Monthly Archives: August 2016

Speech Therapy AAC: Medical World

The medical world is behind on AAC(Augmentative Alternative Communication) technology and medical schools, should start teaching the students about AAC. As a AAC patient, who does educate people on AAC for a living, I am usually more understanding about this ignorance but the average patient should not have to educate doctors or nurses, etc. when they are not feeling well. The students in medical school should start having a course on AAC as a requirement for graduation so that patients should not have to spend the first ten minutes of a doctors appointment, having to explain, how they communicate.
As professionals we usually lecture to students in speech therapy classes, which is great but we are missing half of the medical care system. I would like all of us to start thinking about going into other fields and lecturing about speech devices. My clients are in the hospital all the time receiving routine treatments and they should not have to educate people before/after receiving medical care. As someone who gives a lot of lectures on my technique of mentoring I realize that I am typically lecturing to an audience who already get the technology and we need to go into different disciplines.
As professionals we are not just working with our clients but as least for myself and my colleagues we are also lecturing to the new generation of professionals in our field. I would like to challenge new speech-language pathologists, to lecture to medical students. Our goal should be to have the medical world up to date on AAC, so the patients, can just get treated.

Until Next Time, Enjoy Your Children

Speech Therapy: Symbol sequence

I communicate with a symbol sequence system, as I am able to communicate in a “natural” speed and I like to work with my preschool mentees with the, single symbol sequence system, as they start to understand that it is a good and quicker method of communicating. I find that the mentors are more open and pliable to generally teach the mentees how much quicker and efficient communicating with quick phrases is compared to typing everything out. Communication devices are equipped with one hit symbol sequence which is ideal for a preschool client to start communicating with. As a client grow the symbol sequence can be changed and tailored to their needs until they graduate to a 128 symbol sequence device. The Method is not a new method as I have gone through these steps as a child and it is the same program that I am communicating with today. As speech-language pathologists and mentors we want the clients to talk at a typical speed or as closest to it as they possibly can and they will be able to stay at the “normal” speed of communicating with society and they will be able to keep up with their school work if they are able to write papers with the symbol sequence system.

Being a mentor with significant physical disabilities who has pain I am a user of a unity program as it helps the back pain because I am not typing everything out letter by letter. We can help the clients from developing pain and to keep up with their school work if they can get accustomed to communicating with their quick phrases system. I like the clients communicating with the Unity system because it enables them to make sentences themselves which is a limitless system and it is like communicating with their mouths. For Unity users we are able to look at the pictures and know how to put them together for words or beginning of sentences. This allows the clients to communicate with the speed that society is used to or at least close to it. At least for myself I encourage the clients to make use of their program as they are able to take care of school work quicker when they are using a program with quick phrases or symbol sequence system. I have the system grow with the mentees as if they are growing up communicating with the normal ability of communicating. We want the clients to communicate at the level that they would have been communicating with their natural voice. I know of a young woman who is refusing to use the quick phrases and it is taking her longer than expected for her to complete school as she is taking long to complete school work.

As professionals in speech therapy it is our job and responsibility to assist and push for our clients to communicate at a semi normal speed. If they want to spell a device can be found that will allow them to spell at a quicker rate. Importance of working with the client on giving them what they want is crucial as they would not use the device if they don’t like the device. The individual will not use the device if they don’t like the device which is the opposite of what you want to happen, you want to customize the device so that the client will want to communicate with the device. We have the knowledge and education to help the clients to use the device to better their lives and using quick phrases helps the client to have a full life.
Until Next Time, Enjoy Your Children

Speech Therapy: Tailoring Communication Devices

Communication devices are most useful when tailored to the child’s specific needs. A toddler is naturally going to use the body part they have most control over and feels natural, but they must first be giving the opportunity to work with different equipment to find what fits best. The speech language pathologist and occupational therapists will observe each limb and aid in determining which body part is most beneficial to the child.
Communication comes in all forms. A child with significantly limiting disabilities may be more inclined to use their eye for manipulating the mouse on a communication device. On the other hand, there are still a plethora of options for communication as technology is certainly advancing. As I have mentioned, I’m a severely physically disabled adult who uses a device with a sensitive tracker to follow an infer red light on my head. I have the ability to be a part of our society because of this sensitive technology. I strongly encourage parents to take advantage of the rapidly expanding technology, as it is one of the strongest tools to connect your child to the rest of society.
What I love most about what I do is truly helping to bring out the inner beauty of the child by influencing them to communicate with the world. A voice is a very powerful tool to have; especially when the child has aspirations to create a life for themselves. If your child was in a different body, they would still possess an “end goal” for themselves.

