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Stories from the Field

Your favorite Ron Goldman Story

Tina Eichstadt is a senior Product Manager for speech and language products.

Thousands of us knew him.

Most of us could come up with at least one story connecting him to our lives in some way.

Virtually 100% of us were influenced by him and his work, directly or indirectly.

We said goodbye to our dear colleague, mentor, and friend, Dr. Ron Goldman, on August 18. When someone this influential in our midst departs, we do well to pause and mark the time.

What’s your Ron Goldman story? Maybe you attended one of Ron’s presentations over the years. Maybe you worked with him on a project. Maybe you taught alongside him as a fellow faculty member. Maybe you sat in his classroom. Maybe you cut your teeth in assessment on the Goldman-Fristoe (GFTA). Maybe you watched him get one of his numerous awards and observed the man behind the work. Maybe you listened as he expertly wove a story with an important lesson about our business or life in general. Maybe you read one of his papers. Maybe you walked down the hall/street for a moment or two with him at a conference. Maybe you asked for his autograph. Maybe he called you when something in your life occurred. Maybe you shared a meal or one of his best wine recommendations.

Ron Goldman was a scholar, a leader, a visionary, a mentor, and above all, he was a gentleman. His approach to leadership reminded us of Robert Greenleaf’s 1970 definition of servant-leadership:

“The servant-leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. The best test is: do those served grow as persons; do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?” (Spears, 1998, p. 1)

This desire to serve his students, clients, and colleagues seemed to stem from Ron’s genuine enjoyment of people and human communication. He loved conversation. His service to individuals led to his service of the profession through tools, training, and time in key volunteer roles. Other leaders have risen from his efforts.

Many have said, “He was one of our best—one of the greats in our midst.” What inspires us to say this? What is the measure of the legacy of a leader? Publications and products? P-values and progress reports? Important items, but maybe not.

Perhaps by remembering Ron Goldman among our “leading leaders,” we are reminded that at our core, we are personal communicators, not just professional communicators. We are as strong as a profession as the service we bring to help each other, and our clients, grow personally and professionally. Our clinical skills are muted unless we apply the amplifier of our humanness. By looking inward, we prepare ourselves for human communication. By looking outward, we lead others to their heights of communication proficiency and excellence.

Our history is as important as our future, and considering both helps us engage in the present. Reflecting on Ron’s contributions demonstrates the importance of building the profession through building people, not just products and policies. Ron’s energy and dependability were matched by his combined gifts of insight and execution. We are the better profession for him. Remember the stories!

Spears, L. C. (Ed.) (1998). The power of servant-leadership: essays by Robert K. Greenleaf. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

An Interesting Study on Home Technology Use

Tina Eichstadt is a senior Product Manager for speech and language products.

Recently I was alerted to a consumer survey that was done by SoftwareAdvice, a group that reviews various software applications and provides consultation to consumers who are looking to buy software in many different areas. In the SLP world, they provide reviews on apps as well as electronic medical records (EMRs) and billing software.

This was a US-based speech therapy software survey of more than 2,000 clients and/or the caregivers of clients. Questions centered on how clients and their families think about technology for use at home and how they choose what to use.

Not surprisingly, our influence as SLPs is significant. Our clients listen to us and take our recommendations seriously. In fact, according to this survey, our recommendation is their top criterion when making choices about buying software for home practice. Because we are growing rapidly as a profession in our use of technology, it stands to reason that our recommendations are growing as well.

What does this mean for us? As I reflect on this survey details and listen to our clients tell us what they think, several key takeaways come to mind:

1. Evidence–We must confirm and document the evidence base that supports the use or recommendation of any technology. Evidence-based practice (EBP) is paramount to us as professionals. Before we recommend, we should also provide evidence that what we are suggesting is grounded in research. Yes, pretty, engaging pictures and animations come second–or at least fourth in this study.

2. Accountability–We are accountable on a number of fronts for the recommendations we make. Aside from our EBP principles, our Code of Ethics requires us to essentially, “do no harm,” among other things. This includes not giving a client something that will hurt them or make them worse, of course. But it also includes not recommending a client to purchase or use software that will not truly help in the area of their communication disorder. The survey highlighted the percentage of respondents that saw low/no benefit from software used at home. What the data don’t tell us are how many of that subset of “no improvement” respondents were recommended the software by their SLP, and once no help was found, how quickly the trial/use was stopped and something else was provided. The clinical relationship can be quite nuanced, as can be the timing of the treatment activities. When recommending software for home use, we should monitor that use consistently and change course if improvements are not seen.

