Summer Wrap-Up

The warnings about summer semester were all true – incredibly busy and incredibly fast. I can’t believe how much class and clinic was crammed into about 10 weeks. But hey, I survived! And I had an awesome experience at my offsite. I spent two days a week at a developmental center that provides OT, PT, SLP, and mental health services for kids aged birth to six. They have a day treatment program that allows the kiddos to gain invaluable social interaction with peers in a classroom setting while receiving pull-out therapy services. I was mostly involved with treatment, which was generally a thirty minute individual session. All of these children were diagnosed as developmentally delayed or with autism spectrum disorders. Some were complicated cases with very limited means of communication and absolutely no verbal output. Others were strictly working on articulation. Some of my clients made incredible progress during those 10 weeks. The first time I saw one little boy, not quite 2 yet, he barely made a sound while playing with me. During the last session I had with him, he said a complete sentence (“I get it!”). Many of my other kids will probably continue to need services as they get older, but this particular little boy seemed well on his way to catching up with his peers. This was an incredible opportunity to see a wide range of abilities and work closely with other therapists to determine the best way to treat these little ones. I really loved this placement, and it was awesome when my supervisor stated that I was CF-ready regarding kids by the end of it. I miss the kids there, but I’m excited to see what my fall clinic placements will teach me.

Kwik Chek

I haven’t been doing so well documenting my restaurant experiences lately. Two weeks ago, we decided to try a Mediterranean restaurant in Midtown called Kwik Chek. It’s fairly tiny, and one of those deals where you go the back counter, order your food, then pick your seat. We went around a pretty typical lunch time, but it wasn’t crowded. I stuck with a really safe pick: the Hey Zeus wrap. It had turkey, roast beef, cheese, veggies, and the usual wrap ingredients, plus some spices. It might have been a safe choice, but it was definitely delicious. I’m assuming the falafel was equally as delicious, since it vanished. Anyway, I want to go back! But there are a million other restaurants on the list before I should start doing repeats.

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-L

I Survived

Now that I’ve had about a week off from school, I can safely say that I survived the spring semester. This was by far the most emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausting semester of my life, and I’m pretty sure it’s only going to get more chaotic. Thankfully, I had fantastic clinic placements. Like I mentioned before I was in an elementary school twice a week. After Spring Break, I took on the full caseload on those two days and did therapy with about 20 kids. This was seriously the most fun ever. The preschoolers were probably my favorite simply because I love that age group. I had a three year old who came in first thing in the morning for individual therapy (which sometimes turned into group). He was perfectly behaved and started talking to me SO MUCH by the end of the semester. My supervisor said that she noticed improvement from session to session and that he really seemed to enjoy coming to speech. I absolutely LOVED working with this little dude. His speech problem was definitely phonologically based, so we mostly worked on initial consonants and built in some medial and final consonants that should be emerging as well.

My most challenging group had four first grade boys. One in particular had emotion regulation difficulties, so getting him to participate was sometimes a challenge. They liked to compete, and some even got mean about it. I mean seriously, who cheats at Candy Land? But these were also my sweetest kids. One told every day, “I love you with all my heart, Miss Lindsay.” When I gave them their end of the year gifts (just pencils with a gripper and a note saying “You’re SHARP!”), he said, “This means I’ll never forget you!” I just about broke down and cried right there. Another of the boys in the group told me that he liked coming to speech class more than his regular class. I really miss my boys. They probably made a bigger impact on me than I did on them. It was so awesome seeing them meet their goals and make such progress in their understanding.

I also learned a lot from two of my nonverbal clients. My happiest moment with them was when one of the kiddos used his PECS sentence strip to request a toy accurately four times in a row. You could see he knew exactly what he was doing, and he was so excited that he was able to ask me for that panda bear. It absolutely made my day to see him make that small bit of progress. And on my last day at the school, the same kiddo saw me leaving. He stopped in the hallway and turned around to give me a hug. He had never done that before, so, once again, the waterworks just about started right then and there.

One of my preschool groups included a little boy who was just working on articulation. He’s quite shy and quiet, and he hates to be wrong. He takes everything very seriously, and he’s super polite and sweet. The first few weeks I worked with him, he barely spoke to me. His little face was so serious. On my last day, I told him and the other little one that someone else would be working with them next. He hugged my arm as we walked back to his teacher and said, “I’m gonna miss you.”

All the kids I had the pleasure of working with taught me so much. I loved listening to their stories, hearing about their birthday parties and field trips, and helping them make progress on their /th/ sounds and grammar structure. I also had a fantastic supervisor who provided me with specific feedback and trusted me with her kids. This placement once again confirmed that I’m going into the right field.

-L

Soul Fish Cafe

You guys. I have to talk about this restaurant. It’s been on my list of places to go since I moved to Memphis, but I just never got around to it. There are a few different locations, but I went to the one in Midtown. It’s this rather small, simple restaurant on Cooper, and it has some fantastic southern food. It’s not terribly expensive either. Entrees hover around the $10 mark.

