The most memorable moment of graduate school, way back when at Trenton State College, was when the 8 or so students from our program exited the hall after taking the ASHA exam. We gathered in the parking lot to seek assurance from one another that we hadn’t bombed the test. “What did you put for this question? What did you put for that one?” Buoyed by the knowledge that we had pretty much all selected the same answers on the trickiest questions, we were about to part with a sense of cautious optimism about our future careers. Then, one of my classmates asked, “So, how DO you correct an /r/?” There was stunned silence, then a ripple of laughter that built into full-blown hysterics. Yes, leaning across cars for support, we laughed until we cried, because not one of us could answer that question.
The first fifteen years of my career were spent with students who had moderate to severe disabilities, so fixing an /r/ was the least of my concern. Therapy was all about functional communication and assistive technology, and I was good at that. Then I transferred to a new school with caseload of kiddos in regular education for whom improved articulation was their goal. Oh, dear! I was suddenly confronted with errors on “k, g, th, and l” which I felt I could handle, but predominant on the caseload were frontal lisps, lateral lisps, and the dreaded /r/ distortion. I had to do some very serious professional development very quickly. That’s when I had the great good fortune of attending my first of several trainings with Char Boshart, creator of Speech Dynamics, and my entire approach to artic therapy changed.
If I could only choose one word to describe Char, “dynamic” would be it! (“Delightful, insightful, funny, creative, generous, and awesome” also spring to mind, as you’ll see as you read on). Here’s just a bit from her bio:
She graduated with her MA from Western Michigan University (she took a class from the esteemed Dr. Charles Van Riper) and began her career in the public schools with over a hundred on her caseload. Since that time, she’s worked several years in the public schools in southern California, Maryland, and Georgia, in the clinical setting, private practice, and as an Assistant Professor and Department Chair at Loma Linda University.
Since the ‘90s, she has presented numerous well-received articulation and language seminars through Speech Dynamics, as well as through the Bureau of Education and Research (BER). She has also created several practical CEU videos through SpeechTherapypd.com, and now hosts a podcast, The Speech Link. She is a consummate speaker with an organized, infectious and exhilarating presentation-style.
Her interest in creating effective therapy techniques and efficient caseload management has evolved into the development of many practical resources. Her most current books are The Easy R, The Key to Carryover, 22 of My Favorite Tools and How to Use Them, Demystify the Tongue Tie, and others.
In addition, Char writes, and thousands of SLPs read, her weekly blog, Therapy Matters. She is dedicated to sharing practical information and ideas to therapists that work with children.
That’s the formal Char Boshart. Then, there’s the day-to-day reality of being a school SLP, to which I’m sure we can all relate.
“I’ve been in schools with no phones and had to hunt down every single kid, every time, every day. I’ve been up-chucked on (I’ll never forget it; Waterloo Elementary….). I’ve double booked parent meetings. I’ve judged the Spelling Bee (I have no recollection of that on my Job Description; oh wait, I didn’t have one). I participated in the talent show (as a performer—talk about a train wreck). I’ve had 10 minutes to get a report done, and did, somehow. I’ve sat down at the therapy table with four kids and panicked because I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do with them. I’ve forgotten kid’s names. A drop of a child’s saliva actually landed on my lip (eeek!). I’ve worked (or tried to) with toddlers and pre-schoolers who wouldn’t engage no matter what, and I felt guilty cause I wasn’t helping them. I’ve had over 110 on my caseload with four schools and no life.
Crazy? Yes. Fast-paced? Wouldn’t have it any other way. Helpful to kids? Boy, I sure hope so. It’s been great, and I wouldn’t change a thing.”
If you EVER have the opportunity to attend one of Char’s presentations, DO IT! I have attended multiple presentations and have learned so much each time. And while you are waiting for that opportunity to see Char live and in-person, you MUST check out the plethora of resources mentioned in this post. Books, videos, podcasts, her quick-read but chock-full blog posts, and all of the freebies she generously posts on her site: WOW!! If you are looking for the perfect way to spend a professional development day, this would be it. Gather your SLP colleagues and dig into all that Char has to offer. Your head will be spinning, but I guarantee, if one of your colleagues asks, “So, how do you correct an /r/?,” you will be able to answer that question with many new and effective tools and techniques to supplement what you are already doing.
You can hear Char interview me on how to increase communication opportunities for students with complex needs on The Speech Link podcast, hosted by SpeechTherapyPD.com, on October 4, 7 PM Eastern. This will include a live Q&A period following the broadcast. You can read about the resources I recommend in my September 19, 2018 post.