Our Therapists

Chrissy Thompson, MA, CCC-SLP

Founder & Director

“My passion for helping people improve their speech and language skills began at a young age. I experienced first hand how my uncles would struggle to communicate with others due to an articulation disorder.  It was after I graduated with both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Communication Disorders from Middle Tennessee State University and Appalachian State University that I realized my uncles speech disorder was actually Childhood Apraxia of Speech.  It just hadn’t been properly treated when they were children. When one of my uncles asked me for help with his articulation, I knew I had chosen the right field.

Since 2004, I have provided diagnostic and therapeutic services at a number of preschools, daycares, an audiology clinic, and private practice to children of all ages.  I now have the privilege of serving children and their families from my home-based and tele-therapy practice. Although I successfully treat a variety of speech/language delays and disorders, I have a particular interest and love for treating pediatric speech sound disorders and autistic children. I am experienced with complex articulation disorders and utilize a variety of treatment methods to help children with articulation errors. Education in our field is continuous. I am constantly researching and learning to adapt as our community grows and changes to learn how to better serve my clients.

In the summer of 2019, I introduced Play Talk & Grow as a way to connect with families and SLPs by offering them real, practical strategies to help them at home and in their practice. Since the pandemic a pivot was necessary and I began dreaming of opening a larger practice to serve our community.  In January of 2023, I acquired Asheville Speech Associates.  I now have a team of 6 highly skilled and talented therapists. Every team member brings a special skill or technique to our practice. We all strive to provide top tier services in Asheville.

Caroline Baumgartner, CCC-SLP

Therapist

Hi! I’m Caroline. I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and Appalachian State University with both Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in Communication Sciences and Disorders and Speech Language Pathology.

I am passionate about building relationships as a great start to successful therapy. I love working with children, as they keep everyday different and I end up laughing each day at their amazing imaginations and endless energy. I am passionate about building relationships with children diagnosed with speech-language disorders and leading them in engaging, evidence-based practices during speech therapy.

I have special interests in articulation disorders and receptive and expressive language disorders and delays. I am highly motivated to empower children and their families by providing functional tools and strategies for communication.

When I’m not with my clients, I enjoy cooking, baking, hiking, or painting a new art project.

Julie Wood, CCC-SLP

Therapist

Hi! I’m Julie Wood. I am excited to be a part of the team at PlayTalk&Grow. I am an ASHA certified speech-language pathologist with a passion for helping children find their voice. I have a love for the mountains and received both my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Communication Disorders at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. After moving to the Asheville area in 2002, I spent the first five years of my career working in a local school system. After having my first child, I made a change to the private setting. I love the private setting as it provides a better opportunity to build relationships with not only my clients, but their families.

I have experience working with children in early intervention and school-age with speech-sound disorders, receptive-expressive language delays and disorders, autism, and stuttering/fluency disorders. The field of speech-language pathology is dynamic and I enjoy keeping up with the research to provide evidence based therapy practices that are motivational and functional.

When I’m not at the office, I enjoy spending time with my husband and two daughters, walking with our dog, cooking/baking, and camping. 

Carole Soucaze, CCC-SLP

Therapist

I am fueled by the core belief that every voice deserves to be heard. I have worked with children ranging in age from minutes-old to high schoolers in almost every setting where speech and language services can be provided (schools, clinics, hospitals, and homes). I earned my M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) from Vanderbilt University and my B.S. in SLP from Rutgers University. The critical nature of understanding the whole child – mind, body and spirit motivated me to continue my education and I completed an Ed.S. in Human Development from Vanderbilt. However, I am shown time and time again that the finest, most impactful education I can get comes from the children and families I work with, especially my own two daughters.

I am deeply passionate about providing quality services for all and strive to improve outcomes through research, innovation, and technology. In the 1980s I became the Founder and Director of High Hopes Development Center. High Hopes became middle Tennessee’s first inclusive preschool and therapy clinic. The center remains a one-of kind non-profit service provider today, having served over 1,000 families in 2022 alone.

Since leaving High Hopes, I took a special interest in understanding the pervasive effects of early complex trauma on children and families and how to minimize that impact. I have presented at multiple state and national conferences on this topic. My other focus area has been working with children who have auditory processing deficits and the language-based learning differences that often accompany them. I am a long-time provider of Fast ForWord, a uniquely individualized program tor children with language disorders. And 12 years ago, I became Board Certified in Neurofeedback. My therapy practices are rooted in science, mixed with play, hope, and an unyielding belief that where there’s a will, there is a way.

