Why is speech therapy so important for the transgender population?

The daily struggles faced by the transgender community are wide ranging; from stigma to physical abuse, these individuals often feel unable to express themselves as they truly are. This is due to the difficulty of living in a body that you don’t resonate with, having a voice that doesn’t sound like you, and being treated like your true gender by people you meet and interact with.

 

Those who are not transgender, also known as cisgender individuals, rarely think about the voices that they were born with. But our voice is an important component of who we are and how we reveal ourselves to the world. Not only is it the way we are able to communicate our thoughts and feelings, but it is also a fundamental aspect of how we establish our personalities and unique identities.

 

So what happens if you associate yourself as female, but your voice is deep and masculine? Daily tasks like answering the phone will involve your gender being assumed. This is likely to make you feel annoyed or upset, but ultimately will leave you feeling very misunderstood. In fact, one study found that one of the most common struggles reported by the transgender community is their voice not corresponding with their gender identity, leading to anxiety and depression[1].

 

Despite this struggle, the transgender community is growing with nearly 1.4 billion people identifying as transgender and 1.4 million of these residing in the US according to recent statistics[2]. Alongside the other physical changes necessary to complete a transition, the voice must also change to reflect the true gender of the individual.

Transgender voice modification therapy dates back to the early 1980s, but has become increasingly common amongst the transgender population as transgender rights become more solidified in today’s society. However, speech therapists that specialize in transgender voice modification still makes up a very small percentage of the total. One study found that less than half of all speech therapists have completed some form of study on transgender voice therapy[3].

 

So why is speech therapy so important?

 

Speech therapy is just as important as hormone therapy and other physical interventions but can be overlooked. Individuals who try to push out sounds that their natural voice can’t make can actually cause permanent damage to their vocal folds, so it is critical that individuals seek professional help to adjust their voices.

 

When you work with a speech therapist that specializes in transgender voice modification, they will help you with a range of the verbal and nonverbal aspects of communication including articulation, volume and intensity, pitch, intonation and stress patterns, eye contact and facial expressions.

 

Ultimately, vocalization and communication are paramount to gender identity and your voice is the main indicator that you may be transitioning, which may make you feel self conscious, embarrassed or frustrated. To avoid these negative feelings, work with a speech therapist who will guide you through the process, leaving you with increased self confidence and assurance in your identity.

[1] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0892199707000033 [2] https://www.glaad.org/vote/topics/transgender-people [3] https://www.speechpathologygraduateprograms.org/transgender-voice-modification-therapy/

Your coworker has a stutter. What does that mean for you?

  Remember that time in elementary school when your friend had some trouble producing their name or couldn’t get the words out if they got mad? Well, chances are that person grew out of their stutter the same way they grew out of their dirty Keds and bowl haircut. But some people didn’t grow out of it and had to deal with it at every stage of life after that…the stutter not the bad haircut. We hopefully all left the 90’s in the 90’s.   I am fairly new to the work world, so I am still learning what this adult life is all about (I have stock options? How much credit is good credit? Why is cheese so expensive? Can I still call my dad because I don’t know if I actually got a call from the IRS and need to wire $1,000 to a Somali prince?) This entirely new way of life has come with many surprises, for example: No, I don’t need to wire $1,000 to a Somali prince. But, the most surprising lesson of them all is how ignorant we are to speech impediments.   I have had a slight stutter my long life of 24 years, but I never saw a negative impact on my life. Until about two months ago, while I was trying to make a sale (the operative word being trying). A large portion of my job is spent cold calling executives and convincing them to meet with me. I had finally gotten a hold of a man I was contacting for weeks. While on the phone I was trying to explain who I was and why I was calling. I could hear his impatient huffs in my ear and I was suddenly overcome with nerves. Because of my stutter I couldn’t say the name of my company, which led to him laughing and hanging up.   I know what you’re thinking, “What masochist goes into sales if they have a stutter? Isn’t your job to talk?” You’re completely right. I definitely should not be in a job that requires complete fluency. But sometimes you just have to say ‘screw it’ and move on with your life.  

The truth is, no one knows why people stutter despite it being so common.

