Monday, June 22, 2009

Blowing dust off the ol' blog

Man, it's been awhile! I've honestly been enjoying time away from the classroom and the clinic for a while. I've been in college for the last 7 years and I relish my small breaks. I've been reading all of my blogs, though, even though I'm a bad commenter. I also haven't given blood yet because my town hasn't had a blood drive. I'm going to start looking in other towns, since mine kind of fails.

This summer my clinic is doing a writing program to help kids whose written language needs some polish. I really want to make messes with the kids and get their hands dirty, make Oobleck or volcanoes or bring in live newts or take a field trip to a creek to find crayfish or make beautiful art with construction paper and glitter and way too much glue. I know that lots of time needs to be spent writing and typing and revising, but I am a firm believer in messy learning.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Stick a fork in me...

...because I am DONE! Sweet freedom. I bummed around all morning and then volunteered with a cutie this afternoon. Very, very good day. :)

I was reading a post from Three Ring Circus about another cutie who relies on donated blood to bolster her immune system. My blood type is the universal donor, but the last time I donated blood I almost passed out and they had to stop the procedure prematurely. The Red Cross people were super-nurses; the second I said I was feeling sick I had a cold cloth on my forehead, a bag under my chin in case I was sick, and a Sprite in my hand. They assured me that they could still use the plasma, but I felt bad that my body decided to freak out.

I haven't been back to donate blood in several years, but I want to try again because needles do not bother me and donated blood is needed so badly. However, this time I want to be a smarter donor! So I googled "donating blood tips" and found the following information from the Red Cross website:

Before Donating


Donating blood is my community service. It directly benefits folks who need help. - Jeffrey

Get a good night’s sleep
Have a good breakfast or lunch
Drink extra water and fluids to replace the volume you will donate (avoid tea, coffee, or other beverages with caffeine)
Eat iron-rich foods — red meat, fish, poultry or liver, beans, iron-fortified cereals, raisins and prunes
Avoid fatty foods, such as hamburgers, fries, or ice cream before donating. Tests for infections done on all donated blood can be affected by fatty materials — lipids — that appear in your blood for several hours after eating fatty foods. When this occurs and required testing cannot be performed, the blood may need to be discarded.

During the Donation

Wear clothing with sleeves that can be raised above the elbow
Show the staff any "good veins" that have been used successfully in the past to draw blood
Take the time to enjoy a snack and a drink in the refreshments area immediately after donating

After Donation
Rehydrate by drinking plenty of fluids over the next 24-48 hours
Avoid strenuous physical activity or heavy lifting for about five hours after donation
If you feel light headed, lie down, preferably with feet elevated, until the feeling passes
In rare cases when bleeding occurs after removing the bandage, apply pressure to the site and raise your arm for 3-5 minutes; if bleeding or bruising occurs under the skin, apply a cold pack to the area periodically during the first 24 hours
If for any reason, something doesn’t feel right, call the American Red Cross toll free number provided to you after your donation
Enjoy the good feeling that comes with knowing that you may have saved as many as three lives.

Remember, if you start feeling really cold/light-headed/nauseous while they are taking the blood, tell one of the nurses. They know exactly what to do! They deal with this all the time. And if you need to stop the transfusion, they can still use the plasma. The site I linked has information about how to find a local blood drive. I'm going to find one this month and go for it!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Thank You

The student clinic is winding down this week. The semester ends on Friday, and our summer session doesn't start until June. We generally switch clients every semester so students can experience with lots of different kids. And I wanted to say thank you to parents who bring their kids to student clinics and put up with crazy schedules and long breaks from therapy during summer and Christmas, nervous students with sweaty palms who are getting graded on how well they work with your child, supervisors coming in and out, a new nervous student with sweaty palms every four months, and all the awkward moments that must happen to students so they can grow. Thank you for trusting us with your child, and being willing to trade off therapists like hot potatoes. I will tell you that we spend hours preparing for your child's session, and writing up the progress note afterwords. We talk to each other about ideas for therapy so we can always keep activities fresh and creative. We talk about how we think your kid is cute and how much you and your kid teach us. We celebrate their triumphs with you. We are jealous of our friends who get to work with our favorite clients. Thank you for trusting us with your child.

Friday, April 24, 2009

So close...