Work aside, I can be found (usually outdoors) spending time with family, consuming the latest brain research, swimming, perfecting my love for practical jokes, and caring for animal friends, because their voices deserve to be heard too.

Derek Taylor, CCC-SLP

Therapist

I grew up as a child who stuttered. I know first hand the struggles that can accompany communication disorders. The inability to speak freely is a burden that no one should have to live with. I received speech therapy in public schools until I was a teen. I was fortunate enough to meet a professor at a university who stuttered and he taught the stuttering class in the communication sciences and disorders program. This was a pivotal point in my life. I thought, how can a person who’s stutters teacher others how to control their stuttering? Come to find out, personal experience may be the best indicator of successful treatment. I have dedicated my career to helping others who stutter. I have worked with children, adolescents, and adults who stutter since 2011. I attended the Western Carolina University where I studied under the the same professor that help me with my stuttering as a teen. I conducted stuttering research in graduate school and presented at state and national conferences. I know that stuttering is unique to individuals. I have learned how to tailor stuttering treatment for people that focus on strengths to meet needs. Some children may grow out of their stuttering, but why leave that to chance? With early treatment children can learn how to modify their speech and reduce stuttering. Many children can learn strategies and change behaviors that eliminate stuttering. Others can learn how to control their stuttering. For older children, adolescents and adults who continue to stutter, therapy can give them the tools to be able to communicate effectively. By addressing the affective, behavioral and cognitives aspects of stuttering one may learn how to speak freely. Fluency shaping, stuttering modification and cognitive behavioral therapies are tools I use to individualize stuttering therapy.

Presenter, North Carolina Speech, Language and Hearing Association Conference (2013)

Van Riperian Stuttering Modification with an Adolescent

Presenter, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Annual Conference (2012)

Individualized Stuttering Therapy with a School-Age Child

Presenter, Western Carolina University Graduate Research Symposium (2012)

Erica Berkeley, CCC-SLP

Therapist

Becoming a speech therapist was a second career for me, after a long one in writing and editing. I figure the way they overlap is in my love for language, oral or written. After receiving my BA (a long time ago!) from Bates College in Maine, I (much later) earned my master’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Western Carolina University.

I became interested in speech therapy, especially for very young children, when my son received speech therapy as a toddler for a speech delay. After observing the creative ways his speech therapist worked with him, and all the progress he made, I decided I wanted to help other children like him. I have provided early-intervention speech services in daycares, preschools, and families’ homes to toddlers and preschoolers. I have also provided speech services in a school setting for students in kindergarten through 8th grade, addressing a wide range of needs, from articulation disorders to severe autism and intellectual disabilities.

When not working as a speech therapist, I still work occasionally as an editor and proofreader. And when not doing that, I am sometimes in Pisgah or DuPont Forests hiking trails and searching for swimming holes with my family, sometimes in my vegetable garden, and more often driving my son around to his various basketball exploits.

Kelly Shay, CCC-SLP

Therapist

Hi! I’m Kelly! I graduated from the University of Georgia with my Bachelor’s in Communication Sciences and Disorders and my Master’s in Speech Language Pathology from the University of Florida. I then moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to complete my clinical fellowship year and subsequent 2 years in the field before settling in the mountains of western North Carolina in 2019.

I knew in high school that I wanted to be a pediatric Speech Language Pathologist ever since my younger brother was diagnosed and treated for Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS). He was in therapy for about 7 years, and I was amazed that someone’s whole job was playing with children. I knew from then on that was what I wanted to do. I now know that this career is more than just playing games and blowing bubbles, but I’ve never looked back.

While I enjoy treating a variety of speech and language disorders, my specific passions lie in treating early language delays, stuttering and cluttering disorders, and working with dyslexia and dysgraphia.

When I’m not treating patients, I enjoy spending time with my partner and our dog, Bentley! Bentley gets us outside and enjoying the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina. I also love to decorate sugar cookies and explore new restaurants and breweries with friends in Asheville.

Call (828) 656-5188 to check for availability.