“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.”
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
The following poster was presented by Courtney Luckman, MSc, CCC-SLP and Katie Gore, MA, CCC-SLP at the 2021 Oxford Dysfluency Conference on January 7-8, 2021. Additional reading and therapy resources are included in this blog post.
Here we are at the end of 2020, friends. As the kids say, That happened.
This has been a year of downs and ups and downs and downs and (ups?) and downs. We have changed so much from where we were, and who we are, at the beginning of the year. We also haven’t changed, thanks to the way that 2020 has reminded us of what really matters, and how we’ve intentionally recommitted to the most important things in our lives during a year of turmoil.
We’re the same, and not the same. We’ve stretched, yet are finding stability. We’ve learned, but every new learning is a reminder of how little we really understand.
What have we taken away from 2020? Here’s our slice, from speech IRL.Read more
by Alexander Whelan, MA, CCC-SLP
Each year, the stuttering community celebrates International Stuttering Awareness Day on October 22nd. People who stutter (PWS) all over the world take this opportunity to raise awareness and educate others about stuttering and to shine light on some of the “blind spots” and misconceptions that people have about stuttering.
As PWS know, stuttering is so much more than what casual listeners can observe during mundane, everyday interactions. As an example, PWS could experience twenty minutes of mounting anxiety while sitting at a restaurant waiting to order an entrée. If their order happens to come out fluently or mostly fluently, the server and everybody else at the table are completely unaware of the stressful moments that were just endured. Even when stuttering is directly observable, listeners only see a snapshot of the stuttering moment. All of the mental gymnastics that led up to that moment aren’t outwardly visible to listeners. Neither are the embarrassment, awkwardness, guilt at having caused awkwardness for the listener, frustration, and shame that sometimes follow stuttering moments.Read more
In our previous posts on education and empowerment goals for speech therapy, we discussed activities to work on as alternatives to speech goals. You may expect this post will finally get to some new activities that actually focus on fluency—but alas, not quite. Ease, our final E in our 3Es model actually has little to do with fluency of speech. Aspects of ease include spontaneous speech, stuttering easier with less tension, and awareness of the speech mechanism.Read more