This was my first week of the Spring 2011 semester. I have three classes this semester: Dysphagia, Seminar in Child Language, and Motor Speech Disorders. I also have the same three instructors I had last semester. It’s nice to know something about their personalities and style before entering the classes this time.
To start my semester out on the right foot, I actually did all of my reading and reviewed lecture slides before each class. One of my personal goals this semester is to work better to balance my workload by staying current on my reading and breaking up big assignments into smaller, weekly (or even daily) chunks. This is not earth-shattering, I know, but it’s difficult for me. However, I think that this semester, the combination of way too many IEPs for school-work, along with some major projects for school-degree means that if I don’t make a concerted effort to be organized, I will lose my grasp on the thin thread of sanity by which I hang. I’m going to prove that you can teach an old ADHD dog new tricks.
So, class. Tuesday evenings brings Seminar in Child Language, from 8-10pm. I love child language, and I would say it’s close to my primary interest in the field of SLP (especially if I include autism, which is currently my primary interest, since it is a subset of child language). I am very excited about this class. I’m also very excited that the textbook we are using is the same textbook I used this summer for the class I had to take in order to even start grad school. It’s Language Disorders from Infancy to Adolescence by Rhea Paul. OK, I admit that one major part of my excitement is that I’ve already read, and been tested on, half of the book. But I’m also excited because I love the book. You know you’re an SLP geek when you think a textbook about language development is riveting and fun to read, right? I am excited that we’ll be covering all of the text, and going beyond age 5, which is what my class covered this summer.
In class this week, we reviewed the syllabus and talked in-depth about the projects. Our major project is in lieu of a research paper, and I’m also really excited about the project. We have to put together a research resource binder on a language topic of our choice. Right now I’m trying to decide between autism and something to do with literacy. I’m leaning toward literacy, since both are areas of high interest for me, but I already know a lot more about autism, so I would gain much more professionally from the literacy binder. WE also have to make a therapy product. I’m leaning toward a paper bag game to address wh-question deficit, but I’m also thinking about a photo book to address pronoun usage. And maybe a social story to decrease an unwanted behavior in a child with autism. All three are immediately practical for me at work.
On Wednesday I had Motor Speech Disorders, which is from 8-9pm. I’m excited a lot by this class, because I know I’m going to learn a lot. In our first class, he reviewed the syllabus, and then gave us a quick run-down of various etiologies for motor speech disorders, because we have to choose one for our projects. Project #1 is a PowerPoint presentation or 4-5 page paper on the medical background information of a disorder, disease, or condition that produces a motor speech disorder. Project #2 is the speech therapy approach that would be used to treat topics addressed in project 1. And it’s a good thing I’m writing this blog, because I went to Blackboard and see that half of the class has already submitted their project. So now I need to get moving, because only two people can do the same topic. It appears on the syllabus that we will be presenting our projects this time, too. We did a project in Neurology last semester for the same professor, but never presented those projects. I enjoy presenting, and I enjoy learning from others’ projects, so I’m glad for that, too.
We also watched a video of an old filmstrip, where we saw examples of several types of dysarthria. It was very interesting to hear the differences in the speech, as well as how each disorder affected other systems. Some of the differences are subtle, and part of the class is learning how to distinguish between all different types of dysarthria (there are seven!)
And finally, on Thursday I had Dysphagia, from 8-9:30pm. For those unfamiliar with the field, this is otherwise known as Swallowing. This class I entered with mixed feelings. I know virtually nothing about dysphagia, except that it exists. It is not a topic we covered much at all in my undergrad (except for in Anatomy and Physiology, where we learned most of the structures, and a quick overview of the swallowing mechanism). However, I haven’t ever had a big interest in the topic, like I have in both language disorders and motor speech disorders. Plus, I already knew from reading the syllabus that we had a major project that was going to take a lot of effort.
We started with a review of the syllabus and the major project, which is performing a Bedside Swallow Exam, either supervised by someone from WKU, or videotaped so that it can be reviewed. I am not really worried about actually doing it (I know we’ll learn what is necessary), but I am worried about setting it all up! This goes into the need to be organized, I guess. I have to find someone to supervise, find someone willing to be client, find a video camera, figure out how to set it up, perform the exam, transfer video to DVD, write up the required information, and submit it all. Whew. This is the kind of project I want to put off, but I’m working hard on doing the necessary work well in advance this semester, so hopefully I won’t be completely crazy the last week in April (it’s due April 28th).
We also got started with actual lecture in this class, and I was surprised at how much I loved it. That’s a good sign! We looked at pictures and watched video of a normal swallow. Our assignment is to draw the structures as many times as it takes to get it right. She says that it’s important to be able to draw it and explain what is happening for patients and families, and we need to do it until it’s easy. I’ll scan in my best attempt later this week.
Planning for Week 2:
Seminar in Child Language: read Chapter 1, and revise Discussion Board post (I thought it was due this week, so I did it quickly. I may want to revise it after I’ve read the whole chapter). Choose my topic for my resource binder. I’ve already pulled a lot of articles on literacy, now I need to scan them to see if there’s a particular focus I want to take.
Motor Speech Disorders: Choose my topic and email the professor. Start researching. Read Chapter 3.
Dysphagia: Practice drawing structures. Read Chapter 2.