Feb '22 - Dysphagia, diversity and neurodiversity

Posted on
January 28, 2022
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👄 This month, we're focusing on dysphagia. We enjoyed learning from ""An International Commentary on Dysphagia and Dysphonia During the COVID‑19 Pandemic", a truly insightful research paper. We've also met with Lisa A Young, SLP  and founder of Eat, Speak and Think, a blog geared towards medical speech-language pathologists.

🌍 We were privileged to interview Shafaq Hassan, specialist SLT. We truly enjoyed our conversation and have no doubt you'll enjoy it too.

🤩 Last, but not least, we are excited to promote Divergent Perspectives next event about "Honouring Autistic communication in Speech & Language Therapy practice". This event will take place on Monday, January 31st at 3pm. If you're interested, you'll find more information below.

Feb '22 Research Paper 🧐
This month, we read "An International Commentary on Dysphagia and Dysphonia During the COVID‑19 Pandemic", a research paper published by Anna Miles, Jackie McRae, Gemma Clunie, Patricia Gillivan‑Murphy, Yoko Inamoto, Hanneke Kalf, Mershen Pillay, Susan Pownall, Philippa Ratclife, Theresa Richard, Ursula Robinson, Sarah Wallace and Martin B. Brodsky 
(full text available on our platform)

We were particularly interested in the following findings

  • People are suffering from dysphagia and dysphonia following COVID-19 and the profiles of those hospitalised, intubated, or treated at home differ
  • Those admitted to ICU often have prolonged intubations and hospital stays and, in turn, present with significant laryngeal injuries and neuropathies that may be long-lasting
  • Those who present with milder illness tend to follow patterns of globus, muscle tension dysphonia, and hypersensitivity of the larynx associated with chronic cough

We would love to hear from you! Feel free to share your experience treating dysphagia during the COVID-19 pandemic with the Noala community on our forum

We're thrilled to introduce you to our guest Lisa A Young, SLP
and founder of Eat, Speak and Think 🌟

Lisa A Young, MA, CCC-SLP

How have you decided to become a speech therapist?

I've always been interested in how language works. I was in grad school in San Diego, well on my way to starting a career in linguistics research when we had a speech-language pathologist as a guest lecturer. Her presentation blew me away. Until that day, I thought SLPs only worked with kids who had a lisp or stuttered. (That's how I thought of it then.) Within a year, I had moved across the country, ready to start grad school to become a speech-language pathologist. 

You focus on working with adults who have problems with swallowing, communication, and cognition. We would be curious to learn what is a typical session when working with a patient who suffers from dysphagia?

My dysphagia sessions are divided between three main activities: education, exercise, and practicing with food/drink. Every patient is different. For education, I teach about strategies to lower the risk of aspiration. I teach about positioning, eating or feeding strategies, food/beverage preparation, and oral care. Exercise might be food based, such as with MDTP, or device-based, such as with the EMST-75 or EMST-150 or a ball for CTAR, or our typical swallowing exercises. And of course, my patients generally eat or drink during the session so that they can practice their strategies and I can assess for possible modifications of my recommendations.

Would you have a memorable anecdote to share with us?

One of my favourite stories is about an older gentleman who had gotten a feeding tube shortly before coming to the rehab facility where I worked. He said he was told he would never eat again, but he was highly motivated to do anything he could to change that. So we worked together every day, and he did his swallow exercise program several times a day on his own. He was eating a regular diet by the time he went home, and his feeding tube was removed. He called me a few months later to tell me that he had cooked himself a full Thanksgiving meal!

What advice would you give to your younger self about starting as a speech therapist?

My biggest struggle has been with work-life balance. I'd tell myself that while it's important to do the best that I can for every patient I treat, it's just as important to take care of myself. For me, here are the things that helped. (1) Decide what is really important for my own well-being and schedule time for it. (2) View my work time the way an entrepreneur or business owner would. Time is money, so use my time wisely. Find ways to make work more efficient without lowering quality. And (3) Instead of feeling daunted by the overwhelming amount of things I don't know, try to learn one new thing for each patient, or each day, or each week.

Other news we've been reading 📮

🎒 Catherine Fredericks, a speech and language therapist in Wayne, designed communication station for the K-5 school playground.This opens up opportunities for children with special needs to learn in places that they share with typical peers

🏅 Speech and Language Pathology has been ranked #10 of the 100 best jobs and #3 in best health care jobs

 🧒 8% of children have Developmental Language Disorder. Curious to learn more about how to help a children with Developmental Language Disorder? Check out one of our latest blog post

📺 In case you missed our Insta Live with Willian Laven, Stammer advocate, founder of Stammer Stories and Stambassador for ASC Stammering, you can watch it on our feed

🌟 Honouring Autistic Communication on Monday, January 31st

speech therapy autistic communucation
Divergent Prespectives

The dominant model of Speech and Language Therapy for Autistic children and young people is to reduce their inherent social communication attributes through encouraging eye contact, teaching conversation scripting and other neuronormative social skills. The evidence base is not proven for using these psychosocial interventions, despite these being often the most common support offered. With the growing evidence base highlighting the harms of teaching Autistic children and young people to mask or camouflage their authentic selves, we aim to help SLTs embrace a new affirming model of support which nurtures autistic communication skills. 

