WORDS ARE WINGS® offers private, individualized, one-on-one and group speech-language therapy services entered into voluntarily by both the client(s) and the clinician; as such, therapy may be discontinued at any time by either the client(s) or the clinician. Payment is expected upon completion of each session.
WORDS ARE WINGS® STUTTERING SOLUTIONS™
Age-range: all ages
Stuttering is one of the most misunderstood, underappreciated and underestimated speech disorders. Part of the reason for this is the huge degree of variation of stuttering from one stutterer to the next. Some children go through a “developmental” period of stuttering during adolescence that dissipates several months to several years after onset, with usually no long-term effects to the child’s speech or quality of life. While some children who stutter experience this dissipation during adolescence, others do not – and these children can continue to stutter through elementary school, the teenage years, adulthood, and even for the rest of their lives. That doesn’t mean they will, necessarily; it does mean, however, that the possibility is there.
The techniques I use and teach center around a specific premise:
The pathology of stuttering has to do with a locking of two tiny muscles known as the vocal folds, commonly known as the vocal cords; they’re two little muscles inside the larynx which is inside the throat that have to vibrate over a hundred times per second in order to produce all of the vowel sounds and half of the consonants in English, or 75% of all the sounds)
Stuttering (actual stuttering, e.g., the pushing, the blocking, the straining, the gasping for breath, the audible and visual components everyone hears and sees, etc.) is a learned habit or behavior developed in childhood during instances when the vocal cords were locking and making it difficult for the child to speak. And just like with anything that appears or seems “stuck” or “locked,” our first instinct is, usually, to push harder. That is, literally, what stuttering is: attempting to push out the sounds that have, mysteriously and most frustratingly and painfully, become “stuck” or “locked” and unable to be spoken at that particular moment in time; they have become “stuck” or “locked” because, unbeknownst to anyone including the speaker him/herself, the vocal cords are locking and thus unable to vibrate which means sound cannot be produced (75% of them: all the vowels and half of the consonants).
WORDS ARE WINGS® targets the facilitation and sustaining of functional vocal cord vibration during instances in which they’re tensing and subsequently locking (the pathology of stuttering) and resulting in repeated attempts to push the sounds out (the actual stuttering) as well as sustaining functional vocal cord vibration long-term through the (re)learning of various breathing and speech mechanics over time.
WORDS ARE WINGS® STUTTERING SOLUTIONS™ is a long-term approach to learning how to control the stuttering and speak fluently; it is not a quick-fix remedy.
The techniques are presented, learned and practiced within the context of two specifically established premises:
It's not that the stutterer doesn’t know what it is he or she wants to say, but rather, it’s that they physically (think “mechanically”) cannot say what they want to say at that particular moment in time (because their vocal cords are locking).
The locking of the vocal cords is the pathology of stuttering; the actual stuttering is a learned behavior of attempting to literally push the sounds/words out during instances in which the vocal cords are locking (that’s what gives stuttering its distinctive audible and visual “look” and repetitive audible component which is very different from natural dysfluencies everyone experiences once in a while). If this continues over time (e.g., if weeks and/or months turns into years) quality of life can begin to become affected as the stuttering (the pushing during instances of locked vocal cords) remains or becomes worse.
Like any unwanted habit or behavior, if left unchecked or unaddressed it cannot be transitioned to a new behavior or reaction. Identically, if the habit or behavior of attempting to push sounds out (stuttering) during instances of locking vocal cords (the pathology) continues and becomes exacerbated over time it can reach the point where immediately thinking to push (thus resulting in stuttering) becomes the autopilot, instinctive response during instances of locking vocal cords which the speaker can feel happening in the throat.
Quality of life is attainable because learning how to control the locking of the vocal cords and subsequently speak fluently is absolutely possible through learning how to facilitate and maintain functional vocal cord vibration during instances in which they’re locking. If the vocal cords aren’t locking it means they’re able to vibrate; if they’re able to vibrate fluent speech will come out because there’s nothing locking which means there’s no reason to push as sounds will come out fluently and uninterruptedly.
If you or your child stutters, or if someone you know stutters and wants help no matter their age, please contact WORDS ARE WINGS® to schedule a free consultation.
