Friday, June 27, 2014

How a Speech Pathologist Became an Author

I am going to deviate again from my usual app review postings with this post.

Since publishing my books, numerous SLPs have told me that they have ideas for books. They ask me if is difficult to self-publish, how I got started, and a host of other questions. I thought I would use this forum and my website to talk about being a speech pathologist and author. Feel free to send me questions and I will answer them as best as I can on this blog. Below is my first installment.

I began writing writing my first Help Me Talk Right book in 1990. I had just separated from my partner, and sister, with whom I had shared a private practice. She kept the practice and I moved on. At the time, I had two small children and decided to take some time off before opening my own private practice. One day, I got a phone call from a friend whose daughter had a lisp (she said the "th" sound instead of the "s" sound so that "sun" was said "thun"). She wanted to know what she could do to help her child without spending a lot of money. This was not the first time a parent wanted to know how to correct her child's speech on her own. My friend asked me if there were any books available to help her. I told her there were none. But then I thought, why not give parents what they want if it will help their children speak better? Why not write a book that was a complete therapy manual for teaching a child to say the "s" sound? This was certainly preferable to parents trying to correct their child's speech without guidance, doing it incorrectly, resulting in failure and frustration for parent and child. I spoke with my friend. We agreed that I would write each week's therapy lesson for her and she would give me feedback on how the lesson went. If there was something she did not understand, I would resend the lesson with a clearer explanation. If the lesson went well and the child accomplished the goal for that lesson, I would write the next lesson and wait to hear from her. We went back and forth in this manner until the day came when her daughter completed all the lessons and was using the "s" in conversation all the time. Success! I now had a complete program that would work for parents in just 15 lessons.

My next job was to find an illustrator to make the pictures for the lessons' worksheets. Up to this point I had used pictures from materials I had purchased. I could not use them in my own work. I called the art department at the local university and told them about my project and illustration needs. They gave me the name of a student. Chris agreed illustrate the pictures for my first book. Next I needed to find someone to edit the book for errors and then a typesetter. Lastly, I needed to find a printer. I decided to go to a local printer in order to be more involved in the process. I did a first small run of 500 copies. When the printer handed me my completed book, I felt as if I were holding my baby. That may sound silly, but that was the feeling. I had given birth to a book!

Since the publication of my first book, How to Teach a Child to Say the "S" Sound in 15 Easy Lessons, I have self-published 3 more. I now have How to Teach a Child to Say the "R" Sound in 15 Easy Lessons, How to Teach a Child to Say the "L" Sound in 15 Easy Lessons, and most recently Preschool Stuttering: What Parents Can Do.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Good App to Help with Speech Rate




Turtle Talk: by Aptus Speech & Language Therapy. I recently reviewed Keywords Understanding by this same developer. I am more impressed with Turtle Talk. This app is simple in nature but it does the job in a way I think children will respond to and enjoy. This app is designed to help children reduce their rate of speech and pace themselves. However, I would also use this with children whose speech may be too slow.

The app consists of one screen with six turtles holding cell phones.  The child presses on a turtle and says a syllable or word. Once the turtle has completely filled with color and turned around, the child moves on to the next turtle. If the child releases the turtle before the turtle has turned around, the words "Too Quick" flashes. There is a slider bar at the bottom of the screen that can be adjusted to the desired speed by moving the bar dot right or left. The turtle fills with color at a rate specific to the adjustment on the slider bar.



The app developer states that this app can be used for children who have "imprecise articulation." I was not sure what the developer meant by "imprecise articulation” so I queried the developer. Ms. Qurran wrote, "Imprecise articulation is unclear speech e.g. some sounds may not be accurate particularly if the child is talking too fast."

The app offers a selection of conversation categories. They are: Activities & Cultural Things, Family, Friends & Pets, School, Opinions, More About You, and If Questions. One can also opt for no categories or a random presentation. If a category is selected, a question or topic discussion is written at the top of the screen. 

My standard rate reduction tool had been "speeding tickets." Now, here is an app that I feel will replace those speeding tickets.
Age: 4-8
Rating:+++
Developer: Aptus Speech and Language Therapy
Cost: $4.99

Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Basic Following Directions App

Keywords Understanding: This app, developed by Aptus Speech and Language Therapy, is essentially a following directions/auditory comprehension app.  One can work on simple one step instructions, such as "Which one is (color or size)?" or "Touch the (object)." One can increase the complexity by adding color + size to the task such as "Touch the small yellow bag" and further by making it a two-step instruction like, "Point to the small yellow bag and the big pink hat." The next level of difficulty adds the temporal concepts before and/or after to the instruction. One can select to focus on one or the other concept, its position at the start or middle of the sentence, or both alternating the position in the instruction such as:
Touch the butterfly before you touch the bag.
Touch the butterfly after you touch the bag.
Before you touch the butterfly touch the bag.
After you touch the butterfly touch the bag.
Incorrect selections are Xed accompanied by the plucking of a guitar string (if audio feedback is chosen in options) and correct selections are checked along with a tinkling sound (again, if audio feedback is selected). I like the 29 clear and brightly colored photos of objects. In addition to the objects are  five primary color and two temporal concept choicesbefore and after.  One can select the number of trials of the task. The number selected appears on each screen.The child's score is shown with number correct shown along with the number of trials: 2/5 = two out of five trials correct, and the error(s) such as "pink box for green box." One can select audio feedback, only positive feedback or no feedback. Mode options are audio + text, audio only, or text only. There is no database, record or reward options. I asked the developer about this. Because this app was designed to be used by adults, as well as children, the developer felt it best to not include rewards.

This app is straightforward and unadorned. Am I enthusiastic? Not Really. This app reminds me of the apps available when the iPad first entered the market. Apps have come a long way since then. It is left to be seen how this one will do in the competitive app market.
Ages: 3-5
Rating:++
Developer's Website: under construction
Cost: $11.99