Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Struggling to Cope With Confusion? 10 Simple Tips for Caregivers

How to Save Your Sanity
 When Dealing With a Confused Person

Confusion is a change in mental status in which a person is not able to think with his or her usual level of clarity. It may appear suddenly or gradually develop over time.  Confusion has many causes including:   injuries,  medical conditions,   medications,  environmental factors and substance abuse.
Often times, confusion leads to disorientation, agitation, inability to focus, memory problems and changes in perception.
Considering its many consequences, caregivers and family members often find it difficult to care for a person that is confused. A few new good habits and some simple adjustments can make it easier if you are coping with confusion.

10 Simple Ways to Manage Confusion

1.  An easy to read digital clock and an enlarged print calendar will help improve orientation to time, day, date, month and year; record upcoming appointments on the calendar; make sure wrist watches are accurately set  to the correct time and/or date

2.  Create a log or journal with a daily agenda to keep track up upcoming activities and events; refer back to the daily entries to verify what happened and when; use the agenda as a reference when dealing with repetitive questions

3.  Discuss current events to increase  awareness of reality; ask about opinions (“What do you think of that?”) rather than asking about memories (“Don’t you remember?”)

4.  As much as possible, decrease distractions:  turn off the television while eating a meal, adjust the blinds, lower the volume of music during conversation

5.  Encourage plenty of rest and promote opportunities for relaxation throughout the day- this helps to decrease over stimulation which may increase confusion or irritability

6.  Engage in peaceful, quiet activities that stimulate the mind: cards, puzzles, painting, reading, watching television

7.  Provide adequate lighting throughout the home making sure to avoid extreme brightness and/or dimness

8.  Maintain a comfortable temperature within the home; dress in layers; have blankets available

9.  Provide good nutrition and adequate hydration; consider the addition of “brain foods” such as banana, avocado, salmon, dark chocolate, dark leafy greens, a rainbow of fruits of vegetables

10.  Help to maintain dignity; despite confusion, care should be taken to respect emotional and physical privacy, to listen to concerns, to ask for opinions, and to speak in a manner and tone that is appropriate when interacting with an adult 

Want to share a print copy of this information?  Click here for a PDF copy

In the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.
Max Ehrmann

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

You Need a Piece of Gum...Now!

Dentists, orthodontists and pediatricians everywhere are going to cringe when they hear this, but the truth cannot be denied…

chewing gum is good for you!

Ready for Zero posted a blog highlighting five ways in which chewing gum can be beneficial to you, and I just had to share. While it is understood that gum has sugar and that can give you cavities (which is not good for you), there are actually...

7 Reasons You Should Be Chewing Gum

#1:  Chewing gum is good exercise!

Ever wondered if chewing gum is good exercise? I mean, how many calories does it really burn?  Well, wonder no more, the answer is 11 calories/hour. Now that may not seem like a lot, but consider this: If you chew gum 1 hour a day every day of the week, you’ll have spent 4015 calories in the whole year! That comes out to about 1.15 lbs worth of calories at 3500 calories per lb. Okay, so maybe that’s still not much… but it’s certainly something.

#2:  Chewing gum makes you smarter!
No, really, it does! In a study done at Baylor College of Medicine, researchers took 108 8th grade math students, divided them into two groups, and followed them for 14 weeks. One group chewed sugarless gum while doing homework and taking tests, the other did not. Well guess what, the gum chewers had a whopping 3% increase in their standardized tests. Now, that may not seem like much, but if chewing gum gives you a free extra boost in your ability to concentrate, then count us in!

#3:  Chewing gum helps you eat healthier!
Turns out that chewing gum helps you curb your craving for high-calorie and sweet foods. Yep, there’s another study that backs that statement. Participants of this study who chewed gum three times hourly after lunch had fewer cravings for bad snacks. Move over Jenny Craig, it’s time for the new Dentyne Ice diet.

#4:  Chewing gum cleans your teeth!

Who needs tooth brush and tooth paste when you’ve got chewing gum? These days, many chewing gums contain xylitol, a chemical known to stimulate saliva flow and clean the surface of your teeth. So says a study funded by Wrigley, a gum company that has xylitol in its gum… hmmm. They swear it’s not biased! In any case, your mouth sure does feel cleaner, doesn’t it? If you need to floss, however, you’re on your own.

#5:  Chewing gum helps you make friends!

