Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"Everybody stutters one way or another, so check out my message to you..."

John Paul Larkin (March 13, 1942December 3, 1999), better known as Scatman John (sometimes credited as Scatman internationally), was a famous American stuttering jazz musician who created a unique fusion of scat singing and Euro Dance, best known for his 1994 hit "Scatman (Ski Ba Bop Ba Dop Bop)". As he liked to say, this was a process of "turning my biggest problem into my biggest asset." He has sold millions of recordings world-wide and was also named "Best New Artist" in the Echo Awards in both Japan and Germany. He was a recipient of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association's Annie Glenn Award for outstanding service to the stuttering community and was inducted into the National Stuttering Association Hall of Fame. He died of lung cancer at his home in Los Angeles, California at the age of 57.
(taken from

I love the Scatman. As I get ready for Fluency class on Friday and scramble around doing Traumatic Brain Injury homework, Scatman John is running on loop through my head. I like to try to sing the scat parts of his songs along with him, and find myself utterly unable to keep up. Sometimes, I think the people with so-called "impairments" teach and help me more than I shall ever be able to teach and help them. They are truly gifts from God.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Oh, the irony...

The irony of the fact that I am sick with jealousy of three friends who are in Italy right now just struck me. Read this if you don't get it.
And yes, I know I'm not a mom. I'm Holland itself. I'm a sibling to Holland. My mother teaches in Holland. And I'm spending all of my time, energy, and money preparing to teach Holland how to communicate. I like to think that I am a bit familiar with some aspects of Holland by now. When it comes down to it, I wouldn't have it any other way.
But I am still jealous of my friends who can afford to cavort around Italy for 10 days.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Summer classes and beyond

I am finished with spring semester and came through unscathed with all A's and B's. Hurray! My organization skills left something to be desired, so I have since set up Microsoft Outlook in hopes of improving them for summer semester. This summer I shall be taking:
-Traumatic Brain Injury, which will probably be as interesting as it is complicated. I shall have to get out my neurology textbook and familiarize myself with the general layout of the brain again.
-Fluency, with one of the foremost experts in the nation. We are really lucky to have Dr. Robinson agree to teach this class for us! One of the assignments in this class that I have heard people talk about is that you have to go to a store or restaurant where no one knows you and pretend that you have a fluency disorder (for example, a stutter). Then you have to come back and report how people reacted to you. I think this is an excellent assignment because it forces us to experience the feelings of frustration and rejection that our dysfluent clients likely deal with every day from well-meaning individuals who don't understand why the person is "talking weird."
-Physics, because I need another science. I am less than enthused about commuting an hour 4 days a week to take this class, especially with gas prices so high, but it will be easier at the community college than at my university.

I was also thinking about possible future research projects while folding my clothes this morning. I am interested in augmentative and alternative communication devices, and not much research has been done to prove the usefulness of the current plethora of electronic devices on the market. I know how difficult and frustrating it can be to get a hold of these gizmos, because of their 3 and 4 figure price tags, so I want to provide professionals and parents with as much unbiased information about them as possible so that all that money is not wasted. However, it would be hard to get a hold of the gizmos for the study, and to find enough children in my small town who have similar communication needs and motor requirements to be my subjects. I have found some tutorials on for modifying electronic devices, including toddler toys. Wouldn't it be great if a parent could make an AAC device for their child from a toy they purchased at a thrift store and some simple electronics supplies from RadioShack? I know firsthand how busy a parent of a child with special needs can get, and how implausible it is that Mom/Dad/Uncle/primary caregiver would have time to fiddle around with a soldering gun, but hey! It's a pleasant, if implausible, idea to me that I could empower parents to help their children communicate in this fashion.
I'm also somewhat intrigued by Signing Time. I read a couple of blogs written by parents of exceptional children, and Signing Time has helped many of these children with communication breakthroughs. I wonder if any research has been done using it? Mayhap such research could be used to convince schools and libraries to purchase the DVDs to have available. I really want to help! I'll email my research professor. Please leave any ideas that you may have about communications research that you would like to see in the comments. :)
And now I am away to work! Yay for summer jobs washing dishes ;) At least the food at the Bakery is delicious, and the company is good.