Friday, October 10, 2014

More people watching

Maybe I don't get out much. But I find people watching at airports incredibly interesting. I'm sitting in a cafe/bar area, eating lunch and grabbing a drink before my next flight in two and a half hours. A man and a woman walk in and sit down at the other side of my long table. The waitress comes over and assume they are a couple and takes their order. The woman is the first to scream "We're not together!" As the man takes a deep breath. She feels awkward now. She orders a sandwich and chips, he orders nachos and a salad. Both order beers. She tries to make him feel better by making small talk. "So why are you in Dallas?" "Conference" "What do you do? Where are you from?" He answers something I didn't understand, but he's a teacher here giving a speech at a conference. She's from Colorado Springs visiting friends. I was rooting for them to go further. Neither had a wedding band on either finger. Do you like to people watch? What was the last conversation you overheard?

Where I'm going

It occurred to me with my last post that I never actually told you where I was going. I am on my way to New Orleans, LA to see the wonderful Stephanie marry the love of her life and re-commune with the AmeriCorps*NCCC. Looking forward to it, and looking forward to a week outside of Atlanta. Also looking forward to my first lesbian wedding. And I don't care if its not politically correct. I'm a UU. What kind of UU am I? I've never been to a lesbian wedding before now and I am 32 years old! And I'm straight but not narrow! I'm so looking forward to this experience and finding out what kind of service this will be. And partying with everyone of course. Getting back to my crunchy granola roots. LOL. Have you ever been to a non-traditional wedding? What was it like? Did you have fun?

Travel fun!

I am posting this from Dallas-Fort Worth airport (yay free wi-fi! seriously Atlanta, get with the program!) and I have had quite an eventful trip so far. I left Atlanta at noon and boarded my flight, no problems. Standing in the jetway, I noticed quite a vivacious young lady who happened to be an Alabama fan. She was standing behind me as I was waiting to board and another woman, in front of me, was wearing a ROLL TIDE t-shirt. All of a sudden I feel someone brushing up against me, and see her dyed blonde hair (she needed a root-treatment badly) and she appears in front of me to scream ROLL TIDE to the woman in front of me. Fair enough. She's spirited, she had a few pre-flight drinks at noon, and she's ready to roll. I continue to board my flight and find my seat. Turns out I am sitting next to the woman I met in the airport and guess who is in front of me? That' right. ALABAMA GIRL! I make my pre-flight small talk and take my seat in the aisle seat of my assigned row. Win for me in the aisle! As soon as I sit down I instantly dread what I'm going to face for the whole flight. I hear Alabama girl chattering about to the rather cute red-head man across the aisle from her. Oh no, I think, this is going to go on ALL FLIGHT. About five minutes in he reveals he is married and I *thought* that was the end of it. Then she continues to run her mouth at above average volume. I think to myself thank god I'm not sitting in his seat and search frantically for my headphones for 5 minutes before I realize I left them in my checked luggage. Damn it. The guy diagonally across from me is taking her like a champ. She is spilling her life story to him, and I can tell he doesn't really want to be the object of her affection but doesn't want to be rude either. At this point I have learned (I'm trying not to be nosy but who can help it?) that she is on her way to Dallas for her mother's wedding. She is 24 and she is dating someone for three months that is meeting her there to be her date for the wedding. Her father was in the military, she went to Alabama and majored in Accounting and works 30 minutes from her home in Atlanta. The plane takes off and I proceed to take out my book. I try to focus on my book, but she is too loud. The beverage cart comes around and she discusses her party lifestyle with the gentleman across from her. She worked as a bartender in college. Her ex broke up with via text on her 12-hour bar tending shift. She seems to be looking forward to the wedding and having fun with her mom this weekend. She orders a jack and coke as the cart passes. He orders a bud light. She orders another rum and coke. And another. She's talking louder and louder. I'm actually enjoying myself. For a while. Then she starts taking selfies with the dude across the aisle from her. The woman next to me smiles at me and we start laughing out loud. She is oblivious. She orders another beer. As we are approaching our destination and the plane starts its dissent into DFW, She begins to curse at the flight attendants when they won't serve her more liquor. She starts professing her love for the man across the aisle. I give him a sympathetic smile and glance. She gets up and moves to the back of the plane. She comes back and angrily sits back down in her seat. She drops her phone four times in a row. Everyone is staring and thinking awkward thoughts. She passes out on the woman sitting next to her's shoulder. Better her than me. Then she starts cursing her mother. It's all her fault she's drunk. At this point we are worried for her. If she doesn't have anyone meeting her at the gate, she's never going to make it out of the airport. But it's not our problem. Someone in front of her snickers and she curses them. The flight attendants come over and tell her to settle down. She curses them too. I'm praying they aren't going to have to land the plane in an emergency, sedate her, and get her off the plane right then and there, but they ignore her. As we get closer, she begins to protest that it should be time to get off already louder and louder. The man across from me is a champ, as she's asked for his number over and over at this point. The woman sitting next to me continues to crack herself up, and I'm laughing looking at her. It was the most entertainment I've had on a flight in a LOOOOONG time. I left the flight thinking, there was no way my next flight was going to be so entertaining. Poor girl though, is all I am thinking now. Everyone is fighting a battle, it makes me realize. She's fighting hers. She will work through whatever it was that was making her act like that, or maybe she won't. It's really not my problem but human behavior like this fascinates me. Found out later she had taken a Xanax pre-flight and was 5 in before the flight and three drinks on the flight. And she was tiny. What was the last good flight story you had?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Another Friday

