Bright Horizons Pediatric Therapy to open in Victoria

Aug. 1, 2014 at 6:06 p.m.

Tara Laging's dreams are coming true.

The countdown to opening her own clinic began Friday as she started moving into what is now the shell of the Bright Horizons Pediatric Therapy.

Her clinic opens Aug. 28 but will be scheduling evaluations as soon as Monday.

"I've already got a few appointments scheduled," Laging, 29, said. "I know there are waiting lists for other clinics."

She worked for six years as a speech-language pathology assistant in private settings as well as with Victoria Independent School District.

Opening a clinic where she can work with children is a dream she realized while she was in school. After declaring majors in nursing and teaching, she finally landed on speech-language pathology.

"I see so much potential in these kids, and I just want to see them succeed to their maximum ability," Laging said. "I want to alleviate the gap. There are more kids than therapists."

While pursuing her master's degree from Nova Southeastern University, she often visited Michelle Prado's classroom at Cade Middle School to work with children who needed extra assistance.

Prado, 28, of Victoria, taught a life skills class last year and said the small group of children ranged from special needs to severe disabilities.

"She had high expectations of the students, and it was beneficial for them," Prado said about Laging.

Students were able to improve communication skills - from simply introducing themselves to asking for permission to use the computer, Prado said.

Working with children with learning disabilities can be challenging, she said, but Laging was able to build strong bonds with the class of 11.

"They would ask for her, and I would see them get excited to see her," Prado said about Laging. "She cares about the kids and wants to see them get better."

Prado has four years experience between VISD and the Navasota Independent School District in working with children with learning disabilities.

In the high school setting, she said, it's important to help students learn how to communicate beyond graduation so they can interact with others during an interview or on the job.

"It's cool for the students to see the speech teachers come and improve over time," she said.

Pediatric therapy clinics such as Bright Horizons also provide a helpful hand for parents during summer and winter vacations, Prado said. Children aren't focused on keeping up with what they learn in school when they're on vacation, she said.

"When they return to school, they might not be where they left off. So we might have review or catch them back up before moving forward," Prado said.

Kim Riley works with children 18 months to 6 years old almost every day in her line of work.

She owns the Ladybug Learning Center in Port Lavaca and said it's a good idea to have a place for parents to take their children beyond the assistance from the Region III Education services.

"They (Region III) come by and ask if we need any help, but we haven't had the need to refer kids anywhere else," said Riley, 43, of Port Lavaca.

The idea of a new pediatric therapy clinic opening in Victoria is interesting, she said. Having students who don't speak English is her biggest challenge, but she employs Spanish speakers to work with the kids.

For many in her day care, she said, socializing with each other often provides enough assistance for children who are having problems speaking or communicating.

"You'd be surprised how quickly they model their behavior after other kids," Riley said.

The more resources parents have for their children, the better off the students will be, Prado said.

"It doesn't have to be stressful," she said. "There are people who can help, so you're not alone."

As school starts for many children in the Crossroads later this month, now is a good time for parents to start planning to address issues their children might be experiencing, Laging said.

"I won't be working with just the children - it's the entire family," she said.

She's eager to start working in the community again, but until then, she's got a few finishing touches to add to the Bright Horizons Pediatric Therapy clinic before its grand opening.



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