Language Disorder

Children with a language disorder may have a breakdown in expressive language, receptive language, or both. Expressive language disorders include difficulty using or combining words to convey a message. Receptive language disorders involve a breakdown in understanding, such as inability to follow directions or answer questions.

Speech Sound Disorder

As children begin to talk, they may say certain sounds incorrectly. Each sound has an age of acquisition and normal, developmental errors in production that are expected to resolve without treatment. Children with speech sound disorders may continue to demonstrate difficulty with production despite age expectations or may demonstrate atypical patterns of production that warrant intervention.

Feeding Disorders

Children with feeding and swallowing disorders may present with a range of impairments. They may be picky eaters with limited variety of food in their diet, consume a smaller volume than would be expected, show poor growth, or have motor difficulty with the act of chewing and swallowing that compromises their safety while eating and drinking.


Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by deficits in social-communication and interaction. Children with autism typically present with limited attention or interaction with another person and often demonstrate repetitive behaviors and restricted interests. There is often a breakdown in both receptive and expressive language skills.

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Meghan VandeWater, MA, CCC-SLP, C/NDT


I am a certified speech-language pathologist through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and licensed in the state of Michigan. I graduated with a Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Western Michigan University in 2011. I have been specializing in pediatric speech, language, and feeding therapy since December 2012. I worked for Helen DeVos Children’s Rehabilitation Services from 2012 through early 2020. I work to create individualized treatment plans to teach speech, language and feeding skills in a naturalistic, positive, and motivational way for children. In 2015-2016, I participated in a year-long course in which I received certification in Neurodevelopmental Treatment (NDT). I have a passion for working with children presenting with neurodevelopmental disorders, typically seen in children with cerebral palsy, premature birth, autism, and Down syndrome, among other diagnoses. In addition, I am skilled in working with children who need early intervention for expressive-receptive language, speech sound disorders, and augmentative and alternative communication.

When I am not attending to my caseload, I am home with my family. My husband, two daughters, two dogs, and I enjoy evenings at home, finding a nice trail to walk on in the community, or spending time with other family and friends. We enjoy traveling when able, and most often find ourselves traveling up north where I am originally from. Ever since I began working in pediatric speech-language therapy, I have had the dream of having a private practice. This past year it became possible for me to pursue this dream and I am so thankful to have the support of my family.

I am constantly seeking further education opportunities to best help children experiencing speech, language, and feeding difficulties. My continuing education experiences include Neurodevelopmental (NDT) certification, NDT Baby Treatment, complex feeding disorders, handling and treatment of the rib cage, LAMP Words for Life, Beckman Oral Motor, Kaufman Speech to Language Protocol, and breathing courses by Mary Massery. I have also self-studied or taken short courses in DIR/Floortime and Lori Overland’s Sensory-Motor Approach to Feeding.

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Aimee Heiniger, MA, CF-SLP

Independent Contractor, with Thrive since September 2020

I’m a speech-language pathologist in my clinical fellowship year through the American-Speech-Language-Hearing Association and licensed in the state of Michigan. I graduated with my Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Grand Valley State University in 2019. I aim to create play-based, functional treatment sessions for each child and family. My clinical experience includes work with the pediatric population in outpatient and home settings. I have experience working with expressive/receptive language disorders; speech sound disorders; augmentative & alternative communication; childhood apraxia of speech; and autism spectrum disorder. I have a passion for early intervention and working alongside families and caregivers. My continuing education experience includes LAMP Words for Life, and I have also taken short courses and self-studied early childhood fluency disorders. I plan to further my education in all areas of my field, but especially in the areas of feeding/swallowing and the impact of sensory processing on speech/language development. When I'm not working, I enjoy spending my free time outside playing tennis and taking walks with my husband.

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Dalila Salas, MS, CCC-SLP

Independent Contractor, with Thrive since March 2021

I am a certified speech-language pathologist through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and licensed in the state of Michigan. I graduated with my Master's degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Grand Valley State University and my Bachelor's degree in Psychology and Neuroscience from Hope College. I am eager to continue my education this year in pediatric dysphagia (feeding/swallowing disorders) as well as childhood apraxia of speech and augmentative and alternative communication. It is my desire to create functional goals and treatment plans for each child and their family/caregivers as well as facilitate positive, play-based therapy sessions to reach those goals.

My clinical experience includes working with the pediatric and adult populations in school, home, outpatient and inpatient settings. I have specific pediatric experience working with: expressive and receptive language disorders, speech sound disorders, childhood apraxia of speech, fluency disorders, pragmatic/social communication disorders and dysphagia (feeding/swallowing disorders).

When I am not working, I am caring for my two year old rescue pup, Kobe! He (like many other two year olds) has a ton of energy and loves going on walks/runs. I also enjoy reading, traveling, and spending time with my family and friends.


Sharing what our clients in West Michigan have to say...