How is it that a week can go by so fast? I swear I got very little of my non-work items completed this week. UGH. Still struggling with the teacher license board here over stupid shit. And still applying to school districts for sub jobs for stable income. I have to say though I LOVE my adult ESL classes. I almost said in an instructor meeting yesterday that I was considering changing the focus of my Master's from speech to linguistics/ESL teaching but held back for some reason. And I will too because the Applied Linguistics degree at GA State is excellent and so much easier to get into than the Speech Path program (of which I've been rejected twice). So it may just be a better fit. I wish there were more $$$ in it though. As it is I'm only working 20 hours a week (which is doable at $20/hour) but no benefits and the hours totally depend on how many students attend during a particular session. If students drop I am out of a job and because many students I teach are undocumented in the US they can leave and will at anytime during the session. Which just speaks to the nature of the country more than anything. I wonder though if I were to get a Master's in the field I'd be able to apply for University teaching jobs in ESL and it would be steadier work. Just food for thought. Another weekend is upon us and I have another long run in prep for half marathon training and some moving prep. We are moving to a two-bedroom in the same complex in October. It will be worth it, but I hate moving! And especially the same complex. It seems like a slap in the face to pack everything up, move 100 yards, and unpack everything again. I did it in 9th grade when my mom wanted a bigger house and found one in our SAME neighborhood. It seems like a slap in the face. Oh well. Moving up. Cats are doing well. Leonard still has worms that bastard. Tech told us to give him half a pill but he was over 5 lbs so now I have to spend more $$$ and give him TWO pills that he probably won't swallow because he's a CAT. Such is life. That's about it. What fun things do you have planned this weekend?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What is up with blogger lately?

On more than one occasion, I've typed out LONG comments to friends on their blogs here only to have blogger lose the entire message before I hit the publish button. So frustrating! Have you had this happen to you?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ramblings on July 24, 2014