  More than 70 million people worldwide are stutterers, that’s one in every 100. In the US, more than 3 million people stutter.The only thing we know is how to try to control it. Through a lot of speech therapy, effort, and (quite frankly) self deprecating humor it can become manageable. But the question remains, what in the world does this have to do with a fluent adult such as yourself.   Any conversation can be paralyzing for someone with a stutter. I, personally, struggle saying my first name and my job title, isn’t that ironic? Though I do my best to have control, I find myself avoiding my name when there are pending introductions. Undoubtedly, this leads to the other person asking what my name is and as I take in a big breathe they become inpatient, give up, and then move on to another conversation (almost always about the weather, but I’m still stuck on how dumb I look).     Here is the part that is relevant to you. What can you do if you’re having a conversation with a coworker with a stutter? The most important thing is to be patient. If you are rushing a conversation they will physically not be able to finish their sentence. Let them breathe and start over if need be, and then they will carry on. Make sure to continue to listen to what they are saying, not how they are saying it; what they say could change your life…maybe.   What not to do after a coworker stutters:
  • “Are you cold? You’re shivering.
  This one is particularly bad in the middle of summer.
  • “Hurry up! I have to get on another call.”
They are going as fast as they can. They will speak faster if you tell them to take their time. It sounds counter intuitive, I know.
  • Do not repeat their stutter back to them. Mocking is a form of bullying.
  • Never EVER laugh. Some people find themselves laughing because of the awkward break in the conversation, but it feels like you’re laughing directly at them.
  Ultimately, you are going to work with all different kinds of people…at least that’s what our moms told us. We are all trying to achieve the same goal, but no two paths will be the same. If you read this whole thing and didn’t retain any of it, know this- the stutterer on the other side of the conversation is having to try much harder than you think. So when in doubt be patient, be kind, and seek to understand.   Thank you Morgan R. for taking the time to write this amazing blog and giving a spotlight on stuttering!

How to Incorporate Speech Therapy into Your Child’s Day

Parents play a critical role in their child’s speech development–even if their child is seeing a speech therapist. A speech-language pathologist, or “speech therapist,” can help your child overcome communication challenges, but it’s the work that’s done at home that truly makes a difference. If your child is seeing a speech therapist, there are a number of ways you can incorporate speech therapy into your child’s day continue to nurture their language development.


  Working with a Speech Therapist

  The first step to incorporating speech therapy into your child’s day is to work closely with their speech therapist, who will provide at-home exercises, and advise on best practices for ensuring consistent improvement.   A speech therapist will also  
  • Set language development goals;
  • Design daily speech-building activities;
  • Develop progress reports; and
  • Determine next steps.
  Further, by working closely with your child’s speech therapist, you become the primary person responsible for your child’s language development.  


At Home Exercises

  A speech therapist will provide a series of progressive exercises you can do with your child at home. These activities can be done at bathtime, during meal preparation, on fun field trips, and more. Establish a routine that incorporates both play time and a time for doing the exercises, and be sure to reinforce good speaking and communication habits with positive feedback.   In addition to performing at-home exercises, it’s also important to encourage your child to speak and express themselves as often as possible. Here are some ways you can engender meaningful communication with your child throughout the day:
 
  • Ask open-ended questions: Ask your child questions that will help them use their vocabulary to describe objects and express their feelings. Avoid questions that can be answered with “yes” or “no,” but instead, ask them to describe what they see, what they are feeling, or what they are experiencing.

  • Stay informed about what they’re learning in school: If your child is attending school, ask them about what they learned in class – explore the topics together and ask them questions about what they think and how they feel about what they are learning.

  • Read together and ask questions about the story: Story time as an excellent opportunity to encourage communication. Ask your child what they like about the story, what they think is happening or is going to happen next. Asking questions like these also helps improve the child’s cognitive function, reasoning, memory, and problem solving skills.

  • Listen: When your child is speaking, be sure to listen. Avoid firing off multiple questions, and allow your child to finish their stream of thought. Be patient if they have trouble finding words or articulating them.



  Looking for additional ways to incorporate speech therapy into your child’s day? Contact us at hello@tulipstherapy.com.   We we work with children of all ages, and help parents learn the best ways to help their child improve their speech at home. You can also call us at (415) 567-8133 to schedule a consultation. We look forward to speaking with you!

How Speech Therapy Helps After a Stroke

A stroke is a catastrophic event that can cause multiple, long-lasting health problems. Strokes can adversely affect vision, balance, cognition, memory, and speech, and even cause temporary or long-lasting paralysis on one side of the body.