Remember your children, are children first. The disabilities are a part of them; not who they are. Deep down inside your child is there, they just need a little assistance to express their thoughts. A disabled individual with drive in life is going to find a way to access whatever they need. Our job as adults is to make the specific goal within their reach by providing them with a strong voice.
Until next time, enjoy your children!

Speech Therapy: Communicating with Fun and Purpose

Communication for Fun Purposes

As I went about my day, I realized that I would not have the ability to get my weekly manicure without the ability to communicate accurately. I want speech-language pathologists and mentors to remind our clients that communicating is both for work purposes and for recreational purposes. Our lives revolves us communicating with the outside world, and if we want the clients to be able to integrate into society, they need to communicate accurately and effortlessly. I want my clients to go into the community and practice communicating with the clerks or service providers, because they can see that communicating is not only for school, but it will give them the power to get what they want. I work with teenagers, and I take them out to cafes or book stores to help them to see what communication can do for them. As we have the knowledge that communicating is how we conduct our everyday business, we have to teach our clients that they will have the independence of conducting their lives with communication.

I feel that our clients tend to perceive that communication is only for academic purposes, which is not that motivating, so I take them out into the community and show them what communicating can do for them. Our clients usually have a stronger drive to work on their communication skills if they can see the cause and effect of communicating with their devices. I have the person tell me what they would like to do with me, and we go do it, with myself modeling how to order or tell the person what I need done and the mentee mimics the action. After I tell him or her what they did correctly and what we need to work on next session, they can see that they will become independent if they continue to work on the goal. By doing therapy in this format, the client sees that I am not just telling them that communicating will give them independence because they are seeing it for themselves, and they are also getting a real errand accomplished by themselves. I also find that my being young helps them to envision themselves doing this.

When you think about it, half of our daily communication is dedicated for recreational purposes, whether we are ordering food or pampering ourselves. Our clients should be able to see that the power of communication will bring him or her the same independence as any other individual. The individual with significant physical and speech disabilities needs to get a taste of this independence. I do this type of therapy to spark the hunger to want to communicate in the community in hopes that they will grow up with the desire to communicate in the community. I live in Berkeley, where the community is accustomed to working with people who have disabilities, but you can do this wherever you live. Don’t worry about holding up the line, as they will open another line to serve other people who are waiting to be served, just worry about teaching the client the power of communicating.

Until Next Time,
Enjoy Your Children.

Speech Therapy : Know the unknown.

Don’t Assume Anything!
In our field of Speech Therapy and Mentoring, I have learned not to assume anything about clients. Looks and age can be deceiving so I like to ask my clients a lot of questions. I have to remind myself that before I can teach a mentee communication skills, I am going to need to understand what method of communication they use. Most of the time, my locked-in clients have developed a simple, low-tech system which they can teach me and once I understand it, I am able to get to work. My first few sessions consist of detective work because I’m figuring out how to communicate with them while figuring out the cognitive age level he or she is at.
Generally I am given children who are high-brain functioning but with low functioning bodies so this allows me to ask them simple, general questions to figure out the best way for them to communicate. Others simply answer yes and no questions. Most clients will use gestures to let me know how they want to use their talkers and it is my job to teach the client to ‘speak’ successfully. Success is when the communication device becomes invisible and only the person’s ‘voice’ is effortlessly heard. As a mentor, I go into a new case with a presumption that I am going to be dealing with a client who is cognitively “normal” so I’d bring along age appropriate materials to figure out what will stimulate my mentee’s desire to communicate with me.
Assuming a patient’s abilities by their appearance can also be professionally dangerous. Assuming someone is crying due to an infantile cognitive-level might just actually be due to pain and need of medical attention. As a speech-language pathologist who is seeing a client for the first time, you can read their psyche assessment to get an idea of ‘where they are’ but conduct your own assessment to understand what you are indeed working with. When working with a child with vision disabilities, I would provide the mentee with a lot of auditory choices to figure out their cognitive level. The children we work with generally ‘show us’ what we’ll be working with within the first few sessions. As a speech-language pathologist and a mentor, we can learn a lot about our clients if we take the time to actually listen to them. Our preliminary sessions with our clients are usually us playing detective work to figure out who the person is inside this severely physically disabled body. When we get a pretty clear idea of who our client is, we can then play with different communication devices until we find the right fit. I have severely physically disabled clients that truly only have control over their eyes, but this does not mean the individual cannot understand or have normal intellectual abilities. As a speech-language pathologist, your biggest accomplishment will be seeing a client living out their dreams.
Challenge yourself and figure out how you can get someone with no muscle control to communicate and when you do, they will show the world their true self.

Until Next Time, Enjoy Your Children