It must be so easy for some to write 750 words. I sit here with my Savignon Blanc, full on pasta and love from kittens, with the boyfriend napping and snoring in the background, and I have absolutely no idea what to write. I could write about how Trader Joe's two buck chuck has always been so good to me. I could write about how Cameron has always been so good to me. I could write about how cute our cat Esmeralda is. And how well she is dealing with the kittens we have acquired. I never thought I'd say this, but I think I am a little bit in love. With Cameron, of course, but also with four bundles of fur that have endless joy to give. I always thought I was a cat person. I will admit that. I knew I was a cat person in Mrs. Weeks' journalism class junior year of high school. Mrs. Weeks would show up in her classroom, and we juniors and seniors would flood in third period anxious to publish a newspaper and while we'd accomplish that once a month, we also sat and looked at pictures of her cats. Persian, siamese, tabby, but oh so cute and I wanted them. Mrs. Weeks was the epotime of what I wanted to be in life. I think. Never ambitious, but she had it all. A husband that loved her, a house in a cute neighborhood, a job she could be proud of and that was super fulfilling, and three loving cats. I see what she meant now. As I take care of the four plus Esme as Cameron is at work, I see just how much they need me. It's almost as if this is what I was meant to do. Except its not. I love the cats, and I love Cameron, and I love cooking and cleaning for him and the cats, but I know I was meant to do something more. I have an interview with and SLP in Marietta next Tuesday. If all goes well I should have at least a steady observation and shadowing gig out of the deal. At the very most I am going to ask if there is a position open for an assistant. Paid position. Someone that has a passion for research in the field and learning new techniques. Someone that wants more than where she is now. Someone that wants a career and not just a job. Someone that want nothing more than to interview with an ESL position holder and get the job. Mallory at Victory Church just isn't cutting it for me. Who doesn't respond to their emails? Even if she chose someone else, I would want her to tell me so. So what if she is an open book on the internet. She's battling cancer with a one year old. Maybe I dove too much into her personal life. It shouldn't matter. That's what you get when you put it all online. She's an open book! She owns her own domain name for crying outloud! Melanoma. It's not even a serious cancer. It's what you get when you tan too long. You can remove it in a half hour visit to a dermatologist? Right? But who am I to judge? So she doesn't have the life she wants. She's married and has a kid. That's pretty close to perfect, and what more can she ask for? A heavenly blessing to remove her sun scars? I hope she's happy. Because, no, I won't pay for a CELTA certificate right now. Not on my current budget. And yes, I do want to learn more of the trade of ESL teaching. No, I don't have experience with illiterate citizens, but the only way you get experience is by working, and that I am willing to do. I am nothing if I am not a hard worker. My first trait there. Everyone should know that. I at least diserve a response to my thank you and email follow up. That I feel is owed to me. But who am I if not a whiny, entitled millenial employee looking for a way to MAKE A LIVING AT SOMETHING SHE LOVES DOING. Is it that hard to do? Do I have to wait until I pass the READING SPECIALIST GACE with FLYING COLORS so that I can earn a spot in the SUBSTITUTE TEACHERS POOL of FULTON COUNTY? Yes, if you can't tell, just like the year I graduated, I am a little frustrated. I am a little more wise, a little more experienced, but I little more frustrated. And GEORGIA STATE HAS TO LET ME INTO THEIR SPEECH LANGUAGE PATHOLOGY program. No, I don't want to be a speical education teacher. I want ot be a SPEECH LANGUAGE PATHOLOGIST. AND THAT Is that.  

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


I usually take dreams and dream interpretation sites with a grain of salt. I do. I have always thought it was a cooky science. But lately I've been having weird, scary, creepy ones that I can't shake. So I turned to this site for some guidance....this doesn't make me a quack, I swear!

Last night I had a dream that I was on a college campus I couldn't identify and there were a bunch of in ground pools. The details are fuzzy, but I was walking around with my brother and a friend trying frantically to find MY CAR. I couldn't remember where I had parked it and I was SURE it had been moved by the parking gods on college campuses. This tells me at first that I have spent way too much of my life on a college campus and looking for parking on one. But I was so disturbed by this notion of not remembering (my grandparents are suffering horrible dementia currently so that may have something to do with this) I couldn't fall back asleep. Even now, at noon, after having been awake for six or so hours, I can't shake this dream.

The site above says the following:

"To dream that you forget or can't find where you parked your car indicates that you are dissatisfied or unhappy with an aspect of your waking life. You do not know what you really want to do with your life or where you want to go." 