Difficulty communicating is one of the most life-altering complications after a stroke. Many stroke patients have reduced speaking abilities, called aphasia, which impairs their ability to process language. Aphasia occurs in about 20 to 40 percent of stroke patients.

While aphasia does not affect intelligence, it can make it hard for the stroke patient to understand others and communicate, and can also affect their ability to read and write.

In conjunction with proper, ongoing medical care, a stroke patient will need to work with a team of physical, occupational, and speech therapists to help regain many of the essential functions that are critical for having a normal life.

Speech therapy is among one of the most important rehabilitation treatments for stroke patients, which can help regain important cognitive and communication functions.

How Speech Therapists Help

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs), also more commonly known as “speech therapists,” are important members of the stroke patient’s rehabilitation team. SLPs diagnose, assess, and ultimately treat disorders related to language; voice; cognition; and the ability to swallow, chew, and more.

Speech therapists work with patients in an effort to reach the highest potential for communication and function after the stroke, as well as to improve the patient’s sense of autonomy and overall quality of life. Speech therapy helps stroke patients regain essential functions, including the following:

    • Swallowing The inability to swallow is a common side-effect of stroke. Speech therapy can help stroke patients relearn to swallow, and use the muscles necessary to move the tongue and esophagus, which also play a role in forming sounds in speech.
 
    • Speech Often times, certain muscles used for speech are damaged during a stroke affecting speech clarity and pronunciation. Speech Therapy can help improve muscle strength, memory and coordination. An SLP will also teach a stroke patient how to produce and relearn sounds that may have been affected at the time of the stroke.
 
    • Word retrieval Many stroke patients have difficulty with remembering words, or may use the wrong word to describe an object. Speech therapy can help stroke patients regain cognitive function, and memory, which can improve word retrieval. Additionally, an SLP may also recommend group therapy to improve conversational skills, which can further bolster the return of cognitive functions. Role playing in speech therapy also helps improve a stroke patient’s interactions with others.
 
  • Attention and problem solving An SLP can help a stroke patient with attention and regaining problem-solving skills. Speech therapy exercises can include simple crossword puzzles or flash card use, or more advanced therapies to help improve synaptic plasticity.
 

Speech Therapists Are Part of An Essential Team of Rehabilitation Specialists

 

Speech therapists works in conjunction with a stroke patient’s other rehabilitation specialists during the recovery process to provide the most thorough care possible.

A speech therapist may work with the occupational therapist to help the patient return to work, for example, and develop a rehabilitation plan for recalling many essential work-related functions and communication strategies.

SLPs also work with the patient’s caretakers, children, and physicians to help modify their lifestyle and environment to suit their unique care needs.

tuLIPS Speech Therapy’s team of speech-language pathologists work with adult stroke patients to help them regain lost cognitive functions and improve speech and communication. Contact us at hello@tulipstherapy.com to learn more about how we can help your loved one improve their quality of life. You can also call us at (415) 567-8133. We look forward to speaking with you!

How Speech Therapy Can Help Your Child’s Verbal Development

Many people believe that speech therapy is only useful for children with speech or language disorders. While speech therapy is an excellent option to help these children, speech therapy can also help kids develop confidence, build their vocabulary, and establish strong social skills.

Parents play an important role in a child’s language development – studies have shown that children who are read to and spoken with learn a great deal more during early childhood and have a larger vocabulary and better grammar than those who aren’t.

But parents can also look to speech therapy to nurture their child’s language development — here are just some of the many ways speech therapy can help your child:

Speech Therapy Teaches Children How to Communicate Their Feelings

For children who are just learning to form words, speech therapy can help them find ways to talk to those around them. Speech therapy can help children learn to express their wants, needs, and desires, and find ways to communicate with others, even without words.

As a result, your child can begin to develop confidence in their verbal, and non-verbal, communication abilities. They can begin to develop self-esteem knowing that they are able to interact with their parents and peers, and may feel safer in the world with these stronger communication strategies.

Speech Therapy Helps with Language Development

Speech therapy improves learning and using the English language. A speech therapist will work with your child to improve comprehension, word sequencing, pronoun usage, proper grammar, and much more.

Language development exercises in speech therapy build a strong foundation for your child’s future communication abilities, which will help them throughout the rest of their life.

Speech Therapy Can Improve Social Skills

Developing strong social skills is important for children. Children will need to interact with their peers and adults in various settings. Speech therapy can accelerate social skill development and further boost confidence as well.

