Our Team

Who We Are

The Speak Freely team is a group of smart, ambitious, approachable professionals who are joined by a commitment to excellence (and we’re not too humble to admit it!)

Our clinical team is comprised of the following experts:

  • Speech-language pathologists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Therapy assistants
  • Educational consultants
  • Behavioural therapists

We work closely with, psychologists, educators, physicians, music therapists and other professionals, and welcome their input. Most of our services are covered through extended health plans.

Joyce Hignett MSc.SLP(C), Reg. CASLPO

Speech Language Pathologist

Joyce is the owner of Speak Freely Therapy Services as well as the primary speech-language pathologist. She is a born and raised prairie girl (Go Riders!) who attended university in Saskatoon and North Dakota, earning her Master’s Degree in 1990.

After years of working in various settings (hospitals, schools, and clinics), it became clear that working with other professionals in a trans-disciplinary setting was the best ‘fit’ for Joyce.

Professionally, she loves to be very thorough, analyzing why clients present with various difficulties, and brainstorming and collaborating with her colleagues. Making all that analysis translate into positive changes for her clients is the best feeling!

Since her children have grown and left home, Joyce and her husband have cured their empty nest syndrome by increasing their pets to 3 dogs.

“I am so proud of the amazingly talented team that has evolved over time. Being the creator and nucleus of Speak Freely is the culmination of years of hard work. Some days are awe-inspiring, others are challenging, but it is always, always satisfying and gratifying.”

Patricia O’Connor

Educational Consultant

We are thrilled to have Pat on-board as our consulting educational consultant. From frontline classroom teaching (32 years as an educator), to consulting with families and teachers, to developing programs and doing training across Canada, Pat has done it all! Most recently, she has begun to focus on the transitional challenges of young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders, particularly Asperger’s, as they navigate the world of post-secondary education, employment, life skills and social relationships.

We love Pat’s spunky Irish energy and her ability to answer all our questions about IEP’s, school programs, advocacy, social networks and pretty much anything else related to Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Learn more about Pat’s commitment and work in the field of autism by visiting her website.

Tracy Wauchope CDA

Therapy Assistant

Tracy is our most experienced therapy assistant. After many years in the customer service and training end of the IT field, she decided to stay home to raise her three sons.

Returning back to the work force brought with it new challenges, but one certainty… a desire to work with children. Tracy wanted to translate people and service skills into service that really makes a difference.

A return to school for Georgian College’s Communicative Disorders Assistant post-graduate program resulted in her new career and a new home at Speak Freely Therapy Services. And with three boys of her own, there are absolutely no challenges in a therapy session that she can’t handle! No wonder all her clients love and respect her so much!

“I often reflect back on the first day that I met some of our clients and the gains they have made since then.  I know that Speak Freely therapy makes a difference.”

Nicole Skipper

Nicole comes to the Speak Freely team with solid experience as an IBI instructor therapist and a background in psychology in addition to Communication Disorders. She is stellar at dealing with behavioural issues as they arise in therapy sessions, responding and redirecting as needed to get the best from her clients. Quiet but mighty, Nicole is an integral part of the team.

Nicole is recently married but has not yet appeased the staff requests for a new “office baby”. She has, however, become one of the many staff members with a multitude of animals in her house (three cats and one dog).

“All of us enjoy working with the clients and families just as much as we enjoy hoarding pets!”

Jaime Allan

Jaime is the face behind the desk, the voice on the phone, and the keeper of the lollipops. The saying “Keep calm and carry on” could have been written about her. Jaime is eternally cool, calm, collected and positive. All the clients love her and the team does too. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to clone the support staff that make the rest of us look good?

Jaime keeps very busy with her husband, step-daughter and on-the-go toddler, Luc. She is used to regular requests for a new “office baby”.

“Life is like a bowl of suckers. Sometimes the colour you want is gone, but it’s still a sweet treat.”

Vivienne Dawney

Therapy Assistant

Vivienne is a busy soccer mom (soon to be facing an empty nest), who joined the Speak Freely team with a background in child development and education in addition to Communication Disorders. She provides the perfect balance of creative fun with a no-nonsense approach to therapy.  There hasn’t been a client yet who can resist her blue sparkly shoes and “big orange bucket” of activities.

Vivienne is another of the ‘pet hoarders’ on staff, with 3 dogs with big personalities sharing the house with Vivienne, her husband and daughter.

“As my own baby is growing up and no longer needs me, I have filled the void with all ‘my children’ at Speak Freely. Each one is precious to me and I take pride in all their growth.”

Joan Hawkins-Wong

Speech-Language Pathologist

Joan is an amazing speech-language pathologist with a wealth of experience in school boards and community care. She comes to us on a part-time basis and “fixes” every oral-motor and speech concern that we throw at her.

In the rest of her life, Joan is busily working on her master’s degree in Jungian-approach therapy, and keeping up with the activities of her husband and son.

