STAFF at the Ability Centre have more in common than just their passion for helping people with disabilities.
Nearly 70 per cent of the organisation’s 90 physiotherapists, speech pathologists and occupational therapists are Curtin University alumni.
This includes senior speech pathologist Suzi Wills, of Madeley, who works at the centre’s north hub in Currambine.
She works with children and adults who have a range of developmental and acquired disabilities, including cerebral palsy, autism, genetic/chromosomal disorders and acquired brain injury.
“I love the range and variety,” she said.
“Every day is so different and each person and family is unique.
“I enjoy working with individuals, families, teachers and the rest of the therapy team to work towards goals that are really meaningful to each individual.”
Ms Wills described her role as diverse and challenging, and said small breakthroughs were the most meaningful.
She has a keen interest in augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), which is any form of communication that supports verbal language.
“We all use some forms of AAC and non-verbal communication such as eye contact, gestures, facial expressions,” she said.
“I have a particular interest in technology and how it can support communication.
“This can be a button you record a message on and it speaks when pressed, a communication app on an iPad right through to specialised devices which allow individuals to communicate a range of messages using touch screen, a switch, head/body movements or even their eye gaze.
“There are many people out there who have a lot of things to say but just aren’t able to say it in the same way we can.”
Having graduated with a Bachelor of Science in speech pathology in 2012, Ms Wills encouraged others to consider the profession.
“It can be challenging at times but that is what keeps it exciting and fun,” she said.
“There is always something new to learn.
“It has a nice balance of being medically/health oriented but also remaining very person centred, supportive and caring.”