A speech therapist can help your child to understand and participate in conversations with those around them; how to interact with and interpret the world; and how to express to others what they see, feel, and experience.

How Parents Help

Along with speech therapy, parents play a critical role in their child’s verbal development. Luckily, there are some simple ways to actively participate in helping your child develop stronger language skills:

  • Talk to your child: Never stop talking to your child. Narrate the day as it goes on – explain to them each activity you’re enjoying together. Point out objects, locations, signs, etc. and explain to them, in detail, what they mean. <br><br>


  • Read with your child: Reading can happen throughout the day, not just at bedtime. Enjoy short stories together after lunch, before a nap, first thing in the morning. Reading as much as possible can help your child develop a strong vocabulary and build literacy.


  • Listen to music together: Sing lively songs – singing helps your child use words, learn language patterns, and express themselves. Singing songs also helps build your child’s memory and makes speaking fun!


  • Avoid spending too much time on the computer and limit TV: Some educational programming can be beneficial for children over two-years-old, but television shows don’t provide direct interaction, which children need for proper verbal development.


  • Follow your child’s lead: if your child shows a particular interest in a subject, keep talking about it! Ask them questions about it – this gives them the opportunity to express themselves, which also helps them build confidence.

At tuLIPS Speech Therapy, we love working with parents and children of all ages in language development, confidence building, and strengthening social skills.

Contact us at hello@tulipstherapy.com to learn more about how we can help, or you can schedule a consultation by calling us at (415) 567-8133. We look forward to speaking with you soon!

Have a Heavy Accent? Learn How Speech Therapy Can Help

Oral communication skills are highly valued in many cultures, including in the American culture. Pronouncing English words, however, can prove tricky for non-native speakers, or those who have a strong regional accent.  

Having a strong accent can make it difficult to communicate in professional or personal interactions, cause confusion, and disrupt the natural flow of communication.

Luckily, there are a number of resources that can help people with strong accents overcome communication difficulties and have more productive, fluid conversations, and speech therapy with accent modification, is one of the best ways improve  the clarity of your speech.

 

All About Accents

An accent is the unique way that groups of people sound when speaking a language. A person’s accent can be influenced by a number of factors, including the regions where they live and country of origin.

A “regional accent” is common among people who come from different parts of the same country – people from Louisiana, for example, have a different accent when speaking English than people who come from New York.

A “national origin accent” can often be heard in people who have learned English as a second language: someone who is a native English speaker from the United States will sound much different than someone from Belgium, who has learned English as a second language.

All accents are natural: accents are neither good nor bad, and no one accent is “better” than another. It’s also important to note that your accent is not a speech problem or language disorder, but is instead a unique and natural part of you!

 

Accents & Communication

A person’s accent can say a lot about where they are from, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with being proud of your accent.

However, having a strong accent can make it hard to talk with others – people may not understand what you’re saying, and you may have to repeat yourself multiple times, which can prove frustrating. Additionally, in conversation, people may focus more on your accent than on what you have to say, which can minimize the impact of your message.

 

Using Speech Therapy to Modify Your Accent

So, what can you do if you feel that your accent is holding you back in communicating with others? The first step is to seek help to modify or reduce your accent for clearer communication:

There are many online resources and activities that can help people develop a more standard American accent, and many communities offer classes and opportunities to practice speaking with others.

Speech therapy, however, is often the best option for individuals who are looking to modify or reduce their accent quickly.

 

Speech therapists, or speech-language pathologists (SLP), can help you to modify your accent for clearer communication in both personal and professional settings. SLPs help people who

 
  • Speak English as a second language;
  • Want to augment or reduce their regional accent;
  • Want to learn to communicate better at work or in school;
  • Actors who need to develop an accent for a role;
  • Anyone who wants to articulate more clearly when speaking.
 

Working with a Speech Therapist

Speech therapists will work with you one-on-one, although many also offer small-group classes.

 

The SLP will want to learn more about you, your background, how you pronounce different words, and how you sound when you speak. The SLP will also want to learn more about your goals to design a custom accent-modification plan that will include exercises to help you modify your accent.

 

When working with a speech therapist, you may be asked to read different words and phrases aloud. The SLP will then evaluate the rhythm of your speech, and how you stress or emphasize words.  The SLP will also have conversations with you to listen to how you articulate, and help you to modify the intonation and cadence of words.

