Hello Live: Admins Connect: Davey Hough from Wyoming Region 4

admins connect the hello foundation podcast

This month we talk to Davey Hough, Special Ed Director for the Region 4 Developmental Pre-School System for the State of Wyoming. Davey has worked in education for many years and currently oversees 3 diverse locations all with different needs.


Wyoming Region 4 Children’s Learning Center Stats:

  • Total Enrollment: 600 Families
  • Population Served: Early Childhood/Preschool Age
  • Interesting Tidbit: Region 4 Children's Learning Center (CLC) serves all families in Teton and Sublette counties in Northwestern Wyoming. 

This podcast is part of our new series, Admins Connect, which highlights the experiences and opinions of a strategic cohort of educational administrators. Learning an outside perspective is valuable and The Hello Foundation is committed to building connections between administrators to promote our core value of Putting Kids First. Each 15 minute conversation captures an administrator's answers to 5 questions.Things look different when you're at the top, and by asking each guest the same 5 questions we'll be weaving a rich, textured, and interesting narrative about decisions from the strategic desk. 

Thanks for sitting down with us, Davey, and for your commitment to kids!

¡Ecuador 2015! Musings on Flexibility

the hello foundation ecuador 2015

This post is the latest in our series documenting our forthcoming international service trip to Baños, Ecuador. You can read our past entries here, and be sure to check back often for future updates.

I can be a pretty rigid person. I sort of like things a certain way, and my brain has an annoying tendency of shutting down when it’s (dumb) “rules" are violated. Knowing this, I work extra hard at pushing myself to be flexible in difficult situations, even when it’s scary. Actually, especially when it’s scary, because the scare means that I’m growing and changing. And I have changed, from the nearly-paralyzed state of my rainbow-order-obsessed youth to someone who can tolerate an unfolded pile of laundry for days on end. Flexibility is a journey, though, and there’s always more flex to be had. 

I write about this today because, as I sat down to do a little blogging about our meeting the other day, my thoughts just kept coming back to how non-linear these sorts of things are, and how embarking on an international service trip offers opportunities to get up close and personal with all different types of flexibility demonstrated by all different types of people in all different types of situations. Like . . .

Heather, with her wonderful schedule of meeting topics and how she so deftly switches the agenda to cover what we need to cover in any given moment. As we meandered about, talking about group pairings and points to cover in our training sessions in Ecuador, I sweated, wanting answers. I reminded myself of “the journey” and took comfort in Heather’s ease. If she was worried that we were off-track, she sure didn’t show it. I admire that immensely.  

And our little team, flung hither and yon, patiently waiting as we worked out the technological solutions to our geographical challenges. Google Hangouts, iPads, laptops, AppleTV, AirPlay, phones, g-chat, texting, Google Drive, Evernote, they all came into play in the first 30 minutes of our meeting. And this amazing team — they’re up for trying anything, problem solving, and laughing while we do it.

The Carpe Diem folks, who gathered the videos of the Esparanza para todos students and staff that we had the great fortune to watch this week. It wasn’t in their original Ecuadorian game plan to visit our site, and it certainly wasn’t on their agenda to hang out, take videos, and send them back to us. And yet, they heard our request, saw a need, and changed their plans to help us out. Our team watched the videos with rapt attention, wanting to watch again, bursting out with observations and ideas and questions at the conclusion of each one. Was that a request? He just labeled in English and Spanish! Can we work on feeding? Ooooooh my, that little guy is busy! What’s their staffing ratio? I wonder if we could dampen sound in that room? We’re forever indebted to Carpe Diem, for it gave us our first glimpse at our Ecuadorian colleagues and students. 

And, of course, the Esparanza para todos staff that we watched on the videos. They answered a few questions for us, which is how we learned that some are special education professionals in their own right, with many years of experience. They want to know more about ASD, Down’s Syndrome, and challenging behavior. What I find remarkable, though, is that they're open to a group of foreigners coming into their workplace to share knowledge. That’s flexibility in the extreme. And a fair dose of courage and grace as well.  

I watched the trees outside Heather’s apartment window during the meeting. A storm was coming in, and they seemed to bend almost in half, their lower branches skimming the sidewalk below. Flexibility is what trees do, isn’t it? They rely on their strong roots to hold firm in the soil while their small branches absorb the energy of the wind, bowing and flexing with each gust. What a lovely metaphor for this trip. Our roots — families, communities, professional knowledge, clinical practice — allowing us the flexibility to to stretch, to grow, and, yes, even be blown about a bit on this remarkable journey. 

Errorless Learning or Learning from our Mistakes?

Have you heard of "errorless learning"? It is a theory of learning developed by psychologist B. F. Skinner to describe a learning environment that is exactly tailored to the learners needs and level of performance.  The term is thrown around in discussions about speech/language therapy to describe the way we scaffold support to allow students to work at a level where they can be successful. This might include having our student with articulation goals work on the isolated sound in front of the mirror before trying to put it in a word or syllable. Or it might mean starting work on asking questions with a direct model that the student repeats, and fading cues their skills improve.

