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
Jana Zalmanowitz, M.Cl.Sc.
Speech-Language Pathologist (C)
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.
The Speech Therapy Centres of Canada
As a speech-language pathologist, I am often asked “what causes my son/daughter to stutter?”
Unfortunately, there isn’t one, straight-forward answer. Although much research has been done, clinicians and researchers alike are still unsure.
Some researchers think that some people are more genetically predisposed to stuttering. This is why some children exhibit the behaviour and others do not. There are also ideas that this predisposition can interact with a child’s environment to bring out stuttering. For example, some children stutter more at school and some stutter more at home. This means there are certain things about the environment that may trigger stuttering.
So, the only thing that everyone can agree on is that the cause of stuttering is complex. It is dependent on numerous factors and how they interact with one another.
As a parent of a child who stutters, it is important to remember that nobody is to blame. Early intervention by a speech-language pathologist can be extremely valuable to both parents and the child. The focus of therapy should be less about the “why” (does my child stutter) and more about the “how” (can we make it better).
Written by: Jana Zalmanowitz, speech-language pathologist, The Speech Therapy Centres of Canada.
According to the March of Dime, 8% of infants born each year in Canada are premature. The World Health Organization’s definition of premature is an infant born before 37 weeks gestation. Often infants who are born premature have delays in early milestones of development including speech and language. Some of these delays may be due to medical issues related to being premature or the simple fact that they need to focus on earlier growth and development after birth that would have happened before birth with a full-term infant. Wide spread understanding is that these delays and the gap between full term and pre-term infants narrows as the child grows.
Early intervention in the areas of speech and language for children who were born premature can help to narrow this developmental gap. Speech-Language pathologists can work with parents to implement strategies to increase language development, help parents to understand the stage in language development that their child may be at, what to expect and where to go from that point. As with any skill which may be delayed or difficult, early identification and intervention is key to success; and key to narrowing the developmental gap for premature infants.
Written by: Stephanie Mathias, Speech-Language Pathologist, The Speech Therapy Centres of Canada Ltd.