Next Thursday my semester ends and I can breathe a huge sigh of relief. Then I get a week off before the first session of summer clinic starts. I am actually looking forward to summer clinic; I will continue doing Wednesday mornings in my public school placement, so I don't have to adjust to something completely new. I feel like I am just starting to get comfortable with that placement, so I'm glad to continue there.
In other news, May is Better Speech, Hearing, and Language Month! Woot!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

IEPs and PLOPs and AYP, oh my!

I'm currently making up an IEP for a hypothetical student as a class assignment, and it's taking me forever! Granted, some of that is because I am having to make up details about a made-up child as I go, but some of it is because I don't have much experience with IEPs...yet. ;) I am wishing that some of the parents whose blogs I read were here to help me write this thing, which amuses me because it's a bit of role-reversal from what people typically think. I think that usually the SLP or the special education teacher writes the IEP and the parent agrees or disagrees. Now that I think about it, however, maybe the other way around is better. Maybe the parent should write the IEP and the SLP or special education teacher or whomever should agree or disagree. Maybe everyone could come with a draft IEP and compare. Anyone want to make a draft IEP for my hypothetical child named Ivy League? ;)
Incidentally, if you live in Virginia, here is a link to a sample IEP form: If you live in another state, poke around on your state education website and see if you can find a draft IEP form there. I had to use the search engine on mine, but I eventually hunted it down.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Lackluster week

I gave my first articulation therapy session on Wednesday. I don't know how I went so long without having an articulation client, but there you are. I went a little overboard and wrote this long story with the kiddos' target sounds. I read the long sentences in the long story and expected the kiddos to say the sentences back to me. I was setting the poor dears up for a hard time, but they tried their best for me, and I am grateful for their patience as I learn with them.
A friend of mine has a client who uses sign language. The client is not hearing-impaired, but was not communicating verbally. Apparently he has now started talking all on his own. They didn't teach him to talk or encourage him to talk. They just encouraged him to sign. I think that is the coolest thing I've heard all week. :)
I am behind in working my student aide hours and my hair is still sopping wet and twisted up in a towel. Perhaps I should work on this. Yesh. I have night class tonight and it's a grey day outside, but I shall soldier on!

Monday, March 16, 2009

So proud of my advocate future husband!

My advocate future husband (AFH) was substitute-teaching today and overheard some kids using the word "retarded." The entire class was promptly lectured about how the word "retarded" is ugly and hurtful. He said he did it because of me, and therefore because of you, my blogging community. You really opened my eyes to that word, and I shared what I learned with AFH. It really made an impression on both of us, and when he heard those kids using the word, it really rubbed him the wrong way. So I am very proud of him for speaking up and hopefully planting some seeds of tolerance!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Blowing dust off of my poor blog

I realized today that I've been silent for a good month. I've still been keeping up with all of my blogs, reading daily and commenting occasionally. However, I just haven't had much energy to write. School has been exhausting this semester. I've been having a tough time keeping up with the frantic, breakneck pace. I feel like I don't have a lot to contribute to this blogging community that gives me so much; I don't have children, I don't have a degree, and the insights I do have I am reluctant to share.
Recently I did a poster at a conference about augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) and autism. I did not conduct an actual research study, but I proposed one in which two groups of children would be taught to use the same electronic AAC device in the same fashion. The only difference would be that one group's devices would have the speech output function turned on, and one group's devices would have the speech output function turned off. I want to isolate that component to see if speech output makes a difference in AAC intervention, and possibly even to see if it encourages children to start using natural speech. I had a lot of professionals tell me that my idea was a good one, and to share various experiences they had with AAC. This was somewhat gratifying because the first time I had ever touched an actual AAC device was the day before I presented the poster. Sometimes my lack of experience and knowledge overwhelms me...but I find that when I don't let it incapacitate me, I get through whatever situation I'm facing and I do okay. To my knowledge, I have not yet scarred anyone for life, at least. ;) So I'll try to come up with some more content soon.
P.S. CC, I didn't win. Thanks for offering the videos, but I might save my pennies and try to get the DVDs so I can get to certain spots faster and play them on my laptop for kids.

Monday, February 2, 2009

I wanna WIN!