If you find yourself in a situation where you need to get on someone’s good side, offer them some gum! It makes you appear thoughtful, generous and friendly. It can also be a great conversation starter or ice-breaker, especially if you offer some interesting flavors like green apple mint, or watermelon kiwi.

But wait, there’s more!
Speech language pathologists suggest two additional reasons chewing gum is good for you.

#6:  Chewing gum strengthens your muscles!

Muscles of the jaw are strengthened when you chew gum and that can be helpful when overcoming weakness, especially when it comes time to eat. Strong jaw muscles can enable a person to safely prepare and swallow advanced textures in their diet (meats, crunchy vegetables, fresh fruits, etc). Also, chewing gum can increase a person’s endurance for chewing food during a meal, making it less likely to experience fatigue while dining.

Additionally, tongue muscles are exercised when gum is transferred from one side of the mouth to the other. What’s more, lip muscles are strengthened as they challenged to maintain good lip seal while chewing and blowing bubbles can exercise muscles of the lips, tongue and cheeks.   

#7:  Chewing gum alleviates dry mouth!
People undergoing radiation treatments to the head or neck and those who are not able to eat or drink by mouth (NPO) often suffer from chronic dry mouth (xerostomia).  It can be miserably uncomfortable.  The process of chewing increases the production of saliva which can minimize the discomfort of an extremely dry mouth.  Add in the xylitol (mentioned above) and the juicy goodness of the gum itself, and voila, relief!

Considering all of the evidence, it is clear to see that chewing gum is good for you.  To enjoy all of the benefits it has to offer, it is recommended you spend 10-15 minutes chewing sugarless gum.
 Please share this information with someone you know.
If you have any questions about dry mouth, oral weakness, diet textures, chewing or swallowing, contact Spontaneous Speech at 361-271-1700. We are always happy to talk with you!

Flattery is like chewing gum. Enjoy it, but don’t swallow it.
Hank Ketchum

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Preparing for Court- 3 Critical Strategies You Need Before You Make A Statement

Speech Language Pathologists as Trial Consultants:  
Helping to Prepare Witnesses for Court

If you are going to participate in a significant part of litigation, such as a deposition, mediation, or trial, proper preparation is important.

Your attorney may be exceptional with his speaking skills or know her way around the courtroom with her eyes closed, but what about you, the client? You need to know what to expect, how to behave, and how to respond, and this is where even the best lawyer may blow it…

they don’t tell you about the importance of your communication strategy. 

Wrapped up in other legal preparations, attorneys forget to mention how important clear and concise communication can be in achieving a positive outcome.  For this and many other reasons, attorneys often enlist the help of communication experts. Such professionals prepare clients, witnesses and experts to communicate effectively during all aspects of litigation.

Giving testimony is a scary proposition, so here are three super simple speech strategies you can use when you need to make a statement. 

#1. Be Clear

Whether you are in a deposition room or a courtroom, make sure you use good volume so that your voice projects. Also, use a slower rate of speech as you talk.  

As a witness, you have very valuable information to share.   Mumbling and speed talking can cause you to be misunderstood and make it necessary for you repeat yourself. A small, soft voice may even diminish your credibility.  

From the judge, to the court reporter, to the jury, you need to be heard and you must be understood, so if you want to be more effective, speak up and slow down.

#2. Be Concise

Ideally, witnesses need to give thoughtful responses that concisely answer the questions that were asked- giving not much more and nothing less. In order to be concise, it’s important to think before you speak

You obviously can't take 30 seconds to completely organize and edit your thoughts every time you speak, but you can make an effort to not just blurt out whatever is on your mind. Because of that, it's OK to take a few seconds to think about what you really want to say.

First, communicate the main idea, then provide supporting ideas, but don't provide irrelevant or tangential information. In other words, to be concise, keep your responses short and sweet.

#3. Be Compelling

When a person has a passion for what they’re saying, they are compelling. Putting aside drama and theatrics, a speaker is particularly compelling or effective when they use strategic pausing.  

When you’re speaking, adding brief pauses after powerful, information loaded statements allows the people listening to really absorb the details you’re sharing. Those brief moments of silence can have a real impact… and will virtually eliminate the tendency for speed talking.  

Other ways to be more confident and compelling when giving testimony include: paying attention to the tone of your voice, using inflection to add variety and interest, and displaying an appropriate demeanor.

By using this 3 part communication strategy, you will be properly prepared to give your testimony during any and all phases of litigation. 

Spontaneous Speech Coach offers professional, personalized witness preparation services. If you have additional questions or need further assistance, please contact us at 361-271-1700.  We will be happy to schedule an appointment for a private consultation.  

