BCS Advantage Magazine Winter 2017 - Page 12

Celebrating the Voices of Children By Jennifer W . Knapp , Speech Therapist , Buncombe County Schools

“ Listen to yourself and in that quietude , you might hear the voice of God .” – Maya Angelou
Treasuring the resplendent autumn colors as I drove my dad ’ s truck along Elk Mountain Road the other day , it occurred to me again that the children who come to speech therapy are just as lovely , just as unique , and just as bright as the vibrant leaves falling from the trees along the road to Woodfin Elementary - and so are the melodies of their voices .
Most people understand that speech therapists help children improve intelligibility , social language skills , or stuttering . These issues are important because they can place academics and self-esteem at risk . But over the years , I have come to a deeper understanding of my vocation .
This work is only about voice .
A child ’ s voice is authority in the world , and as such , engenders the respect of others . A child ’ s voice literally discloses the unique essence of that child , which is a gift from the very first cry , “ I AM HERE !”— we learn that we are capable of relating with and receiving love from the important people around us , and that creates stability and safety in our lives . My work in Buncombe County Schools is foremost about nurturing that kind of space for our children .
Sometimes finding your best voice is frustrating . Not so long ago , a 5th grade boy with speech production issues came to our school , and we started working on the beast of all speech sounds--R . His R errors were highly noticeable , and these made his speech sound immature . Initially , he denied that he had a problem at all . He said to me , “ I weely don ’ t need speech . Evweething I say is just white .”
I tried many strategies and fun activities , but he resisted , sometimes refusing to work with me at all . On one particular day , I was striving to help him understand the correct placement of his tongue to make the R sound . His tone grew increasingly impatient , and finally he said emphatically , “ I CAN ’ T DO IT !” and started to cry .
Brandon ( left ) and Elijah ( right ) practice with flash cards .
When a 5th grade boy starts to cry , there ’ s an important reason . Most boys that age are very private about that level of frustration . I felt compassion for Jake , and I spent the rest of the week thinking about how I could help , and I decided that the next time we met , I would really take the pressure off .
When the next session started , I said , “ Jake , I know you ’ ve been very frustrated about working on R , so today , let ’ s just take it easy . I ’ ll read a story , and I ’ d like you to listen for the R sound , ok ?” He agreed , and when we were done I said , “ You know , a friend of mine told me about one way to make the R sound , and I don ’ t know if it will help you or not , but we really don ’ t have anything to lose , right ?” He agreed , so I said , “ Would you be willing to give it a shot ?” And he said “ YES ”.
I asked him to describe how trains stay on tracks , and he told me about the wheels fitting into the rails . I asked him to think of the sides of his tongue as the wheels , and his upper molars as the rails . We drew pictures and when he tried to put his tongue in this position , he looked at me and said , “ ERR .”
My eyes flew open wide . I just stared at him . “ YOU DID IT !” I said , laughing loudly . “ YOU DID IT ! YOU JUST SAID IT ! SAY IT AGAIN ! SAY IT AGAIN !” And he said , “ ERR ,” nonchalantly .
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Celebrating the Voices of Children By Jennifer W. Knapp, Speech Therapist, Buncombe County Schools “Listen to yourself and in that quietude, you might hear the voice of God.” –Maya Angelou Treasuring the resplendent autumn colors as I drove my dad’s truck along Elk Mountain Road the other day, it occurred to me again that the children who come to speech therapy are just as lovely, just as unique, and just as bright as the vibrant leaves falling from the trees along the road to Woodfin Elementary - and so are the melodies of their voices. Most people understand that speech therapists help children improve intelligibility, social language skills, or stuttering. These issues are important because they can place academics and self-esteem at risk. But over the years, I have come to a deeper understanding of my vocation. This work is only about voice. A child’s voice is authority in the world, and as such, engenders the respect of others. A child’s voice literally discloses the unique essence of that child, which is a gift from the very first cry, “I AM HERE!”— we learn that we are capable of relating ][XZ][ݙHHH[\ܝ[[H\[\[]ܙX]\X[]H[Y]H[\]\ˈ^Bܚ[[XH[H\ܙ[[X]\\[][وXH܈\[[Y][Y\[[[\\XH\\][ˈۙYH ]ܘYHH]YXX[ۂ\Y\[YH\ [H\Yܚ[ۂHX\و[YX[KT\\ܜ\BYHXXXK[\HXYH\YX[[[X]\K[]X[KH[YY]HYH؛[B][ HZYYK8'HY[H۸&]YYYX ]Y][H^H\\]K'BHYYX[H]YY\[[X]]Y\]B\\Y Y][Y\Y\[ܚ]YH][ ۈۙH\X[\^KH\][[[B[\[HܜXX[Y[و\ۙYBXZHH[ \ۙHܙ][ܙX\[B[\]Y[ [[[HHZY[\]X[K8'HS&UUx'H[\YܞKL[ۈ Y H[[ZZ Y HXXH]\\˂[H ]ܘYHH\ܞK\x&\[[\ܝ[X\ۋ[\]YH\H\H]]BX]]][و\][ۋH[\\[ۈ܂ZK[H[H\وHYZ[[X]H[[ [HXYY]H^[YBHY] H[X[HZHH\\Hٙ[H^\[ۈ\Y HZY 8'ZKHۛž[x&]HY[\H\]YX]ܚ[ۈ^K]8&\\ZH]X\Kx&[XYHܞK[x&YZH[H\[܈H[ 'HHYܙYY [[H\HۙHHZY 8'[HۛHY[وZ[HYHX]ۙH^HXZHH[ [H۸&]ۛY][[[H܈ ]BX[H۸&]]H[][KY'HHYܙYY HZY 8'[[HH[[]H]H'B[HZY8'QT'KH\Y[H\ܚXHZ[^HۈX[HYHX]HY[][[HZ[ˈB\Y[H[وHY\و\ۙYH\BY[[\\\[\\HZ[ˈH]œX\\[[HYY]\ۙYH[\œ][ۋHY]YH[ZY 8'T'B^H^Y\][YKH\\Y][K8'SBQUx'HHZY ]Y[YK8'SHQUHSBTRQUHVHUQRSHVHUQRSx'H[BZY 8'T8'Hۘ[[K