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Hidden Gems: Meet Crystal Sanford of Sanford Speech and Learning Center

Today we’d like to introduce you to Crystal Sanford.  

Hi Crystal, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I started my career as a Speech Pathologist. I have actually worked in this field in some form for over 20 years. 

In 2016, after my daughter was identified as autistic, I started our small but mighty advocacy practice, Sanford Autism Advocacy Group. I wanted to create a space where fellow Autism parents could find empowerment, community, and hope through the special education process. 

But I couldn’t leave my long-time passion for providing speech therapy to children of all abilities. As a result, in 2022, I opened the Sanford Speech and Learning Center. We believe that ALL children can learn, given the right resources. 

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
Running two businesses has been challenging, but luckily there is overlap in the services we offer through both. That helps a lot. 

Also, this was my first experience with opening a brick-and-mortar facility. It took many hours of scouring websites to find the right furniture, materials, and design. My staff and family were so instrumental in helping to develop out our space. 

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Sanford Speech and Learning Center?
Our goal in opening the Sanford Speech and Learning Center is to create a “one-stop shop” for neurodiverse families, just like my own and most of our employees. 

We offer speech therapy, early intervention speech services, social peer groups, autism parent activities, and more. 

What makes us unique is that we are parents ourselves and understand the unique challenges and blessings that come with parenting neurodiverse children. 

We are also interested in “changing the narrative” regarding what successful parenting looks like. Lastly, we strive for innovation. So, we are always considering what additional services we can offer to our families. 

Any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general?
I am a big proponent of networking and “building your tribe”. We are better together is my motto. So, I have intentionally made connections with like-minded professionals through LinkedIn, SCORE, and local entrepreneur groups. 

I also have scheduled many Zoom sessions with professionals who have a similar passion and vibe, as we have connected through Instagram and Facebook. 

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