Be clear. Be compelling. Make a statement.

Sometimes a single phrase of testimony can set events in motion that affect someone's life for eternity.
President Dieter Uchtdorf

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

How to Make an Outstanding First Impression at an Interview

First Impressions are Lasting Impressions

What do you do to make yourself stand out from the others when interviewing for a job? Perhaps it's a firm handshake... a great smile...a dynamite resume...a unicycle?

When you're wanting to make a lasting impression, you don't have to go over the top with props or gimmicks, just be yourself and follow these recommendations.

The Dos and Don'ts for
 Making an Outstanding Impression 
During a Job Interview

Do be prepared:  

Bring paper, pen and multiple copies of you resume to an interview.

Not so  good: Don't write on my resume. I'm going to need that back before I leave.
Much better:  This is for you. I have additional copies if you need them.

Do be aware of your gestures:  

Make sure that the use of your hands, face and/or shoulders add to the message you are delivering.  Always answer questions with a complete sentence. Words like yeah, uh huh and yup should be avoided as they detract from your professional character.

Not so good: silently shrugging your shoulders when responding to questions asked
Much better:  I'm not really sure how to answer that question. That's something I really need to think about.

Do be conscientious of your body language:

Shifting around in your chair until someone is wondering if you have ants in your pants is an indication that you're wiggling way too much. When seated, sit straight up, plant your feet on the floor place your hands on your lap. A neutral position with good posture is a winner every single time.

Not so good: fidgeting, squirming
Much better: easy, relaxed posture

Do maintain good eye contact:

During an interview, your eyes indicate your confidence, professionalism and level of interest. When you maintain good eye contact, you'll appear likable and you'll feel heard, so keep your eye gaze directed toward the speaker as much as possible.  Learn to monitor your use of eye contact and eye movements, as they are often considered the most impressive of all non-verbal messages. 

Not so good: staring at a clear plastic business card holder
Much better:  maintaining consistent eye contact with the person you're speaking to

Don't make unnecessary comments or insults:  

Be careful not to offend the people you meet- they may be insulted by your remarks.

Not so good:  I think your office is weird.
Much better:  Thank you for inviting me to your office today.

Don't curse: 

Strong language can be offensive and is really never appropriate in a professional setting.

Not so good: Holy sh*t.
Much better:  Oh man. Wow wee. Golly gee.  (Anything is better than cursing.)

Don't be a know it all:

Of course, it's okay to express your professional knowledge when asked, but stopping an interviewer in his/her tracks to let them know you are a genius... not so good

Not so good: Yeah, I already know that.

Much better: Yes, you're right. I agree. I've heard that before. 

Don't share strong opinions:

Remember the old adage- if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. Unless asked to do so, keep your opinions to yourself.

Not so good: The people at that company are stupid.

Much better: Silence.

Don't talk bad about the competition, your former boss, your coworkers, etc.  

Just like the Disney song says, it's a small, small world. Because you don't want to burn any bridges,  avoid unfavorable comments whenever possible. You never know, you could be ruining your chances at getting your next job. Negative comments directed toward others often leave you looking like the one with the problem.

Not so good:  That guy was an idiot.  I had problems dealing with him almost every day.
Much better:  I gained some very valuable experience working with him.

What kind of impression to you make when you meet someone new?  Strong communication skills, including good verbal and non-verbal abilities, will help you stand out in a variety of situations. Whether you are interviewing for a new job, a promotion, or college admission, use these tips to make an outstanding first impression...and please, leave the unicycle at home.

If you would like to improve your interviewing techniques or want to enhance your non-verbal communication skills, a professional speech coach can help. Spontaneous Speech Coach offers individual and group sessions. Call us at 361-261-1700 to get more information. We will help you make your first impression a lasting one. 

Job interviews are like first dates. Good impressions count. Awkwardness can occur. Outcomes are unpredictable. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Simple Steps for Improving Kids' Conversation Skills

Many parents are frustrated by their child's lack of social abilities. They claim the excessive use of technology is responsible for their lack of conversation skills. That may be true, but communication experts agree:  there is hope for intelligent, thoughtful, and interesting conversation with our children. The key is teaching them what makes a good conversationalist. 

The ability to have meaningful, impactful conversation is necessary for people of all ages. While it's true those skills don’t come naturally to most kids, they can be taught. In a recent Washington Post article, Sarah Hamaker outlined 10 things parents can do to help their kids be better conversationalists. Here is the excerpt from the original article.

