MEET THE FOUNDER
Maura Ambrose MA, CCC-SLP, NTMTC, IGNITE's founder, is a certified Craniofacial Speech-Language Pathologist licensed to practice in Ohio and Pennsylvania. She brings over a decade of experience working with children diagnosed with complex medical and developmental conditions. Maura is relentless in her pursuit for the best outcomes of her patients. She brings a wealth of knowledge of the pediatric population, as well as a passion to uplift and support children and their families.
Maura embraces the most difficult challenges, and through her hands-on hospital and clinical work, she has extensive experience in diverse patient populations including cleft/craniofacial, dysphagia, hearing impairment, traumatic brain injury, Childhood Apraxia of Speech, and dysarthria, among others.
Maura received her master’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh. One of the most impactful rotations for her was in the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Cleft-Craniofacial Center. While working with dozens of families, Maura heard gut-wrenching stories from patients in the clinic, such as how their speech disorder made them “feel”, why they were “afraid” to raise their hand to speak in class, and the moment they realized “everyone” was staring at their cleft scars. These stories of emotional pain were matched by stories of personal triumph, such as the child born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate who was nominated as class speaker for graduation, or the child born with Treacher Collins Syndrome who attended Flying Horse Farms summer camp, and for the first time, felt “normal.”
After receiving her master’s degree, Maura was selected to hold one of only two Craniofacial Speech Fellowship positions in the United States. She was fortunate to be placed at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH, where she worked with some of the top clinicians and scientists in the country. Maura quickly became an expert in evaluation and treatment techniques for children with cleft and craniofacial conditions. As a result, she successfully executed speech, resonance, language and feeding treatment plans for this population. Her specialized skill set also made her adept at treating children with other complex and difficult to treat conditions, such as dysarthria and Childhood Apraxia of Speech
Maura’s experience with a wide variety of complex communication disorders in children with cleft and craniofacial conditions led to a masterful understanding of the direct connection between learning disabilities, hearing impairment and speech and language disorders. She was able to witness the impact of early intervention and parent education through the myriad of parent-toddler therapy groups she facilitated. As a result of Maura’s teaching sessions and use of self-help techniques, parents unanimously reported they were able to see objective gains in their child’s speech and language skills by the end of their 6-week session.
Aside from her clinical roles, Maura was also a co-investigator in several research and quality improvement projects, which focused specifically on improving feeding and speech outcomes for children following surgery. This research led to changes in post-operative protocols within the hospital and provided parents with the additional support they needed to care for their child.
Upon completion of her clinical fellowship at Nationwide, Maura transitioned to Akron Children’s Hospital, where she joined the Craniofacial team. Here, she led the creation of a standard evaluation protocol for annual Craniofacial visits within the hospital, which made it easier to track a child’s progress annually. Maura served as a clinical lead at the Akron and Boardman campuses for the evaluation and treatment of feeding and speech/language disorders in the cleft and craniofacial population. She was also the go-to therapist for children diagnosed with complex medical histories, hearing impairment, traumatic brain injury, dysphagia, and picky eating.
In addition to treating speech/language and feeding disorders outpatient, Maura also evaluated and treated children who were admitted inpatient to the hospital in the NICU and pediatric unit. Maura became certified in Neonatal Touch and Massage, which she used to calm and soothe premature babies in the NICU. As an infant therapist, Maura continued to care for babies after discharge, which included completing videofluoroscopic swallow studies to ensure they were swallowing safely and monitoring the development of their speech and language skills.
Maura was invited as a feeding and cleft/craniofacial speaker several times for the doctors in the neonatal intensive care unit as well as within her speech department. Maura continues to share her passion and expertise with doctors nurse practitioners, pediatric therapists, and others in the community.
In every city, she consistently observed the agony that grownups carried as they navigated access to treatment for their children's medical and developmental needs.
For Maura, it was completely understandable - parents were spread thin due to work responsibilities and caring for their families. Then, when they were forced to layer in multiple doctor and therapy appointments just to understand what could be impacting their child’s success, it only added to the uncertainty and frustration.
THE IGNITE DIFFERENCE
A diagnosis and therapy plan should have provided relief to these parents, but instead it added stress because more time was needed for visits to the hospital or clinic, and to complete “homework” assigned by their therapist.
IGNITE was formed to relieve all of these pain points.
Although Maura loved being in the medical setting, she decided to open her own private practice with the intent of relieving the anxieties carried by families she has observed throughout her career. Most importantly, IGNITE is a platform where she can truly bring her vision to life, which is to: