Category: My Guru

Dysphagia Topics: A Caretaker’s Handout

Dysphagia Topics: A Caretaker’s Handout

image Courtney Perrone, a Northeastern graduate student, has asked for our help with a current project. She’s looking for feedback on a Caretaker Handout she is developing. Please review and provide constructive comments in the section following this post. For best viewing, use a PC or laptop as iPad/iPhone does not capture the full scope of the visuals in this piece. Thanks in advance.


Caretaker Handout

Read more ›
Improving Fluency with the Logue Academy

Improving Fluency with the Logue Academy

Happy New Year! To kick off 2014, we introduce you to the Logue Academy. Michael Retzinger and Kevin Eldridge both struggled with dysfluency as children. Now as Board Certified Specialists in Fluency Disorders, they share how they have addressed Communication Apprehension in order to help their clients become more fluent speakers. Welcome Logue Academy!

The Logue Academy
by Michael Retzinger, M.S. CCC-SLP

The doors to the Logue Academy – located in Woodstock, Illinois – were officially opened in November 2013!

The Logue Academy was founded by Kevin Eldridge, PhD, CCC-SLP and Michael Retzinger, M.S., CCC-SLP as the result of both men sharing the desire to help individuals who stutter attain the same level of natural speech that each of them possess. Kevin and Michael are privileged and honored to help others discover their own path to speaking freely.

Another goal shared by both men is to offer training to speech & language pathologists wanting to expand their professional skills to include the release of natural speech in those who stutter as an outcome of therapy. Kevin and Michael are both Board Certified Specialists in Fluency Disorders recognized by the American Board of Fluency Disorders.

Our Approach

Our personal and professional experience demonstrates that addressing communication apprehension in the treatment of stuttering is the key to a successful therapeutic outcome for the individual who stutters, and their listeners. Research suggests that people who stutter have a speech mechanism that is not as robust as a normally fluent speaker. However, most people who stutter have naturally flowing speech in some situations.

The tension-related speech behaviors that people call stuttering are based primarily in the fear of stuttering, fear of speaking and the fear of interacting.

If an individual is trying to hide the fact that they stutter or are afraid of what might happen when they stutter, and are afraid to speak, they will be unable to release the natural speech they possess.
Our approach does not focus on stopping or controlling stuttering. This is not the goal, nor should it be. Most of us have gone down that path and been disappointed. If you stutter, you have a voice, a voice others should hear. Our goal is to help you share it without fear.

The Logue Academy offers the following:
– Three-Day Intensive therapeutic programs that include three follow-up sessions provided via teleconferencing, such as SKYPE or Face Time, during the 6 weeks following the program. These Three-Day Intensives are offered to teens who stutter and their parents, as well as to adults who stutter.
– A One-Day or Two-Day Workshop entitled “ADDRESSING FEAR: THE RETURN TO NATURAL SPEECH FOR THOSE WHO STUTTER ”. The One-Day Workshop is geared towards speech & language pathologists wanting to expand their professional skills to incorporate the effective treatment of Communication Apprehension, including the fear of stuttering, the fear of speaking and the fear of interacting with others associated with the disorder of stuttering.

In addition to the material covered in the One-Day Workshop, the Two-Day Workshop offers professionals the opportunity to engage in a second day of small and large group activities specifically designed to provide hands-on experience in developing activities and strategies for the effective reduction of Communication Apprehension in those who stutter.

For information regarding the Logue Academy, you can go to , contact Dr. Kevin Eldridge by phone at 815.308.5477 or email at .

Information contained herein does not necessarily reflect endorsement by web host.

Read more ›
Dolls That Teach Emotions

Dolls That Teach Emotions

by Padmini Sriman
For this installment of My Guru, we introduce you to a new, dynamic way to teach emotions to children with ASD and other developmental disabilities. Welcome Padmini!

The Power of Emotiplush

When you see a doll, do you see the potential it has? The doll could be cast one day as a child’s friend, another day as a villain and another day as any other conceivable character. Dolls have been uncovered from Egypt circa 2000 BCE emphasizing their importance in everyday lives of children even eons ago. If you really think about it, dolls and playing pretend with them have always been a part of a child’s healthy psychological development and for a good reason too. A child can safely explore several different scenarios and role play without actually experiencing any negative consequences at all – as these are after all within the bubble of the child’s imagination.

