Monday, June 18, 2007

365 days after our 1st class-by Lois Bly

June 18, 2007

Hi Everyone,

Can you believe that it is actually one year since we stared our journey together!! This time last year we were all packing, traveling and sharpening our pencils!! Do you remember the emotions that you experienced that day?

I know I was nervous! I wondered; who were these 20 people that I would be spending 8 weeks with? What do their videos look like? Who are the kids for the practicums? Will I wake up on time? Will I get to class on time? So many questions in my mind!!

Finally June 19 arrived and I got up on time, made it to class on time…. Only to discover that we were in a small room rather than the large room I expected. Oh well, that would be fine for the first week… no problem!! The sisters are always kind and helpful.

….. Where is everyone???? We soon discovered that several of you were wandering around at the hospital. Oh well, we will wait. I remember the first time I tried to find the Provincialate. Yikes, where is it???? I drove all over town.

Ahhhhh but then everyone was found and the class began…. Finally the day had come!!

And what an experience it turned out to be!!!!! Colleen and I could not believe how friendly, kind, nice, enthusiastic, and fantastic each of you were as individuals and as a group. It quickly became evident to us that you were “unique” in a wonderful way!!! And we were very fortunate and blessed to be working with you. Thank you each for being you.

Isn’t it amazing how the children in practicums and the children you treated at home changed. First they changed in a bad way… Oh no, you suddenly could see the problems they had. Where did those problems come from? They weren’t there yesterday. Then they changed in wonderful ways…they really got better!!! And so did your insights and handling skills. Isn’t it an astonishing experience? You can Dance!!!!! The children you work with are now “Dancing with Stars”.

The album you gave me sits on my coffee table for everyone to look at and for me to peruse when I feel lonely. Thank you for the memories!!!!

My hopes and prayers are that you continue to love what you do, continue to love learning and continue to dance with enthusiasm, grace and skill.

I miss each of you and I wish that we had a short refresher course coming up so we could all enjoy being together again. (I guess we have a mini refresher at Hospital for Special Surgery. You know….it is that hospital for “special” people. Those of us who come to the course will soon be part of the “special” group.) And, of course we have a reunion coming up July 28. I hope you each will come!!!
I hope to see you in New York!!
With love and many fond memories,


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Unlock a Door--Christine's NDT Journey as an SLP

My journey into NDT as an SLP began when a colleague (an NDT trained OT) recommended that I apply for the 8-week course. She told me that it would be great for me and that I would love it. So I applied and was accepted.
Little did I know I was embarking on the most difficult journey of my professional career. When I graduated from college and started working as an SLP, I knew that I wanted to work with children.
After I interviewed at Matheny, a special school for children and adults with developmental disabilities, I knew that was where I wanted to work. I have always loved the challenge of finding a way to ‘unlock a door” and help a child find a way to communicate, or dramatically improve oral feeding skills, and the kids at Matheny are the biggest challenge I know.

The longer I worked at Matheny, the more I realized there were pieces missing in how I needed to work with a child with cerebral palsy. I would see challenges my students were having, and I knew where I wanted to go, but I had no idea how to get there, and no matter where I looked for direction, I couldn’t find any.

When I started the NDT course, I had no idea how much I didn’t know about my field, and how much I should know about it. Honestly, I sat in class the first few days wanting to cry because I was so completely lost, but as the first week progressed, I started putting a few pieces together, and I started thinking, ‘why don’t they teach us this in speech school?’ The theories behind NDT really made me stop and think about the whole body and how everything works together.

As the 8 weeks progressed I started to see and understand that communicating and feeding are more than the mouth and language centers of the brain, they are the result of all parts of the complex machine we call our body working efficiently and effectively together. I started to realize that as an SLP, especially one who works with kids with disabilities, I should know why posture and movement are important to communication and feeding, and that changing ineffective postures and movement is critical to changing poor feeding or communication skills. NDT taught me to look beyond the traditional role of the SLP, and realize that to truly change communication and feeding in kids with disabilities, I have to be not just an SLP, but a little bit of a physical therapist and little bit of an occupational therapist. OT and PT are more closely related than speech therapy is to either.

As a result, I believe that the NDT journey for an SLP is longer and harder then for an OT or PT. Where we have to learn to be an OT and a PT, they don’t necessarily need to learn to be an SLP. Learning to think outside of the traditional SLP role was one of the greatest challenges I faced during my course, and one that I continue to face as I continue to integrate NDT into myself. My clinical skills have changed drastically since I began the NDT course.

My fellow speech pathologists at Matheny have noticed the changes in my skills more than I have! One speech pathologist told me that the kids looked so much better after I had been working with them. To have one of my colleagues notice a positive change reinforces that I am doing it right, and it encourages me to keep learning and integrating NDT. The more comfortable I become with NDT, the more I am able to share it with my co-workers, and the more I encourage them to consider taking an NDT course. Taking the 8-week NDT course was one of the best things I could have done for myself as an SLP.

Ms. Mayercik who completed her 8-Week NDT Pediatric Course with Lois Bly @ Meadowbrook, PA, 2006. She is the only SLP in this 8 week NDT course.