By Leslie Lindsay
(image source: sugarpiefarmhouse.com 9.14.13)
Today, I am honored to chat with Linda Reinert, CCC-SLP and author of TALKING IS HARD FOR ME! What’s great about this book is, parents and caregivers don’t have to be experts to help kids communicate better! This small book is great for both families and practitioners. But don’t be fooled by the size—it packs a punch!
LL: Thanks for being with us today, Linda. You’re a long-time pediatric speech-language pathologist working with young kids. Do you have an age you most enjoy working with? Or, can you share how each stage provides joy on new and different levels?
Linda, CCC-SLP: I currently work with children between the ages of birth to three in home-based services. I particularly enjoy the direct connection with the parents and caregivers…relationships built with the family unit makes the job especially rewarding. I consult with physical therapists, occupational therapists, and early childhood developmental specialists. You learn an awful lot rubbing shoulders with professionals outside your area of expertise!
When working with toddlers, I never tire of watching them develop early language skills. It is delightful to share these moments with families. Hearing a child say “mama” or seeing her sign “more” for the first time never gets old. I count it a privilege to celebrate those successes with the child and his or her family…believe it is because I get to meet the children in their most comfortable setting and work directly with the people who love them the most.
Two year olds have such dynamic personalities. They are genuine and seem to demand that those who work with them be genuine, as well. What joy it is to have a job where I get to sit on the floor and play with children!
When working with children who are getting closer to age three, I am amazed at how aware they are of what my role is in their little life. It’s an honor to help them communicate more effectively. I usually tell them why I come to see them; that my job is to help them talk. They seem to know this and when I earn their trust, it is exciting what can happen.
LL: Your book, TALKING IS HARD FOR ME was inspired by many of the families you’ve worked with over time. Can you profile a couple of them for us? What types of speech concerns did they have? Endearing qualities? Something you learned from the kids/families?
Linda, CCC-SLP: When I think of specific families that inspired this book, I go all the way back to my first years as an SLP. The mom with tears in her eyes wondering if she will ever hear her daughter say a “real” word. The grandma sharing that her heart just breaks because she is unqualified and feels helpless to the grandson she adores. The dad frustrated by the frequent tantrums his little boy displays because ‘no one can understand him’.
The book was inspired by others who demonstrated an innate ability to help their child but did not recognize all the things they were doing right. The mama who instinctively offered choices to her youngster so he could point to what he wanted. The grandma who naturally sang little songs to engage her granddaughter in a turn-taking activity with sound. A papa who knew it was important to carry his grandson around the house to point out objects, naming them with patience and enthusiasm, “look, it’s a birdie!” The daddy who gently roughhouses with his toddler, stopping at times to wait expectantly for the little one to ask for more. [Leslie’s note: sniff]
Through the years, I’ve witnessed caregivers doing all the right things without any awareness on their part. I listened to caregivers expressing frustrations and fears, feeling helpless to help…every one of these people inspired this book.
LL: The book is great! It’s loaded with all kinds of tips and lessons that are bite-size. You don’t have to sit down and read it cover to cover. Was that your intention when writing it? Furthermore, it appeals to kids with the colorful illustrations. How do you envision others using the book?
LL: What advice would you give to families raising a child with apraxia in regards to TALKING IS HARD FOR ME?
Linda, CCC-SLP: Use it a a reference! A professional may want to direct a family to a particular technique that seems most appropriate or applicable to the child. The suggestions in the book are nothing “new;” they are supported by research and SLPs utilize these techniques all the time. [I wanted to] to freshen up the presentation…a book with illustrations, with a child telling us in his own words how to help would be better received than yet another handout or article. Having answers provides knowledge and knowledge is power!
Educators, parents, physicians, therapists, caregivers, siblings and peers of children who find talking difficult can use the book. [For example], teachers can implement the ideas themselves or share with paraprofessionals. Parents can use the ideas as well as share the book with those who “mean well” but may not fully understand the situation. Doctors may recommend the book to parents when a communication delay is suspected… We all can gain empathy when we understand each other’s unique abilities and disabilities. The book allows the child to connect with others, offering us insight into the struggles they face.
LL: Some of the apraxia families I’ve connected with share a fear that their child will feel “different” going to speech [therapy]. What advice might you give them, especially as kids grow into elementary years?
Linda, CCC-SLP: Families with children with apraxia can do a lot to support their child’s communication development. It is important to consult with a professional, as therapy for a child with apraxia does follow a specific sequence and guidance is needed to ensure maximum progress. But nearly all the techniques highlighted in the book can benefit a child diagnosed with childhood apraxia of speech. It certainly won’t hurt to incorporate the techniques! My experience working with young children suspected of having apraxia indicates that music is very helpful, sign language is a great frustration reliever, predictable or rhythmic books provide sound pattern practice, choices and waiting to allow extra response time, as well as meeting the child “where they’re at” increases the odds of accelerating their ability to verbalize. Children with severe cases of apraxia may need a temporary boost to ensure their language development is not suppressed. Augmentative communication systems can help until they develop stronger skills with verbal communication.
LL: Anything I haven’t asked, that you’d like to share—about the book, you, or apraxia?
Linda, CCC-SLP” Sometimes children with apraxia of speech require more long-term therapy (a careful progression of building sound sequences and verbal-motor patterns). It can be a bit overwhelming to realize your child may need speech therapy well past the preschool years. My advice would be to remain focused on the current situation and not look too far into the future. It’s never too early to inquire about your child’s talking if you are concerned. Let the speech language pathologist provide recommendations based on a screening. Parents, be wise and trust your gut instincts.
I’d also advise parents to beware of searching the Internet without direction. There are credible sites such as Leslie’s blog–and book–that offer sound advice and research-based posts and links. [Some] families search online to learn more about their child’s disability only to be scared to death by the misguided information.
[image source: chanellegray.blogspot.com 9.14.13]
AND NOW FOR THE GIVE-A-WAY!!
Linda and I have arranged for a lucky reader to receive a
complimentary copy of TALKING IS HARD FOR ME! All you have to do is share this post
(via email, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.) and then drop me a line leslie_lindsay(at)hotmail.com or by making a comment on the blog itself, “I shared!” and I’ll enter your name. It’s that EASY!!* Good luck!
For more information:
TALKING IS HARD FOR ME is available at Woodbinehouse.com, Amazon.com, Barnsandnoble.com, Target.com and by email request and is sold locally at the Watertown Pharmacy in Watertown MN.
*The Fine Print: Open to U.S. residents only. Name will be drawn at random on Friday, September 20th by 5pm CST. Please check your junk/spam folder. Winner will be notifed by email. Please respond asap with mailing address, otherwise you may forfeit your prize. (After 24 hours, another name will be selected). Your email address won’t be used or sold for any other reason. Your copy of TALKING IS HARD FOR ME will be mailed from the Chicagoland area via media rate on 9/23/13.