December 3, 2010

Working on Improving Your Speech

I came across this interesting forum for people who struggle with stuttering. As I read through a lot of the discussions, I found myself nodding in agreement to some of their experiences and struggles. Of course I will never begin to understand what it is like to have a chronic stuttering issue, but I can at least sympathize with their struggles in working on their speech, trying to sound "normal", and finding the right training or speech therapy to help with their problem. I can relate when they talk about being pulled out for speech therapy while at school. Many said that it seemed to be a waste of time and not very helpful. I remember playing a lot of games and spending most of the time working on my "r" sounds. One speech therapist made me feel like an idiot, so my experiences with her were not good, unfortunately. The classes were not intensive and they did not make me work as hard as I think I should have. If I said it somewhat correctly then it would be my turn to roll the dice and make my move.

I would have liked to have them be more involved with me outside of the speech classes. It would have been helpful for them to observe me in class and see if what we work on is carrying over into the classroom. From what I remember, a lot of times it was not. I did not pay attention to how I was talking outside of speech class. The only times I was more mindful of how I talked occurred while I was in speech class and when I was at home (where I was expected to try to speak more clearly). I feel that there could have been so many other areas I could have improve upon in my speech. I only remember working on my "r" sounds.

I learned that maturity and several years of practicing speaking have helped improve my speech. I don't really attribute my clear speaking ability to the speech classes I took in elementary school. 

There is no doubt that speech therapy has come a long way and is much better these days. But, for most students who are mainstreamed it seems as if it is harder to provide them appropriate intensive speech therapy. The speech pathologists here are wonderful but they have a HUGE caseload of students (30-70 kids). They are overwhelmed and are often not provided the right resources or information. Some of them see kids, who could really use it the most, only one or two times a week for 30-45 minutes each time, which is not enough, in my opinion. I see that when speech therapists spend time in the child's classroom and provide consult services on a weekly basis, they are able to work with the student better and see if what they practice in separate classes does carry over.

If you can afford it, I would recommend private speech therapy. I believe some insurance companies will cover speech therapy.

What I remembered doing as a teenager that helped me a lot, was reading out loud to myself. When I did this, I spoke slowly and really worked on enunciating every word. It felt weird to do this, but it forced me to think about how I speak and to concentrate on improving it. I even had a tape recorder so that I could hear how I sounded (ugh, I hate the sound of my voice).

I still "slip" every now and then and have to remember to slow down and think about how I am saying things. My speech is not perfect, but whose is?

By the way, I am having a hard time finding a website or online forum devoted to experiences of speech therapy by those who are deaf or hard of hearing. Is there anything like this online? I would like to learn what was most helpful and what was not most helpful. How did some of you work on improving your speech?
Good online speech resources:


1 comment:

  1. Yeah, without the John Tracy Clinic's help through their correspondence courses my Mom took I wouldn't be where I am today. Early intervention is key. Active participation from both parents and therapists are important. I ended my speech help when I was around 7 or 8 since by then I had no problem speaking and getting the "rrrrrrrrrrrr" letter out by then.

    BTW, you can vote in the Pepsi Refresh Challenge and help JTC get $250,000 grant to help 175 deaf kids with their speech.


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