So, Rhett's mom over at The Bird Flock is having a Signing Time giveaway. I need to blog about why I want a Signing Time DVD in order to win. So here goes!
First of all, I have no kids. I do not plan to have kids anytime soon. However, I think the title of my blog is a good clue about how I would put this DVD to use if I got it! I'm in graduate school to be a speech-language pathologist. This means that I am A) broke and B) in need of materials to use when I get out into the real world! I would use this DVD with many children who might not otherwise get exposed to sign language. I would combine the DVD with the skills I will surely one day have to get these children communicating! Although learning sign language can be beneficial to kids who don't need speech services, it can be crucial for those who do, and I'm not just talking about children with hearing impairment. Sometimes children have so many speech problems that it is difficult for even their parents to understand them. For these children, sign language can be a way to communicate and connect with people until their speech becomes more intelligible. Sometimes children with autism are non-verbal for whatever reason, and do not/cannot use speech. Sign language can be a lifeline to these children.
Now, I would not just pop in the DVD during my sessions and let Rachel do all of the work for me! I would watch a short clip with the children and then reinforce the signs they just saw with different activities and games that would have them interacting with me AND each other. I would show the DVD to parents and tell them that Signing Time is an easy way to reinforce what the children are learning in speech. I would use it in classrooms to give other children a way to connect with their friend who communicates a little differently.
In short, I would use Signing Time as a tool in my SLP toolbox to help as many children as possible become better communicators!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Social Skills

How do you handle people using the word "retarded" in a group of friends? Is there a lighthearted way to let someone know they're being offensive? When I say nothing, I feel kind of scummy. If I speak up, I'm afraid I'll start a big messy debate because the other person doesn't understand why it's a big deal. My fiancee points out that if you try to force someone to stop using a word, they miss the message even if it's the right one. He suggests apologizing for bringing up the subject and then telling them that "retarded" is actually an offensive word and letting the person take it from there. I like the idea of Dave's cards, but they imply that people who use the word "retard" are bigots. I do not believe this to always be true. I used to use the word "retarded." I didn't realize how deeply it cut people. When I started reading blogs, it drove the point home and I made a deliberate effort to cut the word out of my vocabulary. If a person uses the word with the intention to hurt others, then I believe that person is cruel. If a person uses the word because they simply don't realize it's offensive, I don't think they should be outright condemned. What do you think?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Smattering of Thoughts About the Semester So Far

I have four evaluation reports to write up, a video to watch painstakingly for the second time so I can rewrite a SOAP, a lesson to plan, classes to read for, kids to chase (my favorite part!), two treatment plans to write up, meetings and classes to attend, and a poster to put together. In other words, this semester I hit the ground running!
The new semester really drives home how impossible it is to put clients into neat little diagnostic boxes. Every single one is so different! I feel like I'm starting over at Day 1. The only kids I have this semester are in an early literacy program. They are typically-developing kids, which is good because I have no kiddos of my own and thus when I see kids it tends to be because they have some speech/language issue(s). It's nice to have a comparison. But planning lessons for older folks is really a challenge! I don't get to play games and be goofy.
My classes are going well so far, and I'm interested in all of the material. I had Feeding and Swallowing for the first time today. We had to eat something and write down a detailed explanation of how we chewed it. Chewing is complicated!
The highlight of my day: my professor told us to purchase our own stethoscope. Apparently we will use it to listen to swallows. I confess, I look forward to wearing it around and feeling important because I have a name tag AND a stethoscope! Look out, world! ;)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Final Countdown

This is my last evening of vacation. Tomorrow I start back up bright and early with a 9am meeting reminding me of the portfolio I haven't started on and the resume I should, you know, think about or something. ;) This semester I shall be taking:
1. Public School Methods, which I hear will involve copious amounts of IEPs. I will attend my first IEP meeting ever this semester for this class, an occasion which I feel will call for a cake. I am accepting aid that obligates me to work in the public schools, so this class is going to be extremely useful. One day I, too, shall be an IEP veteran like the noble bloggers I follow!
2. Feeding and Swallowing Disorders: I have not been exposed to this area of my profession at all, so it will be a grand adventure. I imagine it will also involve a lot of frantic page-turning through my anatomy book to remember all of those structures and muscles. Again, many of the noble bloggers I follow know more than I do on this subject!
3. Language Disorders in School-Age Children: This is a very important class for me due to the population I will be working with for at least a little while after graduation. I am already interested in this area and have some basic knowledge in it, but I am excited to build on my knowledge base. Yay kiddos!
4. Clinic- We won't meet as a class, but being in the class allows me to see clients. Thus far, I'm going to be doing a lot of testing this semester. Acronyms ahoy!

I am also going to be presenting a poster at a conference, which is hilarious. More on that when I put glue to poster board!

First day of school tomorrow!