3. Sensitivity–First, as one SLP in the survey analysis points out, communication is done in a human context. Technology is simply a tool that can support what we do professionally, but it’s not always a given in a therapeutic process where the goals encompass human-to-human interactions. Second, our clients and their families are likely as busy as we are and we need to honor their ability to give time to home practice with exactly the right things they need to do at home between visits/sessions. We also should be sensitive to 1) their ability to afford the personal purchase of software; and 2) the cultural factors that may or may not advise the use of software or the specific types of tasks within that software.

So many variables to consider! This survey research gives us a glimpse into the attitudes and behaviors of our clients and their families. We, as SLPs, do well to reflect on our own practices in the use of technology and continue to discuss all the ways it can be harnessed successfully–with the right clients, in the right places, at the right times. Personalized, evidence-based learning that can be measured. That’s the bottom line.

2013 ASHA Convention – Something for Everyone!

Whether this was your first or your 21st ASHA Convention, it’s highly likely that you found something on the program to satisfy your adult learning needs. Even beyond the hundreds of sessions and posters to attend, record-breaking numbers of attendees (yes, we broke the ’97 Boston record!) were sure to give you ample opportunity to engage in our most treasured professional task—talking about talking. Not to diminish the listening, reading, and writing aspects of communication or swallowing, the program was loaded from end-to-end with food for thought and discussion, Chicago-style.

As I reflect on what I learned this year, a few observations come to mind:

1. As a profession, we “went digital” rather quickly.
A few years ago, only a small-ish number of us were using technology to do actual clinical practice—at least to the extent that we talked about it publicly. Now, not a day seems to go by where there isn’t an active, public conversation about the use of all types of technology for all types of clinical, research, and training-based applications. Clearly, the digital medium now is part of the daily fabric of our work and our expectations. Looking outward, some professions have not made the leap quite as quickly while others are ahead of us, digitally speaking. What does this mean in terms of inter-professional collaborations or in terms of working with clients and families? Time will tell—but it would be wise for us to continue to reflect on the pace of this change and its impact on our work.

2. In a related way, telepractice is no longer a “new” thing.
In 2012, there seemed to be just a handful of sessions related to or on the topic of telepractice. This year, there were over 30 and many more I heard that addressed the topic indirectly. Like other “new” service delivery models, it will have growing pains in some ways, but it’s here to stay. The environment of funding and the shortage of SLPs nationwide will demand it, along with some of our families who value the notion of telepractice for convenience, a better match to their own values, or for some other reason. Having attended the SIG 18 meeting this year as well as participating in a session on telepractice, this observation was only strengthened. If you’re not doing it today, there’s a good chance you’ll be doing it tomorrow in some way.

3. We might consider spending more time on the topics of leading and following.
I scan seven ASHA Community digests daily, plus a few SLP-related listservs outside the ASHA space. Some of these listservs/communities can have an average of 10–20 (or more) posts each day. When I listened to conversations around me at ASHA, I was struck by the increased intensity of the same topics that appear daily on these digests I follow. Many, if not most of us, are situated in the middle of larger organizations. As we change and grow as a profession, we will continue to need to reflect on our leadership roles and our ability to influence the organization around us. In my view, there’s no better place to be than in the middle of an organization. From the middle, I can see more of the organization than those in other places and watch for the harmony and disharmony in the way things get done—or don’t get done. What better place for a communication expert like an SLP to create value for client/families as well as our colleagues. We need to get better at “leading up” in a constructive way. Being a successful SLP is bigger than just our caseloads and workloads—it’s about human communication in general.

Of course, I learned some very practical (and cool) things too! If you attended, I hope you reflected yourself and supported someone else in their own reflection. If you weren’t able to attend this year, I hope you’ll connect with someone who did and ask to share in the learning. We’re all in this together, after all.

Recap of the 2013 ASHA Schools Conference

I had the opportunity to attend the ASHA Schools Conference this year, and I’m so glad I did. The conference was terrific in every way. First off, the conference was held in Long Beach, California where the weather was consistently beautiful…a cool 80 degrees with a breeze. The weather, added to the ocean view, sand, and shops and restaurants along the boardwalk, may have tempted me to skip the conference sessions, except the sessions were too interesting (and fun!) to skip.