I have always struggled with this. In a world where I have options, I find it incredibly crippling to make one decision to stick with. Even as I complete an advanced degree in a field I LOVE, I still find it incredibly limiting to be tied down to something for the rest of my life. 

Does anyone else feel this way? 

Does anyone else listen to their dreams and look them up in dream dictionaries? 

What have you learned from this? 

Will my quarter life crisis last well into my mid-life crisis? 

I'm floundering about today....any calming words or experiences are appreciated.....

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Saturday night

I enjoy walking dogs. I really do. Especially if it means i hit 10K steps at 11pm.

I also enjoy manicures and pedicures with massage chairs.

I did both this Saturday and it felt glorious. I also packed all of my textbooks and resource manuals for the upcoming move.

I enjoyed that too.

I think I enjoy change way too much. Tomorrow I have to focus on clothing and organization. I don't enjoy that at all, but I know there will be some that I will have to give to charity/goodwill. That I will enjoy. I'm in this weird limbo now. It's weird having no class/clinic to do for a month. It's weird living life at a slower pace than normal. I cooked pasta tonight and know that I should not eat pasta but enjoyed it immensely.

Weight watchers commences tomorrow. I'm back up at my pre-weightwatchers weight and I'm not happy about it.

Training for my 10K commences this week or next. I've been way too konked out on allergy and stomach medication to do it this month, but I know I must. July 4th I really am running the Peachtree road race for the first time ever and I am stoked.

I get to see Cameron May 30th and we are driving back to GA June 1.

I think I am taking a summer course called Alternative and Augmentative Communication starting June 8th and I get to witness Valerie and Luke tie the knot spiritually on July 19th.

It's going to be a full summer and I can't wait.

October proves to be another wedding month as well.

I continue to learn and grow. In all ways.

Stay tuned. I'm exhausted. :)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Journal notes from 10/1/2013

Keep calm and collect the data!
Keep calm and get the Language Sample!
Write down all the things!
Keep calm and cheer for the cowboys!
Keep calm and articulate!
Keep calm and count the words!
Keep calm and count the morphemes!

How do do fluency therapy:
Keep calm and stretch your words
Speak softly
Play with delayed speech
Cout dysfluencies!
Keep calm mentally curse your supervisor!

Read children's books
Up your word count
Make table

It looks like I have my work cut out for me

Because how can I be an A student and get a C in clinic. Advisors tell me to do a contestation form, which I've never done before, but I'm going to go with it because Professor X is a subjective grader that hates me from my clinic experience last semester.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Thursday, April 10, 2014

This is what I do when I'm waiting for class to start at OSU TULSA

The gerontology department at University of Oklahoma – Tulsa Campus is obviously having trouble drumming up students, and are recruiting like mad on campus. They have students tabling below the spot where I chose to study today and I couldn’t bear the resemblance to a recent Disney song.

22-year-old gerontology major, probably a senior:

Do you wanna study aging?
Come on, let’s go have fun.
Our department is full of funding
All we need is you
It’s like no one cares.

We used to have the students
But now we don’t
I wish someone would explain!

Do you wanna study aging?
(It doesn’t have to be in a nursing home.)

18-year-old male jock:

No, not interested

Senior major:

Ok, bye.

New student approaches

22-year-old gerontology major:

Do you wanna study aging?
I know you really do.
I think old people are really neat
You should come and try it out

I used to be really good at this
But now I’m not.
Everyone just wants to go to the gym.
(Yeah, I’m talking to you!)

It get’s a little lonely
Just me and Esther
…playing the final round of rummy

18-year-old jock

They’re just dying anyway!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Thought I'd post a comment on a friend's wall from earlier.

