The Penny

Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.

[Wednesday, November 24, 2010]

I Learned So Much!


I went to the ASHA Convention, which is for speech-language pathologists and audiologists (OK, mainly for SLPs). They have seminars, poster sessions where people present research and you wander around chatting with them, info sessions for masters and doctoral programs, vendor booths with tons of free junk (pens, bags, lip balm--I got a pen/bubble wand for my selective mute kiddo), ummm... career fair... just lots of stuff. I was mainly interested in the seminars/classes and the doctoral program information.

This year the conference was in Philadelphia, which I had never been to before. Never touched.

I learned three things at the convention:
1. I hate Philadelphia. I didn't mean to... it just happened.
2. I miss interacting with brilliant people.
3. I MUST get a doctorate.

Yes, it's a must. So now I'm looking at PhD programs. It stinks, because you can't really choose where you're going to go, like hm, I enjoy Maryland, I'll just go to University of Maryland. Uh-uh. You have to go where there is someone doing research in your area of interest. One of my areas of interest is phonology, and the phonology guru is at Wichita State. That's in Kansas! My understanding is that they don't have a beach there.

I actually met said guru at the conference. Totally unexpected.

I was in the poster hall, and one caught my eye, something about phonological errors of cochlear implant users. As the young master's student was explaining her thesis to me, I noticed the other name on the poster: PHONOLOGY GURU. Well, actually, her name is Barbara Hodson. Whoa, Dr. Hodson was your mentor for this project? I looked at the name tags of everyone who looked over age 50 and lo and behold, she was right nearby! Of course I had to accost her and babble on about how much I love her work, that I use her phonology program all the time. She hugged me.

So I have one contact in the academic world. I mean, besides the BYU faculty. But BYU doesn't have a doctoral program in my field, so that's not an option. Y'all know how I feel about Utah, but I'd probably choose it over Kansas. It's the devil I know.

Hopefully I can find a program somewhere that I won't totally hate, but even if I don't, it's only for four years.

I went to a lot of seminars on auditory processing, which was great. I learned so much! I went to one on motor speech disorders, only because my favorite BYU professor, the best teacher in the whole wide world, Dr. Dromey, was one of the presenters. I took down some "DromeyQuotes" for my friend Rachelle. We used to write down the acerbic, very British things he says--think Hugh Grant humor. Or whoever writes for Hugh Grant. Here are a couple for you:
-Now you're thinking, "My larynx doesn't make yogurt."
-We'll blame those vocal folds for not doing the honorable thing.

A woman presenting in the same session as Dr. Dromey was also kind of funny. I took down a quote from her:
-This can make your life more blissful or miserable. I'm always on the side of bliss.

I guess you have to realize that the words surrounding these quotes include hyolaryngeal, dysarthric, obturator, musculature, hypokinetic, nasalance, prosthedontic, formant frequencies, articulatory specification, and vocal tract configurations. Blogger's spell checker doesn't think half of those words even exist. Then someone starts saying how the larynx makes plain yogurt... refreshing. The idea, not yogurt. The bliss quote was in the context of considerations for palatal lift recommendations for patients with velopharyngeal port incompetence. Now you're thinking I'm crazy for even saying that I enjoyed the conference. Really, I did.

I went to several sessions on cochlear implants/aural habilitation. One presentation absolutely blew AVT out of the water. It was fantastic. And I saw a stupid AVT from Johns Hopkins there, who recommended not signing with a newly implanted SEVEN YEAR OLD whose family DOESN'T SPEAK ENGLISH. And who had only been signing for a year (do the math... that's right, no language until nearly age six). When we asked how we would educate the child without being able to communicate with him, she said that listening skills were more important than education. Hopefully she took in some of what that session was saying.

One other session was on differential diagnosis (figuring out what's wrong) of cochlear implant kids who have other problems. They're implanting kids so early that they don't know what challenges the child is going to face in addition to deafness. They also don't know who is going to be successful with listening and spoken language. This was from the AVTs at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Interesting (and sad): CHOP doesn't implant unless they think the person will develop spoken language. If they think the person will need to use sign language, they won't do the surgery. I guess they wouldn't have implanted my seven year old international student. Even with their stringent criteria for implantation, and given intensive AVT (auditory verbal therapy--teaching deaf kids to listen and not use any lipreading), only 25% of kids become "primarily listening and spoken language" kids. Fifty percent use listening and lipreading. Twenty-five percent use listening and lipreading but primarily sign language. Hm, so one out of four kids who they thought would become a good listener and who had intensive AVT ended up using primarily sign language... wouldn't those kids be so far behind in ASL development by the time they begin it that they'll always struggle in school? I don't even want to think about it. And I was surprised that only 25% end up being AVT poster children. The session did have a lot of useful information, and I was glad I went.