For a special-needs or a child with language delay, pretend play, in my opinion, is even more important as it acts as a great motivator to engage and produce speech. In particular, pretend play can be very useful in introducing and teaching emotions because they are best learned when those very emotions are experienced and relevant.
Compare two scenarios. One where a child is shown a picture of a person with an angry face and with the label “Angry”. The educator makes the child recognize the card and to label it “Angry”. Contrast this with another scenario where the child is engaged in pretend play with the educator who is giving voice to a doll who says “I’m angry you took my cookie!” to another doll or the child who snatched the cookie from the said doll. Now the educator asks the child “How does Dolly feel?” Which scenario would give a better chance for the child to understand the emotion anger?

Now imagine we have a doll that displays the correct facial expression for the feeling that was just being taught. What a more relevant and educational experience it would be for the child at that moment! That is the thought-process behind the Emotiplush Dolls. These dolls have a patent pending design that allow the eyebrows and mouth to be manipulated to show a range of facial expressions.
I believe these dolls take learning to the next level for children with disabilities or otherwise using his or her own innate imagination. In the words of Albert Einstein , “Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere”.

Padmini Sriman
Inventor at Emotiplush Dolls.

About the author
Padmini lives in Naperville, Ilinois with her husband and 2 children. She had worked in the Software Industry for a decade until one of her children was diagnosed with developmental delays. She has now transformed into a special-needs advocate and is constantly looking for tools and techniques that will enhance their lives.

Information contained herein does not necessarily reflect endorsement by the web host.

Do you have expertise or a product we should know about? Contact us at to inquire about guest blogging. We’d love to here from you.

Read more ›
Access Your Records Securely Anywhere, Anytime

Access Your Records Securely Anywhere, Anytime

by Bob Bond

As busy clinicians, our professional thoughts most often focus on our patients/clients. How can I best meet my patient’s needs? What can I do to help them excel? What will we do today to meet their goals?, and what will we do at our next visit? Always looming in the background however, are questions about efficiency and productivity. For clinicians in private practice, those questions likely loom as large as the clinical ones. This month, we introduce you to Bob Bond of, who has some suggestions for private practitioners on how to cut down on paperwork time and improve productivity.
Welcome, Bob!

How’s this for a scenario?
● One place for all your patient related information, including: notes, appointments and assessments, scanned paper records and bills
● No software to install
● No data to keep backed-up
● No specialist hardware required – run it on PC, Mac, iPad, Android Tab etc
● Collaborate with team members
● No paperwork to lose

It’s now more “do-able” than you might think…

Tipping Point
These days most of us are pretty accustomed to using technology in our personal lives but until recently, cost and complexity tended to put the majority of technology solutions out of reach of most SLP’s in their professional lives.

Of course, some SLP’s will always prefer pen and paper and that’s just fine.

But those of you that have dipped your toe in the water have probably had to bolt together a mish-mash of products (such as Email, MS-Office documents, Google Docs and storage platforms like Microsoft Live “SkyDrive,” Amazon’s “Cloud Drive,” Google Drive, iCloud, Dropbox or SugarSync) to manage your practice.

Thankfully though, time’s are a-changing!

A new breed of simple, affordable “cloud-based” Practice Management Systems (PMS) is coming to the market. These products combined with fast internet and increasingly ubiquitous WiFi are transforming the way SLP’s work and collaborate.

What does a Practice Management System (PMS) do?
Obviously different systems do different things but the core functionality you should look for in a PMS should include the following:

Patient Database
At the heart of every PMS is a secure patient database that is accessible to all authorised users. The PMS acts as a hub for all your patient-related information, including: Appointments, Notes, Assessments, Documents, Attachments and Invoices.

Diary Management
Manage your diary anytime, anywhere (as long as you have internet access). Schedule different appointment types (Initial, Follow-up, Travel, CPD etc.) with different durations (and where required different costs) and reconcile all of your appointments to the appropriate patients – a real time-saver when it comes to billing!

Clinical Notes
Write up and securely store your patient notes which are time/date stamped and locked-down after 24 hours in accordance with HPC best practice. Insert images, videos or annotated images directly into your notes.

Access a library of Speech-specific assessment templates which can be completed and attached to the patient’s record. Some providers will even convert existing paper-based assessments into electronic forms that can then be used within their applications.

Some systems allow you to create templates for documents that you create on a regular basis such as Patient Letters and GP Letters. These are then pre-populated with the appropriate information such as the patient’s address or the GP’s details so that all you have to do is enter your comments/professional opinion etc.

Sadly, none of us can go 100% paperless. Doubtless you still receive letters or reports in paper form. With a PMS these can easily be scanned and attached to the patient’s record so that everything is in one place and securely accessible from any location.

