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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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April 19, 2021

Getting to Know Our Clinicians: Meet Courtney

“The reason that we do what we do and the reason I’m so passionate about this—think about all the kids that receive speech therapy in school. They grow up, and they still need that support. They still need that help.”

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March 12, 2021

Getting To Know Our Clinicians: Meet Rachel

You may know her as your speech therapist or the instructor of our Mindful Communication course, but there’s probably a lot more that you don’t know about our Director of speech IRL West, Rachel Muldoon MSc, CCC-SLP. Rachel has been a practicing speech language pathologist for 5 years, plus 6 years of study. She is a certified yoga instructor, which informs her therapy with deeper physical awareness and experience with meditation. Rachel relocated from Chicago to California in the summer of 2020, where she founded our first expansion office, speech IRL West! Read on for more about Rachel’s specialty areas, her career in SLP and a few more surprises.

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February 23, 2021

How to Avoid Writing Ableist Goals in Speech Therapy

SLPs are masters of goal writing. We spend literal years learning how to write specific-measurable-actionable-relevant-time-bound goals. We craft robust, descriptive targets in the restrictive ecosystem of IEP, insurance, and Medicare requirements. 

Most SLPs I meet are never satisfied with their goal writing. This is a good thing! It’s a sign of how seriously we take goals and therapy plans, that we are always seeking ways to improve. 

In the spirit of improvement, there’s something I want to call attention to in our standard practice goal writing: ableism.

We’re taught to write goals a certain way (SMART, IEP-compliant, etc.). Unfortunately, that “certain way” (that we’re shamed for not following, when in graduate school) is rooted in ableism. As our field grapples with how social justice issues apply in a speech therapy context, we need to examine why we write goals and how we write goals.

So, let’s start.

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February 23, 2021

How To Moderate A Panel

Conference season is here! One year into COVID, our gatherings are still confined to the digital world—but most of us are now familiar and comfortable navigating online conferences.

This includes one of my favorite conference events: panels. Panels offer an engaging way to tap into the experience and insight of subject matter experts. Great panels are informative and dynamic. Each panelist has the opportunity to shine while contributing to a larger group conversation that captures the diverse nature of differing perspectives.

Well, that’s what a great panel can be. There are also...not so great panels.

As a professional, I have attended not-so-great panels. As a communication therapist, I have worked with many clients who have been panelists on not-so-great panels and told me of their woes after the event. 

One panelist hogged all the speaking time. There was no moderation. The moderator talked over the panelists or even argued with the panelists. The panelists didn’t have responses to the questions or seemed uncertain about what they were supposed to say. 

Who’s responsible for this? The moderator.

Moderating is an art and a skill, but it is also very much a science. Inexperienced moderators can create successful, rewarding panel experiences for both speakers and audience members by completing a series of very basic tasks. Surprisingly, many moderators (even experienced moderators) don’t do this, leaving even the most illustrious of panel speakers to flounder.

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January 27, 2021

I Speak In Sentences

Most adults who have language disorders don’t even know it—but they can tell there’s something a bit different about the way they communicate:

I think in paragraphs, but I speak in sentences.

When I try to communicate, it feels like I’m speaking in a second language. But I’m speaking in my first language, it’s the only one I know.

I know so much more than I'm able to express sometimes, and it really holds me back.

As soon as someone starts talking I stop listening and my mind imagines what I expect them to say. Then I realize I've missed it.

I can see that the person doesn’t understand what I’m saying when I talk, but I can’t figure out how to make them understand.

When I lose track of what I'm saying I'm worried it makes people think less of me.

These are things we hear over and over again from adults who struggle with language processing. It’s normal to sometimes go blank when you’re trying to communicate something. It’s normal to occasionally struggle to recall the perfect word that you know exists to succinctly express yourself. It’s normal to lose track of the conversation sometimes, whether you’re the listener or the speaker.

But if you frequently, constantly, day-in, day-out, struggle to match your thoughts to words and to keep up with the pace of conversations...you may have a language disorder.

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January 27, 2021

You Deserve Help

We receive a lot of emails from people who know they have a specific communication issue that can be addressed with speech therapy. “I’ve had a lisp my entire life.” “My stutter has gotten worse recently and is holding me back in my career.” “I’m a transgender woman and want to work on feminizing my voice.” “I have ADHD and am having trouble staying focused and getting work done.”

We receive just as many emails from people who struggle with communication, but aren’t sure why. “People often don’t understand me.” “I have trouble connecting with others.” “I have always had trouble expressing myself.” “I struggle to communicate and it causes a lot of anxiety and impacts my self-esteem and confidence.”

Do these everyday communication challenges mean that someone has a communication disorder? Does it mean that you “qualify” for speech therapy? Do you need to have a diagnosed disability to justify getting help?

In my opinion, the answer is and should be an obvious no. Unfortunately, there are a lot of barriers along the way.

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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