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October 25, 2021

Deception in Speech Therapy: How To Shop For Snake Oil

So, how has speech stuff been this week?”

I was working with a client who stutters, a college student. It was the beginning of the school year, a season of transition and change that can often be accompanied by speech challenges.

“Pretty good, actually! I met someone else who stutters in one of my classes, and he recommended this book. It’s called The Stuttering Cure.* He said it helped him a lot. So I started reading it this week and doing some of the things. It’s definitely helping.” He paused. “Have you heard about this book?”

My licensed, certified, certificate-of-clinical-competence in speech-language pathology wheels were already turning. Have I heard of this book? Oh yes. More specifically, I’ve heard of the author. He is one of many self-styled “stuttering coaches” that live on the Internet. A person who stutters figured out a solution for himself, and he established a mini-empire helping others find the light. 

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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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October 27, 2020

How A Lost Voice Saved A Life

I’ve worked with speech therapy clients in all sorts of unique situations over the years. It’s always sad to see them go, but very rewarding to see the change in them once they have achieved their goals. Each client takes a different path through the different areas we cover in speech therapy: naming their goals, learning about the speech apparatus and communication techniques they’ll be using, practicing exercises and working on other activities, etc. But a few clients will always stand out in my mind, such as this one from my first year of practice. Mr. James (name changed) was staying at a skilled nursing facility. The first time I visited him was quite awkward.

“Katie, can you screen Mr. James in room 103 for speech? He’s kind of hard to understand.”

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