Spotlight On:

Jennifer McDonogh

I recently visited Jennifer at Wilkerson and she was showing me her “speech cart.” I was so impressed I asked her to send me a brief description and some pictures. I thought you all would like to check it out too! Jennifer says:

Traveling Cart for Preschool and Self-Contained Students…

This idea came from Jenna Rayburn – Speech Room News (See SLP Traveling Cart Tour).

It helps keep materials organized and ready to go from group to group.

The cart is from Staples

Outsides of cart:

Side #1:  Black Pouch – Holds snacks or treats

Pencil Pouch – Attached with Velcro; holds pencils, pens,

glue sticks, etc.

Side #2:  Outside colored pockets – from Walmart; attached with

Velcro; holds various picture cards; small books. I have

written kids’ names on pockets if there are specific materials

I want to use.

Side #3: Easel with schedule for preschool or to hold worksheets and

activities such as file folder games

Inside cart:

Three magazine files – from Staples (cardboard Bankers Box).

One magazine file holds laptop & my lesson plans/EdPlan notes.

Second magazine file holds Big Mac switch and treasure box for small pics.

Third magazine file holds “I am working for….” reinforcement board; Communication Binder; artic worksheets; activity worksheets; small games (like Chipper Chat)

In the bottom of cart I have wipes for sticky fingers and tissues for all things preschool.

The only thing that is missing is a drink holder for Diet Coke!


Veteran’s Day

Veteran’s Day is coming up next weekend (11/11) so I thought it would be a great time to share some materials related to the holiday.

This is a short passage with picture supports made with “Picture It” software and here are instructions for making a Patriotic wreath(also made using “Picture It”).

I have used this little book several time and have some activities related to it:

However, I can’t seem to find any more copies, and really don’t even remember where I got it. SO….If you would like to borrow mine, let me know! 🙂

How are your kiddos learning about Veteran’s Day?

Chapter 10-Role Models

Today’s chapter post is a little different from most weeks because we have two people for the same chapter. I thought it would be interesting to see if people had similar thoughts and take-aways or if view-points would be very different. See what you think:

Kristin @ Watterson Elementary says:

This chapter opens with Katherine’s arrival at the National Stuttering Association’s (NSA) conference. At the convention, Katherine runs into many familiar faces. She also meets new people who stutter and feels “a deep sense of comfort that is rarely sustained in the grittiness of the real world.” Katherine no longer dwells upon her speech and whether she will stumble. How wonderful that must be to have such an amazing support group where everyone understands and accepts you. Some proclaim that the conference is the highlight of their year. Powerful! This makes me wonder if our students (and/or parents) are aware of resources available such as Are we as therapists intentional about providing our students and families with resources?

Katherine maintains that she did not have any stuttering role models growing up. She has come to realize after interviewing so many individuals, however, that stutterers can indeed be confident and strong. Actresses, singers, nurses, writers and everyday people have come to be inspirational to her. She suspects that for journalists specifically, “writing is a necessary outlet for our screaming internal dialogue.” Have your fluency students expressed a desired career path? Has this been something you have discussed with them during therapy? By the conclusion of the conference, Katherine had traveled over a year interviewing over one hundred people. It was time for her to return to her family’s home in Cape Cod to beginning writing herself.

Initially, she begins her book recounting each person’s story while slipping in pieces of her own journey along the way. She desired to be “nothing more than a shadowy narrator.” As her piece progresses, Katherine resolves to write her book as a memoir. She recalls throughout her life how she wanted to hide her stutter. At this juncture, however, Katherine believes if she “went public with her stuttering, she might be able to invite others to embrace whatever weakness they were dealing with.”

The chapter closes in an emotional fashion as Katherine’s parents praise her courage and express their loyalty and support in her writing as they read her draft. She anxiously awaits her parents’ response to the tough question she posed to them. Katherine is relieved and comforted in knowing how her parents truly felt about her stuttering as it was not a subject that was ever discussed. While they had been concerned about her self-confidence and happiness, they were never embarrassed by her, yet always protective. Both Katherine and her parents conclude that it was each other’s strength that carried them. They sat, hands together, smiling. Although there had been rough moments growing up, Katherine’s parents indeed were her role models. Have you discussed role models or influential people in your students’ lives? I am curious about their responses and explanations!

Lisa Ehrie at Alex R. Kennedy and Jtown Elementary says:

This chapter begins with Katherine attending the National Stuttering Association (NSA) Convention. She was in awe as she listened to all the conversations in the lobby and around the hotel. Katherine said that she couldn’t hear a fluent word anywhere and that she felt she had walked into “…an alternative universe where stuttering was the norm”.  It was interesting that even though Katherine had done many interviews and was deep into her book project at this point, she still had not been with this many people in one place that stuttered. She was fascinated by it and she found a deep sense of comfort that she had rarely found anywhere. She shared several quotes from people who also felt that the yearly conference was a place where stuttering was accepted and reminded people who stutter that they are not alone.