I'm with Sonja. I received this with multiple reactions, mostly positive, and yes, I just saw the movie over Spring Break. As someone who has struggled with anxiety and holding shit in for years, I found the song incredibly liberating and identified with Elsa immensely (even though my bf will persist I'm an Anna). Sure this song happens at the beginning of her journey. She's scared shitless of letting her powers be seen, as its a sign of weakness. She breaks through, establishes a kingdom/empire, and is lonely, reaches out and eventually finds true love in the form of her sister, one of the most powerful loves in all of society. Not really sure what I'm saying, but I appreciated the "nothing's perfect" element that Disney/Pixar hasn't shown us before. I look at this as a fantastic piece of musical genius that shows us all that the true fun of life is in the journey, no matter how painful that may be.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


For one of my classes, I was asked to reflect on why I am here in the program learning to become a Speech Language Pathologist. This is what I came up with. I am a work in progress.

Module 2, Spring 2014

Thinking back, I am having quite a bit of difficulty coming up with just a few influences in my life that encouraged me to seek out the field of Speech Language Pathology. I can always remember loving my work with children. I have been a babysitter and caretaker since I was 13 years old. As an older sibling, I always felt the need to help. My first job was babysitter and that progressed to camp counselor at 17. Heading to my undergraduate program at University of Georgia (UGA) I honestly had no idea what I wanted to major in and had never heard of the speech and hearing sciences. I entered UGA on scholarship as a duty to my parents, both hard science professionals. My father is a college professor in Geology and my mother is research microbiologist at the Center for Disease Control. It wasn’t a question of IF I was going to college; it was a parental requirement. I entered as an undecided arts and sciences student and waivered too many times to remember between English, Psychology, Biology, and a brief stint as a nursing student before landing on Early Childhood Education and Child Development my junior year. I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a teacher, but it was comfortable. My high school self was very individual and independent. I enjoyed writing for the school paper and trying to beat my own time on the cross-country course. I know I have always loved my language classes. I had experience in the field and it promised to get me out of school before my scholarships expired. I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a teacher and lead an entire classroom. I loved my student teaching experience. I loved watching children grow and play at their own pace, and very much enjoyed learning about the theories behind why children do what they do. I still remember one student in particular, a first-grader that had recently been adopted from India, in my student teaching class. While I couldn’t recognize what it was that was so fascinating about her, I enjoyed the process of teaching her how to speak when she had no words. I had never seen anything like that before.

As I completed my semester in that classroom with her, I learned her history of being left in a crib in an orphanage. It began to hit me real time, not just out of a textbook. I thought to myself “this is what really happens when a child is deprived of sensory stimuli.” With this student, I began to feel a sense of overwhelming panic and anxiety throughout my student teaching experience that sticks with me today. How unprepared was I, at 22, for this task? What experiences have I had that would allow me the satisfaction of teaching this child? I felt like I had too little experiences to teach. I knew nothing. I hadn’t been anywhere aside from in college classrooms. Learning developmental tables of language and physical development, it hadn’t made sense then. I began to piece it together but I still felt like I was missing something in practice. Looking back now, I think it was my confidence that lacked in the classroom, and prevented me from ever successfully becoming a teacher. I substitute taught, and when a position did come open it just wasn’t the right fit. I spent too much time beating myself up for thinking to much, and eventually moved on to explore other areas. People tell me I think too much. I always thought there was something more going on. There was something that I hadn’t found yet.

