Lauren Ashley Buford, SLPD, CCC-SLP
"Only a special person can hear what
a child cannot say."
I grew up in Northern Virginia and am excited to give back to a community that means so much to me. My love for serving children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in the realm of speech-language pathology developed when I was an undergraduate speech clinician working with a 4-year-old girl with ASD. When we began therapy, she only used sign language, gestures, and verbal approximations to communicate, often hitting out of frustration. Within months, her expressive and receptive language skills improved dramatically, and she rarely hit due to diminished frustration. When her mother thanked me with tears in her eyes, I was hooked on making a difference. I’m grateful for my experience with that little girl, as it served as a catalyst for my life’s work.
After completing my undergraduate studies in Virginia at Hampton University, I earned my master’s at Howard University in Washington, D.C., where the phenomenal staff – especially Dr. Kay Payne and Dr. Martine Elie – connected me with patients in underserved communities. Shocked by the lack of resources available for children with autism and their families, I vowed to make a difference and created a plan to educate parents about ASD and speech-language pathology (SLP). Once I gained their trust, the students made significant progress.
I have since combined my two passions into my current clinical practice as a national certified and state licensed pediatric speech-language pathologist. I’ve worked for five years as a pediatric SLP providing the full scope of practice for children in underserved communities. I am currently the lead SLP and a multidisciplinary team member at a private practice in Herndon, Virginia, primarily serving children with ASD presenting with an array of communication deficits.
My expertise lies in the assessment and treatment of children with speech sound disorders (articulation and phonological processes), expressive, receptive, and social pragmatic language, and ASD. I’m devoted to using best practices to ensure that each child with ASD can release their voice while working to influence systemic change to close the health disparity gap in communication disorder treatment for children in marginalized communities. I value a team-based approach and find the best patient outcomes are achieved when professionals collaborate and innovate.
Given my thirst for learning, drive for discovery, and commitment to advancing the field of speech-language pathology, I pursued a Doctorate of Speech-Language Pathology at Northwestern University, where my culminating project focused on the impact of family-centered care/shared decision making of families of children with ASD during the diagnostic or intervention process of therapy. The curriculum supported my goal of becoming a leader, mentor, and educator of graduate SLP clinicians, as well as my desire to open a private practice serving underserved children with ASD, applying clinical research to promote communication and feeding skills, and advocating for legislation advancing SLP policies and treatment of children with ASD. I completed projects related to each of my goals; to learn more about the knowledge and skills I obtained in the SLPD program, please visit my portfolio page.
I’m an amusement park enthusiast who enjoys traveling with my family. I also enjoy watching historical documentaries with my pug Sasha and eating homemade chocolate chip cookies while browsing Super Duper for manipulatives to use during my therapy sessions.