Join SLTs Elaine McGreevy and Emily Lees for a 1h training via Zoom. This training features 2 clinicians who are unapologetically advocating for radical shifts in therapy practices, to empower neurodivergent people. The first in a new series of training on Neurodivergent-affirming practices to support Autistic children & young people.

In this webinar you will learn about: Contemporary evidence base that informs neurodivergent-affirming SLT practice with children and young people, Flawed and outdated theories e.g., Theory of Mind, that do not reflect autistic cognition, Strategies and supports which honours Autistic communication and interaction styles, Supporting attention and processing differences

Please welcome Shafaq Hassan, specialist SLT 🌍

Shafaq Hassan, Specialist Speech and Language Therapist

Hello Shafaq! Could you please tell us a bit more about yourself and how you've decided to become a speech therapist?

I’m a Bilingual SLT born in the UK. I’m Muslim and speak English and Urdu. My parents are multilingual speaking English, Bengali, Urdu and some Arabic – I am a peoples’ person and always found it really fascinating to see how peoples’ faces lit up when my parents spoke to them in their language, making an instant connection.

At school, Human Biology was my favourite subject and I have always had a passion for healthcare. When it came to arranging work experience, I was ambitious and arranged a placement at the Cardiology Unit at the Aga Khan University Hospital, Pakistan and later at the Research Department at St Georges’ University Hospital in South London. I learnt a lot about the work culture, diversity of staff and communication styles in these different settings.

In all, I really enjoyed working with people and wanted to help improve the quality of life of others. When deciding on University Courses I found Speech Sciences at UCL  to be a very new and exciting program – it really called out to me addressing both my interest in communication and improving quality of life of people. I have totally enjoyed my academic career and continue to learn in my journey as a Speech and Language Therapist.       

You've lived in India, UAE, the US and the UK. How much has this multi-cultural background impacted the way you're working as a SLT?

Although based in London, I  have had the opportunity to travel and have lived in India, USA, and the UK. I have also completed a work placement at Credit Valley Hospital, Canada during my undergraduate degree. This exposure has helped me appreciate the diversity of my clients and the cultural & religious backgrounds they come from. It doesn’t feel alien to hear other languages being spoken. I feel I can relate to their concerns about stigmas and cultural taboos about communication difficulties and special needs.

I feel I am a strong advocate for raising awareness of communication difficulties and for showing people it’s ok to seek help. I have been invited to various TV and media platforms to discuss Speech & Language Therapy in English and in Urdu, enabling me to reach a wider community both nationally and at an International level.     

Would you have a funny / most memorable anecdote to share with us?

I had a very funny and awkward experience when I was dropping off my son to school one day. A lovely lady came up behind me and greeted me very warmly with a hug. She knew exactly who I was. I greeted her equally warmly and felt I must’ve met her at university or even school. I was aware she worked at a sister school but couldn’t quite put my finger on where I had met her. After 2 more encounters I summed up the courage to ask her and was mortified when she reminded me I had done a successful block of therapy sessions, doing home visits, for her daughter! Eat those almonds and sharpen your brain Shafaq!  

What advice would you give to your younger self about starting as a speech therapist?

Hey you, well done on graduating! It’s going to be a challenging journey ahead, there will be tears and uncertainty but work hard and stay focussed. You will be pleasantly surprised by your achievements. Believe in yourself (Mum & Dad were right!), your identity will become your strength…you don’t need to change. You will touch lives – you will make a difference. “Just keep swimming!”   

ELKLAN Speech and Language Support for 3-5s

This course is written for all teaching and support staff working in pre-school provisions. It links research on early language development with best practice to give you up to date theoretical knowledge and practical tools to promote and extend communication. It will provide practical strategies and innovative ideas wherever you work. This training runs over 10 sessions (plus an initial meet and greet session on Wednesday 6th April 2022) and will be completed via blended e-learning. There is also the option to gain accreditation for your learning at Levels 2 or 3 by completing Portfolio tasks which help to ensure the learning is embedded. The course code on the ELKLAN website is SPR22/113Ae. Please see www.bookwhen.com/affinitytsa for more information and to book your place on our course.

Emilie Spire
CEO & Founder
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