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First Day of Clinic!

31 August 2015



The time has finally come for me to begin my first clinic placement of graduate school. Today was the day, and, like most people, I was filled with a plethora of emotions-- excited, scared, nervous, inspired. How will I begin to build my clinical skills in just 15 short weeks? Will I show improvement by midterm? Will my supervisor like me? After all, my supervisor holds some of my clinical success in her hands (by grading me). Luckily, the first day went very well! 

I should preface this by saying my program doesn't have a traditional on-site clinic. So, from day one, all of the students are out in the community. The first two semesters we go to our placement one day a week, and after that we go 4 days a week. This semester I'm placed at a medical daycare providing early intervention services to children aged 1-5 with medical comorbidities. This is actually right up my alley, as I've worked in a daycare for the past 7 or so years. So, I was (and still am) very excited to work in this part of the field. 

Since this was my first day, I wasn't required to do any therapy. Instead, she let me watch her and occasionally jump in to try a technique or build rapport with the children. I liked this, as many of the children were still working on prelinguistic skills, which I had no idea how to treat. I was also able to see how a typical session is run (since these are all play-based) and see what she does in the case a child doesn't listen. (Seeing that they don't always listen to her also built my confidence, as I was -- and still am-- nervous about how to handle that.) The day was also spent getting to know the nurses and office staff, as well as getting acquainted with where materials were. This is especially important, since we will be providing feeding therapy to some children, so I have to know where the thickening agents are located. 

Overall, it was a great day, and I'm a little less nervous to continue this semester. It'll definitely be a great experience since not many students get a chance to do early intervention or get experience with more medically fragile children. We'll see how the semester goes, though, especially since I will begin treating some children next week!

Let's Talk...Vacation! Linky

21 July 2015


This summer is just all about linky parties! Kim over at Activity Tailor is inviting everyone to link up and talk about their summer vacation, and I'll be doing just that!

I've actually had quite a bit going on this summer...

Check out everyone else's posts here!


First, I graduated... Yay! I now officially have a BA (Honors) in Comm. Science and Disorders! I received Honors (the real title is 'Bachelor of Philosophy', or a B.Phil, modeled after the Ph.D) because I did an undergraduate research project & thesis and did the whole she-bang of writing it (50+ pages) and defending it in front of a committee. Now, onto my Master's in the fall! We'll see if I do a Master's thesis! 

graduation! 


Then, I hung around my university until the end of May so that I could work in the research lab and go to my first conference! The conference was for the Acoustical Society of America, which encompasses any type of acoustics you can think of-- speech and auditory acoustics, underwater acoustics, architectural acoustics... there was even a presentation on the acoustics of roasting the perfect cup of coffee. Say what?! 

It was interesting seeing all the different talks on these various topics, although I mostly hung around those that related to speech and hearing. There were also several poster sessions, and the post-doc in our research lab was in one, so I stopped by to see how he was doing.

Over all, it was a great experience... so now I can't wait until ASHA this fall. It'll be my first time there!

My delegate and I! 


And why will I be there? Well, I'm now the 'Regional Councilor' for Region 1 in National NSSLHA! In late June I had my orientation at ASHA's headquarters and got to meet all the other incoming regional councilors and delegates. It was a great experience and I learned a lot about NSSLHA and leadership! So, my delegate and I are now extremely excited to get the ball rolling on activities and other things for our region (PA, CT, NH, VT, MA, ME, RI, Quebec and Nova Scotia.)... And one of the perks about being on National NSSLHA's Executive Council is that I get to attend the ASHA convention and help run NSSLHA Day! So I'll be seeing you guys there!



Since then things have calmed down a little bit... I'm now visiting my boyfriend who lives in Spain. I'm here until next Thursday. After that we'll both be traveling back to the US so he can visit for a month. (He's leaving two days before I begin my Master's program!) So far we've had several BBQs with his friends, gone to the beach, went to some town festivals and visited Bilbao and Durango (both in northern Spain, where he lives.)... Soon we'll visit his aunt and uncle who live near Burgos, and we might even visit Segovia where there are some Roman aqueducts!

What've you all been up to this summer? Will you be at ASHA this fall??

Summer Time Therapy Activities Linky!

13 July 2015


http://kcummingsslp.blogspot.com.es/2015/07/fun-in-sun-summer-time-therapy.html
Check out the Link-up here!