But what about all the inspiring inforation out there about the best learning coming from our mistakes, like this and this?

How can we scaffold support for students so that there are lots of correct productions and successful experiences to strengthen the neural pathways of newly developing skills AND encourage student to take risks and make mistakes and learn from them. Maybe it's not as contradictory as it seems...

Building new habits requires lots of repetition. We want our student to repeat correct responses, not reinforce their mistakes. We are, after all, providing specially designed instruction to students, who, for whatever reason, did not learn these speech/language habits the same way their peers did - by listening and watching correct models around them. Their IEP team has decided that they need explicit instruction in these areas. 

But instead of 'mistakes' could we think about learning by taking risks? Here are a couple of ideas on how we can support our students to take risks: 

  • We can help kids identify what they're working on - remind students why they're doing what they're doing, have the student explain what he's doing to a parent or teacher! 
  • We can experiment by taking risks ourselves - by trying new things in therapy and modeling our thinking:  
    • "I'm going to try a new way of explaining this..."
    • "Wow! That seemed to work really well. I'm going to make a note of that so I can use it with other groups!"
    • "Hmmm, that didn't seem to go so well. I'm going to need to think about a different way of doing that."
  • We can support risk-taking in our colleagues and professional teams
    • "What did you try today?" "Here's what I'm doing. Do you have any ideas?"

Pay attention to the work you do this week. How do you find balance between practicing success and taking risks? 

Hello Live: Help! I Have to Write a Feeding Protocol! with Wendy Gunter

Feeding Protocol Hello Live Wendy Gunter

Does assessing dysphagia in the schools scare you a little bit? Does creating a feeding protocol for a student seem overwhelming and impossible? Join Wendy Gunter as she shares the steps you need to take to assess dysphagia for a student and complete a safe feeding protocol.  She will discuss the history and ethics of managing dysphagia in the schools, and will give you concrete steps for working with your team and developing a plan.

Wendy references the ASHA Code of Ethics, the ASHA Professional Issues Statement on the Roles and Responsibilities of the SLP in Schools, and the ASHA Pediatric Dysphagia Portal. Be sure to listen to our conversation after the show, too, to hear more of Wendy's thoughts on the roles and responsibilities of the school SLP when it comes to managing dysphagia. This is one of her favorite topics, so she encourages you to contact her with any questions and concerns you have!

Research Tuesday: Delivering Stuttering Intervention via Telepractice

Goodness. There is so much interesting research going on out there! I had a hard time picking an article this month, but finally settled on one that looked at the viability of a telehealth model for working with adolescents who stutter. We do a fair amount via telepractice around here (both via our Hello There approach, and our Hello Online private online therapy), and I am thrilled to see that the research community is starting to look at best practices for this new frontier!

Research Tuesday

The Details

Carey, B., O'Brian, S., Lowe, R., & Onslow, M. (n.d.). Webcam Delivery of the Camperdown Program for Adolescents Who Stutter: A Phase II Trial. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, Vol. 45(October 2014), 314-324. Retrieved October 14, 2014, from http://lshss.pubs.asha.org/Article.aspx?articleid=1895438

The Question

Phase I of this study established that it was viable to deliver the Camperdown Program via webcam to adolescents who stutter. This study (Phase II) sought to evaluate the efficacy of the Camperdown Program in this same population.

The Method

Researchers engaged 16 adolescent boys who were seeking treatment for stuttering, ages 12-17. All participants had greater than 2% Syllables Stuttered (%SS), were proficient English speakers, and had not received treatment for stuttering in the previous 12 months. Assessment was conducted prior to treatment, upon entry into the maintence phase of treatment, 6 months after entry into maintence, and 12 months after entry into maintence. Participants recieved the Camperdown Program via webcam in their own homes for a mean of 15.5 hours.

The Results

The mean %SS at the start of the study was 6.1%, and was reduced to 2.8% 12 months after entry into maintence. Participants "significantly reduced their stuttering in terms of frequency and severity," although the authors note that there was variation in the degree of improvement between individual participants. The adolescents also reported that they enjoyed receiving the treatment via webcam, and fewer than half stated that they would have liked to have visited the SLP in person "a few" times in order to get to know the SLP better. In addition, they expressed that they would prefer to receive their services online in the future.

Researchers note that only around half of the participants maintained their original reduction in %SS at the 12-month mark. Interestingly, this regression was not reflected in the participants' self-report measures, which remained positive at the 12-month assessment. This level of regression/relapse is typical of other, traditionally-delivered intervention programs that have been studied with this popultion.

The Take-Away

It's no shock that adolescents really liked receiving services via webcam, but it is always nice to have a gut-instinct reinforced by research. While it only demonstrated true success for half of the participants, it seems to me that this has more to do with treating stuttering in general than by the delivery medium. Also, stuttering is a disorder in which self-perception matters at least as much, if not more, than the quantative measures of severity. That the participants rated themselves highly after 12 months is very encouraging to me. I was also excited to learn about the Camperdown Program, which can be downloaded for free. All in all, this study suggests that, at least with this population, telepractice is an excellent option.