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Transforming Lives at the RiteCare Childhood Language Center of Orange County: A Conversation with Laurie Lennon Thompson, M.S., CCC-SLP

The California Scottish Rite Foundation’s mission is made possible by our incredible community, comprised of donors, speech-language pathologists, students, families, board members, and more. Each member of our community plays a vital role in our collective journey to give the future a voice. Our donors provide the essential funding needed to support our programs, while our dedicated speech-language pathologists deliver life-changing services to children in need. The California Scottish Rite Foundation values and recognizes everyone's contribution, understanding that it is through collaborative efforts that we continue to achieve our mission. 


Recently, we had the opportunity to speak with Laurie Lennon Thompson, M.S., CCC-SLP, a dedicated staff member at the RiteCare Childhood Language Center of Orange County. The RiteCare Childhood Language Center of Orange County provides vital services, helping children overcome communication barriers and achieve their full potential.  


Laurie’s work at the RiteCare Childhood Language Center of Orange County has led to remarkable progress for many children, enabling them to communicate more effectively and confidently. We invite you to explore more about the RiteCare Childhood Language Center of Orange County and Laurie’s story by following along…  

A Conversation with Laurie Lennon Thompson, M.S., CCC-SLP 

speech language pathologist at the ritecare childhood language center of orange county


Can you tell me about your journey as a speech-language pathologist including what sparked your passion for the field and why you chose this profession?  


Laurie Lennon Thompson: “After graduating with a degree in English and Psychology, I met an amazing speech-language pathologist at a job that I had been working at. We were working in a home providing educational services to a young child with autism. She helped me understand everything. What a speech-language pathologist can do, and their important role in the development of young children who have speech and language delays.” 


What is the most rewarding aspect of your work as a speech-language pathologist at the RiteCare Childhood Language Center of Orange County?  


Laurie Lennon Thompson: “There are so many rewarding aspects to what I can do here, and I love coming in here. Every week I get to work with amazing graduate students who are learning to become speech and language pathologists. But just as importantly, I can work with wonderful families and children and help parents learn strategies to help their children learn to communicate more effectively. It has been really rewarding to be able to sit down with families and communicate with them and help them understand that the challenges that their children are facing right now are not forever challenges and that things can and do get better.” 


Could you share a memorable experience that illustrates the positive impact your work has on your clients and their families? 


Laurie Lennon Thompson: “One of the stories that comes to mind when I think about the work that we are able to do here happened in the early days of the pandemic. Schools closed, and many children could not access services. We were able to continue providing services through telehealth. One child came to us, and his parents were so distraught because he had such a severe articulation disorder that it was affecting his self-confidence, his ability to make friends, and his ability to participate in the classroom. 


We provided services online to this one child, and he immediately won us over with his work ethic and his sense of humor. He connected really well with his graduate student clinician, and over time, as his speech skills developed, we were able to give him the confidence to participate more in the classroom so that when he did go back to school, which he eventually did, he was able to start participating in the classroom. 


And even more importantly, or just as importantly, he was able to start making friends because he was not as afraid to talk to and communicate with other children. I will never forget the day that his mom approached us with just tears in her eyes, telling us how happy she was because it was such a joy for her to see her child feeling more confident, happier, and knowing how to make friends.” 


How has your experience at the RiteCare Childhood Language Center of Orange County influenced your personal and professional growth? 


Laurie Lennon Thompson: “I love my job and I have loved it since I started working in this field. I feel fortunate to work with such amazing, intelligent people. I love that I get to come to work and not only provide therapy for children and families but also to train graduate students and help them learn how to be speech and language pathologists.” 


Why is early intervention speech therapy considered crucial in a child's communication journey? 


Laurie Lennon Thompson: “Early intervention plays an important part in the therapy process, and we know from research we know from research on the brain that the first three years of significant growth happen in the life of a child.  


We know that financially and economically early intervention makes sense. But we also know that it makes sense because in their early years if children can learn to communicate, we will see fewer behavior problems. They are less likely to have challenges in school, they are less likely to have challenges making friends, and they are less likely to have challenges with reading development later on.” 

What advice would you offer to prospective parents who may have concerns when deciding to enroll their child in speech-language therapy? 


Laurie Lennon Thompson: “What I would tell them is that it is a win-win situation. And we know from years of research that intervention is effective, especially early intervention. Things can get better, and they will get better. And there is a lot of support out there for families if they need it.” 

What message would you convey to potential donors or community members who are considering supporting one of the RiteCare Childhood Language Centers about the California Scottish Rite Foundation's work and mission? 

Laurie Lennon Thompson:  “I would really like potential donors to understand the impact that they can have upon families' lives. We see children every week and we see families every week who come in looking for answers and looking for help. And because we can provide these services to them, we can see the hope in the faces of the families. And we watch children grow, develop, and learn to communicate with others more effectively.” 




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