I attended both of Sylvia Diehl’s sessions: Executive Function in Children with Autism: Challenges in Schools, and Social Perspective and Literacy in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Dr. Diehl was lively and engaging, and came straight to the point. She cited the most recent research for the first few slides and then went directly into implications for treatment. I, and all the people sitting around me, scribbled notes until there wasn’t any room left on the page. Barbara Hodson was as informative as ever about enhancing phonological and metaphonological systems of children with highly unintelligible speech. Again, I wrote notes until my hand cramped. Then there was David Hammer. He shared therapy strategies to try with children with apraxia of speech. Although his session was on the last day of the conference, when I’m usually brain-dead, Mr. Hammer was so enthusiastic in sharing his strategies that I was wide awake for the session and surprised when the session ended. I could have easily sat through another hour listening to him and watching the slides he presented. Getting all 10 hours of my CEUs has never been this enjoyable!

One last note…thanks to everyone who stopped by the Pearson booth and chatted with me. I’m sure not all 1,200 of the people who attended the conference stopped by the booth, but it seemed like it. You kept me and my colleagues busy with your questions about CELF®-5, feedback on other products, insight on current school policy, and story sharing about what you’re doing with children in schools and clinics around the country. Truly, while the conference setting was beautiful and the sessions outstanding, you were the highlight! Thanks!

Why School-age Children Who Stutter Aren’t Motivated for Therapy

I get queries all the time from clinicians all the time asking me about me about why their school-age children who stutter aren’t motivated for therapy. I typically start by asking them about what their goals are for the child. The answer generally falls along the lines of “helping him learn to use easy starts (or some other technique) across various settings.” That is a reasonable goal, but I’d like to encourage clinicians to think of such a target as a process for achieving a goal rather than as a goal unto itself. For me, the real goals of therapy should have something to do with communication. What is the child having difficulty doing, with respect to communication, because of his stuttering. If we set the goal as helping the child communicate more easily, in whatever situations or tasks are important to him, then we tend to find that they are much more invested in therapy. So, rather than saying “child will use XYZ technique,” clinicians can work with kids to find out if they’re having trouble reading out loud or talking to friends at lunch or telling a joke or talking on the phone or solving problems at the board or giving their book reports. We then take those as the targets of therapy. Say to the child, “Today we will focus on making it easier for you to say what you want to say” and use the specific situations the child highlighted as your examples. Of course, the process for achieving that goal may involve using a technique (and, importantly, it may also involve helping the child learn to come to terms with and accept stuttering, desensitizing the child to stuttering, reducing tension and struggle in the child’s speech mechanism, helping others in the environment learn more about stuttering, etc…)… But, when the child sees that the purpose of therapy is to help him do the things he wants to do, he often becomes much more motivated. An analogy? The purpose of a diet is not to limit calories; it is to lose weight. Nobody would want to go on a diet whose sole goal were to limit calories…we want the product that comes from that process. In my opinion, many speech-language pathologists tend to get too focused on fluency and forget that there is a big picture out there – the child’s communication. If we keep our eyes on the real prize, then we (and the child) will better understand the reasons that we have to do various drills or other activities in order to help us get there.

So, how does this all relate to the OASES? Well, the OASES was specifically developed in order to help clinicians (and our clients – whether they be school-age children, teens, or adults) keep our focus on communication. The OASES is based on a model that puts daily functioning and quality of life at the forefront. Going through the OASES with my clients allows me to talk with them directly about what is affecting their lives, and then I use the results of the test to directly help me plan my treatment goals. We return to the OASES form often, talking about which aspects of communication are affected, and then we plan treatment activities aimed at minimizing the burden of stuttering that the test revealed. As we move through treatment, the OASES also helps me to document my treatment outcomes – what specific changes has the client experienced in terms of his/her perceptions about speaking, reactions to stuttering, ability to manage environmental or situational differences, functional communication skills, and, ultimately, quality of life. These are the things that matter to people (whether they stutter or not), so by addressing these topics, we find that our clients are far more motivated to actively participate in the therapy process.

Back to School!