Since working with Miss Meghan, Crew has made huge progress! He is so excited for the days he gets to play/work with her. He watches out the window till she arrives and he runs outside to greet her. We are so thankful for Meghan and the time and effort she has put into Crew. He is a different child now that he’s learning how to communicate with us.

Mother of Crew, 2 year old seen for speech-language therapy

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Our experience with Meghan has been so positive and enjoyable. Our son had incredible progress with speech and feeding therapy in one years time. She was so patient, never pushed past the limit of the child, kind and gentle. She also equipped me as a parent to learn how to effectively manage things at home and provided ideas to help see improvement. Our son has had extremely negative experiences with anything medical related and his trust was rarely given. But he quickly learned to love and trust “Ms. Meghan”. He looked forward to every appointment (misses her still now that he is done!), he comfortably and confidently said bye as he went off on his own with her for appointments. This great positive experience has also transferred to giving other nurses or medical staff a chance at his trust, which has been so helpful. With Meghan he was able to overcome food aversions, become more efficient with chewing and swallowing, increase his volume intake, speak very clearly so anyone can understand him, and most importantly he is now 100% oral fed rather than tube fed after 2years. We would highly recommend Meghan because we know her passion and skills go hand in hand with helping children reach their goals!

Mother of James, 4 year old seen for speech-language and feeding therapy

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Meghan was instrumental in helping our son Connor learn to eat solid food. Her knowledge and friendly demeanor made therapy fun and highly effective. She was an invaluable resource for us as parents, providing the tools and support we needed to help Connor at home. We are so thankful for Meghan and would highly recommend her to any families facing feeding difficulties.

Mother of Connor, 1 year old seen for feeding therapy

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Meghan is absolutely fantastic! She started working with my medically complex four year old son last year. Meghan quickly formed a trusting relationship with him. Within one month of working with Meghan, he was babbling more than ever and he was drooling much less! My son doesn’t speak yet, but Meghan is working with him on all aspects of communication and accepts any form of communication that he uses. The big ones that my son is using right now are: sign language, his communication device with LAMP WFL, and making sounds when requesting something he wants. We’ve seen improvements in all areas since working with Meghan. She even works with him on functional play skills! Meghan is extremely knowledgeable about kiddos with complex speech and communication needs. In the rare circumstance that she doesn’t know how to proceed, she connects with someone who does, or she attends available trainings to find out! Another thing that I love about Meghan is that she is eager to collaborate with all of the people on your child’s team - school teachers, school therapists, and medical therapists.

Mother of client, 4 year old seen for speech-language therapy

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We reached out to Thrive because our daughter, Ruby, has multiple disabilities, and one of her challenges has been chewing and swallowing food and liquids. Ruby has been working with Meghan for a few months now, and we have noticed huge changes in Ruby's ability to chew and swallow, and a heightened awareness of her mouth, lips and tongue. Ruby has always been extremely sensitive to sensory input on her face and mouth, and did a lot of fussing when therapy first began. Meghan knows all the tricks to making therapy fun and successful. After just a couple weeks, Ruby was looking forward to her visits with Miss Meghan, and now tolerates the therapy exercises more and more as we continue. Since beginning feeding therapy with Thrive, Ruby is now able to chew solid foods more consistently, moves her mouth and tongue with greater versatility, explores her mouth more with her hands, and has even started experimenting with new sounds. We have been able to give her new foods that she wouldn't have been able to safely eat prior to starting her therapy sessions. She is so excited to get some new textures and tastes with her meals. I feel so trusting of Meghan to keep helping my daughter succeed, and I would highly recommend services through Thrive for anyone seeking feeding or speech therapy.

Mother of Ruby, 2 year old seen for feeding therapy

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BCBS, BCN, Priority Health, Priority Health Medicaid, Straight Medicaid, Children’s Special Health Care Services, Cigna

Insurance coverage with speech-language therapy is not guaranteed as insurance companies will often determine that developmentally-based deficits are not medically necessary. Thrive will provide an estimate of coverage and out of pocket costs but it is the client/family's responsibility to know their insurance coverage and pay for the services not covered by the insurance plan.

Other payment options include private pay or receipt of a superbill to submit for reimbursement under out-of-network coverage.


Click on a link below to learn more about developmental milestones in each topic area.

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Typically developing children use patterns of speech production to simplify their speech. Each individual speech sound has a researched age of acquisition.

Speech Sounds Speech Patterns
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Just as in speech sound acquisition, there are different skills in language expression and comprehension that are acquired as a child grows.

Language Checklist
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Play and Social-Emotional

Play helps teach children social rules, develop joint attention and engagement, problem solve, and better process emotions.

Play Checklist Social Checklist
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Feeding involves a variety of sensory experiences with new tastes and textures, and requires intact oral motor skills to safely handle eating and drinking.

Feeding Checklist


Please call or email us to discuss your concerns and determine the next steps. A physician referral and a copy of your insurance card are required to schedule an initial evaluation. Your clinician will discuss the current COVID policy before the first session.

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    Wyoming, MI 49519

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