Sunday, November 29, 2015

5 Things You Didn't Know About This SLP

This should be fun! I'm linking up with Jessica from The Speech Space to share some intimate details about me.

  1. I was older when I had children. While I met Jim when I was in my twenties we didn't start a family for many years. I was 37 when I had our first beauty, Nora and turned 39 two days after Mack was born. He was my birthday present. It was definitely a different experience being older, but at least I run with a young crowd! It keeps me youthful!
  2. I have an "addiction" to old glass and kitchen ware. I think I was born in the wrong time. I listen to popular standards and love 20s-40s decor. There is nothing cozier than listening to Bing Crosby on an old Bakelite radio and sipping coffee from a Fire King mug.
  3. I played the clarinet in the high school concert band, wind ensemble and marching band. One of my fondest memories is marching on the field at "Giants Stadium" in 1978 when our football team was in the state playoff. They lost their final game against Cliffside Park. It was a devastating loss. Isn't funny how we remember these details?
  4. I am a wannabe actress. I have participated in several local theater productions. My favorite, though was a play written by my friend Monique Robichaud called wRites of Reunion and performed at the The Little Church Theater of Holderness & Center for Creativity, Inc. I played the role of Charlotte. It was such a wonderful experience and I was thrilled to realize I could still memorize lines!
  5. I am a philatelist. Well sort of. I used to be much more organized with my stamps.  Now I just save them in baggies!

I hope I shed a little more light on who I am! I know I wear my heart on my sleeve, but you never know, there may be a surprise listed!

Check out Jessica's post for a lovely and generous $25.00 Amazon gift card. 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

I Needed Help (and I got it)!

I suspect we have all been in the situation I am about to describe, the situation where you feel you are at your wits end with a student/client. It's the kind of situation, where despite your best efforts, nothing seems to make a difference and what's even more distressing is that the situation often escalates.

I found myself in that scenario last school year and for a brief period this school year. For obvious reasons I won't offer too many specifics as I don't want to identify anyone. I will call my student "Joy." Suffice it to say I could make NO inroads with Joy. Everything I did was met with push back. I was frustrated, annoyed and just plain done. Every therapy session was an exercise in frustration. I began to dread her scheduled therapy session. Progress was nonexistent and the question of continuing services was brought up by many, including me. I know this can be a tinderbox of controversy; "When speech-language therapy is not productive, do we quit?" I just wasn't ready to give up. Joy was just a kid and I felt an obligation to make both a professional and human connection. I was in desperate need of advice. I talked to colleagues and mental health professionals. I read as much as I could, I did an ASHA self study, but made no progress.

Late in September our state organization, NHSLHA held our Fall Conference. I am fortunate to work with an amazing NHSLHA board, including the talented and funny Cass Chapman. At the Fall Conference, Cass introduced me to her business partner. Cass and Annie DiVello are the co-owners of New England Pediatric Services (find them here and here) which offers mental health counseling, occupational, speech, play and physical therapies. I began to speak to Annie about my challenges with Joy, in fact, just that week Joy had entered my room belching repeatedly and loudly and behaving in a confrontational manner. I was at a loss. Clearly no speech-language therapy was going to happen that day. I gave Annie my phone number, unsure as to what would follow and went home happily exhausted after a successful conference.

Later in the week Annie gave me a call (YAY!!!) and explained that with children similar to Joy she has found this descent to base behavior fairly common. Additionally, this adversarial posturing was also typical behavior. The challenge was going to be in my response. Annie suggested that rather than behaving "teacherly" I meet Joy at her level and spend some time truly establishing relationship. For me that meant that when Joy entered my room the next time belching, I challenged her to a belching contest. I downloaded a "fart" app and I became ten years old. I really wish I could paint a picture for you of Joy's reaction. It was priceless. Her icy demeanor cracked. That child reached down into her soul for the belch of the century and let it rip with utter abandon. For several weeks, therapy was very general. Following Annie's advice, there was little pressure. We did language-based crafts but there was no "direct" therapy. As Joy and I began entering into a relationship, I introduced more structured therapy activities, being mindful of her response. If her body language suggested anxiety or tension, I backed off and limited my questions and any perceived pressure for performance.

Since our initial belch-off, Joy and I have been been working well together. I walk a fine line between adult, speech-language pathologist, and ten year old. I don't judge. I don't reprimand. I leave my notion of what therapy should look like in the hall. I interact. I guide. I direct. I provide a space that allows for Joy's individual qualities. Annie's suggestions changed my work with Joy. I gave her the pseudonym "Joy" for a reason. I am no longer dreading my sessions beforehand and regretting them afterward. I am finding joy in my work with her.

