Debunking Myths and Misconceptions About Speech Therapy (Part 1 of 2) // Amanda Owens

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SUMMARY

Amanda Owens joins Christy-Faith to discuss speech therapy, homeschooling, parent involvement in speech therapy, and the challenges of speech therapy in schools. The conversation emphasizes the importance of early intervention and the role of parents in speech therapy success. Misconceptions about speech delays are debunked and the impact of genetics on speech and language development are discussed. 

TAKE-AWAYS

  • Early intervention in speech therapy is vital for a child’s development.
  • Parents play a crucial role in the success of speech therapy for their children.
  • Genetics can have a significant impact on speech and language development.
  • Misconceptions about speech delays and socialization need to be addressed in the context of homeschooling and speech therapy.

ABOUT TODAY’S GUEST

Amanda Owens is a proud homeschool graduate, quirky creative speech language pathologist, and grateful homeschool mom of four small children. She takes solid speech therapy research and clinical insight and packages it into accessible tools and training for homeschool parents, empowering them to do more with speech therapy at home.

Find Amanda Owens at: 

TRANSCRIPT

Christy Faith (00:00.142)
By the time a child is six years old, they should be hitting mastery with all their speech sounds. Okay, take a moment to think with literacy where that hits.

Welcome to the Christy Faith Show, where we share game changing ideas with intentional parents like you. I'm your host, Christy Faith, experienced educational advisor and homeschool enthusiast. Together, we'll explore ways to enrich and transform both your life and the lives of your children.

Well, hello everybody. We are here again on the Christy Faith Show. I am thrilled to have our guest today where we are going to talk about speech therapy, homeschooling, how to navigate this world when your kid needs help. I am so excited to have Amanda Owens here. She is a speech and language pathologist or in the lingo is SLP. And she is a proud homeschool graduate. I didn't realize that. Amanda?

quirky in such a charming way though. Creative speech and language pathologist, a grateful homeschool mom to your four children. You take solid speech therapy research and clinical insight and you package it into accessible tools and training for homeschooling parents. Can I tell you how much we need you in our space? I'm so excited that you are here, empowering parents to do more with speech therapy at home.

Amanda believes that parents are the secret sauce to speech therapy success. I cannot wait to dive in there because that is not the message that homeschool parents are given, right? And the best progress happens when you equip good parents with the right resources. Welcome to today's show, Amanda. The first question I wanna ask you is how did you get into homeschooling and what got you into speech therapy? Okay, all right, so these are fun.

Christy Faith (01:58.574)
So I became a homeschooler in eighth grade and simply put, it was finances. My parents could not afford putting me through private school anymore. I had been in the public school for about a semester and they were like, man, she is getting eaten alive. But, you know, the stories came out later. I.

I had some interesting experiences in the private schools actually as well that didn't lead necessarily to bodily harm, but were actual physical, like there were events. And I was very introverted and my mom, she knew that she wanted me to have a very Christian upbringing. She was really concerned about my worldview. And she was noticing that my friends were a little bit, you know, avant -garde, they're a little quirky, but.

they definitely were just concerned because I was hanging out with oddballs. And that was the group that I was spending my time with. So my parents moved me into homeschooling. My mom was like, hey, you're going to be homeschooled. What do you want to do? And so I went online with my mom's credit card and I picked out myself my curriculum for my first year. I bought it. I installed it on my computer. I did it.

After that, whenever I wanted to change curriculum, I did it. I scored my own schoolwork. I made my own transcript on Microsoft Publisher. my goodness. It's just such a hands -off. It was a hands -off experience for my parents. My dad's a career firefighter, so he was gone for large chunks of time when he was gone. My mom was a career woman, not a traditional homeschool mom. We just made it work. We just...

made it work. So if you ever have questions about hands -off homeschooling your high schoolers and can they turn out okay, I think I did. I think it turned out alright. But here the real question is based on your experience, would you take that technique with your kids? Yeah, I actually probably would. I mean, I think I would want to be more involved just for my own enjoyment, like a co -investigator.