After my first half-year of teaching first grade (I made it to Christmas before I decided I wasn’t doing anyone any favors by sticking around) and handed in my letter of resignation. I know it sounds super first world to say, but for a child from an academic family who had always succeeded in school and life, this was kind of a traumatic experience for me. I had no idea what was next. Super depressed with no real direction, I went through a period of working retail before I found a program similar to the Peace Corps that was billed as my “ticket out of town” to my next big adventure. The year was 2006, the year after Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast. AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps is an organization that gives young adults aged 18-24 opportunities to serve their community and use new skills. It was modeled after Franklin Roosevelt’s CCC of the World War II days and provided me with an outlet for my wanderlust and curiosity of the rest of the world outside of the state of Georgia. For 10 months (the length of the program) I worked and lived with people that I didn’t know but soon became 10 of my closest friends in some of the most grueling conditions. Have you ever gutted a moldy house in 115-degree heat? Have you ever put shingles on the tar of a roof with a pitch of 5? I did things I didn’t think I would ever do. I received some great training and got to see some of the best parts of the country. When the year was over, I still had no idea about the field of speech and hearing sciences; I didn’t really know it existed. I had no idea what I wanted to do for another year, but the idea of national service was looking better and better, so I signed on for another year of individual service in a state that was foreign to me. Minneapolis, Minnesota was looking for members to serve as classroom assistants and reading and math tutors with the school district. Because of my teaching degree, I was selected for a school in North Minneapolis. The education field still called to me; I wanted to see if there was an alternative to teaching that was not a whole-classroom setting. This was the right fit. I was matched with a fifth-grade teacher that was more of a mentor. I told her my story and where I had been and began working in her classroom and she began to see me for who I was in the classroom. She told me I had great skills working one-on-one and in small groups, particularly in teaching reading comprehension. It was there I could get into the real purpose for reading, language, and communicating. I did a year in her classroom mentoring and tutoring fifth graders who were reading on below a first-grade level. We talked about vocabulary and schema in reading. We built background knowledge. As I watched them enjoy reading throughout the semester, I began to feel more and more confident in my skills as a teacher and as a person.  

I enjoyed working with the Hispanic students in this classroom as well, learning about the processes they went through to learn how to speak and write English well. It was in this classroom that the majority of my learning and self-discovery happened. I find it ironic funny, and quite often bill that year as the year I went back to fifth grade at age 25. I completed 1,700 hours of service there. More importantly, it was at this school that I learned what the field of Speech Language Pathology is and how it helps children learn. I came across it rather accidentally too. A woman of short and slight stature appeared asking for a child one day. And then she did it again. She came back again the next day. It wasn’t until the end of the week that I got the courage to ask for her name and what her role was at the school. She said she was a speech-language pathologist and that she helped students understand why they couldn’t communicate effectively, among many other duties. Eventually I ended up asking her if I could observe in her classroom and fell in love with her job. She worked one-on-one with students doing almost what I was doing in reading groups. She was talking about parts of a story, parts of a sentence, and what words meant. I asked her later about her training and made a mental note to look into the field and the requirements. The idea of pursuing a Master’s Degree was not something that I felt like committing to at the time, but I filed it away for later. I was drawn to the variety of topics covered in the field, the ongoing learning, and the fact that I could do what I was doing and earn an actual living.

I finished three more years at that school; I was hired on as a classroom assistant to multiple teachers and given the “Guided Reading” responsibility for several classrooms. I read with students on a daily basis for three years. It was an awesome job. This led me to complete additional coursework (always loved school) in Reading Education. I received my K-12 Reading Specialist license in 2009 and continued working as a classroom assistant while looking for reading specialist positions in my district. Turns out, reading specialists love their job and stay until they are 80. There was not a job in sight in the field, so I continued working as a classroom assistant until school funding was cut. My principal decided that someone that was more authoritative in a classroom would better serve my position as a classroom assistant. I felt defeated, but excited for the change. I still wasn’t ready to commit to a Master’s program at that time.

At the time (2010) I had two friends from undergrad teaching overseas, one in Japan and one in South Korea. I did a bit of research on the two countries and decided I wanted to experience South Korea. I had nothing tying me down to any particular place and was in need of a change of scenery. I was 27 and ready to travel! I interviewed for a few positions via Skype and landed in Seoul, South Korea two weeks later thinking I was being sold into white slavery. (Not quite, but close.) I very much enjoyed learning a little of the language and culture and putting myself in the position of a foreigner. I enjoyed the challenge of 9 (there were only 9 kindergarteners in my private school classroom) Korean students that knew next to nothing of the English language. I learned the importance of routines and songs in English as a Second Language classroom and began to build my confidence as a teacher back. The language acquisition process fascinated me, and I enjoyed watching my students’ sponge-brains soak it up and use it. I was surprised at how fast they learned, as they were fluent by the end of the year. By mid-year they could string together what I know of as a two-word utterance, while I was still struggling to learn the Korean alphabet. I taught students at varying levels of English proficiency that year, from aged 5 to aged 12 and honestly had the best, most interesting year of my life. But my family was far away and eventually the workaholic culture of Korea got the better of me and flew back to my hometown (Atlanta, GA) when my contract was complete after a school year. 

