Archive for May, 2011

23 more days…

My first week has been a bit of a let-down.  I’ve pretty much been sick all week.  A slight cold started a week and a half ago, and while I didn’t really get sick, I got congestion.  Which may or may not (but probably may) be related to the fact that the Oak tree in our backyard is bright yellow with pollen.

Not the best picture, but that bright tree on the right center is oak.  To which I am highly allergic (4+ on the skin test).  I should add that I pulled out my allergy test paperwork to verify that number, and I am not at all allergic to maple, which is nice since we just planted two in the front yard.  Though I’m sure I will be later, the way my body works.

At any rate, this cold/allergy problem induced a case of laryngitis this past week, and I spent all week struggling to talk.  Which, as you may guess, makes doing speech therapy very difficult. Very, very difficult.  My throat doesn’t hurt, but my voice was tired all week.  It’s better now, but still strained.

Allergies have also kicked my asthma into high gear this spring.   After a nice winter without it, I’ve used my rescue inhaler for 4 days in a row, on Friday because I had an asthma attack, which for me is cough-variant.  Happened mid-sentence in conversation with a co-worker.  I need to go to the allergist, clearly, as just Claritin is not cutting it right now.  So I’ve now verified that my current allergist is included in my new health plan (haven’t been to the allergist since 9-2009, though, so I’m not sure it’s considered current!), and I’ll make an appointment next week.

The allergies, cold, and asthma have also limited my physical activity this week.  I ran once, but then have had to take a break, aside from the two times I had to chase the dog for a few blocks as she got out.  Which left me incredibly winded and gasping for air, leading me to deduce that going for a longer run might not be in my best interest.

I have read some, I have watched some fun shows with my husband, I have relaxed.  I also got to go out to a movie and dinner with some great girlfriends last night, which was wonderful (but not so good for my voice, as I forgot to engage the “stop talking!” switch at several points in time.)

I have started going through photos on the camera, including Perpetual Motion Boy’s birthday in March, and our great spring break trip to Washington, D.C.  I’d like to get through those this next week.


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Spring Semester in Review, Part 3

Seminar in Child Language: Final grade A, 97%

This class grade was a bit of a wildcard for me, as I did not do as well as I’d like on the midterm.  But our final format was much different, and played right into my strengths–writing and talking about myself.  Ha.  I ended up with full credit on everything but the first midterm, and my grade ended up right where I wanted it.

So, to sum up, I love child language, and I love this textbook, which means I really loved what I learned in this class.  I had covered the first half of my textbook in a class I took last summer as a prerequisite for grad school, and so studying it again meant I have an even better grasp on the material.  For this class, we had weekly assignments, two very practical projects, a midterm, a final, and participation points.

The weekly assignments asked questions about each week’s reading.  Most of the time I tried to read the chapter first before answering the questions, but as time is often short, I sometimes just found the applicable section in the text and then answered the question.   However, in the later chapters that I hadn’t yet read, I tried to read them all.  I know for my personal benefit, I need to read the later chapters again, to really get the most out of them.  While it’s a textbook, and incredibly dense with information, I find it pretty easy to read, so that’s not a task that is too overwhelming.  The question is really about when I’ll read it.  I still need this down time, and then when summer classes start, my time is again short.  I suppose it might remain on the to-read list for sometime in the fall of 2012.

The assignments, as I said, were incredibly practical.  The first was to make a therapeutic treatment product.  I made a photo pronouns book, which I have used a lot already, and use for far more than pronouns, including verbs, simple sentences, third person singular verbs, requesting, asking and answering questions, and vocabulary.  Most of the kids also really enjoy that the pictures are of my family, and it provides a chance for some general conversation about families.  Here are a few pages as an example:


Maybe I need to have a conversation about playing guitar in pajamas…

The second project was much bigger in scope and in points (25 points for the tx product, 100 points for the research project).  Our assignment was to create a Research Resource Binder; my topic was on Early Literacy and the SLP.  I had to find at least 25 resources, review them, and compile them into a document.  Then it all had to be put together into a binder (I printed the articles and some articles, gave a first page or sample for other resources), and a powerpoint presentation put together to show off the binder and discuss the purpose, what was learned, etc.  Finally, we had to write a 2-page reflection paper, a more complete telling than the powerpoint.

It took a lot of time to complete, but I am very thankful for doing it.  I learned so much!  While I might not complete a binder that is so thorough, the concept of this kind of research is very appealing to me.  A binder also provides a place in which to file new resources when they are received, to be able to refer to them later.  I’d like to start a general binder for many topics, either electronically, where I get myself to set up folders, put articles and reviews and websites, etc into the appropriate folder, or actual binders.

Here I am contemplating the wealth of knowledge contained in my new binder, before I turned it in.  Notice the dark circles under my eyes from lack of sleep…

And here is  the finished binder.  It’s big!