I’ve started this thing that whenever I go to a new local restaurant, I try to get something that screams “MEMPHIS!” So tonight I tried the Memphis Poboy. Pork, bacon, cole slaw, and BBQ sauce. Definitely Memphis and incredibly delicious. I’ve never been a huge BBQ fanatic, but I’m trying to acclimate to my surroundings. I’ve also become mildly obsessed with fried okra, so when I saw that as a side option, I couldn’t resist.

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The crawfish Poboy also looked fantastic. I only ate a little bit of the crawfish, so I can’t give my own opinion of the whole thing. But it disappeared fast enough to be pretty tasty. I also took home some of the caramel pecan pie…but I kind of obliterated it before taking a picture. My sweet tooth gets the better of me sometimes.

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I’m super excited about finding another restaurant that I really enjoy. I’m such a food addict, and it’s nice to have options.

-L

 

 

Brunching It Up

My gorgeous cousin came to Memphis today to visit me. We haven’t seen each other in a very long time, so it was definitely nice to be able to catch up for a bit. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t want to cooperate. It’s rainy, and Memphis likes to flood when it’s just misting outside. Anyway, we went to The Majestic Grille for brunch. I hadn’t been there before, but I’ve been told it’s the best brunch around. Of course I completely forgot to take pictures of the food, but I’ll still talk about it. We seemed to go at a good time. It was a little after eleven, and we had no problem getting seated. It did start to get pretty busy by the time we left a little after noon.

We sat upstairs. This restaurant is pretty fancy, with some some musicians playing live music and movies playing on the projector. Breakfast food is my absolute favorite, so of course I had to order brunch. Biscuits came out first, which were pretty average for biscuits. I ordered the breakfast sandwich, which turned out to be some huge monstrosity with two fried eggs, bacon, and cheddar cheese on a sweet roll. The sandwich came with a side of breakfast potatoes. Both were a little on the greasy side for my liking. I tend to like less heavy things in the morning/early afternoon. However, they were both really good. I got full about halfway through my sandwich. I’d definitely go back, especially since they have $4 mimosas and bloody Marys during brunch.

Clinic Update

I’m definitely still in the adjustment phase for this semester. My internal clock likes to think nothing should function before noon, so 8 a.m. days have been a rude awakening. I’m currently at an elementary school two days a week, and I’m doing Head Start and private school hearing, speech, and language screenings one morning a week. I absolutely love the school. The kids are fantastic, and I really like the group aspect of therapy. Most of the kids could use some pragmatics help in addition to their other speech and language goals, so making them cooperate with other children is useful.

Unfortunately, I mess up. A lot. I just have a few of the groups to myself right now (and of course I took the easier ones), but I’m still having trouble keeping them engaged. I’m used to specifically targeting goals throughout the entire session, where every activity is super planned out. Their routine is more 15 minutes of drill, 15 minutes of a game where they have to use their speech sounds/language skills in a “real” context. I’m hoping I catch on soon. I’m strongly considering doing school speech as my career, so hopefully this semester goes well. I haven’t had much experience with other settings, however, so I may easily change my mind.

-L

Book Review: My Stroke of Insight

The day before I left Memphis for winter break, I stopped by the public library to grab some reading material. Back before college, I read all the time. My mom had to stop me from reading so I would actually do my homework. Or eat. Or sleep. It was definitely an addiction. Since college, my brain seems to have overloaded with textbooks, making picking up a book “just for fun” more of a burden than a blessing.

I brought home a random handful of books, ranging from my guilty pleasure of YA fantasy to the personal story of a stroke survivor. My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D. was definitely worth my time. At only 177 pages, it’s not terribly dense. While she does use some medical jargon (she is a neuroanatomist, after all), her diction is easy to follow. Honestly, most healthcare professionals would benefit from reading her story. The author commented on how she had to ration her energy during her recovery process. Some of the healthcare providers did nothing but take her energy, rush her, and treat her with little respect. Others were patient, calm, and respectful, and because of that, they were more valuable to the therapeutic process.

As you may glean from the title, this book isn’t just about the author’s stroke and recovery process. She also delves into the workings of the left and right hemispheres of the brain, as her stroke temporarily disabled her entire left hemisphere. Dr. Taylor argues the case that there are really two brains, one that plans and organizes, and another that exists and is connected with the universe. Her stroke experience allowed her to recognize and take control of how her brain processes information.

“When I take responsibility for the circumstances of my life, I put myself in the driver’s seat and own my power. In an attempt to maintain my sanity (peaceful heart) in a world that often feels like it spins dangerously fast, I continue to work very hard to maintain a healthy relationship between what is going on in my right and left minds. I love knowing that I am simultaneously (depending on which hemisphere you ask) as big as the universe and yet merely a heap of star dust.”

