Speech Office, 8 Jan 2016

Speech Office, 8 Jan 2016
We were given a lovely office in the outpatient clinic to use for our speech office…with any luck, we will have it all week. Helen stayed back at the hotel today, a bit under the weather, so I soldiered on by myself. A local employee worked as my translator. 
It’s always a surprise on these trips…we give appointments, but sometimes the patients show up at different days or times than expected, sometimes they show up without any appointment, and sometimes we wait for those who never return. In light of this, every day is a great adventure in speech therapy.
My first patient was a young child with Down syndrome. He was a bit suspicious of the white coat, but he did enjoy Helen’s wind up chattering teeth. The parents were hoping for a secret bullet to help the child in his speech and language development, but, alas there is none. I gave him a rough hearing screening, explained about the expected language development for kids with Down syndrome, and offered very specific strategies for helping the child to master more vocabulary. Kids with DS need to have a large vocabulary before they start to combine two words into a little sentence, so building up the vocabulary is job one. I tested the parents’ learning by having them repeat back to me what I had said. Because they live in a small town, there is no school he can attend, so it is all the more important for the parents to work with the child on speech and language development. Mom’s resolve looked strong, as did Dad’s, so I have high hopes for this young client.
The next 4 patients were typical of who we see on these trips. All 4 had hypernasality associated with cleft palate. Sometimes, even though the palate has been repaired, the valve action of the palate and the walls of the upper throat are not sufficient to block off the nose and force the sounds out through the mouth. Sometimes there are additional surgical procedures that can be done to help this valuing action. Sometimes speech therapy can help. It depends on the structure and function for each individual patient. These patients had been seen on screening day and found to be stimulable for better oral resonance, and so were coming for therapy. 
Overall, it was a good day in the speech office, Room 13. Dinner was in the hotel, at the buffet, so it was an easy night for everyone to grab dinner when they got back…some of the surgeons and nurses returned quite late. Thankfully, Helen was feeling better and able to enjoy a light dinner. 
Tomorrow is another day.


About Shari Salzhauer Berkowitz

Shari is a speech language pathologist and assistant professor of communication disorders at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, NY.
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