What are two of my favorite things? Summer and linky parties! So, as you can probably tell, I'm excited to join Simply Speech for her summer-themed linky! Although I am not yet a licensed SLP (I'll be beginning grad school this fall), I babysit and work in a daycare, so I'm constantly working with children and trying to find a fun way to (secretly) build their speech and language skills in the process. These are some activities I've done with kids that I think would also be good for speech therapy! As you'll soon see, I love keeping kids active and away from screens, so here are a few hands-on type of activities that I like to do:


image source

- Bubbles- There's a good reason that everyone loves bubbles! First, now that it's summer, you can play with them outside and not worry about a sticky floor. More importantly, they are inexpensive and can entertain kids for a long period of time. In fact, I was able to entertain 4 kids for 40 minutes with bubbles one day! You can use the small bottles, or use the larger wands that come in different sizes depending on what you want to target. They're good for teaching directions. descriptor words, and even breathing control!

Image Source: Flickr (cc) Bugga Bugs

- Pretend Camping- This can be done indoors or outdoors depending on the weather. Children can practice directions by making a tent and making "s'mores"with the real ingredients not heated up or with toys. You can even add in sight words or articulation practice by writing phonemes or words on paper and taping it to the bottom of the toys. Then, just have the child put the sounds or sight words together as he/she builds the s'more. Another fun camping-themed activity is campfire songs! These can target voice issues (like talking to quietly or too loud), articulation or turn-taking.

Image Source: Flickr (cc) Tom

- Parachute- If you have a group, then a parachute might be great for therapy. Each color can correlate to a specific task that the child has to complete. So, say you have two children working on articulation and another working on using adjectives, then red can mean 'say X phoneme or descriptor word in 5 words', while green is 'describe two things in the room with your phoneme or descriptor words'. It's a simple way to combine everyone's goals while working on social skills.


Click here to see what other's favorite summer speech activities are!

Tongue Twisters for 'S'!

19 June 2015


 Here are several tongue twisters that might be useful for eliciting /s/ and even /sh/ or s-blends! Stay tuned for tongue twisters that can be used for other sounds!

1. I saw Susie sitting in a shoeshine shop. Where she sits she shines, and where she shines she sits.
This one works on both /s/ and /sh/, and is a fun alternative to the classic 'she sold seashells...'!

2. Silly Sally swiftly shooed seven silly sheep. The seven silly sheep Silly Sally shooed shilly-shallied south.
Another one to practice initial /s/ and /sh/ sounds!


3. Six silly sisters sitting sadly sawing six silk sacks


4.

Photo credit: memegenerator.net

5. He thrusts his fists against the posts and still insists he sees the ghosts.
 Here is just a plethora of /s/ in initial, medial and final positions, and even some blends and CVCs! 

6.Denise sees the fleece, Denise sees the fleas. At least Denise could sneeze, and feed and freeze the fleas.

7.A skunk sat on a stump and thunk the stump stunk, but the stump thunk the skunk stunk.

This one is perfect for working on some of those pesky s-blends!

Cringe-worthy TV Reference!

13 June 2015

So, this is why it is important that our media presents accurate information.

For those of you who don't know, I'm studying speech-language pathology, but I work in a psychoacoustics lab which studies the hearing mechanism and our perceptions to improve cochlear implant technology. These are wonderful devices that have come a long way since their inception. According the an episode of CSI, though, they cause horrible tinnitus that makes people go crazy and are still highly experimental. No. No. No. I don't know where they got their information, and they should've asked an audiologist for assistance. (The hit TV show ER even had an audiologist they consulted!)
What happened in this episode that made me cringe?

- The murderer would start to break down whenever tinnitus presented itself. Tinnitus can be painful and annoying, so I'm not denying that. What was bad was that we find out that he had cochlear implants implanted when he was younger and we wouldn't have known if they hadn't told us. Why? Because he didn't even have the external part on!!

-Why is the external part important? It's what allows the person to actually HEAR. So the murderer cringing and going crazy due to loud noises coming from the cochlear implant is invalid-- he's essentially deaf without the external part (unless he has some residual hearing in one/both ears). Now that doesn't mean he doesn't have tinnitus, but it's certainly not due to the technology since he wasn't wearing the external part.