This led Katherine into thinking that she had not really had a stuttering role model growing up. Through her interviews at the NSA convention, Katherine had the revelation that stutters could be strong and confident and could be the “quintessential heroes” that she had in her mind. Katherine went on to share that she had found that so many professionals actually use stuttering to their advantage. Their stuttering had made them more compassionate, understanding of adversity in others’ lives, maybe less intimidating.  Stuttering often made people have a unique and deep appreciation of words and language. I loved hearing that, because as SLPs I think we share that love of words and language too.

At the end of the chapter, Katherine returns to her family’s home in Cape Cod. She began reflecting on her parents and how her stuttering had affected them. She realized she had not ever asked them directly how they felt about it. Her parents both said they were often concerned but that they were never embarrassed. They knew she would keep fighting to become who she wanted to be. Katherine finally realized her parents were her true role models. Katherine seems to have almost come full circle on her journey with stuttering and has gained so much insight and confidence. She also realized that she wanted her voice to be heard in the book, so she decided to change it to a memoir. Deciding to share her life and her personal struggle with stuttering shows just how much her life has changed since those days as a mortified 10 year old who had a “stammer”.

What are your thoughts?

Speech Name Tags

Today Kristin Kelly (SLP at Heuser Hearing and Language Academy) shares a quick tip to help with carryover and awareness of skills:

Here is something I am trying with my students to increase their ability to identify what they are working on, increase staff awareness and informally communicate with parents.  At the end of each session, each student picks out a sticker. They are self-adhesive “name tags.”  My door and room are currently decorated in an under the sea theme and so the stickers coordinate.  I also have plain ones on stand-by for when I run out.  They help me draft a VERY simple sentence about what they worked on.  Examples:  I worked on action words in speech.  I worked on my /s/ sound.  I worked on answering questions in speech.  The teachers and assistants can then ask them about what they did in speech.  And the answer is not “played games”.   Eventually, I will write messages that encourage carryover practice on them such as, “Ask me to say “go” with a correct “g” sound” or “Ask me “where are we going?” whenever we change locations.  My teachers love being able to ask the students about speech during down times (waiting in line, waiting for peers to finish their activity).  If the sticker makes it home, the parents have given me good feedback too.  This doesn’t take much time and is a natural ending to our sessions.


Thanks, Kristin!!


JCPS SLP of the Year

Hey all! We will be emailing this out as well, but HERE is the official nomination form for JCPS SLP of the Year! Please take a few minutes to nominate a colleague who is doing exceptional work! The nomination is due on November 20, 2017 and the winner will be announced at our annual December 1st meeting!

Chapter 9- Love as a Medicine

This chapter is focused on Katherine’s relationship with Jeremy, himself a stutterer.  They had met in Chicago while she was there interviewing people for her book.  He was an alumnus of a regimented speech therapy program and she was an open stutterer.  She found herself drawn to him, but after attaining his phone number, she never got up the courage to call him.  Two months later, he called her and asked if she would like to interview him in Chicago.  She spent a week with him in Chicago, and in between interviews with other stuttering people, she spent time with him.  She felt such a strong bond growing between them that she invited him to go on a cross country journey with her as she completed some interviews for the book.  He agreed, and their relationship took off.

I found it interesting that Katherine had met only one other stuttering couple.  I would have thought that more people who stutter would have found solace in being with another who understood their struggles.  However, as Katherine said, being with Jeremy was like coming face to face with her stutter every day.  She not only felt the tension and exhaustion caused by her own stutters, but also felt them when Jeremy stuttered, as well.  Katherine questioned Jeremy if her stutter made him feel uncomfortable, as she chose to stutter openly, and he followed a speech program.  He said that, yes, at first he was caught off guard that someone so beautiful with so much going for her would choose to openly stutter, but that now, he sees that it is just who she is.  Katherine herself begins to fall in love with Jeremy, and she realizes that if she can love someone who stutters so completely, then surely she can do the same for herself.

Chapter 8: Tightrope of Language

Setting:  University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana,   January 2009, Dr. Loucks’s  Speech and Hearing Lab

Dr. Loucks = Professor in the Neurophysiology of Stuttering at the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences


Ah!  I knew it would be mentioned- the SpeechEasy device brought to the market by the Janus Development Group in 2001 which was advertised as a miracle fix for stutterers.  Katherine knew the principle behind it:  No one stutters when they speak in unison.  She talks about remembering the leaflets set around her home growing up.  She looked at them, but they were just another reminder to her that she was failing.  She knew about delayed auditory feedback and re-creating the choral effect in her brain, and also knew these little hearing aid looking devices could cost between $4-5,000!

