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September 21, 2021

The Role of Helping Ourselves in Our Call to Help Others

by Amina Dreessen, CF-SLP

“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting our time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” – Lila Watson

Over the last two years, I completed my master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology. While my master’s program was incredibly rigorous and taught me many important things about speech and language, I found myself noticing by the end of it that we had failed to learn the most important thing of all: that being a good clinician is as much about helping yourself as it is about helping others.  Perhaps this is something that an academic program can’t really teach, and so I’m grateful to the life experience that has brought me to this awareness as I begin my first year as a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP).  By telling a piece of my personal story here, I hope to illuminate for fellow SLPs, clients and their family members — and anyone interested in communication in general — what I mean when I say that an SLP’s liberation is bound up with the liberation of the people we work to help.

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September 21, 2021

Getting to Know Our Clinicians: Meet Amina

speech IRL is unwaveringly dedicated to the clients we serve, and to implementing their uniqueness and individuality as the foundation for how we assist them in their communicative journeys.

Amina Dreessen is especially dedicated to this ideal.

A Social Communication Therapist for speech IRL, Amina takes a particular interest in enhancing the expressive abilities of autistic individuals, a passion she attributes to her brother. After witnessing the range of therapists who assisted him with his communication needs, Amina’s own fire was sparked.

As she got older, this original inspiration was strengthened through both personal and professional circumstances. Her time shadowing a speech therapist inspired her to pursue graduate studies, and her experiences as a dancer helped her become intimately familiar with the connection between movement, speech, and all the ways humans express themselves. 

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August 16, 2021

A Different Kind of Speech Therapy: Listening

All of the important things I’ve come to know about speech therapy I learned through my clients.

Today’s story is about the therapeutic power of listening

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One of my most impactful client-teachers was a man with a TBI (traumatic brain injury). He was a very successful professional, decorated with awards of recognition in his industry. He had sustained an workplace injury and was diagnosed with a "mild" TBI. One year out, he was still experiencing difficulty with memory, sensory processing, neurogenic stuttering, and attention fatigue. Formerly a confident and accomplished public speaker, he had now developed significant anxiety and shame around even the simplest of communication interactions, like ordering coffee or conversing with friends. Since the accident, he was receiving increasingly negative responses to his communication, even from family and colleagues. 

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August 16, 2021

Why Do Teens Develop A Stutter?

Stuttering most often begins in early childhood, during the preschool years. Studies typically define this as between the ages of two and five years old. While it can be alarming when a young child begins to struggle with speaking, most people know that this is relatively common among young children. Next steps are easy to figure out: talk to your doctor, consult a speech-language pathologist. In most cases, children will naturally recover without the need for therapy. 

But what if a person starts to stutter when they are twelve? Fifteen? Nineteen? What’s that about? Stuttering doesn’t just happen suddenly to adolescents or young adults...right? 

The short version: Yes, sometimes stuttering does start in adolescence-- even the late teen years. NO, this isn’t always psychogenic (a result of trauma) or neurogenic (result of a brain injury). Sometimes it’s just regular, garden-variety, childhood onset stuttering that decided to show up later than usual. 

It can be tricky to track down information on the cause of a newly stuttering teenager. Families who find themselves in this situation can be panicked, seeking MRIs from neurologists to rule out brain tumors, and desperate for answers when the doctors say everything looks normal. This is not normal!

So. Let’s talk about this. Late-childhood onset stuttering.

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July 20, 2021

A Different Voice: What To Do When Your Patient Stutters

The first place I went for help regarding my stuttering was a psychologist. On the surface, it may not make much sense, but it made perfect sense to me. Sometimes I had difficulty talking, and sometimes I didn’t. I could say the words fine when I was by myself, but I would block on all of them when someone else was around. My stuttering caused and was caused by anxiety, frustration, embarrassment, and anticipation. It was a vicious cycle. Because of this, I fully believed the cause of my stuttering was psychological. 

People who stutter often end up in the hands of psychologists, but should stuttering be discussed in psychotherapy? If so, how? What is the best counseling approach for people who stutter? How do you talk about it if you don’t know a lot about it? 

It’s complicated. Good speech therapy for stuttering addresses the psycho-social components of stuttering. However, some people need additional support for other mental health concerns which may or may not be related to stuttering. Due to the significant life impact stuttering can have and the co-occurrence of depression and anxiety amongst people who stutter, it is common for folks to be in both psycho-therapy and speech therapy. The overlap between the role of a psychologist and the role of a speech therapist in stuttering can be tricky. Here are some dos and don'ts for psychologists to keep in mind when working with people who stutter. 