It is never too early to schedule a consultation to determine whether your child’s stuttering is developmental in nature or whether some sort of proactive approach should be tried.
It is never too late to achieve fluency: I, myself, didn’t say my own name fluently (first and last, together) without stuttering until I was 25 years old, and I didn’t order my own food in a restaurant – exactly what I wanted, how I wanted it prepared, what I wanted along with it, and with confidence instead of fear because of my fluency techniques – until I was almost 29.
At 52, I still practice and use my techniques daily.
“Fluency Exists on the Breath of Hope.” - Andrew Miceli, M.A., CCC-SLP
ARTICULATION & PRONUNCIATION CHALLENGES
Age-range: all ages
The normal acquisition of sounds occurs between birth to eight years (although specific sound pronunciation challenges can persist well into adulthood if left unchecked through adolescence). A child can acquire language on time but have difficulty pronouncing many of the sounds that make up the words they’re trying to say (e.g., an /r/ that sounds like a /w/, a lisped /s/ or /z/, a /d/ or an /f/ in place of an initial or final /th/, back sounds like /k/ and /g/ produced as front sounds /t/ and /d/, or vice versa, etc.) Similar to child language acquisition there are also normed-referenced milestones indicating when children learn to say consonant sounds (as vowel sounds have been developing for years already since the first year of non-linguistic sound play).
Source: Goldman, Ronald, PhD, and Fristoe, Macalyne, PhD, The Goldman Fristoe Test of Articulation – 2nd Edition Examiner’s Manual (Table 6.6), ©1996-2019 PEARSON EDUCATION, Boston, Massachusetts
If there is concern re: speech sound pronunciation regardless of age (again specific sound challenges can persist well into adulthood) please contact WORDS ARE WINGS® today to schedule a free consultation so we can determine whether presenting difficulties are age-appropriate (0 – 8 years) or impacting quality of life (if the speaker is an older kiddo or adult) and consideration for a consultation is warranted.
RECEPTIVE-EXPRESSIVE LANGUAGE DELAYS
Age-range: 0 – 21
A child’s language is acquired through the progression of normed-referenced milestones which means there’s a hierarchy and structured order to the normal acquisition of language. The period from birth to eight years is during which many of the fundamental, core language skills are developed and honed, and there are normed data through 21 years of age re: language development. As kindergarten often begins at six years it is important the first 75% of these fundamental, core language skills are acquired on-time.
Source: Roseberry-Mckibbin, Celeste & Hegde, M.N., An Advanced Review of Speech-Language Pathology (Preparation for NESPA and Comprehensive Examination (p141 - 152), 2000 PRO-ED, Inc, Austin Texas
If you think your child or teenager or early 20-something is having difficulty with any aspect of language comprehension or production please contact WORDS ARE WINGS® to arrange a free consultation to discuss whether presenting language challenges are age-appropriate or if consideration for a consultation is warranted.
A NOTE TO PARENTS: While it is always a good idea to discuss any concerns re: speech-language development and use with the pediatrician or primary care professional, contacting a licensed speech-language professional is still recommended as part of the process.
Age-range: K - College
Just as a student’s academic progression is critical to school success the progression of a student’s speech-language skills is equally critical, and speech and language development is firmly intertwined with any successful academic progression.
For example, critical components of a student’s academic progression include developing confidence and competence with:
Asking and answering questions in class.
Participating in class/group discussions.
Exhibiting verbal proactivity in meetings with teachers or academic advisors.
Proactively asking for help or assistance if/when needed.
Effectively presenting oral reports or speeches (e.g., some high school or college-level classes require an oral component such as a report or presentation; structured, academic-based learning with a formal question-and-answer dynamic begins in kindergarten and sometimes in preschool or a Head Start program).
Other elements of a successful academic progression include functional production of speech and language:
During lunch or snack time(s); when meeting friends or fellow students for dinner or a study group.
At play and/or recess; when out with friends or fellow classmates
When passing or seeing peers in the hallways or on campus.
With other peers before school and/or when waiting to be picked-up at the turn-around; when carpooling or taking public transportation back to student housing.
