Sometimes we find our life's work by accident.
Veronica "Roni" Pinch, 37, was an undergraduate student at the University of Kentucky on track for law school when she was put in the wrong line for registration for her senior year classes. In that line she met a group of "amazing girls going for speech pathology," she said and thought to herself, "this is where I belong."
So, she changed tracks and obtained her bachelor's degree in speech pathology.
She went on to graduate Magna Cum Laude from West Virginia University with a master's degree in speech pathology.
Pinch worked in the public school system where she found it was becoming more difficult to qualify children for speech and language services, especially if the children did not also have problems with academics.
In 2003, Pinch founded Speech W.I.S.E., Inc., which stands for "working in speech excellence," in the Arboretum, to offer speech and language services to children in the Charlotte area. Pinch employs an office manager and three speech-language pathologists.
"At Speech W.I.S.E., Inc. it is a team and family decision determining whether or not a child needs speech-language services by looking at the 'entire child' and how speech therapy can help children become more successful communicators in their school settings, at home and with their peers," said Pinch.
Pinch also lives in the Arboretum area with her husband, Mark, 35, and two children: Emmi, 5, and Owen, 3.
In addition to offering speech and language services, Pinch specializes in auditory processing disorders.
According to the National Coalition of Auditory Processing Disorders: "There's no clear agreed-to definition of Auditory Processing Disorder, but there seems to be agreement on these points: There is a breakdown in receiving, remembering, understanding and using auditory information. Hearing ability is adequate. There is a neurological basis. The child's ability to listen is impaired."
Pinch became passionate about helping children with APD after she attended a local conference presented by Dr. Jay Lucker, a speech pathologist and audiologist based in Washington, D.C.
Pinch says about 50 percent of her clients have some form of APD.
"Children with APD sometimes cannot filter out background noise to focus, are not able to pull out key words from ongoing flow of information, and often even lose the big picture of what is said to them because they overload from the information presented to them verbally," said Pinch.
Lucker trained Pinch to administer a battery of tests for APD.
"I have wanted to 'spread the news' about useful auditory processing assessments, and have searched for qualified, good professionals who would work with me throughout the United States and the world," said Lucker.
Speech W.I.S.E. is currently one of only three practices that partners with Lucker and receives his more than 30 years of experience in diagnosis and treatment.
With proper testing and treatment, children can learn to implement strategies and accommodations independently.
"In treating people with APD, I have come to realize that I too am not able to process what I hear in the presence of background noise," said Pinch. "It is something that had affected me in school and in everyday life. I know that I am with Dr. (Lucker) for a reason, so that I can help children who also are learning to overcome APD to be successful in whatever they choose to do."