Today we’d like to introduce you to Sharon Sokolik.
Sharon, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
In 1985, I was convinced I was going to be an accountant. I went to college in upstate New York and immediately declared my major! After one semester, I realized that it wasn’t for me. It was my mother who asked me if I had ever heard of the field called Speech Pathology. The next semester I took a one credit intro course and was hooked. To think there was a profession where you could help people of all ages as well as their families meant a lot to me. I went on to receive my graduate degree at the College of St. Rose in Albany, N.Y. While most of my peers in graduate school went to work in pre-schools, I started off my career working for St. Mary’s Hospital in Troy, NY. I loved the diversity of the populations that I worked with. From inpatient stroke victims to two-year-olds who had limited speech production, I was kept busy all day.
After three and a half years, the hospital closed down its speech and hearing department. My wonderful boss at the time, Maribeth Cioffi, told me that I should work in the public schools. At that time I decided to move to Alexandria, VA and spent the next five years working for Fairfax County Schools. Given my love for working with adults as well as children, I also worked part time doing rehab. For five years I worked at Beechtree Elementary School as well as at least one other school (most SLPs have multiple placements). There I learned not only about how to support children with speech/language deficits, but was also introduced to working with those on the Autism Spectrum.
After almost 9 years of being in the field, I felt I was ready to move on to work in the private practice setting. I accepted a job from Laura Rubinoff in her practice located in Potomac, Maryland. Even though I was not there very long, I credit her work model as the one I followed when I created my own practice. We not only serviced children in our office, but we went into private schools and offered support there as well. Laura Rubinoff also ran social groups with someone with a theatre background. I loved it there!
In January of 2000, my husband accepted a job in Atlanta, GA. We packed up our things and drove down here right after a huge ice storm had hit. My husband can tell you I cried almost the whole ride down. What I didn’t know, was that I would soon be given a job that would impact my future in many incredible ways. I was hired by the Atlanta Speech School to work in their clinic. I learned so much from my peers there. When I decided to leave given that I was going to give birth, I was approached by Gale Shafer, who told me when I was ready to return to work, she would be happy to refer to me. My private practice started by one referral from Gale Shafer in 2001. That one referral connected me with some great schools and professionals. It connected me with the Amit Program, which I provided speech/language and social thinking support to for 10 years. It connected with the incredible psychologists who I have shared office space with for the past nine years at the Behavioral institute of Atlanta. And it gave me the confidence that I could go out on my own and develop a practice that would support anyone who was in need of our services.
Over the years my one woman practice has grown to five women. I work with not only with some of the best SLPs I know (Edye Nechmad, Hayley Baker, Elana Miller and Julie Abes), but one of the best school psychologist Robyn Winnick. I am lucky to not only call them my colleagues, but my friends. Our practice services children through adults with speech/language/processing deficits. I am the most proud of the individual and group work I do with children of all ages that are on the Autism Spectrum or have difficulty navigating their social world. I have been following the amazing work of Michelle Garcia Winner and her colleagues who created the concept of Social Thinking for many years. Nothing makes me happier than to be part of someone’s life and help them understand nonverbal and verbal cues given off by others. I find when I can share my knowledge with parents and professionals, I am helping make someone life better.
This is my goal and what I have aspired to be as a Speech-Language Pathologist.
Has it been a smooth road?
Like most professions, there have been a few bumps in the road. One was when I took a job for a very short time at a place that did not share the same value system that I do. This unfortunately circumstance helped me make the decision to move to Virginia where I met some of my best friends to this day and my husband.
Given that my practice does a lot of work in private schools, we often have a smaller case load when the school year starts. Having faith in my skills and those of my associates and knowing that we will get referrals, helps me smile and breathe during those times.
Working for myself has also been challenging given the pressure to provide for my family. My husband is a freelance writer, so having two people working for themselves can be stressful at times.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Sharon E. Sokolik and Associates – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
My practice is incredible! Everyday we get to work with children ages 2-18 as well as some adults who have speech/language or processing deficits. We specialize in working with children who have language processing issues. This can include and is not limited to those with word retrieval, reading comprehension, expressive language and social language issues. I love that everyone who works with me gives 110% to every family that we support. Sometimes we are the first professional a couple sees with their child who eventually is diagnosed as being on the Autism Spectrum. One of the hardest parts of my job is making sure that we can offer that family as much support and help direct them on a good path.
I believe what sets my practice apart from others is our social thinking groups and individual support. To take a group of teens to an Escape Room and have them work on strategies to be part of a team and not freak out given that it is very loud in the room or they can’t figure out the clues, is tremendous. To be asked by schools and different organizations to present to their staff on social thinking techniques and strategies is incredible. My practice cares for each and every family we currently work with and have worked with in the past. I take great pride in checking up on former clients to make sure they are continuing down a good path. When I hear from a parent four years after screening their child that at the time they were in denial of what was going on, but today they see that I was spot on and want to thank me, makes me feel good and inspires me to keep going.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
As I stated earlier, I cried all the way from Virginia to Atlanta! Having been here now for over 17 years, I cannot imagine being able to create the practice that I wanted anywhere else. Atlanta offers some of the best professionals around. We have the Atlanta Speech School, The Cottage School, The Schneck School, Marcus Center, Emory University Autism Clinic, and other great organizations that support children with learning differences.
Atlanta would benefit from having more schools for children with learning differences. The more opportunities that these students and their families could have would be great. We could also use more developmental pediatricians. The ones we have are outstanding, but families can wait 6months to a year to get appointments. The earlier a child can be diagnosed, the more intervention they can receive.
- We offer Social Thinking Groups and Outings for $65.
- Our Offer speech therapy services for $75-$150.
- Address: 6000 Lake Forrest Drive, Suite 103, Sandy Springs, GA 30328
- Website: www.sharonsokolik.com
- Phone: 678-463-6512
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: sharon sokolik and associates, llc