Diverse Perspectives on Animal Welfare

I have loved animals since I was a kid. Over the course of my 32 years on this earth, I’ve had dogs, turtles, iguanas, a cat, a hamster, a rabbit, and various hermit crabs, fish, and frogs. I currently have two dogs, which you can see above (in a rare, photogenic moment). My first pup, Cooper, had been surrendered to a local shelter and was scheduled for euthanasia until a rescue group saved the day. My other pup, Kenzie, had been rescued by the local SPCA from a poorly run, in-home breeding operation. I’m happy to report that while both pups have their quirks, they have both become well-adjusted members of our family.

The experience of adopting these adorable muts really made me think more about animal welfare issues. I started to become more concerned with not only the treatment of pets, but other domesticated animals, especially in the food industry.  I became more selective about the meat, eggs, and dairy I purchased, striving to seek out brands that were committed to humane treatment…but I have often wondered how reliable this information is. I became vegetarian for a period of time, and have recently flirted with the idea of returning to a meat-free lifestyle. I’ve always been finicky when it comes to eating meat, and my newfound ethical concerns make it even less desirable. Continue reading


Number Fun for the Linguistically-Minded

In school I always use to joke, “I would love math, if it weren’t for all the numbers.” Sounds silly, but it’s true. Solving geometry proofs? No problem! Isolating variables in a formula? Bring it on! Doing single-digit arithmetic in my head? Please hold, while I inconspicuously count my fingers.

How is it possible to pass AP Calculus and yet take pause every time I have to recall my hubby’s cell number? Why are numbers so elusive to some people? Unfortunately, I don’t know the answer to that question (it must be one of those neurodiversity things). But I recently discovered a trick that may be of interest to my linguistically-minded friends who, perhaps like me, just don’t have a knack for numbers.

It’s called the “Phonetic Number System.” The basic idea is that you attach sounds to numbers, which enables you to create words that help you remember the numbers in sequence. There are different variations, but the book I’m reading (called The Memory Book by Harry Lorayne and Jerry Lucas), uses the Major System. It basically goes like this: Continue reading

What the Autism-Vaccine Debate Says about Diversity

I’m tired of the autism-vaccine debate for many reasons. If you are still a skeptic, I know the substantial evidence that there is NO relationship between vaccines and autism probably won’t convince you. (For those who are interested, I’ve included links at the bottom of this post.) So rather than focus on the scientific/medical side of the debate, I’d like to focus today on one of my favorite topics…diversity. In this case, I’m talking about NEURO-diversity. Continue reading

“Other People’s” Music

I recently finished reading Lisa Delpit’s, Other People’s Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom. If you work in education, or have any interest in education reform, I strongly recommend that you read this book. If you are from a white, middle-class, mainstream American background (like me), it will probably make you feel uncomfortable at times…but you will walk away with valuable insight into how cultural differences affect children of color in our education system.

The book pushed me to reflect on my own experiences with culture. As a white, middle class American, I’m admittedly hard pressed to come up with a time when my own cultural background placed me at a serious disadvantage. But surely as a second langauge learner, I’ve experienced this…or have I? Sure, I occasionally encountered cultural misunderstandings and communication breakdowns along the path to becoming bilingual. But to be honest, even my study abroad program was designed around the needs of foreign (typically American) students.

Upon further reflection, I realized that my only experience with true cultural conflict (where I experienced a distinct disadvantage due to my background) came from an unusual source….my experience with music.   Continue reading

Arrival and Thoughts on Language Preservation

I have to admit, I’m not much of a movie buff…but every now and then I see a movie that really leaves an impression. Arrival was definitely one of those movies. Anyone who has an interest in linguistics or language learning needs to see it, even if you aren’t a sci-fi fanatic. So if you haven’t seen it, go watch it, and then come back and read my blog. I’m not planning to discuss the plot of the movie in depth, but my commentary will likely contain some SPOILERS…you’ve been warned! Continue reading

Tips for Developing a Bilingual Home Program

So you are working with a bilingual client, but you don’t speak their home language. This could include…

An adult with limited English proficiency

An adult or child who is bilingual in English and another language

A child whose family speaks a language other than English at home

I’ve already shared some tips for working with interpreters, which can be a valuable tool for providing assessment and intervention bilingually. But what if your program doesn’t allow for the use of interpreters during therapy? This (unfortunately) is the case for many school-based clinicians. How can you ensure that both languages are addressed? The following tips will help you design a home program to support both languages, regardless of whether an interpreter is available during therapy sessions. Continue reading

Bilingual Parent Interview Form

I previously posted about the importance of getting to know bilingual students during the assessment process. I wanted to share an interview form that I developed for preschool speech and language evaluations. This is intended to supplement the typical case history (birth, medical, developmental, etc.) an SLP would gather for a pediatric evaluation, so it focuses specifically on family background, language exposure, and language use. I adapted some questions from the Bilingual Student Assessment Resource and from a presentation I attended by Dr. Catherine Crowley. This form could work for older children as well, but you would need to gather additional information about educational experiences the other language(s). Continue reading

Hope for Diversity in the Face of Anti-Immigration

In the past, I never considered myself a political person. Sure, I kept up with current events and went to the voting booth…but I never felt a need to really get involved. Over the last eight years of my career, my experience working with low-income families (especially those from immigrant backgrounds) has significantly impacted my political views. Even so, I view myself as an open-minded person and I thrive on lively discussions and debate. In fact, I’ve been known to play “devil’s advocate” just for the fun of it…as a kid, my mom was convinced that I would become a lawyer someday.

Then the 2016 election happened. When I started this blog, I never intended to discuss politics on it…but the current political climate has made it harder than ever to be an advocate for cultural and linguistic diversity. Continue reading

Now What? IEP Development for Bilingual/ELL Students

So you’ve determined that a bilingual/ELL student is eligible for special education…now what? In my role as an evaluator, I’ve often struggled with this question when providing IEP input.

Unfortunately, IDEA provides limited guidance in this area, stating only that the IEP Team shall, “in the case of a child with limited English proficiency, consider the language needs of the child as such needs relate to the child’s IEP.” That leaves a lot of room for interpretation, but here are the questions I tend to ponder during IEP development:

Continue reading

SONRISA: Strategies for Home Carry-Over

If you’ve read my entry about CRECER, then you know how much I love acronyms. The name for this blog was actually inspired by another one of my acronym projects. I was working in an outpatient facility at the time. Each SLP had a their own office/therapy space with an adjacent observation room, so parents could either join the session or watch through a one-way mirror. It seemed like an ideal set-up, but I just wasn’t achieving the level of family involvement that I had hoped for. I wanted to ensure that parents understood what was happening during speech therapy; even though it looked like child’s play, there was some serious learning going on! Continue reading