Living in my hometown in my childhood bedroom proved to be challenging but I made the best of it by completing my Certified Nursing Assistant license, getting a job a group home and taking the leveling classes I needed to enter graduate school in Speech-Language Pathology. The year was 2011. I loved working with adults with Down’s syndrome and hearing their life story. I particularly enjoyed coaching them through the process of a complete conversation. I enjoyed helping the ladies there live more independent, full lives. I was the full-time live-in weekend support associate at a home for four ladies with varying degrees of disability, all cognitive in nature. Every weekend I gave up my social time to spend with the sweetest ladies on earth. We laughed, we cried, we fed a lot of ducks and went bowling more than I can count. When I wasn’t working, I was in class learning about how such disorders affect the brain and the language centers. I didn’t have much of a social life that year, but it didn’t bother me. I absolutely loved my classes and they were tying in well with my work. I enjoyed being apart of my new family; we were a family when I was at work. I taught one of ladies how to open an e-mail account so she could talk to family out-of-state. We worked on reading and writing skills through e-mail and functional communication. I worked with her roommate on controlling her volume in the house to an appropriate volume for the situation. (This is a skill that I have problems with at times, but self-awareness helps immensely!) I still communicate with them by e-mail today and enjoy hearing updates of their lives. At the same time I was working at the group home, my grandmother was battling a rare-to-us swallowing disorder that followed a stroke. I remember learning about this in my Anatomy and Physiology class at Georgia State University and enjoyed connecting the dots thinking that I am even more excited about my newly chosen profession. I was fascinated when taking her to appointments at the Emory Voice Center in Atlanta and learning about the Modified Barium Swallow procedure. The speech pathologist at Emory was never able to cure my grandmother’s condition, but I have hope that research is progressing in that direction.

After two years of leveling classes while working as a group home assistant and Home Health Aide, I decided it was time to get serious about the grad school process. I had applied to the graduate programs all over Georgia but without the leveling classes all said that I should wait until I finished more classes to apply. I was denied acceptance two years in a row for lack of clinical experience. They would let me take classes but they wouldn’t let me practice in their clinic. Without the clinical experience I wasn’t a right fit for the program. There was no way to get the experience without being in the program. Talk about a catch-22! I was caught in a wheel and felt stuck. I had never really taken off in my teaching career, but I am hard worker and no really recognized that. I finally decided to apply to Oklahoma State University on a whim from a faculty member in a different department and got accepted here. My first semester was rough. Without the clinical experience my confidence waivered. My anxiety flailed and my performance in Voice Disorders class was abysmal. I loved learning about my stuttering client as I worked with him and I loved learning how phonological processes affect speech. I loved Ms. Tefft’s Language Disorder’s class and all of the mentoring I received from her was immensely helpful. Seriously, that woman is a genius in our field. Turns out I was still missing several of the leveling courses due to poor advising at my previous institution. I tried really hard not to let this stand in my way of becoming something I know I’m meant to become. I am still interested in the field. While sitting in Leslie Baldwin’s class this semester, I learned about the SLP-A position for the first time.

I’m still on a journey obviously. I continue to reflect on my personal growth and learning processes as my first year in the program and continuing to take leveling classes that my talents and confidence level is more suited to an SLP-A position. I’m exploring that field extensively at the moment. I know I love the technical nature of language therapy. I am fascinated by what I am learning, but I don’t feel confident I can lead as well as I have to as an SLP. I’m thinking that an assistant position will allow me to build confidence while I continue to learn. I know life is a journey and as cliché as it sounds, I’m learning to love the process.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

More earthquakes?