As professionals, we might find ourselves in situations where we falter. Situations where we want to have the answers, but don't. Situations where we want to give up. Situations where asking for help may appear as an admission of a lack of no-how. That is just not the case! We cannot possibly know everything there is to know and in my adulthood I have no problem saying, "Help me. Please help me. I am floundering." Those with expertise in stuttering (I emailed Dr. Scott Yarrus last week), AAC (I emailed Gail Van Tatenhove last school year), selective mutism, ASD, dysphagia and so, so much more are ready and willing to share their knowledge and experience. Just ask. I needed help, and I got it. Thank you so much, Annie!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Frenzied SLPs: Gobble up Holiday Goodies

This week the Frenzied SLPs are bringing you a linky topic that is wide open: holiday goodies. First and foremost I would like to thank Sparklle SLP, SLP Runner, and Speech Universe for all the behind the scenes work making this link up possible. They are a well-oiled machine! Posts can include all things holiday; freebies, products, craftivities, and favorite therapy ideas. So dive into that creative SLP vault and bring out your favorites. I am so excited to see what you share.

I have a few trusty activities I would like to share with you. The first is a craftivity I did with my middle school students last year; holiday pom-poms. This activity covered so many therapy targets including vocabulary, direction following, executive functioning, narrative development, and plain old fun. You can grab it here for free.
Thank you Nora for the beautiful photo shop collage! 
My very talented and creative friend Pam of Chit Chat and Small Talk continues to inspire me with her professional know-how and creativity. Pam has authored many, many, many products I love and use frequently, but her Find It On the Go products are exceptional. Pam has created a fall and winter edition that are chock full of versatile activities for your little clients. These products address seasonal vocabulary, concepts, syntax, articulation, direction following and virtually anything else you can think of. I am particularly happy the winter version contains pages for Hanukkah! They are awesome. Winter Find It On the Go can be purchased here and Fall Find It On the Go here, both for an extremely reasonable price. I have requested a spring version, but Pam isn't quite ready for that one, yet :)
Grab this beauty here!
Every year a group of talented and generous SLPs compile an e-catalog of both freebies and featured products. This wonderful compilation is just what the busy SLP needs during the holidays when he/she is operating on overload. I personally have used many of the products listed, free and paid, (we won't talk about my TPT compulsion). Given December is a fairly short month, you should be good to go if you are able to download even a handful of the products listed.
Gifts of Gab is available here.
With so much emphasis on Christmas some of our students who celebrate in other ways may enjoy attention to their celebrations. ALL my students enjoy playing dreidel and over the years I have compiled a nice collection as well as a treasure trove of gelt. It also makes it extra special when chocolate coins are used. For those of you who don't have a dreidel I have created a version that uses cards and follows the same rules as the spinning top version. Have fun!

Available here!
The Frenzied SLPs and I hope you link up! Just follow the instructions below! Please remember to link back to the Frenzied SLPs Facebook page.

My hope for all you, my dear devoted readers, is that this holiday season you are able to enjoy time with your friends and family and remember, take time to stop and smell the cookies!

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Frenzied SLPs: Thankful and Grateful Blog Hop

The Frenzied SLPs are taking a detour from our regular linky party and scheduling a scavenger hunt style blog hop. We are taking this opportunity to pause and reflect on our many blessings. 

"Great gifts mean great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities!") Luke 12:48 (MSG) With that thought in mind we are going to share with you, our dear readers by inviting you to participate in our giveaway. Three lucky winners will be chosen to each receive a $10 Teachers Pay Teachers gift card and a $10 Starbucks gift card.

Here is how you can participate. 
1. Read each Thankful and Grateful post from The Frenzied SLPs!
2. Collect the character at the bottom of each post. Don't forget to write down the characters in order to reveal the secret phrase. 
3. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of any post by entering the phrase. 
4. Visit The Frenzied SLPs Facebook Page for an extra entry. 
5. Three winners will be chosen after the rafflecopter closes on 11/13/2015. 

Where do I begin in listing my gratitude? I think I have to start with thanking God, for all my blessings are by His grace.