Christy Faith (04:14.158)
You know, in the things that are interested and they really want to learn. We're not unschooling me and my family. We're, I would call more Charlotte Mason slash eclectic. But I definitely think that a certain degree of independence can actually be very preparatory for college and master's level experiences, especially masters, to be quite honest. Yeah, I absolutely agree. And that self -governance piece I think is vital.

And, you know, to the extent where you let your kids fail sometimes. And there's consequences to that, that better learn it at home. Yes, from someone that loves you. With someone that loves you, who can walk you through it, walk you through healthy, emotional, you know, resiliency with failure and all of that. Well, that is so interesting. I was not expecting this podcast to go in that direction.

That's like, I feel like that's a whole nother podcast of let's interview some second Jenner's that would be give us a lot of insight. So yes, you ended up doing graduate work, you are a speech and language pathologist for the rest of this show, we can just say SLP that's short for speech and language pathologists. What

got you interested in that? Most speech -language pathologists have a really beautiful story about how they wanted to be in a helping profession and they did research about it and they come up with that. Or honestly, most of them, they had an experience with a family member who had a need for speech -language pathology. Either, you know, they had a grandparent who had a stroke and needed to relearn how to swallow. I did that for a few years.

or they were in school and they were made fun of because of the way they spoke and they got their confidence because a speech -language pathologist helped them learn their sounds. They had a sibling who learned to talk because of a speech -language pathologist. But for me, it was a badly designed website that led me to speech -language pathology. I did not know that it existed as a field. And my undergraduate was, brace yourself,

Christy Faith (06:21.966)
I got a bachelor of science in music performance, specifically operatic voice. So vocal performance, fat lady singing, that was me. And I realized that I really wanted to just keep the door open for something that was a little bit more dependable. I could live and have a family maybe, because almost everybody I knew who went for it, they didn't have work -life balance.

Even the ones who had steadier jobs, they were still, you know, working all their weekends, rehearsing every night. They were faculty and that's a high pressure job. Ha ha ha. I totally didn't pick a high pressure job. But I was looking for business administration for music and the University of Akron, Ohio, not a plug. They should probably check their website. They had.

Speech Language Pathology right next to Music Administration. How interesting is that? So I'm like, what is that? I've been cruising Google looking for jobs all day long. What is that? I pressed on it. I started reading about it and I was like, my goodness, I would love to do that. And so I shadowed at a top 20 school that I ended up going to at Indiana University. And I just fell in love. I watched the clinic and I watched some sessions. I sat in classes and I was like,

people and brains, how much better can I get? Like, I love it. So I fell in love with it, but I'm grateful. It's a God incidence, no coincidence here. That is so cool. So you have told me that the one question you are asked most often is, when do I know if my kid needs speech therapy? And as homeschooling parents, we don't have a school district coming to us when our kid is in kindergarten.

telling us this. And so I would love to hear how you answer families with that question. man. Yeah, because I do get that question all the time. And usually when a homeschooler asks it, they come from two positions, one, which is almost this like, I dare you to tell me that there's something wrong with my kid and they're not just going to blossom when they blossom, because that's one of the amazing strengths about us as homeschoolers.

Christy Faith (08:47.438)
I love that my community waits for children to learn on their own time. They give them exactly what they need to grow, not what anybody else needs to go, but exactly what they need to grow. And that's a huge strength. But on the converse side, then sometimes there's also like this double -headed like mom guilt of, my goodness, did I wait too long? Should I have done something, et cetera? Because you're spending so much time working with your child's individual strengths, like...

Homeschooling is the ultimate IEP, you know, individualized education plan. And so sometimes it's hard to like come up for air and see, you know, the trees in the forest and get a good picture. And usually my thought is follow your mama gut. If you have question marks, then you're probably right. I very, very seldom have a mom bring a child to me and say, I think there might be something a little different.