As I mentioned, the midterm in this class was not my best.  It was true/false, multiple choice, and short answer.  I made some silly mistakes and some mistakes from which I learned.  However, the final was right up my alley.  I feel bad about loving it so much, as many of my classmates hated it.  But, it’s just my style.  I had to write about things I had learned this semester, according to specific parameters in 3 questions.  We had a page limit of 4 pages, double spaced, and that was the hardest part for me.  I could have easily filled 4 pages single-spaced, with 10-point font and .5 inch margins.  Being held to APA formatting was difficult.  I did it, however, and really enjoyed the process of writing it and reflecting upon what I learned.

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Spring Semester in Review, Part 2

Motor Speech Disorders: Final grade A, 97%

In this class, we learned about all 7 types of dysarthria as well as apraxia.  We watched a lot of video clips (which, darn it, never streamed properly live, and I always had to go back and watch them again), and learned about differential diagnosis for these motor speech disorders.  I know that when faced with this kind of assessment in clinical practice, I will be sitting with my textbook and notes and listening to an audio recording over and over–it’s going to take time to really learn it so my ears remember each type without notes!  However, maybe because I had to listen to clips over and over, I do have a good start.

We also learned a lot about various etiologies that may lead to a motor speech disorder.  We had two projects for the class (along with a midterm and a final).  The first was on the “medical background information of a disorder, disease, condition that produces a motor speech disorder.”  I chose Guillain-Barré Syndrome. And I was about to say, “too bad I can’t share it on the blog,” but I think I can share it.  Well, kind of.  You actually have to download it to your computer.  I am not sure how to embed a ppt in a post, if in fact that’s even possible.

Guillain-Barré Syndrome

The second project was on “the speech therapy approach that would be used to treat topics addressed in project 1.”  I had a lot of fun with this project, and really learned a lot more about treatment.

Guillain-Barré Syndrome Treatment

During class, we all theoretically presented one  of our projects.  I say theoretically, because though the week I presented (the first week, on my first project) went smoothly, after that Adobe Connect had some sort of problem every week.  Some people didn’t get to present at all; some experienced technical difficulties when trying (the mic wouldn’t work at all); some had the pleasure of having Adobe Connect fail to, well, connect, during their presentation.  However, we do get to download all of the presentations to review and save for further knowledge.

As with Dysphagia, my knowledge base for this class was lower: it’s not something with which I have a lot of experience from working in public schools.  I look forward to using this knowledge in future placements, as well as for those few cases where it is relevant in the schools (and it does happen).

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Spring Semester in review, Part 1

This semester is officially over, as my grades are all complete.  Here is the breakdown of what I learned this semester, broken up into three posts, so as not to be too hard on the eyes, and allow me to be as wordy as I want.

Dysphagia: Final grade A, 100%

This was a great class!  My knowledge base of dysphagia (disorder of swallowing) was very, very shallow when we started, so I anticipated it would be a hard class, as I had a lot to learn.  While I definitely learned a lot, this professor is great, and it was presented in a way that made it easy to learn. I know I mentioned it in an earlier blog post this semester, but learning about the swallow was fascinating and fun!

In this class, we had a midterm, a final, several smaller assignments (writing responses to a video, for example), an anatomy quiz, and the clinical exam, where we had to perform the exam under supervision of an SLP.  That was the most difficult part, because I had to arrange it on my own, not a strength of mine.  What finally happened was that I did the exam at work, and asked an SLP who works at a different school, but has years of hospital work and still does PRN at the hospital, to supervise.  It ended up being a great experience!  This was not a new diagnosis, but this child recently had some diet changes, his teacher had asked me some questions, and it seemed the perfect time to learn more about him.  The school SLP does not really often get involved in swallowing treatment, but I learned about ways that I can be involved, and how I can be an advocate for swallowing safety at school, along with things I can do to help facilitate growth, even though I’m not likely going to do actual swallowing treatment. (though, to be sure, I think the ability to swallow safely has a pretty profound educational impact!)

Anyway, I did the exam the day the project was due, in true form. I’d call it procrastination, but I feel like it’s not quite that, when every moment is filled.  It’s just a matter of prioritizing what has to be done when, and this didn’t have to be done until that point.  I spent the rest of the semester preparing and learning what I needed to know.  I write quickly, so the actual write-up of the 5-page paper was possible.  And clearly it went well, as I did get full credit.

Do I feel prepared to take on dysphagia cases in a clinical setting?  Well, yes and no.  I would have a pretty steep learning curve if I was thrown into a situation where I had no one else to consult, but that won’t happen.  That’s what the clinical externship placement will be for–to give me the experience in a situation where I’m still learning.  However, I definitely have the background now to be able to do a lot!  I know the anatomy and physiology.  I know what might be going wrong.  I know how to do the bedside swallow exam.  I know about treatment techniques, and how to decide which technique would be appropriate.  I learned about treatment from NICU to Skilled Nursing Facilities.  I know about how the Modified Barium Swallow Study works, along with the Flexible Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing.  However, I have not performed either of them, nor have I seen them performed, or any other instrumental evaluation.  That is where I hope to gain experience in my hospital placement (probably Summer 2012).

