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Meet Tiffany Hughes of Expressive Connections in Pasadena

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tiffany Hughes.

Tiffany, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I didn’t always know exactly what I wanted to do, I just knew that I wanted to make a difference. When I was a little girl and they asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I answered, “a nun, because they get to spend life helping people.” Now, I also said that I wanted 13 children, so that combo wasn’t going to pan out.

When I went to college, I had decided that a medical profession would be a great fit for me, but then I took an elective class in linguistics. I was so fascinated with the field that I began to re-think my future. One day, in my linguistics course, a girl sat down next to me telling me about this amazing class she had taken on communication disorders. She described the professions to me, and I saw how this was the mix of both my love of language and desire to work in a medical profession. That young woman had me sold and I picked up the course. I wish that I could go back and find her and thank her for how she changed my life.

I graduated with my master’s in speech-language pathology from the University of Pittsburgh and worked in several different settings soaking up all of the knowledge that I could from the physicians, nurses, dietitians, physical and occupational therapists that I worked with and especially from my patients. There was a lot of red tape when working for corporations to do things or say things a certain way to bring in the most money. There were so many struggles to advocate for your patients to get what they truly needed or could tolerate. I dreamed of having a place where people were treated with compassion and the best care, not just what someone from 7 states over sitting behind a desk deemed appropriate.

When the opportunity arose to own a practice, I was excited about the freedom to mold a business into one that could treat patients the way I felt was important and give them the attention they needed. On the other hand, it was a bit terrifying for someone who is not a business woman by nature. I was very fortunate and my mentor, the founder, taught me the ropes on the business end. It didn’t take long before I was able to start pursuing my vision. I look back often on life and how amazing it is that it leads you down paths you never dreamed, it takes you to these highs, and lows, and to meet people that can change your life in an instant, and in ways you never even considered.

I have spent a career getting to help people in so many different ways and have a long journey yet to look forward to. This profession is always exciting and rewarding. That little first-grade girl didn’t become a nun, but she is definitely blessed, and she didn’t end up with thirteen children, but she gets to work with hundreds of them and help them to reach for the stars no matter what they are facing.

Has it been a smooth road?
Well, I didn’t see what the big deal of being the owner of a business would be. It seemed simple enough. I was going to keep a full patient caseload, be the director, and the owner. That lasted for about a year until I just couldn’t anymore. As small business owners know, you take on the role of what 10 different people would do in a larger corporation and it takes a lot of time and energy to stay on top of it all. Recruiting was truly difficult, and I knew I had to make some big changes. Once I was able to provide our employees with great benefits and decrease their caseloads so that they could spend more time preparing for and providing quality treatment, the resumes started flooding in. I more than doubled the size of the business, which allowed me to give back more to the community. I wish that I could still see patients all day, but I have a different role now, and it makes me incredibly happy to see how amazing my team is and how much they are changing lives for the better.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Expressive Connections – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Expressive Connections is a speech and language pathology practice in Pasadena. We provide therapy and assessments to children from infants through teenagers who have various speech and language disorders such as articulation, expressive and receptive language delays, apraxia of speech, stuttering, and voice disorders. These disorders are sometimes related to diagnoses such as cleft palate, Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, stroke, and so much more. Every single child who walks through our doors is amazing, and our goal is to design a plan tailored around that child’s needs, building off of strengths, that will help them reach their maximum potential.

When a child has a communication disorder, it can be quite difficult on the family. There may be frustration from the child that comes out as not-so-great behavior, because they don’t yet have a way to communicate. Sometimes we meet parents of new patients who have also become frustrated, exhausted, or have feelings of hopelessness. We strive to make the family the focus of our therapy and to help them feel that they have support, a team, and that there is hope. We strive to bring them together, teach them strategies and techniques to empower their children, and help bring the family together in a positive way.

One-on-one therapy is a big part of what we do, but we offer small group courses for children and families. In addition, our monthly social groups target specific skills and allow children an opportunity to practice skills with peers in a safe place, where it is okay to not be perfect. We want kids to love coming to see us, to have fun, and to learn without feeling pressure, but rather, because learning is pretty awesome!

We currently have thirteen speech-language pathologists on our team. All of our team members pursue ongoing education in specialized areas in order to continue providing treatments that are well researched and proven effective in order to achieve high outcomes for all of our clients. Our team is top notch, but more than that, they are all here because they are compassionate people that share a passion for improving the lives of those impacted by communication disorders. In order to be great clinicians, they have to be able to adapt to all situations. Part of being an SLP is being able to laugh with our clients, to cry those tears of joy with them, to encourage them, and to cheer them on. I believe that people want therapy from Expressive Connections, because these women are not just incredible clinicians, but incredible people as a whole.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most?
I have lived and worked in many different places in our country, and I have to say, this has been by far, the friendliest. The first time I rode the Metro here, my entire train car was packed and having a sing-a-long to “Ring of Fire,” and that’s something I love about L.A., that is, people just all unite and have a good time. Whether it’s the checkout cashier at a grocery store or a handyman fixing the sink, people are friendly and open, and as an SLP that never shies away from a chat, I think it’s wonderful. Also, as a person passionate about language, it is great to live in a city where so many cultures and languages are shared. There is always something more to learn and experience here.

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