The whole conference as a whole was very enjoyable to me. I took copious notes and am now happier in my job, knowing that the world is much bigger than the insanity currently surrounding me. This too shall pass, and I will be on to bigger and better things, like teaching at a university. It's going to happen.

This Is Kid Is So All Mine


OK, that kiddo with selective mutism? I've got her right where I want her... bwahahahaha!

I stopped by her house yesterday just to drop off an IEP draft. This is a good thing: we're modifying the IEP because she's going to start preschool on Monday. Yay! And I'm going to stay with her the whole morning, just to make sure things start off on the right foot.

I ended up chatting on the front porch with her mom, while Little Miss and Big Sis ran around the front yard. They were racing across the yard to jump in a leaf pile, then back to the fence to say hi to their dog. Every time Little Miss ran past us, she yelled, "Hello!" Well, more like, "Ewo!" Apparently she has a Cockney accent and also can't say her L's. It don't make you a bad person.

I don't know who she was yelling to, Mom or me, but I acted like it was to me and answered back, "Hello!" every time. She thought it was funny. She came over to me and pointed at the dog. I pretended not to know whose dog that was and she said, "Crockett buddy boy!" Yup, she talked to me.

As I was leaving, she came running at me, full speed, and I bent down to her level. Without even slowing her stride, she scooped up some leaves and threw them on me. You can't say she doesn't have personality! Poor Mom was mortified. Please, I've had much worse than leaves on me in preschool. Leaves don't stink or stain!

I threw them right back at Little Miss, and we had a little leaf war.

I love this kid!

[Saturday, November 6, 2010]

She Talked to Me!


I know, I'm all about work lately.

I have this little girl with selective mutism, meaning that she is basically very choosy about whom she will talk to. She spoke to no one until about 6 months ago (she is three), and now it's just immediate family. She does talk to grandma but stopped for a few weeks after grandma moved to a different apartment. Yeah, she's easily rattled and takes time to warm up. She was in the EB problem (birth to three) for about a year, with weekly SLP visits, and she said a total of one word to the EB SLP. "Yeah" slipped out once. She's a tough nut to crack!

This is the little girl who got kicked out of nursery school for not being potty trained, who languished for six or seven weeks without services until I got the ball rolling about a month ago. I've been out to see the child three times now. I actually look forward to it, because my whole goal for the visits is to build a rapport with the child--and give mom strategies--but mainly to develop a relationship. I need the child to like me and trust me. I don't need to build "therapy" into things, just focus on having FUN. How awesome is that?

I had mom use her camera phone to record the child talking, to "surprise" me with when I came for my second visit. The child loved my first visit, because I am an insane person with no sense of embarrassment when playing with a three-year-old. I don't care that mom is watching. If it gets the child to talk, I'll make a fool of myself! Apparently Little Miss told her family a million times that week about throwing monkeys and laughing with Miss Annie while she (that would be me) made crazy monkey sounds. When mom told me that, I knew Little Miss would talk to me. I didn't think it would be so soon!

When I walked in the door for my second visit, the child ran at me full speed, skidded to a stop right in front of me, waved a drawing at me, and said, "Daddy!"

That was great... but she said not a word for the next 30 minutes.

The reason I had mom record the child and let me watch it was so that the child's "secret" would be out, and one barrier to talking to me would be removed. I hoped it would speed up the process from a year of not talking to me (though I hoped that my awesomeness would get things moving more quickly than the very vanilla EB SLP did) to mere months of not talking to me. The video started (audio only.. mom wisely hid the camera in her lap), and I heard Little Miss singing her ABCs. Adorable! I acted all excited about it and asked Little Miss (who had grabbed the camera, enthralled by her own talent) to play the video again. I just enjoyed it so much. She did, and then she flipped through the videos and found one of herself cleaning up with daddy, and she said, "Daddy clean up abba flabba blah bee famma mappa!" Yeah. I understood about a quarter of what she said. That was disheartening. But she was talking! To me! And she kept talking for the next 10 minutes. Unfortunately, when I said it was time for me to leave, the light left her face. She shut down and wouldn't say good-bye when mom prompted.

She didn't talk on the third visit, because the educator was with me. It was really disappointing, but not unexpected. I would say the chances of this child talking the first time she meets someone are zero to none. But she talked to me!

