(a crucial ingredient for Success in Speech and Language Therapy)
The first time I heard of the word finesse was learning how to play Bridge. I often bumbled through the game as a novice, while those experienced in the game would sit comfortably, bid, and play as if they didn’t have to think about it. I wondered if I would ever learn to play the game as well and really did not realize that that finesse’ in cards, like the art of speech therapy only comes with consistent desire, dedication, play and practice. Finesse’ is the ability to do something with ease or in an artful way. The word implies skill, expertise, artistry and virtuosity.
Speech therapy, especially for complex speaking difficulties such as aphasia, apraxia, and dysarthria, often requires finesse’. It is mastered with time, and ingenuity. Some people with speaking difficulties are frustrated with speech therapy due to the complexity of it, in addition to the relative inexperience of those involved. In addition, frustration may be related to the speed and length of time it takes for speaking improvement. Let’s face it, for many of us, we want to achieve what we wish NOW. We want instant food, instant mastery and instant success with what we endeavor. The fact is that many disciplines take time and repetition to master, and it requires a steadfast commitment, and passion to achieve. It often takes finding the right people or therapists to learn from and model.
It takes a great deal of time, energy and dedication to help the person with the speaking difficulty. Families and loved ones are often frustrated because they do not have the skill set or finesse’ to help their loved one who has difficulty speaking. I believe that anyone can develop finesse in just about any discipline.
As a speech language pathologist with over 40 years of clinical experience, I have found a way of stimulating speaking which is very non-traditional. The Teaching of Talking helps the speech language pathologist, parent or caregiver learn how to stimulate speech and language without necessarily using hand out sheets, workbooks, i pads or computers.
One of the principles of The Teaching of Talking is to teach loved ones and caregivers how to stimulate language. The therapy is focused on the person with the speaking difficulty and the caregiver or loved one. Both are involved in the therapy, equally. Because most people can not receive therapy indefinitely, The Teaching of Talking Method is designed to be taught to speech language pathologists so that they can teach the method to their patients and clients since there typically is a cap to how many visits one can receive. It can also help guide others who do not have access to skilled care and have no resources available for speech therapy following aphasia if the individual meets the criteria for the method, which includes being able to imitate or repeat vowels, or simple syllables. Currently the Teaching of Talking is helping people world- wide in places where no services are available. The Teaching of Talking focuses on loved ones and family to stimulate language when it is needed at home. To try to focus on therapy without family training in stimulation methods seems lacking, since the practice necessary for speaking improvement, for many, may take hundreds of hours and even a lifetime!
That is why I find it crucial to train family members in the methods to help people speak with clarity. Therapists and family members can think and problem solve, where pre-packaged programs can not. To me, every speech therapy student being trained in the world today should be learning an easy and engaging way to help people speak which involves their every day life and activities, but should also be training caregivers or loved ones if at all possible or available.
Jo Ann is a caregiver who is currently learning The Teaching of Talking Method. One of the main things she is now getting over is the necessity to sit down and do speaking drills. She is learning to stimulate speaking in the situation and when needed. We often learn a task faster and easier when it is vital to daily living and when it is a necessary, everyday expression. To me it is “stimulate the language when it is needed,” and the chances of it occurring more spontaneously are usually better.
Speech therapy unfortunately for many will be a short term endeavor. Health care delivery systems can not afford to pay for services that may take months or even years. Family members and caregivers must be more involved and proactive with providing speech and language stimulation at home that is pertinent and custom fitted for the individual with the speaking difficulty. Learning to talk again is something that requires a speech model; a loved one and therapist to get the best possible result. The Teaching of Talking Method was developed exactly for that purpose.
Mark A. Ittleman, M.S., CCC/SLP is a speech language pathologist with over 40 years experience working with children and adults who have had difficulty speaking in private practice, home health and rehabilitation hospital settings.
He is currently traveling throughout the United States and Canada teaching the principles of The Teaching of Talking to schools, hospitals, universities, colleges, special interest groups and families. To find out more go to http://www.teachingoftalking.com, or you may reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He is available to answer your questions, provide learning opportunities, and group training.
The Teaching of Talking is available in book or audio copy and can be accessed through the website at www.teachingoftalking.com