Different systems offer varying degrees of complexity when it comes to billing. Some provide the kind of detailed functionality that you might expect to see in accounting system, whilst others simply generate invoices based on appointments attended and supplies/goods provided to your client (where appropriate).

What is “the cloud”?
In the context of a Practice Management System it means the software is web-based, so there is no software to install and all of your data is stored in a secure data centre “in the cloud”.

You can securely access the PMS from any location using a web browser (such as Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Apple Safari or Mozilla Firefox). All you need to do is enter your own unique URL into the address bar (such as and login with the credentials, both of which are provided by your chosen software provider.

Regardless of your location (you could be at home, on holiday or in your clinic) you will be able to access your diary, notes, assessments, attachments, documents and invoices.

The Benefits
Its worthwhile pointing out that a PMS may not be for everyone and not all PMS’s are equal. Most of those that have come onto the market are aimed at mid-to-large practices and as a result they are very feature-rich, which may not suit smaller practices.

If you are a sole practitioner or a small practice and you are open to embracing some simple technology, the benefits you will enjoy from adopting a PMS are likely to be:
● Centralisation of all of your patient-related information in one place
● Accessibility anywhere (with an internet connection)
● No need to jump from one system to another
● Reduced administration time
● Improved collaboration with colleagues
● Faster billing and quicker payment

If you are considering a PMS there are a few things to bear in mind:
1 Test the product in your own environment before you commit. Most providers will allow you to try out their software for 30 days or so
2 Keep it simple. If you are a small practice you don’t need lots of bells and whistles
3 Verify the credentials of your chosen provider. Where are they, what’s their track record? Have they worked with any government approved bodies?
4 Gain specific assurances around data security. At the very least data should be backed-up and encrypted real-time but ideally your provider should replicate to an alternate off-site location
5 Don’t pay for features that you don’t need

Try Before You Buy
There are a number of web-based practice management systems on the market however most are aimed at mid/large clinics (i.e. 5 clinicians+).

WriteUpp is a very simple web-based practice management system aimed at sole practitioners and small practices. It provides all the functionality necessary to run an efficient, paperless clinic and includes a number of SLP assessment templates.

It costs as little as $24/month and a free 30-day trial is available if you go to and click on “Try WriteUpp Free”.

About the Author
Bob Bond is the CEO of, a web-based practice management system based in Europe. He has extensive technology experience having worked for Oracle Corporation and SAS Institute Inc. and is also the Founder of Pathway Software, a leading provider of systems to therapists in the NHS (National Health Service).
Contact Bob
Skype: WriteUpp
Phone: +44 1422 399525

Information contained herein does not necessarily reflect endorsement by the web host.

Do you have expertise or a product we should know about? Contact us at to inquire about guest blogging. We’d love to here from you.

Read more ›
Support the Supporters: Helping Caregivers of People with Aphasia

Support the Supporters: Helping Caregivers of People with Aphasia

By Lisa Haynes, MS, CCC-SLP, Clinical Consultant, Lingraphica

In our experience working with those with acquired language disorders, we have found that one of the most challenging issues is assuring carryover and functional use of an AAC/SGD once a device has been determined to be appropriate and purchased. How many times have we set up/trained a patient with a device only to find that once the patient is discharged from treatment, the device ends up collecting dust in a closet? Luckily for us, we met Lisa Haynes of Lingraphica at ASHA 2012 and she agreed to guest blog for us about this very issue. It seems that Lingraphica has some systems in place to support users, caregivers and therapists that may keep those devices out of the closet. Welcome Lisa!

November was National Caregiver Awareness Month and many took the opportunity to express their gratitude, thanks, and appreciation for caregivers who devote themselves to helping someone else. November has ended, but at Lingraphica, we make it a point to support caregivers year-round.

Lingraphica’s mission is simple: Help adults with aphasia re-establish communication with family, friends, and community. We do so by offering speech-generating devices (SGDs) communication apps (SmallTalk tm), and our recently released speech therapy apps (TalkPath sm). We know from our years of experience that when it comes to re-establishing communication or reacquiring speech, this lengthy process is more manageable when the patient has the dedicated assistance of a caregiver — whether it’s a spouse, child, friend, or paid assistant. This is why Lingraphica offers unlimited, free support and training for all of our SGDs — for as long as the patient owns the device.

When the goal is to help those with aphasia better communicate, training on their devices is an essential component to success. As such, we extend our complimentary support to everyone involved with the care and treatment of the patient, including:

• Caregivers: Our technical support team is available to answer any questions a caregiver may have regarding the use of the SGD. Caregivers can contact us via phone or email. There is no charge for the extra service and our technician will spend the necessary time to resolve the issue and ensure satisfaction.