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July 20, 2021

Inclusive Meeting Practices for Employees With Communication Differences

Communication is a prized skill in the professional workplace, but one that does not come easily to everyone. Most job postings list “strong communication skills” as a basic requirement, without really specifying what that means. Extraversion is often rewarded in the western professional world, even though introverts demonstrate traits that are critical to effective leadership.

Not everyone has a natural inclination toward verbal expression. Even senior employees with significant expertise and comfortable positions may struggle to contribute in a meeting context if they are not a natural “talker”. Many successful professionals have hidden communication disabilities.

It is normal for employees to contribute to a meeting in different ways and in different amounts. However, managers who value inclusiveness should pay attention to the structural and cultural elements of the meeting which may inadvertently raise barriers to communication. 

Here are four ways to ensure that your meetings are inclusive to employees with diverse communication needs. 

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June 21, 2021

How to Integrate Community Experiences Into Speech Therapy

As “lived experience” becomes more prominently valued (and evidence-based) in the therapeutic professions, working solely on skills is no longer a sufficient therapy plan. Impactful speech therapy needs to support bringing your communication skills, and your whole self, by extension, into the world.

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June 21, 2021

Tips and Tricks for Re-entering the Social World

The summer of 2021 is here, and what a summer it seems we are expecting. Concerts, restaurants, festivals, and vacation experiences are back. We can get dressed up for fancy weddings, sing together at religious services, and cheer on our favorite sports teams. We can have real face-to-face conversations and experience the spontaneous kind of communication that is hard to access over Zoom.

While many people are eager to live their best post-COVID life as the US reopens, there are very many people who are dealing with a new kind of anxiety: how do I interact with people again? This may not rise to the level of clinically significant social anxiety, but I would describe many people right now as feeling socially apprehensive

If you’re the kind of person who struggles with communication even a little bit, for any number of reasons, COVID may have put you out of practice. You enjoy having relationships and want to be around people, but may be experiencing a sense of dread or fear of impending awkwardness at the thought of foraying back out into the social world.

Communication is a bit like a muscle: if you don’t use it for a while, your skills can get stiff and clumsy. Just like a prolonged break from physical training, there are recovery principles for communication ability. If you’re ready to see others again but feel apprehensive because of rusty communication skills, here are a few tips to help you “limber up” and ease back into the world of social interaction.

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May 24, 2021

Gender Affirming Voice and Communication: Questions and Answers

The term “gender affirming” voice services acknowledges that gender identity and expression lie on a spectrum, and that not all people are necessarily looking to feminize or masculinize their voice. Oftentimes one or the other is a goal, but this term recognizes and is inclusive of all genders, including nonbinary individuals.

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May 20, 2021

Getting to Know Our Clinicians: Meet Michelle

Like some of the other therapists in our clinician highlight series, our voice specialist Michelle Roberts discovered her purpose which brought her to speech IRL in a roundabout way. She has been working as a professional voice specialist for 3 years, and the unique strength she brings to our practice is gender affirming voice therapy for transgender and gender nonconforming individuals. She also works with an ear, nose and throat doctor (ENT) to help actors and singers with various vocal issues.

Michelle’s passion has always been self-expression; she was the theater kid who rounded up her friends to put on plays that she wrote, and she continued on that track through college. She earned a bachelor’s degree in theater and drama and got the idea to go back to graduate school to become a voice specialist from an acquaintance who happened to be a speech-language pathologist. Studying voice combined Michelle’s passions for self-expression, communication and the scientific aspects of cognition. She realized her dream of working with singers and performers, but along the way, she found a deeper sense of purpose in helping transgender and nonbinary individuals develop a voice that’s congruent with their identity.

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8 S. Michigan Ave, Suite 812 
Chicago, IL 60603
312.870.0352
Or send us a message

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8 S Michigan Ave, Suite 812 
Chicago, IL 60603
312.870.0352
Or send us a message

logo

8 S Michigan Ave     Suite 812
Chicago, IL 60603
312.870.0352
Or send us a message

logo

8 S Michigan Ave, Suite 812
Chicago, IL 60603
312.870.0352
Or send us a message

logo

8 S Michigan Ave, Suite 812
Chicago, IL 60603
312.870.0352
Or send us a message
Looking for employee training? Check out our Business Services
Looking for employee training? Check out our Business Services
Looking for employee training? Check out our Business Services
Looking for employee training? Check out our Business Services
Looking for employee training? Check out our Business Services