treat children with incredibly heart-breaking backgrounds. Due to their injuries and their life experiences many of these children had behavioral disorders. Addressing behaviors is something that I felt I did not have a lot of experience with, but after my offsite experience I feel very confident in my abilities to address problem behaviors that may get in the way of treatment.
Another unique aspect of Timber Ridge Neurorestorative Ranch is the collaboration among all the different therapists. In the school, I had the opportunity to work with the teacher, behavioral therapist, occupational therapist, neuropsychiatrist, and physical therapist. I learned so much from observing these other professions. We frequently had team meetings and staffings to discuss each of our pediatric clients. I had the pleasure of hearing everyone’s perspective on each child. This was an enriching and special learning experience for me.
I walked into Timber Ridge Neurorestorative Ranch with a lot of knowledge and preparedness for my future, but I walked away with a newfound confidence and appreciation for speech pathology. I will always hold the experiences at Timber Ridge close to my heart. My offsite experience was challenging but also very fulfilling. On my last day, I was given a wooden keychain cross from one of the sweet adult clients with the handmade initials ‘TRR’ to remember “Timber Ridge Ranch’ by. One of my favorite 12 year old pediatric clients and I took a trip to the creek by the ranch on my last day, too. This client loved rocks and collected different rocks while we were at the creek. When we got back, he told me I should keep the heart shaped rock that he found because he “loved me.” These sweet experiences reaffirmed my love for speech pathology and made me confident in God’s plan for me to become a speech pathologist. It taught me that speech pathology is a ministry and there are so many people that need our love and support.”
Thank you for sharing, Kaylee!