Who needs the scare of a tornado when you have these daily?

Or maybe it was this one?

I seriously just felt aftershocks from something. I'm supposed to be asleep.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Hearing problems for your child?

            Children with hearing loss have the option to use three main systems for communication. First, there are systems emphasizing listening and spoken language (LSL). The most common of these systems include the auditory-oral approach and the auditory verbal approach. Next, there are manual-visual systems for communication. Manual-visual systems include American Sign Language (ASL) and Signing Exact English (SEE). These are non-verbal systems that include communication with only visual information present. Finally, there are systems combining visual and auditory information. The most commonly used visual-auditory systems include the Total Communication approach (TC) and the Cued Speech approach. There are many similarities and differences between the three communication methods for children with hearing loss. The following will define these approaches as well as explain the similarities and differences between them (Schow & Nerbonne, 2013). 
              In order for a child to use a listening and spoken language system, he or she must have some residual hearing left. These systems use hearing aids, cochlear implants, and FM systems to maximize language development and establish spoken language in the child. A child that receives therapy using an auditory-oral approach will be educated with other children with hearing loss and therapy will target speech, language, and hearing development while parents are given activities to do at home for more practice with their child. Speech reading is not emphasized during an auditory-oral approach (Schow & Nerbonne, 2013). An auditory-verbal approach is similar to an auditory-oral approach in that they both rely on the use of residual hearing, hearing aids, cochlear implants, and amplification systems. However, auditory-verbal approaches focus more on auditory skills instead of visual cues. An auditory-verbal approach will teach parents how to incorporate spoken language activities into daily life (Schow & Nerbonne, 2013).
              In a manual-visual system, only visual cues are used. American Sign Language (ASL) and Signing Exact English (SEE) are most effective with at least one parent that signs in the home to ensure carryover and practice. In order to implement these systems, ASL must first be established as the first language in the home (Schow & Nerbonne, 2013). The child must maintain access to fluent speakers of ASL and the use of amplification when using this is optional since few auditory cues will be used. English is often developed later after ASL has been established and the child becomes fluent in the signing system (Schow & Nerbonne, 2013).
              Systems combining visual and auditory information include the Total Communication (TC) approach and the Cued Speech approach. Total Communication uses manually coded English (SEE), fingerspelling and gestures in addition to residual hearing and speech to maximize language learning for children with a hearing impairment (Schow & Nerbonne, 2013). Like LSL approaches, the use of amplification and hearing aids or cochlear implants is encouraged during a Total Communication approach. During a Total Communication approach, adults that work with the hearing impaired child would use speech at the same time as they use manually coded English and fingerspelling (Schow & Nerbonne, 2013). The Cued Speech is similar to the Total Communication approach in that visual cueing and speech happens simultaneously. They are also similar in that they maximize the use of residual hearing. However, adults that use this approach with hearing impaired children use a set of hand shapes and movements that they learn previously to working with the child. The hand shapes are used to differentiate sounds that look similar when coming from the lips (Schow & Nerbonne, 2013). Both of these approaches require commitment from the family to help carry over what has been learned from the therapist and at the child’s school.
              Over 90% of babies born with hearing loss are born to hearing parents that don’t consider themselves culturally Deaf or part of the Deaf community (Schow & Nerbonne, 2013). Because of this, many families are likely to include an approach that emphasizes spoken language. It’s also important that families be realistic in their expectations for their child and their own language-learning abilities. If ASL is not going to be used in the home it will only negatively affect a child with hearing loss. However, if a child does not have any residual hearing and must rely on visual cues for communication, it is essential that someone in the family learn a manually coded system so that the child doesn’t fall further and further behind in his or her language development. The approach chosen should really be a decision of comfort, ease of use, and what is the right fit for the child.

Source: Schow, R.L., & Nerbonne M.A. (2013). Introduction to Audiologic Rehabilitation. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.