But, she trusted Dr. Loucks and learned “What we see as stuttering is really a reaction; it is what our bodies are doing in response to something internal.”  Dr. Loucks continues to talk about stuttering being different then all the other speech disorders because it “seems to arise after people have already formed what they intend to say.  The brain knows what it wants to say, but can’t carry it through.”  Katherine liked his theory and looking at her stuttering as more of a motor glitch which made it somehow less frightening and less of a personal failing on her part.  She was impressed but not convinced this would be the “miracle cure” she was looking for.  Will the effect wear off soon?  Good question!

Dr. Loucks also but on the earpiece which first annoyed Katherine.  I mean, we know HE is fluent…whaterver!  Then she hears his voice start to block as he says his name.  He takes off the earpiece and warmly tells her, “You see, Katherine we all walk on a tightrope.” (musical interlude…hence the title of Chapter 8).  She says that she can see that all of us are standing together as we teeter on the edge of fluency and dysfluency.  We all have individual variations.  Some have a wide beam to walk on when circumstances are altered (DAF), and some of us “wobble more” (not the dance I assume).

She now takes us back to the Boston area in October 2008 where she planned to get to her family’s house on Cape Cod to plan the next year of her life.  She said her dad referred to it as “Our place of Magic.”  Now both of her parents were living there also.

She started reaching out to researchers and experts in the field, but was too afraid to contact other stutterers quite yet.  She wanted to know what CAUSED 1% of the world to stutter and was on a mission to meet stutterers who were role models- smart, brave, and courageous.  She wanted to find the TRUTH behind stuttering.

So, she gave herself 10 months to travel across the US and do more than 100 interviews and planned for her research to end with the National Stuttering Association’s (NSA) annual conference in July.

She talk about missing England and her friends, but that her journey was worth it.  She also talked about the history of stuttering and treatment, anywhere from primitive hieroglyphs, to Moses in the Bible, and Dr. Freud.  The treatments had ranged from using an iron to sear lips, cutting holes in one’s skull, electric shock treatment, and a “magic fork”! ( I thought about the Little Mermaid movie).  During more modern research attempts, she came to the idea that stuttering is an enigmatic condition with multiple causes.

She then talked with Dr. Maguire in California whom by using PET imaging came to an interesting theory about why more boys stutter than girls.  He said that women and can lateralize the right hemisphere better than men, so women could often develop a right hemisphere compensation for the left hemisphere which is dominant in speech

production.  He also talked about the excessive amounts of dopamine in people who stutter, its similarities to Tourette’s Syndrome treatment, and medicines that were dopamine antagonists.

Note: There is no FDA approved drug for stuttering.

She then talked to Dr. Drayna and about the role hereditary plays and stuttering being a possible hereditary condition.  She was relieved to learn stuttering was not anyone’s fault.  She also discussed her thoughts about possibly having children in her future that stutter.  Would they go through the same pain and embarrassment as she has? Would they blame her?

She also went outside traditional speech therapies and meds and talked about treatments such as vitamins and hypnosis.  She learned from a journalist in North Carolina that was gay and compared the two and feelings of struggle for acceptance (homosexuality and stuttering).  “We don’t need to be changed.  We need a change in attitude rather than a change in our speech.” This brought up two ideas for her: voluntary stuttering and self-advertising oneself as someone who stutters from the therapy world.  She brought up Joseph Sheehan’s (SLP) approach of acceptance, education, and tolerance of dysfluent speech.  Although some people would introduce themselves as a person who stutters, or yell it on the subway, or even wear a t-shirt, she preferred the voluntary stuttering to gain control of her speech and lessen the fear of stuttering.  She talks about going to Starbuck’s and stuttering on purpose.  Although it was uncomfortable, she was determined to do it, even when a cashier tried to offer her a piece of paper and pen to make it “easier” for her.

Katherine’s attitude was changing.  It was more of a game now in which she had control of her voice therefore becoming free of the fear.  She didn’t find a cure, but a sense of peace and control instead of her previous feelings of failure.

The chapter ends with her saying, “I am not going to be fluent.  Who is?”

Thoughts to consider:

1.  Have you ever worked with a person who stutters who has used a device such as the SpeechEasy?  Did it work?

2. Have you ever had a feeling of guilt or worry about something you may pass on to your children or future children?  This is true with many genetic conditions or ones thought to be connected to heredity.

3. Do you use voluntary stuttering as a therapy technique with your students? I personally find it a confusing concept for younger kids that I see at the elementary level now.  The thought of stuttering more to stutter less is confusing.  I think the idea of sometimes stuttering on purpose and being open and honest about your dysfluncy does seem to lessen the fear and anxiety that you MAY stutter.

Kim Raho, SLP at Norton Elementary