Heidi Flynn

Music Therapist

With the voice of an angel and endless patience, Heidi (and her staff) is a huge asset to the Speak Freely team and we are pleased that she houses her office with us in the clinic. She is not your average musician, with a degree in music therapy from Laurier University. Heidi has experience with all ages of individuals and spends her time between long-term care facilities supporting seniors and work in the clinic with children and youth with special needs.

Heidi has worked with Joyce Hignett to create the Music Speaks program and the two professionals consult often regarding new song ideas, as well as strategies and programs that would benefit clients.

Heidi and her husband have two young sons that occupy their time when she is not busy building her business and supporting her caseload. You can learn more about Heidi’s company, Music Therapy Services of Simcoe County by visiting her website.

Lee Abram-Sendall

Therapy Assistant

Lee became a part of our team in 2012, when she impressed Joyce so much during her student placement in the Communication Disorders Assistant program, that she was invited to join the Speak Freely family. Lee’s skill set includes a solid background working as an educational assistant with children presenting with a wide range of needs and some very strong computer skills. She is very adaptable and unflappable, making her a good fit with nearly every client.

Outside of her jobs in the school system and at Speak Freely, Lee has taken on a new job as mom to baby JJ. And, no surprise here, she and her husband are the proud owners of two beautiful Labrador retrievers….perhaps being a dog owner is a prerequisite to working in the clinic??

Amanda Baysarowich

Amanda is the owner of IBI Behavioural Services, and works closely with the Speak Freely team. Her company offers ABA and IBI to families with children with ASD, PDD-NOS, and other developmental delays, and her services area approved as a DFO provider through Kinark and TPAS. She supervises her own team of trained therapists who work alongside her to provide one-to-one direct therapy to children with ASD. Currently Amanda is working under the direct supervision of clinical psychologists within each regional program.

In regards to background, Amanda completed her Developmental Services Worker (DSW) diploma in 2006 at Georgian College, followed by her Addictions: Treatment and Prevention post graduate degree in 2007. Amanda gained interest in the field of Autism, where she went on to complete her Autism Behavioral Science diploma through George Brown College. In addition to all this education, Amanda has completed the ministry mandated IBI/ABA modules. Amanda began her IBI/ABA training in 2006 when she began working at an autism center-based company in the York Region Area, and was very eager to continually learn the ins and outs of Applied Behavior Analysis focusing in on the Intensive Behavior Intervention (IBI).  Her compassion, commitment and dedication to the field of autism and behavior analysis has grown immensely through the years. Amanda has a busy life with her husband and young son and Labrador retriever, Maui.

Crystal McEwan

Crystal is one of the more recent additions to the Speak Freely team. Having graduated from the Communicative Disorders program with Vivienne, Jill and Nicole, it must have been fate that she was referred to Joyce and shortly after joined the team. As it turns out, it was a perfect fit.

Crystal has experience working with children in clinics in the Toronto and Richmond Hill regions, as well as with the Simcoe Catholic District School Board, focusing on speech and language treatment. In addition to her clinical background, Crystal has extensive experience working as an Educational Assistant with children with a variety of needs, supporting them in the school environment. Recently, Crystal has become an Applied Behavior Analysis Worker with the Simcoe County District School Board, where she supports high school students in their last year of school transitioning to life after school. Crystal is very creative and energetic, making her sessions fun and active for all children.

Outside of her work with the Bayview Transition Center and Speak Freely, Crystal enjoys spending time decorating her new home in Orillia and caring for her Border Collie Labrador puppy. Crystal also enjoys a healthy and active lifestyle, which includes eating vegetables over chocolate… most of the time.

“ The first time I met Joyce I knew Speak Freely was where I was meant to be and the place I should share my passion of supporting children to reach their highest potential.”

Join Our Team

We are always on the look-out for professionals who can add
a new level of skill and service to our team.

Currently, we are accepting resumes for:

  • Experienced Communicative Disorders Assistant
  • Experienced Pediatric Physiotherapists
  • Experienced Pediatric Occupational Therapists

If you feel that you could be a good fit for the Speak Freely family,
please forward your resume in confidence to joyce@speakfreelytherapy.ca


“Joyce Hignett and her staff are knowledgeable and thorough. They know when to push and when to let up. My child gets the full undivided attention of his therapist when he is at Speak Freely and I find he learns more in his one hour session than I ever expected. My child has been with Speak Freely Therapy Services since opening.”

– parent

“There are no ulterior motives at Speak Freely Therapy Services. These are dedicated professionals who give 100% of themselves with the best interest of your child in mind. Highly expert, friendly, compassionate, with a high degree of integrity: I trust them. Our son has been a regular there for over a year and the gains are amazing. He has grown so much with their help. We’ve used both the OT and speech services and highly, highly recommend.”

– JJ, parent and teacher

“As an educational consultant who has worked with Joyce Hignett over a period of years, I have become aware of her dedication and determination to provide the most comprehensive and effective strategies possible in order to improve the speech/communication issues of her clients. I have been particularly impressed with her very direct, practical approach and that she understands the importance of providing a functional, meaningful context for communication as an integral part of her service.”

– LN, teacher and independent consultant

Our Office

149 Welham Road, Unit 19
Barrie, ON L4N 8Y3

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