Speech Language Pathologist
Los Reyes Elementary
San Antonio, Texas

Back to school can mean so many different things to different people. For students it means summer is over and they are no longer able to sleep in, for parents it is finally back to a routine, for classroom teachers it is sleepless nights thinking about what needs to be done to make the first day perfect, but what is it for speech pathologists? The answer is a little bit of everything.

On the surface it looks like the school-based speech language pathologist has it easy for the return of school. The classroom is small so less prep work needs to be done, students don’t typically start speech services until week two of school so naturally SLPs get an extra week “off”, and if the SLP is returning to the same school there is no nervousness about meeting the new “class” because he/she has the same students from year to year. But if you take a deeper look, under all the paperwork, you will find the SLP and it is not as easy as it appears.

As school-based speech pathologists, we look forward to getting to the routine just as much as the next educator. The beginning of school includes more behind the scenes work than can be imagined. One of the top items on the list for back to school is the natural concern for the students. Did they regress over the summer break? Did they continue with the speech homework and drills? Will their new classroom teacher understand them? But it doesn’t stop there. Every year for the past 7 years that I have been in the school-based setting, I return to work with at least one (typically more) email, phone message, or file waiting for me. Someone has requested testing and wants it done ASAP, or a child has transferred into my school and I need to locate the official documentations to determine eligibility, and the number one concern for school based SLPs is, you guessed it, SCHEDULING!! How will I formulate the groups? Will the classroom teachers allow me to remove the students for speech at this time? Will the students get what they need from their speech session?

This year, I opened a brand new school to my district. In doing so everything that is typically weighing on the SLP’s mind at the beginning of school becomes multiplied by 100! I arrived back to work 3 weeks before my contract started and was met with a box of files for students I have never met who are transferring from at least 4 different prior schools. Everything has to start from scratch. Every SLP and school has their own way of writing IEPs, and it is now my job to make sure they all “mesh.” The last month has been spent reading files, understanding goals and objectives written by other SLPs, scheduling ARD/IEP meetings (with a new “district way of doing things”) with parents, and of course scheduling. I have edited and tweaked my schedule at least 50 times in the last week and to top it off, once I thought I had it perfect, technology at its finest LOST my document. Yes, it was technology’s fault because not only is the school new but so are all its computers and printers and there are always things that need to be “tweaked.” Luckily I had a printed copy so I did not have to reinvent the wheel, but you can imagine my frustration. We are now in the second week of school and I couldn’t be happier to start seeing my students. I am a realist and understand that many more changes will be done as the school year continues. Students will be evaluated and qualify while others will be dismissed. But I can say with confidence that as the second week of school begins, I am ready and excited to face the challenges. From here on out everything should begin to become second nature again, I say with hope. Students understand their schedule and speech goals, I have become familiar with the students and their needs, as well as knowing my schedule so well I can recite it in my sleep. Of course I plan on being able to complete the oh-so-loved paperwork as if I have been doing this my whole life and nothing has changed. Here’s to the 2012-2013 school year; bring it on!

SpeechandLanguage.com would like to thank Madeleine for writing her first blog for us! Madeleine is also a member of our Speech and Language Advisory Panel.

Be sure to view the webinar, “Build a Foundation for Treatment in the First Weeks of School” presented by Sarah James here.

Better Hearing and Speech Month-With Donuts On the Side (Revisited 8 Years Later)

It is eight years later at Courtenay Language Arts Center, and I have been preparing for my eleventh annual speech poster contest. I am still a speech-language pathologist at Courtenay, which is a thriving elementary school in Chicago. My 65 speech students are busy working on their speech posters for the contest on Friday, May 6th. I spent the last ten months cutting out pictures of images relating to communication (speech, language, friendship, playing, etc), as well as several hundred words on the same topic. The children selected their own pictures from among these thousands of images and arranged them as collages on poster board. The Courtenay teachers will vote on the three top posters to select the winners in each of two age categories.
Courtenay now has State-Pre-K through eighth grade, and has an enrollment of about two-hundred children. Almost half of these students have special needs, and all of Courtney’s classrooms are now inclusive. Additionally, about 75-80% of Courtenay students speak Spanish, but the remaining students speak about twenty different languages as well. I have been at Courtenay for nearly twenty years now, and have been with the Chicago Public Schools for close to thirty. I organized the poster contest to celebrate May, which is Better Hearing and Speech Month in the United States. This contest shows my students, staff and parents the importance of communication, hearing, speech, and language, and how it impacts our entire lives. Winning students have their picture taken, receive ribbons and prizes, and have their names published in the school newspaper. I really enjoy this time of year and the students seem to as well; they are very excited about the contest, and have done an excellent job in portraying their views on communication.