If you need to speak a teacher or counselor or there’s a problem or concern that needs articulating.
During all aspects of a student’s day that help achieve a balance that supports and even facilitates a better opportunity for academic success.
While the above-cited areas could be applied throughout a student’s early academic progression, speaking demands can be challenging at any academic level and not necessarily because of delays or difficulties with receptive or expressive language, or because of a presenting speech disorder such as stuttering or lingering sound pronunciation challenges; sometimes there is, for some unidentifiable reason, difficulty with using language effectively when speaking in public and this can absolutely begin early-on in school.
If your child or a student needs assistance improving overall verbal communication at school (preschool through college) or if there is simply a desire to better communication overall, please contact WORDS ARE WINGS® to schedule a free consultation.
CORPORATE SPEECH-LANGUAGE PATHOLOGY
While speech-language pathologists are often called to help improve speech and language (the educational or academic side of the profession) as well as eating and swallowing (or communication via the medical side of the profession often based in hospitals or assisted living or rehabilitation facilities) we can also be helpful in the workplace, for example, in areas such as:
Transitioning mechanics such as speaking rate, tone, volume, melodic inflection (if too monotone), timing and delivery, eye contact, posture and body language, sitting vs. standing, and other variables that distinguish what to say vs. how and/or when to say it (for example). Working on voice optimization is recommended for teachers, attorneys including witness preparation for trial, salespeople, telecommunicators, virtual conferencing and team/group leaders or members who routinely lead meetings, discussions or presentations or for individuals who want to improve the probability of their message(s) being received the by the listener in an optimal manner when at the workplace.
Regional Dialect & Foreign Accent Transitioning:
Having a regional dialect or accent from speaking English as a second language are a part of what makes a speaker who they are, and do no need improvement with a speech professional. If coworkers (or coworker spouses or partners at workplace functions or events) have difficulty understanding what someone is saying (in English) the communicative ebb-and-flow around the office (at a minimum) all the way through to work performance (at a maximum) can be potentially impacted, respectfully yet objectively, regardless of whether it should be impacted as such.
Improving Social & Cultural Aspects of American Communication:
Targeting the more subtle aspects and nuances of English that can be challenging for nonnative speakers. Examples include: socialization through language, nonverbal (e.g., postural, facial expression, body language, gestures, other) and nonliteral/abstract language, melodic inflection and meaning (e.g., how a phrase such as, “yea, right” with different melodic inflection can indicate sarcasm, sincerity, concern, excitement, etc.), pleasantries (e.g., greetings, goodbyes, brief social exchanges), voice-only arenas (e.g., speaking on the phone using an optimal speaking volume, rate, tone, melodic inflection for accentuation and meaning, and other variables), and other aspects of the English language.
PLEASE NOTE: If a workplace member has a spouse or parent or other family member who cannot accompany them to their job and they have limited opportunity to use and/or practice English please contact WORDS ARE WINGS®.
Therapy can be done 1:1 or in small groups if clients all speak the same native language or have the same regional dialect.
To get started improving your or your team’s communication or to improve your command and confidence of the spoken word in the workplace, contact WORDS ARE WINGS® to schedule a free consultation.
PROFESSION-BASED SPEECH IMPROVEMENT
NOTE: If your profession or targeted area is not specifically listed below do not hesitate to contact contact WORDS ARE WINGS® to discuss setting up a free consultation.
Athletes and Coaches (high school, collegiate, professional):
Voice-over narration and on-camera speaking for recruiting tapes, in-person recruiting visits and meetings with coaches and staff, establishing a public image as a role model for students (K to college), endorsements and/or sponsorships, visual appeal and listenability during interviews and public appearances (and possibly more opportunities to do them), rapport and communication with teammates, pursuing a degree either during the offseason or when retired, etc. Variables such as speaking rate, volume, tone, pronunciation, overall intelligibility, eye contact, body language, posture, facial expression, and others are addressed as they all contribute to a speaker’s persona, image and overall marketability.