The author goes on to discuss how you can change how your brain thinks, and how you can choose to dwell on less than desirable thoughts and emotions or simply let them go. People may be a product of their neuronal processing, but we also have control over how long we let thought patterns continue.

While many of her words are thought-provoking and quote-worthy, I’ll end with this final excerpt.

“Your body is the life force power of some fifty trillion molecular geniuses. You and you alone choose moment by moment who and how you want to be in the world. I encourage you to pay attention to what is going on in your brain. Own your power and show up for life. Beam bright!”

-L

Not Your Average Brownie

I made the mistake of trying this recipe a year ago with two of my friends, and now it’s a frequent request. Be warned, these are super rich. You’ll want a glass of milk handy. Start out with a layer of cookie dough. Add in a layer of Oreo cookies. Top it off with brownie batter. You can make it more or less homemade, but I stick with Betty Crocker mixes for my sanity’s sake. These are aptly labeled “slutty brownies,” and if you haven’t tried them yet, you really should.

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You may have to play with the oven time. I did about 35 minutes at 350 using an 8 x 8 pan, but times will probably vary due to your cookie and brownie recipes. And mine were probably a little undercooked, but I prefer soft and gooey to crunchy.

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They’re not the prettiest brownies in the world. But dang, they taste good.

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-L

 

Be Spontaneous

Spontaneity isn’t my thing. I like lists, organization, and itineraries. I like to know where I’m going, how I’m going there, who else is going, and what I should wear. Rules are my friends, and the more specific, the better.

On the first day of clinic, I panicked.

I was going into this hour-long session without a real plan. I had read the chart, grabbed some possible activities from my supervisor’s office, and wrote down a generic “session plan” for myself. Then I went out and met the parent and my client and pretended to know what I was doing. Then we went back in the therapy room. And nobody died. I didn’t faint. In fact, I actually did some therapy. With the help of my supervisor, I got a reserved, quiet preschooler to talk to me. And I started to figure out some of his goals. Each session after that, I felt a little more comfortable. I could have a general plan, but I could adapt to days when he just didn’t feel like doing what I had planned.

What I’ve learned from this first semester of clinic:

1. Prevention work is important. I absolutely loved my Hope House placement. These kids are considered “at risk” due to circumstances beyond their control, so it’s awesome that we can have a part in evening the odds for them.

2. Supervisors are your BFFs. Seriously. They are so full of experience and information. Although it would sometimes throw me off to have my therapy session taken over, I would learn something new each time my supervisor interacted with my client. They also genuinely care about you as a person and as a professional. They want to help, so ask questions and take advantage of their expertise.

3. Academics are important, but they aren’t everything. I’m having to prioritize a lot. I found myself working on therapy materials more often than studying. You have to find a happy balance because you can pull from academic knowledge in the clinic (and you have to keep a certain GPA to stay in the program!), and you need to be prepared for your clients.

4. Be spontaneous. I don’t mean be crazy. I mean that you have to be able to adapt and change and accept when things don’t go just as planned. It’s more about being able to respond to changes and being able to make your own changes when necessary. Life doesn’t follow a script, and neither does therapy.

I may have more reflections after final grades are posted. 😉

-L

Cafe Eclectic

I’m a little late in the game on this one since we’ve been to this coffee shop at least half a dozen times. It’s one of the few places to eat that’s directly on Mud Island, so it gets the vote for convenience every time. As much as I love this adorable local place, I have an internal struggle over the prices. Somehow I overcame this personal conflict and paid a whopping $17 for lunch after my second final. While the food was delicious, it definitely wasn’t worth the $17. Granted, I upgraded my meal and added a shot of espresso to my coffee, so the exorbitance was expected.

The barista was very good at her job. As in, she talked me into buying way too much with her perky, helpful demeanor. I ended up with the chicken pot pie and a side of broccoli cheddar soup. Honestly, the soup was my favorite part of this entire meal. Perfect consistency, deliciously cheesy. The pot pie was also really good. The crust was nice and flakey, and the inside was full of delicious veggies.

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Of course, I also got talked into a pumpkin chai latte, with an extra shot of espresso. Because hey, it was finals week, and I wasn’t really functioning. Might as well start shaking from caffeine overdose before the anxiety and frayed nerves got to me. This drink was recommended to me by two different people, too, so apparently it has a fanbase. It was really good, but I couldn’t finish it. Their mugs seem really big for some reason.

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And I have to show Shelley’s lunch because it looked so pretty! I can’t vouch for the taste of the salad, but that macaroni was pretty good. Super fancy.

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Overall, I like Cafe Eclectic. It’s got some good food options in addition to its stellar, beautiful coffee creations. However, it’s definitely a splurge type of coffee shop. If you’re going to eat a meal there, be prepared to spend more than $5, or split with a friend.

-L