In learning more about dysphagia, I also found a great Facebook page about Dysphagia Therapy, where I have also learned a lot.  Also, for our final our class created a resource guide for many web pages, books, blogs, products, classes, and CEU options related to dysphagia.  It’s great to leave the class with something else so practical.  In the field of SLP in general, including dysphagia, it is critical to keep up with continuing education.  The treatment of dysphagia is always growing  by continued research and study.  I look forward to many years of learning more, now that I have the knowledge to be able to learn more from these sources.

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Thirty Days

Today marks the first of thirty days where I gain an extra 20 hours a week (some weeks a lot more, some weeks a little less) to do whatever I want.  Twenty hours where I don’t have anything in particular that I have to do.  That’s right, it’s semester break!  Astute readers may notice that it’s been quite some time since my last post.   My good intentions of posting regularly fell away as the semester went on, consuming every moment of my time.   I was either doing work, or actively avoiding doing work, at which time I have no energy to do anything productive, including blog.  I’d like to believe it was a particularly hard semester, but I’m not fooling myself.  I don’t think there will be any easy semesters from here on out.

But right this moment, I’m indulging in thinking about what I will do in the next 30 days.  Being married to a pastor (and having spent my whole life listening to at least a sermon a week from some pastor) has its benefits.  There are also downfalls, like thinking of everything in sermon bullet points, best if they start with the same letter or sound.  So as I think about what I want to do, I keep finding myself building on letter categories.

In these thirty days, I will:  Run, Read, Relax, Rest.  Those of you who are Facebook friends–OK, nearly all of you–might recognize that as a status update from last December.  I’m feeling particularly creative today, though, and I’ve thought of some more.

First, I’d add Write and Recipes to the Rs.  Cooking and writing are very restful to me, and trying out new recipes is always fun, but something I do less when I am very busy.

Or, I was considering:

  • Kids, Cook, Creative projects, Coffee, Clean

That one breaks down a little at the end (I’m sure my husband broke out into laughter when he thought about me finding cleaning fun…), so I thought I’d try again.

  • Games, Gardening, Groaning with laughter after watching favorite TV shows I’ve neglected
  • Sleep, Sun, Scrabble (OK, Words With Friends, but work with me here), Sit around and do nothing (probably most accurate!)
  • Dates with my husband, Dreams (as I sleep more)
  • Early to bed, Eat, Energy
  • Family, Friends, Facebook, Fun

After much consideration, though, I’ve decided to stay with the “th” theme, to connect to my thirty days.  Here are my general plans for this semester break.

  • Thank.  I will thank Carl for being such a wonderful support during this time, and the summer to come.  I’m not quite sure what exactly that will look like, but I know he would appreciate help with the laundry, organizing my clutter that has accumulated, and more time spent together in the evenings.  Consistent date nights where I’m not thinking about the work I’ll do when I get home will also be attempted.
  • Three.  This one is for the kids.  I try to be present as much as I can, but I know I’m distracted a lot when in classes.  So, for thirty days (and then for the two weeks before leaving for boot camp when I am out of school-work), I want to read books, play games, do projects, go to the library, go for bike rides and walks, snuggle more, and spend great time with my three wonderful children.  The only activity we currently have going on is soccer for Humorous Thinker, so we’ll have plenty of time together.
  • Think.  I will leave time to think about whatever I want to think about.  It might include topics related to Speech-Language Pathology (let’s be realistic here), but will also include time in Bible study, reading about education, and any other topic which might inspire me.  I learned over winter break that it took me time to be able to read fiction, after being so engrossed in studies, and I wasted a lot of time where I just couldn’t get into a book.  So this time, I’m starting with nonfiction (first up is that Tiger Mother book I’ve heard so much about), and I might add a fiction book after a week or two, if I find one to inspire.  And I will hopefully spend some time thinking and writing, because that is an enjoyable activity for me.
  • Therapy.  OK, I still have to work during all thirty of these days.  But I don’t have enough time at work these days (caseload = over 100!) to really put as much time into planning as I’d like.  And it’s the end of the year, which means progress reports soon, and more IEPs than I care to imagine.  So to keep myself from feeling stressed out at work, at least a little bit of my thirty days will be devoted to being better at what I love to do.
  • Thigh.  The only tie-in I could think of for running.  I will work my thighs, and the rest of my legs, and my  lungs, and throw myself back into running.  Though I’ll be busy this summer at boot camp, I want to establish a pattern in the almost-two months before it begins.  I know I’ll need the time running when I’m there.
  • Thousand.  OK, if I do the math, it’s more like 240, but it will feel like a thousand.  I want to get a good 8 hours of sleep each night, but I’ll settle for as many as it takes to feel rested.  I’ll still drink coffee, but only because I love it, not because I need it.
And I think I’ll stop there.  If I keep going, I run the risk of making myself too busy, and trying to fit in words like thalamus, which brings me right back to classes.

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