Campaigning, Activism, Student Government:
Objective, nonpartisan assistance in the areas of: speech writing (what to say, e.g., word choice, order, length, tensing, voicing, subjectivity vs. objectivity, specific audiences, etc.) and speech mechanics and delivery (how to say what you’re saying, e.g., speaking rate, volume, tone, facial expression, posture, body language, eye contact, physical gesturing, coordinating breathing and speaking, pausing, connected speech, etc.) so that what the speaker is saying and how the speaker is saying it are so relatable and acoustically appealing to the ears each audience member feels as though the speaker is speaking only to them.
Witness or Expert Testimony Preparation for Trial:
Consideration of witness or expert testimony may include the manipulation of variables such as a witness or expert’s: speaking rate, tone of voice, volume, melodic inflection, body language and facial expression(s) both when speaking and when listening, eye contact (when to make it and when not to make it, and/or with whom), and content, a.k.a., what to say, e.g., word choice, order, length, phrasing for memorability, words with multiple meanings, when to use the same word vs. a different one with a similar meaning, what words to use when speaking to whom, etc. Believability is rooted in trust and trust is rooted in not only what is being said but how it’s being said.
Educators (all levels):
Proactively address voice use and projection through speech mechanics such as rate, volume, tone, speaking connectedly, and breathing pre and during speech; vocal hygiene and maintenance through optimizing water intake and diet, choreographing speaking time (how long, how often throughout the day), amplification considerations, room and speaker acoustics, placement and positioning of the speaker to the room and the listeners (the podium in relation to the desks, chairs, etc.) and other variables are also addressed so the voice can be used functionally daily, week after week while proactively minimizing the risk of vocal fatigue and overuse. Consideration for a referral for a consultation with an otolaryngologist would be discussed depending on factors such as but not limited to: whether the presenting voice challenges remain, how long they’ve reportedly been in place, patient progress or lack thereof, etc.
Once again if your profession or targeted area is not specifically listed above do not hesitate to contact WORDS ARE WINGS® to schedule a free consultation.
SPEECH-LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT (0 - 8 years)
It is still widely believed that a child will begin talking “…when they’re ready,” or, “…when they want to (talk).” It is a very agreeable and well-received notion that on the surface appears seemingly harmless. In truth, however, the opposite occurs: both speech and language are acquired by progressing through a series of normed-referenced milestones, which is the exact opposite of an acquisitional progression based on comfort level or perceived readiness.
Proactivity to facilitate and help promote the normal acquisition of speech and language combined with addressing any suspected early speech or language difficulties or delays improves the opportunity for a child to progress in areas such as but not limited to:
Exploring their environment through language (as previously stated and co-occurring with physical exploration).
Early learning and educational advancement.
Meeting peers and making first friends.
Transitioning to the daycare or (pre)kindergarten classrooms.
Establishing first rapports with non-parental adult figures, e.g., teachers.
Answering/asking first questions, and wanting to do so secondary to functional, age-appropriate language acquisition and comprehension.
Overall life-learning and self-confidence.
Getting a jump on reading by knowing the written forms of letters and what words they form via matching visual forms with oral-motor (e.g., mouth) postures.
Feeling confident secondary to being able to verbally engage in the classroom and various social scenarios.
Feeling confident asking for help or assistance as well as voicing self-advocacy.
As so much of who we are and how we think and view the world develops early on, because the normal acquisition of language and speech occurs from 0 - 8 years it is important that any delays in these acquisitions be actively addressed so a child can explore their environment communicatively as well as physically.
If you’re a parent or grandparent, family member, primary caregiver or early educator interested in learning how to transform daily homebased and/or classroom routines into opportunities to learn, develop and practice language and articulation skills please contact WORDS ARE WINGS® to arrange a free consultation.
INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION PLAN (IEP) REVIEW
If speech and language therapy services are offered at your child’s school, the services must be included in a state-mandated legal document known as an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). This is an objectively written, evidenced-based document that includes specific information about your child such as but not limited to:
Why your child has an IEP, e.g., what area(s) is or are below grade-level
Your child’s present levels of performance and expected level of performance by the start and end dates of the IEP (not the calendar or academic year specifically)
Appropriate goals to be met during the course and by the end of the IEP and criteria that will be used to measure the progress to reach said goals
Academic and/or therapy services your child is mandated to receive (therapy can be physical, recreational, speech-language, occupational or counseling-based)
Any stipulated accommodations for the classroom or during therapy or test taking.