Save the Mods for Somebody Who Needs Them


The other day I was giving a math test to two children. Bet you wouldn't expect an SLP to be giving a math test! We do a lot of role sharing. :) So I'm giving this math test to two of the deaf kiddos, and I had the visuals used in class available for them during the test. I was letting them work at their own pace and presenting individual directions for each item, and the boy got to the story problems the girl. I began to set out the visuals for "in all (+)" and "left (-)" but he shooed them away, tapping his head to indicate his intelligence and saying, "I know it, I don't need those. Give them to [girl's name], she doesn't know it."

Picture the sign for "ego." Yeah. But you have to respect his confidence!

[Thursday, November 4, 2010]

Kids These Days


Yesterday my kiddos were having a stimulating discussion on pets during their hour-long group pull out. I had read a silly story about a boy wanting a polar bear and a shark and a bison for a pet, and we talked about what real pets people have. The TOD has asked their parents about their pets and heard back from all but one (our highest kid--he can answer for himself), so we knew what pets they have. This is important whenever we talk to our kids, because some people will say "Yes" no matter what you ask them.

I'm going to call myself S (for speech or for "Saysee" as one child calls me, since my name is Hasting). T = teacher of deaf.

Child Circle has a cat.
S: Circle, do you have a pet?
C: Cat.
T: What is your cat's name?
C: (Fingerspells) C-A-T.
T: No, your cat's name is Tara. [We did think the name was Cat all last year... sigh..]

Child Triangle has two cats and two rats.
S: Triangle, do you have a pet?
Tr: [Holds up four fingers--great ASL listing!] Cat cat rat rat. [Signs this while pointing to fingers in the opposite direction used for ASL listing, starting with the pinky. Alrighty.]

That's okay, because she answered the question, and she was CORRECT.

Child Square does not have a pet, but I remember that he told me before that he had a fish over the summer that died. Big brother flushed it down the toilet.
T: Square, do you have a pet?
Sq: (signs) No, me none.
T: You had a pet before, though. You had a fish.
Sq: Fish me none.
S: Past. Remember? Fish died?
Sq: [Comprehension dawns on his face] Yes, fish died.
S: Fish color what? Fish black?
Sq: Fish orange. One (shakes head) six!
S: You had six fish!
T: Do you want a pet?
Sq: No. Pet me don't-like.
S: Same.
T: OK, write about your six fish.

So Square drew and wrote about his six dearly departed goldfish.

Oval has never had a pet. We were going to let him write about a pet he wants.
S: Oval, do you have a pet?
O: Yes.
T: No, you don't.
O: Yes, I do.
T: What kind of pet do you have?
O: A dog. [He says this every time they bring up pets in the classroom]
T: You do not have a dog.
O: Yes I do!
S: Where is it?
O: At home.
S: Where at home? In the living room?
O: In my bedroom.
S: Does it stay in your bedroom?
O: Yes. It's on my bed.
S: That is a toy. You have a toy dog. It's not real. Do you have a real pet?
[Sqare is looking disdainfully at Oval, and Circle is thinking this is great fun.]
O: Yes. I have a dog.
C: No!!
[TOD shows him a picture of her dogs and explains that they are "real dogs." She gets a stuffed zebra and asks..]
T: Is this a real zebra?
O: Yes.
C: No!!
[Triangle is really annoyed, so she blocks her eyes so that she cannot see Oval.]
T: This is not a real zebra. This is a toy zebra.
S: Oval, you have a toy dog. You do not have a real dog.
O: Yes, I do. I have a real dog.
[Square rolls his eyes]
Sq: No. Wrong you.
S: A real dog? A real dog eats. Does your dog eat dog food? Does your dog drink water? Does your dog bark? Does your dog go outside and go pee and poop?
C: Poop in butt! [points to her behind]
S: Yes, poop does come from your butt. Good thinking, Circle.

Yes, I actually said that! I guess I'm so used to responding to everything the kids say. The conversation pretty much unraveled at that point. TOD and I were laughing, and the paraeducator was so proud of Circle for knowing something. She spoke truly!

Oval can pretend a lot with his toy dog, but surely he does not bring it outside and pretend it is relieving itself! I thought my rhetorical skills would win out, but he continued to insist that he has a real dog.

The writing prompt on the board was "My pet is..."

Square wrote, "My pet is fish. water in fish six orange fish." He was writing ASL, setting the scene with a rhetorical question: "What's in the water? Fish. Six orange fish."

Triangle, who had apparently been inspired by Square to draw her own deceased fish, wrote, "My pet is cat rat. fish. cat scare run." I am not at all surprised that her cats get scared and run away from her. That was mostly independent, although I helped her find the pages in the ASL dictionary for scare and run, because she didn't know the beginning letters.

Circle wrote, "My pet is cat taRa." Cat is Brown and BLack."

Oval wrote, "My pet is a yellow and blacK dog."

And we said, "This is a nice sentence. Fix your K. Lowercase."