A new feature on this blog is periodic interviews with SLPs that you really need to know about. In September, the spotlight was on Char Boshart, SLP extraordinaire. Now I want to introduce you to an SLP who is unique in many ways. I first learned of Marcus Little last year when he sent me information about his new website, RapidSpeechTherapy.com. If you read my post, Drill, Baby, Drill, you’ll know that I am all about maximizing repetitions in artic therapy. Marcus takes this much further by providing resources that assist parents in effective home practice, with the emphasis on achieving automaticity ASAP. These resources include awesome videos that illustrate techniques for /r, s, th/ production; 20 detailed, downloadable “essential tips for effectively developing speech sounds;” and a blog that, among other things, describes how Marcus elicits 500-600 target sound repetitions in just 15 minutes. Now, THAT’S rapid speech therapy!
But rapid drill isn’t the only unique feature of Marcus’ speech therapy practice. Just wait until you see WHERE he has done therapy!
How I Got Started and Why I Keep Going: An Interview with Marcus Little
Education: M.Sc – SLP SUNY Fredonia
Current employment: Self-employed
Web address: rapidspeechtherapy.com
My passion is helping children (and adults) achieve their speaking potential. Results come quicker when “an optimized” homework program is done consistently on a daily basis. This is the reason I have made training parents, caregivers, tutors, educational assistants, teachers, and volunteers a top priority. The “Rapid Speech Therapy” method was born out of the necessity to provide an easy to use yet powerful way to develop speech sounds in the hands of the “nonprofessional.”
What first got you interested in the field of speech/language pathology? I was one of those people who spent years in University trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I had a friend who was an SLP and it looked interesting.
In what types of settings and with what populations have you worked? I have worked in Canadian Schools predominantly.
What is your area of specialty in the field? I love intensive high repetition drills that focus on developing speed while maintaining accuracy. This is done in order to develop automaticity of speech. The approach is success-based, meaning we immerse the individual in drills that we know they can already do but focus on doing it smoother, quicker, and faster. If errors occur, then it is simply a matter of slowing down and reestablishing the accuracy. One of the key principles is establishing a solid foundation of pre-word level skills, this being sound, syllable, and especially double-syllable levels. I find time and again that when the foundation skills are drilled and mastered, it reduces the amount of time it takes for a sound to emerge consistently into conversation. My biggest tip I can offer is to focus on the foundation skills with an emphasis on speed while maintaining accuracy.
I love sharing what I have learned. My first website was thespeechpathway.com. I have neglected it, but it still contains some great information and ideas. My current website, rapidspeechtherapy.com, focuses on helping parents learn how to maximize their efforts in working with their kids at home. The tools section has some great content for developing the /r/, /s/ and /th/ sounds. Please share it, link to it, and help get it out there to anyone who you may feel would benefit from it.
How did you become interested in that specialty? This is a bit of a story. In my first batch of clients, straight out of Graduate school, I inherited one who was a veteran of speech therapy. He was a grade eight student who had only an /r/ sound remaining. I was so impressed with this fellow because it appeared he had nearly achieved his /r/ sound. He could use it in sentences and monitored conversations during our sessions. I was ecstatic and wrote his parents about how well he was doing and that he was just about there.
Then it happened. I passed my client in the hall and overheard him speaking with his friends. What I heard shocked me. He was speaking as if he had never been in speech therapy. All spoken /r/ sounds were in error. I had just written his parents a glowing note saying how well he is doing in conversation. I am sure he was speaking the same way at home with his parents. I vowed to solve this. During our next session I paid extra attention to what was going on and found he was “pausing” before his /r/ targets and “emphasizing” his /r/ sounds. My client was only able to produce his /r/ sound accurately when consciously attending to his speech. He had to do this to “override” his automatic way of speaking.
Ever since that time, I shifted my approach to facilitating automaticity of speech. This is done through drills that focus on developing high repetition and speed. You have to get the individual in a zone where you are always pushing the speed of the productions while trying to hold on to the accuracy. When the mistakes start to happen you just slow down and reconnect with the accuracy and then start pushing the speed again. It becomes a wonderful feedback loop that is easy to teach parents.
Where has that area of specialty taken you as an SLP? I have a highly developed skill set for maximizing repetitions in clients in a way that does not frustrate the individual. I have been successfully teaching parents and caregivers on how to perform these types of drills at home and it has been a great way to speed up the progress by sharing the workload.
Of all the things you learned in graduate school and in your externships, what stands out the most being most valuable to you now? It was actually a cognitive psych course in my undergraduate degree that has the most impact. It was a result of a paper I wrote on attention and automaticity. Speech is all about developing automaticity. I have spent 19 years evolving how to do it more effectively.
If there was one thing you wished you learned before entering the field, what would it be? How to market myself better. I love what I do but struggle to get clients at times. I am actually dedicating the next few months to really figuring this out and getting myself more visible.
How have you changed as an SLP over the span of your career? I have worked virtually for the past 10 years. The past two years I have worked exclusively part-time while traveling the world with my family. We visited 28 countries and stayed last winter in Mexico, split between San Miguel de Allende and Playa del Carmen. I am in love with the idea of being location-independent. Doing teletherapy while traveling has been a life highlight for me, but I would definitely do things differently going forward. I would have the marketing automation in place to provide a more consistent stream of clients. I am currently back in Canada and marketing automation is my current focus. I will definitely get this piece of the puzzle figured out, as I would love to travel again in the future.
My coolest moment as an SLP would be providing therapy sessions while at sea on Royal Caribbean’s “the Mariner of the Seas.” That blew me away! I couldn’t believe I was able to do this. Their internet, called “Voom,” could handle my sessions as we sailed from Singapore to Shanghai. How cool is that! Don’t try this on Norwegian Cruise lines. Their internet is terrible.
Check out my family’s travels at http://alittlebeyond.com.
Have you received any awards or honors for your work? One of my biggest honours was flying to Ethiopia in 2014 to offer a training bootcamp for a nonprofit there. I met some amazing people that are really making a difference. For instance, I met Zemi Yenus who is probably the most inspiring person I have ever met. She is a woman who was told by professionals her child would never speak but refused to accept it. She worked relentlessly with her child and others (starting the Joy school in 2002). Her persistence paid off and her son, Jojo, not only communicates verbally, but can read and count as well. But here is the thing. He didn’t start putting words together until age 16. Her story is beyond inspiring.
Well, Marcus, I’d say your story is quite inspiring, too! Thank you for taking the time to participate in this interview. To those reading this post, please be sure to check out the amazing resources offered by Marcus Little. They just might change the way you approach articulation therapy.