-Along the same lines, they implied that the cochlear implant causes input to become very loud randomly. Cochlear implants can be like hearing aids in that once a noise is to level it can almost be too loud, but there are also other parts in it that compress the input to make it audible and comfortable... and they now also have volume control buttons! Plus, why would people use the technology if it makes noises and speech too loud all the time? People use them everyday and aren't constantly affected by the implant itself making things too loud.

Yes, it was experimental in the early days, but now they are widely used. CSI made it sound like they are still experimental and that not many people get them due to lots of complications... Wrong, many children and even adults get them and now most issues revolve around making them discern speech sources and music better.

So, people that work in the media industry, please fact check.

Reasons To Do A Thesis

08 June 2015

As our field is evolving into a more evidence-based discipline, universities are pushing for a more research-reliant curriculum. Students are required to read more scholarly articles and take classes on how to read research. With this piled on top of classes (and in the case of graduate school, clinic), why would a student opt to do an independent study or a full-on thesis?

Here are just a few things I have gained from writing an undergraduate thesis:
(You can check out my thesis here!)



-Gain confidence and public speaking abilities:
Despite being in a more people-focused field, I'm actually on the introverted side of things (but I do love being with people, promise!). By doing a thesis I learned to gain confidence in myself, in asking questions, bouncing ideas off of others and presenting in front of others. In fact, my thesis advisor encouraged me to ask questions on items I didn't understand in the research, which helped realize that it's okay not to know everything at first, and that over time you will be able to synthesize everything!
Why is this important? As a clinician, you will need to be able to describe things to a variety of people who fit along a spectrum of knowledge on the subject. It's also beneficial knowing that it's okay not knowing the answer to certain items clients and coworkers might ask... you just have to consult other sources!

-Realize you know more than you think when responding to questions:
You can never be quite sure of what you know until you have to explain your rationale. My thesis advisor made sure I knew the fundamentals and then explained new things to me. This provided me with the basis of being able to think things through when I had the question portion of my defense and when I explained my research to others. I also understood how other research I read related to what I studied and how those studies explained what was occurring in my research as well.
Why is this important? You can synthesize information from multiple sources and understand how these results can affect or relate to your client. 

-More knowledge in a specific area: 
Not sure what part of SLP or AuD you enjoy most? Or do you just want to learn more about a specific subfield? This is a great way to do that. You don't have to do a full-blown experiment; in fact,  you can do a small independent study that reviews current literature or even a survey to learn about something specific. Or, if you want to do an experiment, you can ask a professor for ideas or do an off-shoot of what he/she is researching (in fact, that's usually how things go. Most don't do their own experiement until the Master's or PhD level. So no pressure!)
Why is this important? Knowing how to read research is a good skill. By doing an independent study or thesis you will also gain more insight into a specific population, which you can use when treating clients with that disorder. It might also help you get a leg up against other people applying for a job if the place of employment focuses on that population! (ie. a thesis on pediatric dysphagia might be seen as very beneficial when applying to a pediatric outpatient clinic)

-Build writing and research skills:
Writing papers, literature reviews, reading other research, running subjects, etc ...all of these skills will improve in the process.
Why is this important? This will help you know how to critically read literature in the future so that you have up-to-date and reliable research for treating clients. You'll also learn how to write in a more professional and concise manner.

Have any questions on doing an undergraduate thesis or working in a lab? Feel free to contact me! You can also read my thesis here!

Facebook Groups for the SLP Student Part 2

31 May 2015

Now that we've covered the reasons for why you should join some Facebook groups, there's one more key item to keep in mind! Can you guess what it might be? ... Social media etiquette! Yes, this might seem slightly boring, perhaps even redundant for those of you who use social media a lot, but I've found that there's a good handful of people who join groups that don't follow the (sometimes) unspoken rules and and regulations. So, without further adieu, here are just a few items to keep in mind when participating in these groups:


You can also check out Part 1 here.

Joining Groups:

- Only join those you're truly interested in. Don't join every SLP group known to man. Are you interested in Autism? Private Practice? Bilingualism? There are groups for all interests! So,  join those you have an interest in so you can meet others in the field and see what issues are pertinent to that little piece of the field.

-Join those meant for students or students and clinicians. It won't be of best interest to join groups meant for families or those who have these conditions. Also, there are some groups for clinicians only. So don't overstep your boundaries by joining those groups just yet.