Are you doing anything to raise awareness about/celebrate Better Hearing and Speech Month? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you.


-Ellen Lunz, MS, CCC-SLP


Weekly Links, November 29, 2010

a 6' tall Mr. Bear (PLS-5)

Some photos from the 2010 ASHA Annual Convention on our Facebook page (if you haven’t already, make sure you click the Facebook "Like" button button.). Ok. Here’s a peek (on the left).

Find out what some of Pearson’s SLPs were up to at the 2010 ASHA Convention

If you’re looking for something to really sink your digital teeth into, check out this Primer on Psychometrics from Pearson VP of Development, Dr. Larry Weiss, and Pearson Sr. Research Director, Pat Zureich, MA, CCC-SLP.

ASHA has a fantastic blog, ASHAsphere. It’s full of great content from a number guest-writers. Check out their posts recapping the 2010 ASHA Annual Convention.

If you haven’t joined (or don’t want to join) the conversation on Twitter, be sure to at least check out this search for #SLPeeps on Twitter every so often. The hashtag #SLPeeps is what SLPs on Twitter use to keep track of professional conversations.

Need some last-minute ASHA CE credit? Dr. Chad Nye will be presenting a free webinar on December 16, titled Evidence-Based Practice: Clinician’s Tutorial for What Works. Space is limited, so register early!

A Message from Our ASHA 2006 Annual Convention Scholarship Recipient

Another successful professional conference. Kudos to all convention/conference personnel who work so diligently to provide workshops, sessions, exhibits and accommodations that make our annual event a worthwhile investment.

Although I look forward to attending sessions related to my work setting, because they often provide practical information that can be taken back and implemented with the clients on my workload, I also look forward to sessions that keep me abreast of research in areas of Speech, Language and Hearing which are not the focus my daily practice. It’s part of lifelong learning. I always come away from these conventions feeling very proud to be part of a profession that offers so many opportunities for delivering services that make such positive change in a clients life. The exhibitors keep us abreast of the latest and greatest materials in our profession. Their generosity in sponsoring events, giveaways, little treats that sometimes have substituted for a missed breakfast or lunch (I believe that chocolate is part of the new government nutrition pyramid), conference discounts and overall congeniality is a proven hit with conference attendees as witnessed by the constant buzz on the busy floor.

Not to forget the all important networking with friends and colleagues. It’s not often that we get the chance to just sit and visit and what a setting! Cool patio breezes, clear warm weather, dining experiences and tropical refreshments…for a moment I was back there!

Thank you, Pearson for being an important contributor to the professions of Speech/Language Pathology and Audiology.

Photos from Pearson’s booth:

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Photos from the PPVT-4/EVT-2/The Bridging of Vocabulary Launch Party!

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Summary of 2006 Schools ASHA Schools Conference

My trip to Phoenix for the 2006 Schools ASHA Conference was a blast. I have never been to a national conference so I was really excited to learn that I had been selected as the winner of the scholarship. I traveled alone for the first 10 minutes of my trip. I met another speech path from a neighboring district in the airport before boarding the plane. We became traveling buddies and friends before the quick weekend was over. I heard many great and motivating speakers during the course of two and a half days.

The workshops that I attended covered teaching language through written context, using RtI to serve those simple articulation cases, and managing unmanageable caseloads. A roundtable discussion was held one afternoon and there I learned that my challenges are not unique to me or to my way of thinking. It was both reassuring and encouraging to discover that others encounter the same issues I do on a daily basis. Last, but not least, the exhibitor’s hall was a lot of fun. Vendors lined this huge room and I was able to see, touch and play with all kinds of speech pathology materials. Discounts were offered on all products as well.

The hotel was beautiful, the food was good and the company was great. I came home extremely relaxed and refreshed, but motivated and eager for the upcoming school year. I would recommend the ASHA schools conference to anyone contemplating attending. It was a definite energizer.