The Missing Link for SLPs
The Missing Link for SLPs
The Missing Link for SLPs Episode: 101 The Speechless SLP Series #1: Vanessa Abraham: From Fit and Active to Critical Condition in a Week

Download the show notes and full transcript of the conversation.

Imagine waking up one day and not knowing what is going on. Then knowing what you need to communicate, but not being able to do so. Vanessa Abraham, SLP, experienced just that. Listen to this episode to hear how, out of the blue, Vanessa went from fit and active to being in ICU, and unable to speak, within a week.

Discussion & Reflection Questions

  1. Have you ever thought about what it would be like to treat another SLP? Reflect on how this may impact you, and how you work with their needs.
  2. While not many of us have the lived experience of being speechless, are there ways you can role-play with other SLPs to explore what it is like to be reliant on different types of AACs to communicate?
  3. During times of stress and seasonal illness, what symptoms and severity prompt you to seek professional help to see if there may be something else going on? 
  4. If you were to suddenly find yourself in a critical condition, have you thought about the types of medical and mental health support that might be needed to help you and your family? 
  5. How familiar are you with the interplay between communication disorders and mental health? Where can you learn more for those you work with in your particular SLP setting?

“It is terrifying … (but) I was fortunate in the fact that I knew neuroplasticity. I understood that the brain rewires itself. I understood that it takes time. You are constantly always having to fight those negative thoughts.  I kept having to fight those thoughts, and tell myself, this isn’t forever, this is temporary.” 

Vanessa Abraham


About Vanessa Abraham, 


Vanessa is a wife, mother and school based Speech-Language Pathologist. 

She learned firsthand what it’s like to be on the receiving end of speech services after experiencing a sudden-onset critical illness that left her with limb and neck paralysis as well as a PEG tube and tracheotomy. 

She was thrown into the rehabilitation world after being an independent, healthy and vibrant young mother. Through many swallow studies, voice therapy, OT and PT, she had to learn to eat, talk and move again. 

Her goal now is to help people critically ill patients cope with the grief they experience after a critical illness through speaking up about the topic of Post Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS), depression and anxiety post ICU in addition to educating families and patients about the various rehab modalities that have been successful for her.

Contact Vanessa Abraham

One of the most important things that this series is going to provide is the perspective of what it’s like to be the one who’s on the receiving end of the services that we provide. When we walk into wherever we’re working, that ability to see the communication challenges from that person’s perspective, and being able to put ourselves in their shoes is paramount in helping us reach the needs of that client with their communication of their basic daily wants and needs.”.

                Mattie Murrey-Tegels

Mattie Murrey Tegel, MA, CCC-SLP, L, CPC, CLSC

Medical Speech-Language Pathologist and Founder of Fresh SLP

Mattie Murrey-Tegels is the founder and SLP behind Fresh SLP and The Missing Link for SLPs Podcast. She’s been “in-the-trenches” as a medical SLP around the world for over 25 years and now an Assistant Professor for 3 years. She is thrilled to be adding this dream of a podcast because paying her experiences forward is something she is very passionate about. If you ask her patients and students, one thing they will remember is how much she loves her job! She may not look like it but she is a huge introvert and when she is not actively working as an SLP, she is almost always reading, writing (writing over 1,000,000 words a year), or listening to amazing Chicago Blues bands. She also loves being outdoors and definitely enjoys soaking up the sun at her home in Minnesota, where warm and sunny days can be limited. She’s ridden motorcycles for many years, raced sled dogs, hiked huge mountains yet she cherishes the quiet moments of climbing into a hammock to nap or timeless conversations with friends and family.

The Missing Link for SLPs podcast and Fresh SLP is her legacy, giving back to a career that has so richly rewarded her.

Thank you for listening to The Missing Link for SLPs podcast! If you enjoyed the show, I’d love you to subscribe, rate it and leave a short review. Also, please share an episode with a friend. Together we can raise awareness and help more SLPs find and connect those missing links to help them feel confident in their patient care every step of the way.

Follow me on Instagram, join the Fresh SLP community on Facebook or learn more at  Let’s make those connections. You got this!

 Do you have a question you’d like answered on the show? 
Interested in sharing your experience as an SLP with our audience?
Send a message to! 

Not a substitute for a formal SLP education or medical advice for patients/caregivers.

Leave a comment