Alum Spotlight: Christina Foto Nelson (MS ’14)

Photo of Christina Nelson standing in front of the door to a classroom.

Christina Foto Nelson, alumna of NYU Steinhardt’s MS in Communicative Sciences and Disorders program, is a speech-language pathologist at PS 84 in Brooklyn, NY. She is a part of the school’s ASD Nest inclusion program, a collaborative program between the NYC Department of Education and NYU Steinhardt for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in community schools.

Christina works primarily with K-4 students with ASD, utilizing specialized social interventions to engage them in authentic, shared experiences, foster peer connections, and develop problem-solving abilities.

We spoke with Christina to learn more about her work and the advice she has for future speech-language pathologists entering the field.

How do you think your time at NYU Steinhardt shaped your career path?

My first field placement experience at PS 165 in the ASD Nest program truly shaped my career as a speech-language pathologist. During my time there, I witnessed the value of the program and solidified my passion for working with students with ASD.

What techniques do you use to engage your ASD students in the speech-language process?

At the beginning of every year, I gather information about what my students are interested in and plan long-term projects surrounding their areas of interest. For example, one of my second-grade groups all share an interest in outer space. Across several months, they worked together to make a telescope, build a rocket ship, and create imaginary planets and aliens. After we completed those projects, we celebrated by traveling in our rocket ship to go on “space adventures” to visit the different planets we created!

What is your favorite memory from your time at NYU Steinhardt?

It’s hard to choose, but one of my favorite memories was being assigned my first client in the department’s on-campus clinic. After years of coursework, it was finally time to put my knowledge into practice!

What advice would you give to current students preparing to become speech-language pathologists

Do not underestimate the power of investing time and energy in building a positive relationship with all of the students or clients on your caseload. When you have a strong foundation to work from, you can push them to do the tasks that might be the most challenging.

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