A love note to the mothers

It’s a little late, but this month I’ve been really thinking about Mother’s Day.  I’m a mom, I  know lots and lots of moms, and I am blessed to still have my mom around.  But this note is to all the moms I’ve worked with over the years.  I wanted to say I love you.

Recently, a mom and her child (my client) had arrived a few minutes early to their speech appointment.  I happen to glance out the office window and saw this wonderful, loving, tired mom with her body hunched over her in the driver’s seat, leaning her head on the steering wheel, enjoying a few moments of just sitting.  I imagine her day, full of struggles with a special needs child, loving that child, yet grieving about how difficult it is to just run to the store, worried about how that child will learn to speak for themselves instead of just echo what has just been said by others.  This is one of the many moms I have attempted to help, whom I respect and learn from.  These parents used to picture having a “typical” child, being able to watch them grow as other kids do into adults with jobs and lives of their own.  Then they ended up in a whole different world of therapies, behavioral specialists, neurodevelopmental pediatricians, medications, sensory diets, etc.  I’ve watched these moms put a smile on their face as we celebrate little tiny victories – he signed “more” on his own!, she ate a kiwi!, he asked a friend to play! 🙂

I’ve also sat with these moms as they cried defeated and tired, scared and unknowing where their child will end up, or how they will somehow grow up and take care of themselves.

All I can say is…I love you.  I pray for you, I try to make you laugh, I hope I can help.



Screen time: What are we missing out on?

Recently I’ve been discussing how screen time effects children with a few different people.  It just seems to keep coming up.  These people are educated, good parents, and want the best for their families.  Yet in these discussions I was surprised how little they were aware of the effects that screen time had on children’s developing brains.  As a Communication Specialist, one of the first things that come to mind when parents say their child really enjoys playing on their phone is: But what kind of language stimulation are they missing out on during that time?

Other reasons I worry about include the effect all these images have on developing sustained attention.  In an article on the blog “Hands-on OT” , they discuss how much screen time effects your sensory system.

The faster the changes in the sensory information you’re taking in, the faster your brain needs to process it in order to keep up.

You might be reading this thinking, yeah right, like I can raise my kids in a no-screen time world?!  HAHA!  Yes I completely agree with you!  YEAH RIGHT!  My kids get 20 minutes of tablet/phone time a day after they’ve done all their chores, homework, read, etc.

I worry more about the constant need that parents feel to hand off their phone to their kids, especially in public places.  What is the stigma that families feel that their small child can’t just be children and be active and curious in a public place, such as a restaurant?  Think of the conversations adults can be having with their children about things around the room, people they see and food they will eat?

Just a few years ago, before we had smart phones, my husband and I were tag-teaming our very very energetic toddler – taking turns walking around with him while we waited for the food. I kind of miss having to do that instead of having the chance to just “turn them off” by handing them a device. Maybe we can all just be a little bit more supportive of each other when we’re out in public and appreciate children being interested in the world around them, even if it means they’re making noises or needing to walk around a restaurant or peek over a booth at the people next to them?  Just a thought from an SLP…



Hello World!

I’m baaack!  Can you believe I got busy and forgot to keep up this blog?  Oh wait, that’s about 90% of people who start a blog.  Now I’m a statistic!  Ahhh!

I’m excited to be back writing about wonderful SLP related topics.  I’m still passionate about anything communication related.  I recently started working with a voice patient, which is an unfamiliar area for me.  Voice is a specialized area within the field of Speech Language Pathology, and if you haven’t had a patient with a specific voice disorder, then as an SLP you may say “VOICE?! Uhhhh…yeah just drink lots of water!”.  My learning curve has been sharp but I actually really love it.  There’s so many environmental, psychological, and medical factors that may influence our vocal abilities.  We can abuse our voice, heal our voice, improve our voice, etc.  One of the main vocal abuse activities we see today is Vocal Fry, aka “Kardashian speak”.  It’s becoming an epidemic among young ladies and guys too!  It’s the disinterested in life, bland, elongating vowels, little vocal inflection speak.  “Yeeaahhhh, okaaayyy” with a deeper vocal pitch.  Please people, please please please stop doing this.  You sound like you’re going to pass out from watching too much reality T.V. and you’re “frying” your vocal cords.

Voice therapy is about healing your vocal cords. Drinking lots of water IS actually important!  But there’s more you can do for good vocal hygiene such as not clearing your throat constantly.  Have you known someone who has that habit of doing a little cough repeatedly even when they may not need to?  This is a big vicious cycle in which the cough to clear phlegm or mucous off the vocal cords actually ends up drying the vocal cords, causing more mucous to be created, thus causing more coughing or clearing the throat.  This is a form of vocal abuse because it stresses the vocal cords.  So instead of clearing or coughing, try taking a sip of water.  If you still feel like you need to cough, take another sip of water with a hard swallow, like you are swallowing a pill.

Here is a link to explain more.


There’s a ton of great info on that website about vocal hygiene and voice disorders. Ok, thanks everyone for tuning in.  I won’t let two years go by without writing…promise.




Teen Social Skills Group starting soon!

Last year I ran a social skills group for young teens and it was a lot of fun!  It is based on Michelle Garcia Winner’s Social Thinking Curriculum, which teaches a lot about perspective taking.  We also throw a lot of games and different conversations in the group too.  The kids had a great time and we always had a ton to talk about (as you can imagine with this age…).

So we’re going to start the group up again in February.  Here’s a description of the group:

This ”casual therapy” group is for young teens (ages 12-16) with Autism, communication disorders, or just need some help with social skills.  We combine therapy and “hang out time” to address appropriate social communication in a fun environment.

The dates for February are:

February 6, 13, 20, 27

4-5 pm (will probably take place at Ackerman in the library)

Please let me know if you are interested!!

Sarah 503-505-0740



Anyone can be a Speech Therapist!

This is the start of a beautiful blog about Speech Therapy….

My name is Sarah and I am a Certified Speech Language Pathologist.  I specialize in pediatrics, especially Birth to Five years old (otherwise known as Early Intervention).  I love what I do – helping people communicate.  My two children teach me tons that I love to apply to my job, and vice-versa.

I’m excited about this blog to reach as many people as possible to share ideas, stories, and resources!  

Did you know anyone can act like a Speech Therapist?  Ok, there’s a whole lot more to being a Speech-Language Pathologist than some things I will talk about (of course) but any time you are teaching kids new words or basic concepts, you are teaching communication skills.  Parents, caregivers, teachers…you can help children learn speech and language skills in soooo many ways.

So here’s tip #1:

Add more descriptive words when commenting on things your children are interested in.

My daughter will turn 2 in March.  The other day we were driving down the road and Natalie sees a dog and says “Dog!”.  I see the dog and say, “Yes!  A big black dog!”.  See, it’s that simple.  You’re probably already doing a lot of these things.

Ok, now go play with some kids and try it!  Please feel free to share your stories and successes here too!