 

Whether your goal is to completely “lose” your accent, or simply modify or reduce it, the SLP will work closely with you to help you develop a natural communication style.

 
 

Improving your pronunciation of English words, or reducing a strong accent, can help you communicate confidently, and improve your overall communication skills.

 

The speech therapy experts at tuLIPS help children and adults of all ages  develop more fluid speaking skills, and we’d love to help you!

 

Schedule a consultation with one of our speech therapy experts at hello@tulipstherapy.com or call us at (415) 567-8133.

You can also learn more about our team here, or more about our accent modification services here – we look forward to speaking with you!

Does Your Child Stutter? How Speech Therapy Can Help

Stuttering is a common speech problem in children. A child who stutters may repeat certain words, phrases or sounds, or even prolong the pronunciation of a single word when trying to speak.

Stuttering can be frustrating for both children and parents. Stuttering can affect your child’s ability to freely express themselves and can even be embarrassing as they attend school and interact with teachers and peers. Noticing stuttering in your child can be both frustrating and confusing, and may leave you feeling unsure on how to help.

If you’ve noticed your child stuttering, understanding what stuttering is, symptoms of stuttering, and how to treat stuttering with speech therapy can provide you with the necessary information and tools to help your child improve their quality of life, develop natural speech patterns, and build confidence when speaking.

 

Causes of Stuttering

Researchers have identified that stuttering can occur during the natural process of organizing thoughts and words into sentences. Although the true cause of stuttering is not yet known, a combination of factors can affect normal speech patterns, including

 
  • Family history of stuttering;
  • Developmental disabilities;
  • Problems with speech motor control;
  • Severe medical conditions, including head or brain injury;
  • Emotional and/or mental health problems.
 

Symptoms of Stuttering in Children

 

The symptoms of stuttering in children are generally obvious to parents, as their child learns to speak and begins to build their vocabulary, usually between the ages of 2 and 5.

Parents may notice their child struggles to speak or stammers.  There may also be an obvious stutter that affects their speech flow, as your child may repeat the first letter of a “w-w-w-word” in a sentence, for example.

 

Your child may also prolong the pronunciation of a word, such as “caaaaan I have more?”  They may also repeat entire phrases or sentences, which are also signs of stuttering. Your child may also display one or more physical signs of stuttering, including rolling their head and eyes backward when struggling to speak.  They may also tighten the muscles around their mouth if struggling with motor control.

Stuttering may also increase during certain social interactions, due to nervousness. Your child may even avoid talking in these situations because they fear being teased, or don’t want to draw attention to their speech problems.

 

Diagnosing Stuttering

 

You may have already noticed that your child displays some symptoms of stuttering, but a thorough examination and diagnosis with a Speech-Language Pathologist is often the best way learn more about your child’s speech patterns and how to help them improve.

 

Speech Therapy for Stuttering

 

Private speech therapy is often the best treatment for children who stutter. Speech therapy offers both children and parents individualized treatment plans and custom speech-development exercises that will help your child communicate  freely and effectively. Speech therapists work one-on-one with your child to teach them strategies during the onset of a stutter.

Additionally, because each child who stutters is different, speech therapy is often the best way to to help improve your child’s speech patterns, as they can identify which techniques will be most effective for them. Speech therapists may also recommend strategies you can do at home with your child to reinforce the techniques learned in the therapist’s office.

 

Helping Your Child

 

As your child improves their speech, it is important to be patient and avoid disciplining them for stuttering. Try to avoid putting your child in stressful situations that make their stuttering worse, while they  are being treated.

Be sure to make eye contact with your child when they are speaking to help them feel comfortable and relaxed. When spending time with them, allow them to express themselves freely, and avoid making them feel ashamed or embarrassed about their stuttering.

Lastly, explore speech therapy, give your child the opportunity to practice the strategies learned in therapy to reduce their stuttering, and help them build confidence that will last for years to come.

If your child shows signs and symptoms of stuttering, we can help!  Contact Tulips Speech Therapy to learn how our team of expert speech-development therapists can help your child reduce stuttering and build fluid, confident speech. Learn more about our team here.

You may also contact us at hello@tulipstherapy.com to schedule a consultation.

Tulips Speech Therapy provides provides custom, private speech therapy treatments for children and adults in the San Francisco Bay area.