Published 10/02/2009 – 10:35 a.m. CST
Beverly Hills Courier
Odelia Mirzadeh wants to help people communicate. At Innovative Speech & Language Pathology, a company she founded a year ago, Mirzadeh works with people with speech impediments, such as disorders or delays in speech, language, cognition, fluency, stuttering, voice and social pragmatics and auditory processing. Children sometimes don’t speak as early as their peers, have limited vocabularies, get stuck on one word or forget words; and Mirzadeh has numerous techniques to treat these delays. Mirzadeh also works with people with congenital or acquired speech problems as a result of autism or mental retardation; and speech and language disorders resulting from strokes, traumas and cancer.
Her work however is not limited to just speech, but helping clients with memory and reasoning. Often as the result of a stroke or head trauma patients lose cognitive and comprehension skills or their memory is compromised.
In those cases Mirzadeh works at increasing attention span, problem-solving skills and “sequencing,” like learning how to make a bed in the morning or cook a hamburger.
Social pragmatics involves working with those with autism to help them develop social skills and the ability to interact appropriately with their own peers.
“I believe that from the minute we are born — through our crying, screaming, different behaviors and vocalizations — we are trying to communicate and get our needs met,” Mirzadeh said.
“For some individuals, that ability to express themselves or understand has been compromised and it affects their lives daily and become a tortuous process.
“In the case of children, if they can’t communicate their needs and others don’t understand them, they start hitting, crying and withdrawing. Their demands are not understood and they start acting out,” Mirzadeh said.
“Post-stroke adults who can’t tell people if they are thirsty or hungry become frustrated and have emotional problems because they can’t communicate and understand those around them.”
Mirzadeh discovered her passion while an undergraduate at Cal State Northridge. “Someone recommended the field to me,” Mirzadeh said. Knowing she wanted to work with children in the medical field, she volunteered at UCLA, working under the chairman of the department of communication disorders.
“After I volunteered for a whole summer, I knew that this is what I wanted to do,” Mirzadeh said. “Helping others is very rewarding.”
Now, employed at Cedars-Sinai, Mirzadeh sees most of her adult rehabilitation clients there.
Her work with children and youth — toddlers through high schoolers — is at her Wilshire Boulevard office and though she has contracts with private schools, that is often the result of doctor referrals and word of mouth.
With a bachelor’s and master’s in communication disorders from CSUN, Mirzadeh worked in the school’s early interventional clinic and has worked in school settings for both the Santa Monica and Beverly Hills school districts.
Mirzadeh has led clinics in both voice and aphasia, a language disorder that results from damage to the brain (usually the left hemisphere) following a stroke, head injury or brain tumor. The disorder impairs both expressive and receptive language as well as reading and writing.
At The Help Group in Sherman Oaks, she worked with clients with autism and mental retardation.
A piano teacher for the past 12 years, Mirzadeh has two years of music therapy training and often incorporates it with her speech therapy.
Mirzadeh has additional training in Kaufman Speech Praxis Technique by Nancy Kaufman, Sara R. Johnson’s Talk Tools, PROMPT by Deborah Hayden, Linda Mood Bell’s Seeing Stars, SCERTS and PECS which provides FastForward, a program that helps people with auditory-processing disorder; those people who might be told “It’s raining today” and not pick up the whole message because of a missing link in brain processes.
Mirzadeh does a full evaluation of each client including their issues, age, language and speech, including articulation—the speech sounds they use—if there’s a lisp, and how they produce sounds.
She looks at the muscles of the tongue, lips, jaw and writes a full report stating her findings and giving recommendations of how many times a week a client should have therapy and goals to hit.
Her holistic approach involves including the pediatrician, audiologist, dentist, teachers and parents in an inter-disciplinary team. “I like to know what parents are noticing,” Mirzadeh said. “And if dental issues are causing a speech problem, I like to work with the dentist and pediatrician.”