Previous and/or projected IEP data/levels if the IEP is being revised (vs. an initial/first-time IEP)
That all names, dates, classes, services and grades are spelled correctly and used consistently.
Signed consent and participation from all team members including parent(s)
Any other concerns addressed by you as the parent(s) not cited by teachers or therapy clinicians.
An IEP becomes “active” the day of the meeting and all meeting participants have agreed upon all objectively written portions of, and signed, the IEP. It remains active until the day before one year from the IEP date (so an IEP dated March 2, 2024 is active until March 1st, 2025).
If you have any concerns about your child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) please contact WORDS ARE WINGS® to schedule a free consultation to address pressing questions and determine whether a formal review of the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is warranted.
If you are a school principal or special education or exceptional education services leader or team member and would like to schedule a consultation to review the protocols and wording for writing an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) please contact WORDS ARE WINGS®.
MULTILINGUAL COMMUNICATION BOARDS
Boards are available in over 40 languages (please see list below)
There have been significant advancements in augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices for students and adults whose verbal communication skills are or have become compromised. Presenting cognitive and/or physical challenges greatly factor in choosing a particular AAC device make and model. As increased device functionality and ability can potentially increase costs (assuming avenues such as insurance coverage or a school-funded or donation program aren’t available), hopefully, students in schools and patients in rehabilitation facilities have access to devices capable of providing functional communication opportunities per their cognitive and physical ability levels, respectively.
More basic AAC methods such as multilingual communication boards still have a place in the always-advancing field of augmentative and adaptive communication as these boards can facilitate communication on a basic yet functional level for four primary populations:
IN THE EDUCATION SETTING:
1) Daycares, preschools, head starts, (pre)kindergartens and elementary schools who have students speaking a language other than English.
2) Middle or high schools who have older students originally from other countries who don’t yet speak English transferring in.
IN THE HOSPITAL/REHABILITATION SETTING:
3) Patients who are cognitively intact but speak a language other than that of the physicians, residents, nursing staff or rehabilitation therapists.
4) Patients who are cognitively intact yet unable to use their hands/fingers to effectively write or type; if a patient can functionally maneuver a digit, an elbow or tow, hold a light beam/gazer in their mouth or use a forehead-strapped beam of light that patient can functionally use a communication board.
Multilingual communication boards can quickly and effectively establish a rudimentary yet functional and potentially critical baseline of communication in the absence of verbal communication due to presenting language barriers or physical or neurological challenges, respectively. Once a functional baseline of communication is established participants on both sides can become more engaged and begin to feel a sense of purpose and even hope, which can directly facilitate or increase motivation and participation (from all involved) which increase the likelihood for progress.
COSTS: 1 board = $40 / 2 boards = $70 / 3 boards = $90
ALL COSTS INCLUDE: a detailed review of the board predelivery plus one round of changes after reception, paid postage, lamination, color printing, and any personalized message or naming displayed on the board. All boards are 8 ½ x 11 inches and double-sided (one language per side).
A NOTE ON BOARD CELLS: changes to cell sizing or placement secondary to presenting client vision or field cut challenges, etc. are available.
BOARD LANGUAGES: English (US), Norwegian, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese (EURO), Swedish, Dutch, Italian, Danish, Catalan, English (UK), Finnish, Hmong, English (AUS), Hungarian, Polish, Russian, Turkish, Czech, Korean, Hebrew, Arabic, Japanese, Chinese (Simplified), Vietnamese, Hindi, Urdu, Chinese (Cantonese), Swahili, Portuguese (Brazil), Tagalog, Farsi, Bengali, Punjabi, Greek, Ukrainian, Slovak, Croatian, Serbian, Afrikaans, Zulu, Spanish (Castilian), English (NZ).
A NOTE ON BOARD PICTURE SYMBOLS: Not all picture symbols are available in every language; kindly allow for alternate cell content if/as needed which will be discussed with the client beforehand.