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Meet Kai Long of Long on Language in Cambridge

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kai Long.

Kai, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My first experience as Speech/Language Pathologist was working in acute rehabilitation at a hospital called Boston Specialty Rehabilitation Hospital (BSRH). It served people with traumatic brain injuries that resulted in communication or swallowing impairments. The hospital’s population was diverse, and they took everyone 16 years and up. I worked with people from China, Vietnam, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic (to name only a few). Some of my patients spoke little English. I learned how to work with neuropsychologist, lawyers, doctors and how to determine deficits by the location of the injury in the brain. One of my earlier patients was a woman who lost her ability to read because of a stroke while visiting from Jamaica.

Every time she would see me she would run away. Through persistence, and strategic scheduling I worked with her until she regained her reading ability. I loved the work and I began to see the connection to my own family. Some of my family members had undiagnosed learning disorders caused them to work twice as hard as everyone else and damaged their self-esteem. Their deficits didn’t stop them from attending college or becoming professionals in their careers, but it limited their choices and impacted family dynamics. I began to see how these subtle defects could impact someone for a life time. I wanted to work with that population.

Healthcare was volatile in the late 1990’s and I decided to take a job in the Melrose public school system to get more experience working with typically developing students with speech and language challenges. I was surprised to find that sometimes because of the limitation of standardized testing that students I knew needed my help were not eligible for services. With a large caseload, numerous mandatory meetings, and loads of paperwork I began to feel like my most important function in the school was to provide my signature. After adopting my daughter, I was told that I was not eligible for maternity leave and if I took my accumulated sick time I would be laid off. I adopted my daughter as a single parent and I had to take time off to care for her and myself, so Melrose Public schools laid me off. In September of the following year, I started my private practice.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I started this practice because I wanted to have the flexibility to be there for my child and I wanted to know that when I worked with a client I was able to make a difference.

Speech pathology is goal oriented and so am I. Every client that I work with should accomplish important goals which include awareness of their challenges and tools to deal with them. Private practice offered the environment that I could guarantee that I could provide that type of service.

The road was rocky because I knew little about business, but I had worked for myself before as a bookkeeper. Before I became a speech pathologist I worked in the accounting offices of Southland Corp which owns 7-11. I had accounting skills, but what I didn’t have was a business network or any marketing experience. I started taking a series of business classes like “How to Start/ Grow your business” from the Center for Women and Enterprise. I took many classes in marketing, social media, and networking. Marketing is constantly changing.

When you are a business owner you have to do everything for yourself. How will you invoice clients? What is your intake procedure? How will you deal with retirement? health insurance? What kind of payment will you accept? How do you set up estimated tax payments? I have written numerous business plans, but my style has been to add things a little at a time. I didn’t try to do everything in the first year.

When you work for others you aren’t expected to have a voice, but when you have a business you have to find your voice, what is the goal of your business, what do you offer that is different from other business, and who do you target. It can be hard. Being in business gives you control over your life, but you have to learn how to manage every aspect.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Long on Language – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
We are known for understanding our clients’ speech and language strengths and weaknesses and helping to people to feel empowered by their communication. Also, we work with a culturally and lingually diverse population, but at this time therapy is provide only in English. We don’t have a set curriculum, instead we create goals based on an assessment and input from the client, parents, teachers, observations, and other professionals. and develop a treatment plan based on those goals. Treatment is driven by the client’s ability to meet their weekly goals.  Rapport and trust are key to the therapeutic process. We empower clients to be their best “communicator.”

Because of our work with clients they learn to understand their speech language profile while receiving direct therapy for areas of weakness. Sessions are process and goal-driven. Clients leave Long on Language with an understanding of their language needs, a love of learning, and tools to help improve communication challenges that they will use for a lifetime.

We specialize in a few areas. First, my special interest is providing coaching and therapy to high functioning high school/college aged students on the autism spectrum.

High functioning people on the autism spectrum have all the components of language but have difficulty using language. Second, I work with students in those transition years, 3rd and 6th grade who are often discharged from speech/language therapy just as the demands of language are becoming more complex. Both of these services not only address communication but executive functioning as well.

Finally, I work with professional adults, I offer accent reduction in addition to speech and language services. I also work with people who have undiagnosed speech and language challenges. Some need help with social language, some have a combination of speech challenges but also want accent reduction, some just want to know how to deal with a persistent language challenge. Sometimes for professional reasons people need to improve their communications such as the doctor who was told that he should choose another field of medicine because of his speech challenges or the social worker that had difficulty conveying events to her supervisor for supervision or the college student who almost failed in school because he was unable to identify his challenges and convey his needs to his professor. Not only do we work with college students, elementary students, and professionals we work with all ages from early intervention through adulthood to help people improve their communication to succeed at school, work, and in the community.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I have just added another speech pathologist and I am giving workshops. I would like to give collaborative workshops that helps teachers learn to identify mild language problems that can derail average to gifted students’ success in school and provides teachers with tools to help those students. I’m also looking into telehealth. I have worked with a few clients that way and I may work with more.

Pricing:

  • 60 minute session $150
  • 45 minute session $120
  • evaluation of one area $550

Contact Info:

office visit


Image Credit:
Curtis Reid of Shoot the Moon Films

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