When Posting or Responding:

- Check to see if your question has been asked. Some questions get recycled every couple of months due to new members joining just to ask this one question. If you search in the group for your keyword you might find an answer! So, try to search on Google or in the group first before reposting a question that might've been asked before.

-Be HIPPA compliant. Also, don't give therapy advice to parents or clients that you have never assessed in person, and especially don't give advice if you aren't yet licensed or competent in that area. Now, that doesn't mean you can't share ideas with other graduate students or clinicians, but just be careful as to how you present your information.

-Try to "Turn on Notifications" rather than responding '.' or 'Following' to keep up with a post. Yes, sometimes you can't do that with the device you are using. Just bear in mind that people ask questions to get answers, not to get notifications for people commenting "." (I've seen some posts with 50 + responses of '...") Turning on notifications is easy, and if your phone doesn't have that option, try writing down the group name and check it later when you get home (or screenshot it to help you remember where it was!).

-Don't use text speech. You want to come off professional; after all, you are still networking in a sense! Plus, your name is on these posts, so other professionals or even your professors might be in that group and see what you're writing!

-Don't have too many cross-posts

-Remember everyone has their own opinions. You might agree to disagree, but do so in a cordial way. Also make sure that if you do use something to back you up, that it's from a reliable source.

Facebook Groups For the SLP Student Part 1

27 March 2015

By now you can probably tell I'm a major proponent of online resources, networking and learning. One source that has filled all three of those things is Facebook. Now, you might say, " but, Trina, how could a SLP, AuD, or CSD student even benefit  from Facebook? What's on Facebook that can help us in the future or even now?!" Well, there is actually quite a lot! So, I've decided to do a three-part mini-series on Facebook Groups for the SLP Student. First up: why to utilize Facebook in your academic (and clinical) career!

check out Part 2 here


Benefits:

-Networking: There are sooo many groups on Facebook. Some are for students only, others are only for practicing clinicians, and others are a mixture (and even a few allow parents!). All of these groups are a chance for you to network, especially if they deal with the population you want to work with or a specific location you want to work at. If you can name it, there's a group for it ( travel SLP, working abroad, starting a private practice, bilingual clients, dysphagia, collaboration between professions...).

-Discussions and Learning: I can't tell you how many discussions occur weekly within all the Facebook groups I'm a part of. And guess what? They are all extremely helpful by giving me insight into current issues in the field or they providing me with information on how to work with a specific disorder. There've been discussions on caseloads, ethics, testing materials, products and even work bags! I've learned a great deal from these, and I know that I will continue to gain knowledge.

-Materials: Quite a few groups share materials! (Mind you, the members don't share materials that one must pay for; rather, they share personal items like their own data sheets). If you want to work in a specific population or just aren't sure how to organize your data, many groups have a folder where materials are kept. Or, you can also just ask other members if they have anything that works particularly well for them.

-Advice: Similar to the discussions, lots of advice is given out on a daily basis. All of the groups I'm in are comprised of SLPs and students who truly care about one another, so I've never felt afraid to ask a question.

Look out for both Part Two and Part Three!

Incorporating Speech Therapy in Your Study Abroad

04 February 2015

Yes! You've figured out a way to afford studying abroad. Now you can finally live your dream and stroll along the cobble streets of Ireland, hike around Machu Picchu in Peru or go to the Holi fest in India. You'll get to take some classes while taking in the local culture-- the ultimate win-win situation. But, most of your classes tend to cover your general education classes, or perhaps they cover the local language and culture. These classes are definitely a good way to become more well-rounded and culturally competent, as they say. But there's one issue; you begin to wonder-- how can I incorporate speech therapy or audiology into my study abroad?

*Any links provided in this post are not paid endorsements, rather just a means of providing readers with further information about the projects. All items discussed are solely my views. *




-Volunteer in a English class/ conversation exchange: Sometimes the local university or language school will have language exchanges that you can take part in. This not only helps the other person, but you can learn some of the local language, too. Depending on how formal you want it to be, you can even meet up and go to different events to learn more about the culture and language while helping your exchange partner (of course, use common sense-- don't go to places you've been told are sketchy-- meet up at busy places and find them through a university rather than online.)If this isn't for you, maybe see if a local university/school will let you volunteer in their English classes.

-Go on a medical volunteer trip or help at a hospital -- This might be more difficult. You can either disregard academics and go on a medically related volunteer trip (there are some that exist that relate to speech therapy or physical therapy). If you know someone that lives in the area and if you have decent language skills, then you can possibly try to volunteer in a hospital or similar organization. One program I found, the Atlantis Project, lets you volunteer in a hospital (not in the speech department) while living in the Canary Islands with the option of Spanish language classes. Not to mention you'd learn about a European healthcare system, which differs from that in the US. I haven't done it, but it looks interesting and would certainly help build medical Spanish vocabulary.

-Find other programs/organizations: If you search hard enough, you can possibly find other programs. One example is how I somehow managed to find a program that is in various locations throughout Spain: T-oigo's Allies in English . This is more audiology-related but still valuable for speech-pathology students. It requires that you're enrolled in a local university and then you just have a child "buddy" who is hearing impaired. You then meet up and speak English with the child throughout the school year.

-Shadow bilingual therapists: Need more observation hours? Try finding an ASHA certified speech pathologist in your study abroad country! Of course, you must make sure the person is ASHA certified, but once that's in the clear then you can shadow the person. Most will work in international schools, but some may do private therapy or work in other locations depending on their level of bilingualism. How can you find them? search using key words like "Speech Therapy (Therapist) Spain" and you might find forums for expat parents looking for services or even a personal website. Go to the 'About Me' page and see if they list where they studied or if they are licensed by ASHA. Another option is to use ASHA's Find a professional--- there's an option to search by country and then you know that the person is ASHA certified (as long as they've kept up the CEU/ licensure requirements).

Any other ways to incorporate language or speech into your study abroad? Please share! 

Reasons to Take Summer Classes

21 January 2015

Who wants to stick around college in the summer? You've managed to live through the past two semesters, snagged some decent grades in your classes and you're just ready for the summer sun! Who would even think about staying and taking classes? That just seems like you're trying to not have fun during the summer.

Actually, there are several reasons why taking summer classes would be a good idea. Of course, it'll keep you in town a little longer (depending on if your summer classes are just 6 weeks or the full 12 weeks), but that can be a good thing, academically speaking and just in general.



In General:
-When staying for classes you can also stay for work to make more money. You can also volunteer or intern during these months while you take classes. Or, you might be able to help in a professor's  research lab since most student aids tend to leave in the summer.

-More time to explore the area. Perhaps you tend to stay inside during the school year, only going out for a few club meetings or to study in the library, leaving you with little knowledge of activities near you. Or maybe you really wanted to hike a local trail or try a Painting With a Twist class... Well, when you aren't taking your summer class, you'll have plenty of time to actually explore the area and try things you didn't have the time for before!

-More time to focus on one class. Depending on how many summer classes you take, you'll have more time to actually focus on the class. Granted, it'll be slightly more fast paced (especially if it's only 6 weeks long), but you won't have 5 other classes to focus on.

Academically:

-It can give you the chance to take a class that you had interest in but may not be able to fit in your schedule otherwise. Maybe you thought Psychology of Aging Individuals or Professional Writing looked interesting but realized that you are maxed out every semester with just your core classes, leaving no room for these fun ones. Well, now you may have the chance in the summer!

-Fulfilling requirements for minors. Sure, you can fit in a class each semester for your ASL or neuroscience minor, but wouldn't it be nicer to have more breathing room during the Fall or Spring semester by taking some of the classes for your minor in the Summer?

-Taking ASHA requirements without as much pressure. Of course, you should talk to your advisor about this, as some graduate schools only want a few classes from community colleges. But, if you're extremely worried about taking Statistics or Physics at your university and heard they are easier at the local community college, this is the best time to take them. Even if you end up taking them in the summer at your university (and not community college) you will still have more time to focus as you won't have other classes to distract you.

-Languages: Learning a language can be difficult when also studying for your major (and minors) during the academic school year. This can especially be the case if you are starting from square one, as most schools have the first two levels (eg. Spanish 1 and 2) count for 5 credits and meet every day. Rather than bogging yourself down in the school year, take them in the summer-- many schools have institutes or even scholarships to learn a language, especially those that are less popular or common. You could also consider taking it at your local community college or studying abroad.

What classes have you taken during the summer? Have you interned or volunteered in the summer?