And then I do one of my screenings and I'm like, no, no, the kids totally fine. Usually they're, they're spot on. Their mama is precious because they spend so much time with their children. You know, these parents, they do, but I personally use the milestones for speech sounds that came from McLeod. So it's C L E O D. McLeod has some great milestones for speech sounds.

and they're earlier than you would expect. For instance, R isn't when you're 10. You should be speaking fairly clearly, fairly young. And other - How young? How young? Ooh, do you want to know? Yeah, well, I would love to hear because, you know, there is messaging in the homeschool space. They'll catch up. Don't worry. And for example, in literacy,

That is not what the research is showing. The research is showing in literacy. Now I know this is an episode about speech, but in literacy, early intervention is vital. so is that the same case for speech therapy? Okay. And then what? Yeah. So when you have your toddler that, you know, is hard for other people to understand, but maybe you understand them and you're wondering, you have that super power. Yeah. Yes. So.

Christy Faith (11:03.598)
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Christy Faith (13:23.982)
no contracts, you can cancel anytime no questions asked. Go to Christy -faith .com. That's C -H -R -I -S -T -Y -F -A -I -T -H .com. Enter promo code podcast for $10 off your first month. See you inside. By the time a child is six years old, they should be hitting mastery with all their speech sounds. Okay. Take a moment to think with literacy where that hits.

It's really hard to learn to segment and blend and even more important, use phonemic awareness, not phonological awareness, but phonemic awareness to manipulate sound. And if you can't say the sounds, there's two reasons why this is gonna be extra tricky for you. For one, you're gonna say it out loud and that's gonna trip you up. If it's just an articulation, just a muscle thing. But for two, oftentimes the reason why children have a delay to begin with,

with their sounds is the same reason why a child might have a delay in their phonemic awareness and phonological awareness skills to be a reader because they have difficulty with phonological memory. And there's no actual technical term for phonological processing. However, those same skills, that ability to discriminate, the ability to categorize sound well, the ability to write those motor programs correctly,

All those things absolutely impact reading and the younger you are, the better. There's, there's a literal critical period where if you try to learn those sounds afterwards, you may learn them. I've worked with some children who were adopted from China. They didn't have their Rs. They're in high school and their mom's like, can they? And I'm like, yeah, we can totally work on it. Can those children say they're Rs. Now?

Yeah, they're really making progress. But can they hear the difference between a funky R and a good R? No. They're compensating using other strategies. And it's the reason why when you move from country to country, or you learn a new language when you're younger, you're less likely to have an accent because you're more flexible. Your brain is more flexible, is ready to learn those things. So yeah, seize the day. Take that time, right? Yes. Well, thank you for giving that concrete answer because,

Christy Faith (15:42.862)
You're just having in mind six years old for anybody hearing this and is being told some messaging that we hear so much in the homeschool space. just wait, they'll blossom or, and, and really, I think with this, now that I've learned this from you, just the second, and also what I already knew about literacy that this is not something that you play with because it's indicative. What I'm hearing you say is this is indicative of several things that could be going on.

Not just one, it could be, could you unpack that a little bit? We will hear maybe a speech issue in a child. Say someone has, maybe this is too simple, a LISP or maybe you can name something more common. What could be the reasons behind that that needs to be uncovered by an SLP in order to move forward? Okay, so I'm going to start categorizing a little bit. So something like a LISP.

I would call that an articulation issue. So that's how things are getting to where they need to move and whether or not they can get to where they need to be. When it's a lisp, usually my gut says that is a, hold onto your seat, orofacial myofunctional disorder.

That means that the way the mouth functions is not what it should be. The brain might be fine. They can plan the motor programming. They can coordinate it just fine. But their mouth doesn't have the oomph to do what it needs to do. The function is low. Usually those kids are the open mouth breathers, which by the way, that also has connections to exacerbated ADHD symptoms.

and just overall lower learning than you might expect. They are more likely to snore, have airway issues, even sometimes like apnea when they're sleeping. I've known people that realized their 10 -year -old has a tongue tie. It was never discovered ahead of time. And you mentioned that mouth breathing piece just really quick. That book, I forget, I think it's by a gentleman named Nestor.