Anyone who knows me, knows my first and foremost job is that of wife and Mom. I am so grateful for my beautiful and brilliant 17 year old daughter, handsome and talented 15 year old son, and devoted and loving husband (age withheld to protect the old man). Life has slowed down for me in terms of my kids' needs, they seem to be fairly self-sufficient and spend most of their time at school. They are bright and motivated and have a strong value system. I could not be more pleased with the young man and woman they have become. My husband of nearly 22 years is a good man and he loves me. What more needs to be said?

I have so much to be grateful for and I was thinking about how to condense my list when I have all of my professional blessings and all my personal blessings. Well, are they really so different? I am so thankful for all my friends, the ones I see often and the ones I have never met. As it turns out these friends bless my life in the same ways; with laughter, with support, a hug (sometimes across the miles), and with knowledge. Leann, Bridget, Norah, Tonia, Allison, Carol, Sparklle, Pam, Laura, Amy, Mary, Jennifer, Erik and on and on and on. I could fill three pages with the names of the people who grace my life. I sometimes wonder what I did to deserve such friends.
I am also really, really thankful for Mom's stuffing recipe. It's actually my Grandmother's recipe, but I always think of it as Mom's. I'm happy to share it with you (in her words)!

Nana's Turkey Stuffing for large turkey
2 loaves stuffing bread-crumbled, soaked in 2 cups warm water and 2 chicken bouillon cubes-more if required, but not enough to make bread soggy- you can add water from 2 cans mushroom bits
saute 3 chopped onions in butter
add chopped parsley
add 2 cans drained mushroom bits
add 3/4 tsp poultry seasoning-go light on this-it's potent
add pepper, salt
when onions are golden and transparent remove from heat
stir in moist bread-work it with hands if necessary so there are no lumps or dry heaps
season bird in and out with salt, pepper and ginger-butter inside
stuff lightly and truss
butter outside and roast as desired-either with or without foil-but wrap wings and legs in foil at least.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I have modified this a bit using chicken broth and fresh mushrooms as well as adding chopped pecans, craisins, and a little nutmeg.

Finally, I am so incredibly thankful for my family: my brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews. You are my history, you are my story.
Grab my letter for the scavenger hunt right here! Once you discover the completed phrase, enter the giveaway at the end of this post! Good luck and have fun!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Strength & Weakness: The Good News-Bad News Paradigm

"My attitude is that if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn the perceived weakness into a strength." Michael Jordan

Thanks to SLP Runner for posting this great topic and encouraging others to assess their perceived weaknesses (start here to read all the posts). For me this is an easy topic, for I have spent the best part of my life with my soft-white underbelly exposed, focusing on all that I do wrong, both personally and professionally. My motive was to stay in the place I was comfortable, the place that said I was wrong, inept, incompetent. This had great ramifications for me professionally as I tended to believe others valued neither me as a professional nor my work.  Of course I wasn't there ALL the time, but enough that my weaknesses were a haze clouding my overall perceptions of my strengths. I recently wrote about how our stories, our past experiences shape the professionals we have become (you can find that post here).

In rereading that post as well as spending the last 50 years realizing my strengths I think that my biggest weakness was fear. Fear of being wrong, fear of having to leave my comfort zone, fear of admitting I didn't have all the answers, fear of not being heard or valued as the all-knowing Speech-Language Pathologist. Fear is insidious and it can take on a life of its own, as it did for me. However, living along side my fear was faith and an ability to be introspective. Those qualities spurred me to soldier on. It's yin and yang, seemingly contradictory and oppositional forces that are also complimentary. My fears yielded courage. My desire to take risks became paramount and superseded any fear of recrimination. My courage allowed me to look inward at the cause of the fear and not be paralyzed by it. The bad news was I was afraid to be a professional who could be wrong. The good news was fear and courage formed a dynamic relationship and courage whittled away at my fears and I learned I didn't have to have all the answers. Ironically, becoming vulnerable made me strong. Being quiet gave me a voice. Yielding gave me power. It is always a good practice for me to look at my skill sets and when I do I always see a juxtaposition of the yin and yang. Fear and courage, silence and voice, vulnerability and power, resistance and surrender. The weakness creates the strength, although the first step should be embracing the weakness and looking at it as the beginning and not the end result. What follows can be liberating!

Growth begins when we begin to accept our own weakness, Jean Vanier

Monday, November 2, 2015

A Day in the Life of Annie Doyle

I am visiting at Speech to the Core and participating in Lyndsey's "Day in the Life series! What fun to read how we all spend our days. It is most reassuring to see how similar we all are and how committed we are to the profession! To read more head on over to Speech to the Core. See you there!