Unlocking the world of speech
DAILY GRIND Speech language therapy can be life changing for clients. Iris Hambling talks to reporter Karina Abadia about what’s kept her in the business for more than 45 years.
When she heard about speech language therapy Iris Hambling knew she had found her vocation.
She grew up in Waikato and went to teacher’s college with the aim of becoming a music and English teacher.
But she quickly realised the classroom wasn’t for her. The vice president of the college suggested Mrs Hambling give speech language therapy training a go.
‘‘I felt as if I was coming home because I was always very interested in communication and learning theory. It was just so wonderful.’’
Her primary role is to help people with speech and language problems to communicate with ease, she says.
‘‘Sometimes we can’t take away the problem but we can help them to be able to communicate without stress or fear.’’
When she started she spent several years working in speech language clinics in Tauranga.
In the 1980s she moved to Auckland where she worked with people with voice dis- orders at North Shore and Greenlane hospitals before establishing her own clinic on the grounds of Holy Trinity Cathedral.
Some of her most memorable clients have included adults who have lost their voice due to stress. These are people who have nothing physically wrong with them but are using their muscles in the wrong way.
Sufferers are often big personalities who are striving for perfection, she says. One Iranian man came to her with a mutational falsetto. When his voice started to break he resisted the change and kept using a high-pitched voice because he didn’t want to have a voice as deep as his father.
Retelling the story of the man reading for the first time in his mature voice still moves Mrs Hambling to tears.
‘‘He rang his mother in Iran and she didn’t know who was speaking. It was just marvellous. It is such a thrill to be able to help like that.’’
She now works part time in Glanville Tce where she rents a room from Parnell Community Trust and sees around 16 clients a week.
She mostly treats children but her oldest client is 83 years old.
Throughout her career she has written books whenever she has seen a gap in the market. Her latest is a picture book which was launched on Monday to coincide with the New Zealand Speech Language Therapy Awareness Week.
Many picture books highlight one-syllable words and don’t provide children with enough challenge, she says.
She put together her book Big Words for Little Tongues with the help of preschoolers at Little Engines Montessori in Grey Lynn.
The book, which is also available as an e-edition, requires children to sound out 40 multisyllable words and phrases and is graded from easy to difficult.
Sounding board: Iris Hambling has published a book to help children articulate tricky words.