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.

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

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.

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