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.

No comments: