Monthly Archives: August 2011

Bullying

When I was a kid I had a pet hamster, that I adoringly named Grover. Unfortunately, I was not able to produce my /R/ sound, so Grover shortly became known as “Gwova.” By being teased and imitated at school, I quickly learned what other people heard when I spoke… and I was very embarrassed about my speech. Looking back years later, I consider myself to be incredibly fortunate that this teasing did not lead to bullying, but sadly not the case for most children.

It has been a goal of mine, since becoming a speech-language pathologist, to not only work on the communication difficulty itself, but to target self-esteem. Speech-language pathologists often find themselves faced with the bullying epidemic. They may work in schools, where most bullying typically occurs, or they may work outside of schools, but with students that are frequently susceptible to bullying, for example, children with communication, developmental, and/or social difficulties.

A professor from Pennsylvania State University, Gordon Blood, has done extensive research on bullying and feels that speech-language pathologists have a role in managing and reducing social bullying. Examples of social bullying are: a child not being allowed to join a game, to participate in conversation with peers, or becoming the subject of teasing or negative gossip, in turn causing children to experience emotional and/or academic difficulties. Blood says, “In all bullying, there’s intent to do harm, and a perceived power imbalance.” Speech-language pathologists are in a position where they can often have a strong role in restoring the balance of power that is disrupted in bullying. Instead of encouraging a child to ignore the problem, or pretend not to be bothered, it is recommended that professionals, such as speech-language pathologists, teachers, and parents do the following: 1) Listen to the child. Give them non-interrupted time to speak. 2) Praise the child for discussing the bullying – it can be incredibly hard for children to talk about. 3) Encourage the child to build his or her social network – one or two friends is all most children need to stick up to a bully.

Remember that the common goal for children that experience bullying is to develop their confidence enough to overcome bullying before it has negative effects on their learning and health.

Information obtained from Speech-language pathologists positioned to help victims of bullying, January 7, 2011, written by Gordon Blood, Ingrid Blood, Michael Boyle, and Gina Nalesnik from Pennsylvania State University.

Written by:
Michelle Cameron, M.H.Sc. S-LP(C)
Speech-Language Pathologist, Reg. CASLPO
 
The Speech Therapy Centres of Canada
www.speechtherapycentres.com
 
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SLP’s, Reading, and Math

Parents often ask why, we, as SLPs work with their school-aged kids on reading and math. It is sometimes difficult to see what our role is in these subjects. We are not tutors, we are not teachers, we are language specialists. What this means is that as SLPs, we need to figure out whether your child is having difficulty with actual math and reading concepts, or if the breakdown in comprehending the language used in those particular subjects.

For examle, in math the most difficult tasks are word problems. Most children will find this to be the most difficult, but it is not the addition/subtraction/ multiplication/division that causes the breakdown; rather it’s the way the questions are worded. These students are having a problems identifying what the question is asking, distinguishing the most important from the irrelevant information among other language tasks. Without these skills,  students will not be able to answer or interpret the problem properly.

As another example, with reading tasks, so often we see kids that can read well but when it comes to comprehending the story and answering questions about the story they become lost. Once again this is a breakdown in the comprehension of story, rather than in the reading itself.

As speech-langauge pathologists, it is our responsibility to target the comprehension of language to ensure academic success. We will provide students with strategies to search for key information, as well as aid teachers in modifying questions and instructions in a way that will be understood by the students. With these strategies in place your child’s academic career will be fruitful and successful!

Melissa Oziel
M.Sc-SLP, Reg. CASLPO
Speech-Language Pathologist
 
The Speech Therapy Centres of Canada
http://www.speechtherapycentres.com/

Speech-Language Therapy in the Movies

As speech-language pathologists (SLPs), my coworkers and I were all excited to see an SLP hold a prominent role in a movie when “The King’s Speech” hit theatres last winter. All of the sudden other people had an interest in a movie we wanted to see!  Little does everyone know we have a few other favourites that circulate around our water cooler conversations, not because they deal specifically with our profession, but because they feature the people we work with.

One of my personal favourites is “Autism: the Musical”.  This is a documentary which follows five children with Autism who take part in a project to write and perform their own full length musical.  Under the guidance of one mother’s vision and many parents determination, the musical allows these special kids to explore their creativity and show off their talents.  As an SLP I loved watching it to get some perspective on thinking outside the box to help children with autism realize their potential and showcase accomplishments.

Another movie I recently stumbled across is called “Wretches and Jabberers.”  It’s the story of two grown men with autism, Larry and Tracy, who embark on a world tour to advocate for people with disabilities.   Larry and Tracy communicate by typing to augment their speech. On their journey they meet
others who use similar forms of communicating. In the SLP world this is called AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) and the movie is a great example of how AAC can be used to open up a world of communicating.  Larry and Tracy’s views are profound and often poetic. I highly recommend it.

Jana Zalmanowitz, M.Cl.Sc.
Speech-Language Pathologist (C)

 

The Speech Therapy Centres of Canada
www.speechtherapycentres.com