Michelle L. W. Dawson, MS CCC-SLP, CLC is a speech-language pathologist, fierce advocate, certified lactation consultant, best-selling author, world-traveling speaker, top-ranking podcast host, and your toddler’s best buddy. Michelle has a deep passion for helping those affected by pediatric feeding disorders and the professionals who serve this population.
Michelle earned her Master’s of Science degree in Communicative Sciences and Disorders from James Madison University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude. Upon completion of her degree, she accepted a position as the first full-time SLP in the history of Riverside Walter Reed Hospital. Michelle has since worked as an Early Intervention Speech-Language Pathologist in the homes of hundreds of families as well as her private practice, focusing on the treatment of medically fragile and complex etiology cases. In order to treat her younger patients more holistically, Michelle became a Certified Lactation Consultant along with her continuing education in speech pathology that earned her seventh ACE Awards.
During the height of the pandemic, Michelle joined Francis Marion University, joyfully serving as the Coordinator Clinical Education and Clinical Assistant Professor for the Master in Speech-Language Pathology Program. She founded the first Pediatric Feeding and Swallowing Clinic at the university level in South Carolina history. Through this endeavor, she helped shape the next generation of SLPs to embrace an interdisciplinary approach to evidence-based practice to best serve those affected by pediatric feeding and swallowing disorders. For this endeavor, she was awarded the 2021 Louis M. DiCarlo Award for Clinical Achievement from the South Carolina Speech, Language, and Hearing Association and the 2021 State Clinical Achievement Award from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
Most recently, Michelle has joined Therapeutic Designs and Services, Inc, in Hartsville, SC, part-time, so that she could fully embrace a healthy work-life balance! She can be found treating pediatric patients Monday through Wednesday, with a focus on addressing the needs of individuals with complex medical backgrounds requiring pediatric feeding, swallowing, and AAC intervention, all via interprofessional practice with the dynamic OTs and PTs found there. Thursdays and Fridays are dedicated to bridging the gap between research to practice by recording new episodes of “First Bite”, often with her co-host Erin Forward, MSP CCC-SLP, CLC, and world-renowned speakers from different disciplines. Michelle’s mission is to bring current evidence-based practice directly to the treating clinician in an easily digestible format…pun intended!
Michelle is an accomplished lecturer who has written and given numerous lectures (far too many to list) on topics across the continuum of care of pediatric feeding disorders everywhere from South Carolina to Alaska to the Caribbean. She hosts the acclaimed weekly PodCourse “First Bite: Fed, Fun, Functional”, which addresses best practices for the Pediatric Clinician in Early Intervention and Home Health along with a few limited-episode series.
In 2021, Michelle released her first book, Chasing the Swallow: Truth, Science, and Hope for Pediatric Feeding and Swallowing Disorders which debuted at #1 on Amazon in the audiology & speech pathology category and has sold in 6 countries. This instant hit “dispels the myth that behavioral feeding aversions are the most common source of a child’s refusal to eat. Michelle guides the reader on how to uncover the true medical etiology driving their patient’s pediatric feeding disorder by engaging in interprofessional education and practice with the care team. Chasing the Swallow serves as a compass rose on how to make your professional voice heard in the process of creating a holistic village, embracing a variety of members from allied health to nonprofit community support, for each individual child’s journey. In true Michelle fashion, readers are inspired to lean in and take the next step to advocate for each infant, toddler, and child on their caseload, all while laughing through her relatable and heartfelt personal experiences.”
She holds the belief that if one wishes to see a change in the world, then they should be the source of that change. As such, Michelle has made a positive change in South Carolina through her volunteer efforts with the South Carolina Speech-Language and Hearing Association where she has served 6 years in multiple leadership positions including President and Convention Chair. In addition, she has been a champion of nonprofits and the under-served through her work with Feeding Matters.
When Michelle is not revolutionizing the pediatric SLP world, she’s a wife and a mom to Pack Dawson. Her husband of 10 years, Christian, and her two boys, “Goose” and “Bear” are the real center of her world. (I also have Chewbacca and Miss Dogwood). She is an avid gardener, knitter, collector of thimbles, and baker of all things delectable…with Christmas Cookies being a personal Pack Dawson favorite.