Introducing Catherine Norsworthy, speech language pathologist
Parenting is not easy. We are here to help and to introduce your family to the compassionate therapists we work with. We’re excited to introduce you to Catherine Norsworthy, one of the wonderful speech language pathologists working with Children’s Support Solutions.
Tell us a little bit about where you grew up and what you were like as a child.
I was born in Mississauga, Ontario and grew up in Burlington, Ontario. I was lucky enough to not only have two great parents and a younger sister, but an extended family of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins all around Toronto, Montreal, and various places in the US.
I was very interested in books from a young age, and spent a lot of my free time reading and writing – sometimes to the detriment of my math homework! I was shy, and didn’t always make friends easily, but that didn’t stop me from getting involved in activities from swimming lessons to summer camp to the school band. I loved being outdoors. Some of my happiest memories are of family vacations to cottages on the coast of Maine.
I attended French Immersion schools and was always interested in language. I remember once, when I was five years old, trying to teach one of my school friends how to say her Rs. I guess even then, I was on the road to my future career!
Describe what how your work serves parents and families? How long you have been doing it?
I began work as a speech-language pathologist in 2007, after completing my Master’s degree at McGill. I’ve worked with both adult and pediatric populations, and the focus of my work has always been to improve quality of life by supporting and improving communication. In practice, that involves everything from assessing reading and writing skills, to practicing listening comprehension, to teaching sentence structure and pronunciation, or establishing alternative means of communication with individuals who aren’t able to produce functional speech. As a supervisor, I also get to be involved with other therapists and their clients, always with the goal of helping everyone to get the help they need to maximize their ability to communicate with others.
One word that best describes how you work?
Enthusiasm. I love working with young children because it’s so easy to get excited and have fun with whatever we’re working on. I’m also endlessly fascinated by language, and have been known to “geek out” over bits of linguistic trivia.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about what you do and the work you do with Children’s Support Solutions?
That there are always going to be surprises, and always something new to learn.
What keeps you interested in doing what you do?
I love the intellectual challenge of trying to get right down to what the underlying difficulty is for a child who’s having difficulty with some aspect of speech or language, and from there trying to identify the best approach to tackle it. There’s also a very real reward that comes every time a child achieves some new step or skill that he couldn’t do before. I’ve been privileged to be there when a child says his first word, or has that “aha” moment in learning a new concept, or finally produces that perfect “S.”
What parenting resource/product do you wish you had invented?
Wordless picture books. Books like Pat Schories’ “Jack” books and Alexandra Day’s “Carl” books are so tremendously fun and such a great way to encourage children to engage with a story beyond just decoding the words on the page.
Share the title of a favourite parenting book. Why do you love it?
I’m a big fan of the Hanen programs and recommend It Takes Two to Talk to any family looking to support communication development in young children, no matter what their language level.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
When I was a student, my first clinical supervisor told me that I should always remember – no matter how good you are, no matter how experienced you are, not every idea is going to work. Once you’re okay with that, it becomes much easier to keep reassessing your own activities as you go, not only to fix what isn’t working, but to take the things that are working and make them work even better.
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I’d love to see a psychoeducator or behaviour specialist answer these same questions.
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