10 Ways to Help a Child Improve
  Their Conversation Skills

#1.  Talk to your children
If you don’t have conversations with your children, you can’t teach them how to have that interaction. “Talk to your child at every opportunity about everything and anything,” says Judith Hervay, a mother of two girls now 17 and 21. “Adults should always have time to sit down and talk with their child, to show them by doing how to hold a conversation.”

#2. Practice active listening
Sometimes, a child will act bored around another sibling or friend who is talking about a topic that doesn’t interest her, and yet will expect rapt concentration when she has the floor. “Active listening is paying attention to what the other person is saying without planning what you’re going to say or thinking about something else,” says Betsy Dill, a teacher from Centerville, Virginia. Body language plays a huge part of active listening, so role play with your child what being interested looks like, such as facial expressions and verbal sounds (sighing, etc.).

#3. Cut to the chase
Children, especially young ones, have a hard time figuring out what the main point of a story is, so they tend to flood their recitations with all the facts. “You don’t have to give a blow-by-blow description of the story because that puts people to sleep,” says Dill. “Instead, you need to get to the main point pretty fast or you’ll lose the other person’s interest.” Ask questions that can help a child figure out the nugget worth sharing, including what they liked most about an event, what their favorite part was, what struck them as funny or weird.

#4. Take a breath 
Learning when to pause in a conversation is just as important as learning when to speak. “People today use so many filler words to monopolize air space,” says educator and author Rebecca Czarniecki. “We should instead use ‘real’ words and not be afraid of silence.” She recommends repeating the question or saying “Let me think about it,” instead of immediately launching into a response if you need time to craft your answer.

#5. Learn, learn, learn
“You can’t have a conversation if you don’t know anything about anything,” says Hervay. “To have a rich, intellectually rewarding and empathetic conversation, you really should know things about the world.” Reading age-appropriate books, visiting museums and taking up hobbies are just some ways for kids to enrich their minds—and give them something to talk about.

#6. Develop questions 
“The basic foundation to any conversation is having a subject,” says Czarniecki. “And one great way for kids to find that subject is to ask a question of their conversation partner.” She suggests writing down questions and putting them in a bowl to be used at the table for conversation starters.

#7. Develop empathy
“What makes someone good at conversation? Putting one’s self in the other person’s place,” says Hervay. Empathy allows us to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes. “A person, no matter how incredibly brilliant they are, will be bored if they don’t have empathy because they won’t be interested in the other person,” she says.

#8. Value silence
 Staying quiet can be very hard for many children, but parents should encourage their kids to not talk sometimes. We should help our children realize that just because they have something to say, doesn’t mean they always have to say it. “Silence is a lost art, but it’s a necessary part of any conversation,” adds Czarniecki.

#9. Be polite
Sometimes we know more about a subject than the other person, and the temptation to point that out can be great. Other times, we don’t find the topic exciting or of interest to us. “I always told my girls to not make the other person feel dumb or ignorant or inadequate in those situations,” says Hervay. “This is really hard for young kids, who want to rub it in that they know something the other person doesn’t, but it’s a great life lesson to learn.”

#10. Practice 
Conversing is a back-and-forth exchange—not a monologue or a lecture. One fun way to practice the give and take of conversation with kids is by tossing a small ball or water balloon. Toss it to the other person and ask a question, then the other person answers the question and tosses it back. “That helps children visually see the art of giving and receiving in conversation,” says Czarniecki.

Talking with our children should be enjoyable for us and for them. By providing guidance for our kids on how this works in real life, we can help them develop into good conversationalists. 

If you know someone who needs to improve their conversational skills,  call Spontaneous Speech at 361-271-1700. We will be happy to answer your questions or set up an appointment for a complimentary consultation.

The most influential of all educational factors is the conversation in a child's home
William Temple

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Best Productivity Tip Ever!

No matter who you are, no matter what you do and  no matter what you're tying to accomplish, if you want to increase your productivity and get more done in less time, you owe it to yourself to try this one simple thing.

I think it's the best productivity tip ever.



It's so simple.  Whatever it is, turn it off.

You can accomplish great things when you power down the electronic devices in your life.  Here are a few examples.

Power down your computer:   

You may start off doing legitimate research, but in between Google searches, so much is happening on your computer you can't keep your focus:  instant messages, new emails and 20+ Facebook notifications. Maybe you eventually get your project done, but chances are, because of many distractions on your computer, you spent twice the amount of time you really needed to.  Ugh!

