Saturday, February 18, 2012

Helpful Highschooler & Hurt Go Happy

In my work as a school speech therapist, I provide consultation services to our local high school. Of course, if I’m going to consult with a teacher regarding their student’s communication skills, it helps to meet the kids. I check in with a few of them on a regular basis and those kids expand the dimensions of my job in a wonderful way.

Last spring when our Special Education department purchased a few iPads, I took one of them to the high school, planning to make a video of a student so he could evaluate his own speech. At the time, I knew very little about how to use an iPad. However, it took only one consultation with this student and he set me on the right path. (I had to promise first, not to post his video on YouTube.) I was amazed at his improvement after one self-assessment.

Everyone is different. Another high school student loves to talk about books - no iPad for her. Literature is easy to use for communication development. I can listen to her rate of speech and fluency as she reads or discusses a story; I can see if she slips into an old speech pattern - using “w” for “r”; and I can check her comprehension. Recently, I had the pleasure of introducing her to the book, Hurt Go Happy, by Ginny Rorby, a local author and friend of mine.

Joey, the main character in this YA novel, has a severe hearing impairment. I won’t go into the plot except to say that another major character, Sukari, is a chimpanzee. I fell in love with her. Sukari opened my eyes to the controversies around animal testing. Hurt Go Happy also touches on many areas of communication: American Sign Language, lip reading, written communication, voice quality and miscommunications in relationships. It certainly opened a good discussion with my student.

For a detailed review of this book check out this link:

On a related note, this past week Ginny was in St. Louis serving on a federally funded panel, helping to establish writing standards for 8th and 12th grade students. The majority of the panelists were educators but many others were writers. I’m grateful for the work they did. Just think of all the young authors who will become better writers because of their hard work. And think of the books we may get to read some day, by those young authors.

Young people and education… recall the high school student at the beginning of this post? At my next consult, he suggested he could show me how to play the game, “Angry Birds.” I don’t know, it sounds like too much fun. But I imagine there are readers out there who could turn Angry Birds into an educational tool. What do you think?


  1. Angry Birds as an educational tool? Hmm, maybe for improving manual dexterity. Watch out! It's addictive.

    I was wondering if you could recommend a MG book about stuttering. My son stutters. So did my husband. My son has been improving, but we've recently amended (per his request) his IEP so that he is NEVER pulled out of class for speech. My son is on the autism spectrum. Very mild, but he loathes missing any part of class. It was cause anxiety and behavior problems for him to be out for even 30 minutes once a week. We work with him at home, but a book on the subject might be helpful too.

    Speaking of my son, thank you for chiming in at my blog My son loved hearing from my fellow bloggers. It has been a real confidence boost. Thank you!

  2. Thanks for writing, Ali B. I don’t know of a MG book about stuttering – not yet anyway but I plan to do some research. In the meantime the Stuttering Foundation has wonderful resources for those who stutter and for their families. On their “Just for Kids” page there are letters from kids ranging from 6 to 14 years of age, videos, inspirational stories and lots of other useful information. If you haven’t already, check out this link:

    I can understand your son’s reticence to being pulled out of class. The anxiety he experienced would not help him with his fluency issues. You are definitely a proactive parent – good for you! And by the way, I love reading his essay on your blog.