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Wednesday, May 31, 2023
May 31, 2023

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Working in Clark County: Barbara Erskine, speech pathologist

By , Columbian News Assistant
3 Photos
Photos by Steven Lane/The Columbian
Speech therapist Barbara Erskine works with Sylvie Johnson, 10, of La Center on a recent visit. It was graduation day for Sylvie.
Photos by Steven Lane/The Columbian Speech therapist Barbara Erskine works with Sylvie Johnson, 10, of La Center on a recent visit. It was graduation day for Sylvie. Photo Gallery

Barbara Erskine has always known what she wanted to do in life. She became a speech pathologist and today is still as passionate about her career as when she first began. “I am always happiest when helping other people. I get a wonderful feeling to be part of seeing my clients overcome their communication challenges,” she said.

Barbara Erskine.

Job/employer: Owns Erskine Therapy, 8513 N.E. Hazel Dell Ave., Suite 201, and a satellite office in Tigard, Ore.

Age: 55.

Education/professional background: I grew up in Canada. I received my undergraduate degree in speech pathology and audiology at the University of Alberta and I earned my master of science degree in speech pathology from the University of Oregon. After I completed my clinical fellowship year at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Portland, I started working in several different settings, including hospitals and schools in Portland and for a private practitioner in Vancouver. I opened my own practice in Vancouver and a satellite office in Tigard in 1992.

Memberships/awards: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association; Washington Speech-Language-Hearing Association; International Association of Orofacial Myology; and American Academy of Private Practice in Speech Pathology and Audiology.

I just received the 2014 president’s award (highest award) from the International Association of Orofacial Myology.

Most challenging part of job: The most challenging is the first evaluation process because it is my job to get to the root of the problem. I want to do the detective work so I can understand the problem and make a customized program that will let the patient succeed. Once I can successfully identify the problem, we can work to solve it.

Business philosophy: I have a unique perspective because I take a holistic approach. I don’t consider speech as just occurring from the neck up. I look at the whole person, the body and brain speech connection. I feel that good communication is really dependent on connecting the dots and laying a good foundation. Good communication skills can be built when I have identified the root problem that allows me to really make rapid progress and have great success in good time. It is a team approach. I work with families and together we work with the patient to succeed. I primarily work with adolescent children but I also work with adults.

Residence: Lincoln neighborhood.

Best feature of my Vancouver/community:
I love history and I think Vancouver is a fabulous place for that. There are many layers to history in Vancouver, always something that is intriguing and interesting to learn about the pioneers and discover who lived in the homes downtown.

What would make your community a better place:
I like it the way it is. It is friendly and has a good pace to it. It is very relaxing.

Favorite restaurant/pub/coffee shop/store: I like places on Main Street. I like the cute coffee shops and Dulin’s Village Cafe.

Hobbies: I love walking and hiking, so there are always new places to explore, even in downtown. I have also been on some walking tours in Portland.

Volunteer activities: I am program chairman for the 2015 International Association of Orofacial Myology Florida convention. I am a certified orofacial myologist and on the board of the international association.

Favorite travel destination:
Ireland is my go-to place; I have family there.

Most interesting book in last 12 months: “Burial Rites” by Hannah Kent.

Most interesting play/movie/arts event: I liked the story of the movie “The Judge.” I like to attend music events during the Christmas season.

One thing you want to do next year: I would like to do some speech pathology volunteer work in another country. I am working on trying to find the right place.

Something you want to do within five years: I would like to take a cruise to the Caribbean. I also want to explore having an online therapy practice.

One word to describe yourself: Forward-thinking.

Person you’d most like to meet:
Hillary Clinton.

It’s rewarding work:
I recently worked with a 6-year-old boy who had never spoken in his life. He had been diagnosed with autism. At first I thought, “I don’t know what I am going to do.” With the help of his mother, within about three weeks he said his first words. He has been voicing his wants and needs ever since. Results like these is what makes our field so wonderful. He now has more confidence and less stress. I am still working with him.

Columbian News Assistant