• Speech-language pathologists (SLPs): We offer free device trails and training for any SLP who thinks a Lingraphica device is a good fit for a patient. We can help them make that determination and set up one-on-one, remote training to ensure the SLP has the training to help the patient use the device effectively.

• Patients: Everyone involved has a role in the process, but at the end of the day it’s about how well the patient is able to use the device to communicate. This is why we offer online, remote training and telephone assistance for patients, as well.

Those caring for someone with aphasia have a difficult job and communication can be a challenge. It can be even more frustrating if they are unable to assist their loved one with the learning curve involved with any SGD. Lingraphica makes every effort to arm caregivers with the support, training, and information needed to be a helpful resource at home.

So, if you haven’t yet offered your appreciation to the caregiver of someone with aphasia, now is the perfect time. National Caregiver Awareness month may have ended, but it is never too late to support their efforts.

In your case, Lingraphica makes it easy to offer that assistance — simply start a free device trial and we’ll take care of the rest.

About the Author

Lisa Haynes, MS, CCC-SLP, is a Clinical Consultant at Lingraphica applying her expertise as an AAC specialist to clinicians and caregivers using Lingraphica speech-generating devices or beginning a free device trial.  Contact Lisa at

Information contained herein does not necessarily reflect endorsement by the web host.

Do you have expertise or a product we should know about?  Contact us at to inquire about guest blogging.  We’d love to here from you.


Read more ›
My Guru

My Guru

Guest writers share their expertise so we can all be better….…

Read more ›
My Guru

My Guru

By Matt Mullen

From the moment we are born a story is being told to us. Another way of saying this is that from the moment we are born, the world is being described to you by other people who have had it described to them, over and over, down through the ages. This description is neither good nor bad. It just is. This is fairly easy to see when one gives it any attention. However, something came before the story, that is your breath.

We enter this world on the inhale..we exit it on the exhale. Consider the power and potential in your breath. It is unique to you, you could say it’s your oldest friend, old reliable, never judging you, always looking out for you, even though we usually pay it little attention. It’s not jealous, however. Your breath stays loyal to you, far more loyal than your fickle, transitory thoughts. And the breath, when given a little love and attention will reward you with a treasure trove: calmness, expansion, peace. When we focus on our breath, we are reminded of our original voice, before the fleeting drama of the collective internal dialog began.

Our breath guides all of our bodily systems. The breath is the master regulator of these complex systems. The respiratory is an obvious one. However, the breath nourishes the cardiovascular, neurological, as well as the spiritual. Our bodies’ rhythm is set by this supreme conductor.  As you read these words are you thinking about your breath? Probably not. And yet, there it is, undivided, life giving.

If we consider that our world has been described to us, you could say that description is a type of division, a way of sorting things out to make sense of our reality. The ancient practice of Yoga reminds us that we are actually undivided. In fact, for all the millions of words written about Yoga, it’s simple definition is a union, to bring together, to yoke together. Breath is the very thing that brings us together, binding us as sentient beings. The breath IS yoga. The breath is whole, complete. Can the mind grasp this wholeness? Careful, it’s a trick question! To answer yes or no is to come from that very place of division. The mind considers the question. The breath moves through the question, unconcerned with contrasts and comparisons.

So, we can see that the breath is ever present, and thoughts are ever fleeting. Meditating on this simple fact is enough to soothe and quiet the mind. Please consider, when we speak about meditation we are not speaking about something that is a chore. Indeed, meditation is your natural sanctuary.

As we conclude this article, try this:

Sitting right where you are. Take a deep breath through your nose. Fill up! Gently hold the breath at the top of the inhale, slowly exhale, completely, also through the nose. Resume your natural breath. After a few moments. Try it again. This time think of your exhale like a faucet. Increase, or decrease the volume of your exhale, like you would a water faucet.
Observe how you feel. No judgement, just observe.

Thoughts imagine the present moment. Breath experiences it directly.

Enjoy the simple power of your breath. It’s truly yours, unique to you. Your oldest, most faithful friend!

Peace,  Matt Mullen

About the author

Matt Mullen is a massage therapist, yoga instructor, healthy living coach, father, friend, educator, and student of the universe. Along his journey he’s learned a little, but it was enough for him to realize that the questions are often much more important than the answers men conjure up to explain the unexplainable. Matt is available for consultations and individual appointments. Please contact him directly at

Read more ›