Some people just can't resist the fun of their computer and spend hours and hours sitting in front of it. As a result, they get very little accomplished.  Here's a true story.  I know someone who went to his computer to send an email for work and ended up  spending 3 hours watching country music videos on YouTube. Oh brother!  It probably took less than 10 minutes to send the email and the other 2 hours and 50 minutes were wasted. What a shame.

Don't let that be you.

How in the world can you get work done when you have so many distractions?   Well, you can't. For this reason, when you've got a list of things to do, you can improve your focus and increase your productivity by simply powering down your computer once your work is done. Send your email. Turn off the computer. Walk away. 

Give it a've got nothing to lose but your time.

Power down the television:

Watching television is easy to do and takes no is a guaranteed productivity killer for both kids and adults.  Here's what I mean...

As it is, kids are some of the laziest least productive people around, but did you know, the average American kid watches TV  about 4 hours each day?  Don't those kids have anything else better to do for a test...or unload the dishwasher for mom?  Kids could be more productive, more active and even make better grades in school if someone just  turned off the television and pointed them in a different direction. Great idea!

Don't think I'm just picking on kids though...adults are just as bad.

Working professionals wake up exhausted every morning because they stayed up too late watching TV.  Why? Perhaps they were binge watching an entire season of HBO's The Leftovers.  What else could they have done in those six hours?  Uh...a whole bunch!

Power down that TV and you're sure to be more productive.

Power down your cell phone:

Nothing can divert your attention or wreck your productivity faster than an noisy cell phone.  Of course, you can screen your calls or let voice mail answer for you, but most often, people can't resist the urge to take a phone call. A ringing phone is like magic- it instantly takes a hard working, good intentioned person and stops them in their tracks.  So, the recommendation is simple, power down the phone and resist the urge to take that next call until your work is done.

By all means, if you just can't bring yourself to power off the cell phone, be sure to turn off the ringer. Otherwise, your brain will be scrambled each and every time your phone gives you  a ring-a-ling to notify you of a new text message.  No kidding, just last night, in the course of about 15 minutes, I received 39 text messages from my daughter's soccer coach and 32 text messages from friends trying to make arrangements to meet for dinner. 71 ring-a-lings.  Seriously?

Adults and kids can get more accomplished than ever before, just  by unplugging, shutting down and silencing electronic devices. There are many more reasons to turn off  electronic devices than the ones discussed here, but the point is clear:

 if you want your productivity to go up, you have to power down.  

Technology is a useful servant but a dangerous master.
Christian Lous Lange

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Coastal Bend Innovation Center

Spontaneous Speech is on the Move! 

Growing and expanding every week, Spontaneous Speech has opened an office in Corpus Christi! You can come visit us at the Coastal Bend Business Innovation Center.  We're located at 10201 South Padre Island Drive, Suite 213.  Our new number is 361-271-1700, but you can always reach us at our previous number, 800-549-0540.

Not only do we have a new office space, Spontaneous Speech is also offering a new variety of services.

Spontaneous Speech Therapy

Spontaneous Speech Therapy provides traditional  treatment sessions to target delays, difficulties and disorders of speech, language, voice, fluency, cognition and swallowing.

Unique specialty programs are available:

·      Speech and language development
·      Feeding and swallowing difficulties
·      Myofunctional disorders (Tongue Thrust)
·      Communication and socialization
·      Neurological impairments

Spontaneous Speech Coach

Spontaneous Speech Coach offers focused training for adults, teens and kids who are seeking to improve communication skills needed for success at home, school and work.  

We help you speak like you mean business:
·      Accent  Modification
·      Voice Development
·      Speech Improvement

We prepare students for success:
·      Academic Skills
·      Social Skills
·      Money Matters

Spontaneous Speech Coach will help you  improve your speaking abilities, develop more successful business relationships, increase your academic success and enhance your social skills.

Spontaneous Speech Tools

Spontaneous Speech Tools creates functionally relevant materials for healthcare professionals and caregivers to…
  • ·      stimulate conversation
  • ·      develop awareness
  • ·      increase problem solving skills
  • ·      improve reasoning abilities
  • ·      enhance safety

Our first flashcard series, Pictures for Progress:  Illness and Medication has been well received at state and national conferences. Boxes now available for purchase and Spanish translations are available.


Whether you decide to come see us, call us or like us on Facebook, we appreciate your interest!  Hope to see you soon in our new office!  When you come, be ready to play ping pong.

There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.
C. S. Lewis