MISSION & VALUES
Supporting Authentic Communication for Everyone
A Note About Language: Out of respect for the expressed preference of the autistic community, we use identity-first language (i.e. "autistic person" instead of "person with autism") as a default. When an individual expresses a different preference (e.g. person-first language like "person with autism"), we will of course honor that preference.
Evidence-Based Practice: We follow the 3-part model of evidence-based practice (EBP), which requires that our practice be informed by: external scientific evidence (i.e. academic research), clinical experience (i.e. the individual therapist's knowledge and skills), and client perspective and values.
We do not recommend therapy approaches based on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) due to concerns about the quality of its research base as well as the expressed concerns of the autistic community. Please see the Resources page for links to additional information on this topic.
Neurodiversity: We strive to operate from the social model of disability as opposed to a deficit-based or medical model. We are still learning, so we are always open to feedback about how we're doing on this front. We continually pursue professional development and education from neurodivergent voices.
Sarah McKim Thomas, MA, CCC-SLP
Owner, Speech-Language Pathologist, AAC Specialist
Sarah McKim Thomas has been a language nerd for as long as she can remember. As a child, she loved spelling bees, learning to count in Japanese and German, and attempting to write novels (if you want to embarrass her, ask her about the epic fantasy novel "Wolf Song" that she penned at the age of 11).
In college, she studied Linguistic Anthropology because purely theoretical Linguistics struck her as too dry and detached from the everyday, real-life use that brings language to life. From these studies she learned to value both cultural and linguistic diversity, especially in relation to the Deaf community and American Sign Language (ASL).
After earning her BA in Linguistic Anthropology from Brown University, she planned to become an ASL interpreter and possibly pursue academics as a linguistics researcher. However, a job as a tutor for a girl with Kleefstra Syndrome introduced her to the world of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), and her fate was sealed.
She returned to grad school and earned her MA in Speech-Language Pathology at the University of Kansas, participating in a fellowship grant that required intensive and specialized training in Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) intervention for autistic children and young adults. Through her varied work experiences – including providing services in homes, schools, tutoring centers, and private practice clinics – she has developed a particular passion for working with teenagers and young adults as well as individuals of all ages with complex communication needs.
Sarah is an enthusiastic lifelong learner and continuously seeks out professional development opportunities, earning the ASHA Award for Continuing Education (ACE) multiple times. She has applied her passion for learning about cultural and linguistic diversity into learning from the autistic community and developing her ability to provide neurodiversity-affirming services.
In her spare time, Sarah enjoys riding and training her horse, playing story-heavy tabletop and computer games, listening to podcasts, and singing in the car.
Mallorie Guerra, MS, CCC-SLP
Mallorie was interested in speech and language development from a very young age, asking other kids how they knew what certain words meant and enjoying learning German phrases and pronunciation from her sister’s exchange student. As an adolescent in beautiful southern Oregon, Mallorie enjoyed spending time outside, writing for and editing school newspapers, and learning even more German phrases. At college, Mallorie dabbled in linguistics, second language acquisition, and teaching. She eventually decided speech pathology was the career for her, as it combined some of her favorite things: human sounds, human language, and helping other humans. Following her undergraduate training in communication disorders and German (how could she resist?), Mallorie received a Master's degree in speech-language pathology from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon.
Previously, Mallorie worked with adults in an inpatient setting, specializing in swallowing disorders and speech and language disorders for people affected by strokes, brain injuries, and progressive neurological diseases. Mallorie’s most interesting and rewarding moments in her inpatient clinical practice involved patients with complex communication and swallowing needs. Mallorie joined the Conduit Advocacy & Therapy team in January 2022 to continue to pursue improved communication abilities for all.
Outside of the fun she has at work, Mallorie enjoys traveling, playing sports, reading books about Ernest Shackleton, listening to stand-up comedy, and speaking German every chance she gets.
Hannah "HP" Phelps, MS, CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist, AAC Specialist
HP grew up in the Seattle area and, when asked as a child what color the sky was, reportedly responded "grey," as is usually accurate around here. As a kid, she loved reading, asking too many questions, finding patterns, and pretending to be lost in the woods. She still does.
After heading to the east coast to study linguistics at Yale University, HP was drawn back to Seattle's grey skies, where she worked as a paraeducator and first encountered augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). Her experiences in both self-contained and inclusive classrooms revealed the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of how students with communication-related disabilities are treated. Along the way, she acquired nonspeaking mentors and friends whose lived experiences changed the way she thought about and interacted with students. This motivated her to learn about disability justice, ableism, trauma, and communication, with the hope of being part of “the good” however she could.
She ended up at Penn State, where she got her master’s degree in speech-language pathology with a focus on AAC and literacy. She developed a clinical approach based on the importance of relational safety, empowering self-determination and self-advocacy, looking for what intrinsically motivates communication, and relying on the “least dangerous assumption” when making decisions. This approach is a constant work-in-progress. She makes mistakes daily and aims to grow by listening to and learning from her clients, their families, and the people whose experiences most closely match those of her clients.
HP identifies as neurodivergent and hopes that her experiences and those of her autistic and otherwise neurodivergent friends help her connect with clients and their families. It also means that she appreciates directness in communication, puzzles to solve, opportunities for sensory regulation, and plenty of alone time. These days, along with her enduring childhood passions, HP loves dogs (especially her own dog, Charlotte), learning languages, foraging for plants and mushrooms, and watching too much YouTube. Also lists!
Garrett Wilkes, MS, CCC-SLP
Growing up with an Autistic sibling, Garrett has fond memories of doing different activities than what other kids might have done, such as turning on the garden hose to chase the water flowing down the gutter, recalling movie quotes across the dinner table, and watching the same documentary about the Titanic for the 427th time. He grew up surrounded by the Autistic community in the ‘90s and early 00’s, observing his sibling and his parents try to navigate a world that was just beginning to learn about Autism. He remembers the struggles, the triumphs, the epiphanies, and the mistakes; most of all, he remembers the professionals that made his sibling’s life better. In college Garrett knew he wanted to do something to pay it forward, and that’s how he discovered Speech Therapy.
Garrett completed both his Bachelor's and Master’s degrees in Communication Disorders (as well as a Minor in Spanish, in which he is a fluent speaker) at Brigham Young University on the lap of the Utah mountains. After graduating, he moved to the flat farmlands of Central Washington where he worked at the Achieve Center in Moses Lake. Later he moved to the greener side of Washington where he worked at Bothell Pediatric & Hand Therapy. He has worked with children from ages 2 to 21 and has had experience with a variety of communication and feeding difficulties, including articulation, social language, fluency, and literacy disorders.
Thankfully the world has learned a lot more about Autism since Garrett’s childhood thanks to ongoing research and the work of Autistic self-advocates. Garrett is a firm believer in focusing treatment on the child’s interests and strengths, and in helping others learn about neurodiversity. He is committed to keep his ear tuned toward the Autistic community and to learn more every day about neurodiversity-affirming approaches. He aims to create a treatment environment that both his sibling and his parents would be proud of.
When he is not working you can find him inside reading novels, playing video games, and embarking on his next Dungeons & Dragons campaign. If he is not at home, he is either hiking in the woods, sipping a cozy cup of coffee, or visiting the nearest cat cafe.