Hidden Figure: Fleurette K Davis
Crystal: Who is Fleurette K. Davis?
Fleurette- I am a new wife and a mother to a beautiful daughter and a bonus son! I have a Doctoral Degree in Speech Language Pathology and have been practicing for 10 years. I mostly work in home health where I provide speech, language, voice, cognitive and swallowing services to adults and geriatrics. I am also a clinical educator and that position allows me to travel across the U.S. teaching on the use of speaking and swallowing valves for persons who are on mechanical ventilation with a tracheostomy.
Crystal-How important is speech therapy and how do you use it to serve your community?
Fleurette- So when most people hear or think speech therapy they automatically recall the back broom closet that has a lady “teaching” kids how to talk and not stutter! The field of Speech Language Pathology is very important because it encompasses the entire domain of life from birth to geriatrics. Most health persons are usually not aware of what we do as SLP’s until they find themselves in a healthcare emergency. Services we provide to the community include direct patient therapy, family education and modifications related to speech and or swallowing.
Crystal: How does your current position align with your purpose?
Fluerette– My purpose is to build and in this career I have the ability to build people, their skills related to how they talk, think, swallow or use language. I absolutely have a passion for rehabilitating and I know that is a ministry within itself.
Crystal: Why does speech therapy mean so much to you?
Fleurette- As a child and even now as an accomplished professional I have a stutter at times when I talk. It can be completely random from a large group of people, to talking with my mother on the telephone. Speech means so much to me because I can directly identify with one aspect of the field. There are so many things that are interconnected between the brain and how we talk, swallow and breathe that being aware and skilled in this facet to help others is important to me.
Crystal: Is speech therapy important for non-verbal individuals?
Fleurette: Yes! Non-verbal persons can use gestures or speech output devices to “be their voice” for example. Most people think the ONLY way to communicate is with verbal speech, the sounds and words you hear. But think about non-verbal communication. When your mom gives you “the look” and you know that it means “uh oh I’m in big trouble” LOL. Or we can look at body language and facial expressions of people when they don’t approve or if they love something. We all do it everyday. Speech Therapy brings light to these issues and it gives non-verbal individuals a chance to communicate their needs with others around them after education about “communication” is provided.
Crystal: What other issues does speech therapists address other than speech?
Fleurette: I love to tell people that Speech Language Pathologists address issues from the head to the waist. Cognition (thinking skills) for patients who may have Dementia or Traumatic Brain Injuries, Speech (verbal speech) which is what most people are familiar with like correcting sounds, stuttering, etc, Voice (quality of sounds) for patients who have damaged their vocal folds by long term abuse like yelling or singing or having a tube/tracheostomy, Language (how we use and understand words or concepts) for patients needing help with social skills or using appropriate language ,and Dysphagia (swallowing difficulties) for patients who may have had a stroke for example.
Crystal: How do you bring therapy to life for young children?
Fleurette: I strictly work with adults, so I will answer from that vantage point. Speech Language Pathology with adults and geriatric patients can be very entertaining and non-traditional. I try to take the patient’s home environment like using pictures to recall family member names for Dementia clients, or I’ll have the family cook a favorite food item so we can practice chewing and food manipulation tasks for patients with swallowing difficulties. Sometimes I’ll have patients sing or recite something from memory (Lords Prayer or Pledge of Allegiance) if they were in a public speaking position. It can get very creative!
Crystal: How do you use sign language to stimulate speech and language development?
Fleurette: Sign Language is mostly beneficial for those already familiar with and using the modality. For adults who recently have been hospitalized and are now receiving home care services may have difficulty communicating their basic wants and needs. I usually assist my colleagues by signing to the patient instructions, thus incorporating previous language skills into our therapy sessions. Most times, patients who sign are so excited to see hearing people sign so there is an increase in their level of participation.
Crystal: Voice impairment can lead to social isolation; how do you help patients avoid this?
Fleurette: I train and educate people on how to avoid damaging their vocal folds. This may include adequate hydration and proper use of pitch when talking or even singing. When people don’t like their voice or how the tone sounds I recommend speech therapy to address voice use issues that could be damaging. In addition, I always recommend referrals to counselors who can help address social and personal issues that may stem from voice impairments.
Crystal: How do you define philanthropy?
Fleurette: Money paired with Action
Crystal: Did you know the Hidden Figures story prior to the movie?
Fleurette: No I never heard of any of those awesome ladies.
Crystal: Who is your Hidden Figure/mentor?
Fleurette: I’m completely unsure…maybe he or she is still “hidden”….I’m actively searching however
Crystal: What is your favorite quote?
Fleurette: A wise woman builds her house, but a fool tears it down with her hands. – Proverbs 14:1
Crystal: How do you define success?
Fleurette: Success is when you do the heavy labor and excruciating work but everyone benefits and enjoys the fruit
Crystal: What is your favorite book?
Fleurette:I have so many!! My first favorite book would be Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
Crystal: What words of inspiration can you leave the audience?
Fleurette: Stay encouraged and committed to your dreams….never ever quit!