Christy Faith (17:55.374)
N -E -S -T -O -R, I will clarify it in the show notes. There's a book called Breathe that goes into all the research around mouth breathing and just how it really needs to be solved for adults and everybody else. But that's a whole other thing. But it just reminded me like PSA, if you're a mouth breather, get that book right away. I go to one of those crunchy dentists and your first visit with her, she's like, you got to read this book, you got to do this, you got to do this. And anyway,

So yeah, so something like a lisp, that's more physical, something going on. What are some other pieces that go on as well? I'll have another book for you to put in there too. The six foot tiger, three foot cage. That's another good one. Cause it's all about your whole health. You should not snore. Snoring is not something that should be happening. So we'll put in the show notes. Now I'm going to add to Amazon cart right now. So in case you have a snore in your home, just look at them and go, you're not normal. Just you know, you know, not normal.

And I can say that because I was starting to feel apnea symptoms myself at a certain point, which I've done exercises for and is improving. But then also, I often will have a family bring a kiddo to me and they're like, yeah, they weren't talking until they're four, but they're totally fine now. And I'm sitting there thinking, yeah, but I've been spending the last 30 minutes with them. And even though they're a fifth grader, I totally knew that they had a language delay. And their whole academic career could be different.

Not because every kid needs to go to Harvard. Not because every kid needs to, like academic potential is not the whole of your human existence. It really isn't. There are things that are far, far more important. However, if you're already working with them anyway, wonderful moms and dads who are homeschooling, then why not give them that great foundation early on?

so that the whole rest of their trajectory is just changed. Like you guys are the exact right parents for that, because you already care. Like I know it. Absolutely. And so besides just the dyslexia effect, it can change reading comprehension. It can change their ability to retain information as quickly as others. So they might feel more of a struggle. And that could be due to a difference in phonological memory or...

Christy Faith (20:14.158)
syntactical memory or syntactical understanding so that understanding the way pieces of language put together and it's why it took them a longer time. Even if it was only a delay of six months to a year, it might be why it took them a longer time to get where they went. And while they got, you know, to normal, they still might not be at their normal. Those are my thoughts with those ones. The show will resume in just a minute. But first I want to share with you an incredible resource that is totally free to homeschooling families everywhere.

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Christy Faith (22:09.87)
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Hi, mama. If you like my social media content and my show, I'm pretty sure you will love my book, Homeschool Rising: Shattering Myths, Finding Courage and Opting Out of the School System. My book is for homeschool parents, both veteran and new, and the perfect book to hand any homeschool skeptics in your life so they can better understand why you've chosen this amazing lifestyle. This book will challenge you, empower you, encourage you, and give you solid, mindful answers to all those questions you get about your homeschooling choice. Grab your copy and maybe an extra one for your mother-in-law today. Homeschool Rising is available wherever books are sold. Yes, you are an advocate of parent involvement in speech therapy. You even say that parents are this secret sauce. Can you unpack that a little bit? Because I think this really sets you apart.

Messaging to parents across America is, this is a specialty, stay out, let me do my work so that I can get your kid where they need to be. You don't know enough. What is your messaging to parents?

My messaging to parents is that they are the secret sauce. They are the key. And if I train a parent and only see their child every once in a while, I know I'm going to get better bang for both of our bucks and for the child's benefit than if I were to work with just their child. There's actually some really interesting research specifically in the area of late talkers that when they had different control groups, they had one group that was speech language pathologists doing traditional therapy saying, good job guys, that was a great session, here's your worksheet. And they just worked with the child. They made progress, of course, they made progress, great, therapy works.

Christy Faith (24:16.942)
Then the group that took some time to train the parents a little bit, they made even more progress than the therapy with SLP only. But the group that made the most progress was the third group. The third group, the speech language pathologist, worked with the child to get an idea of what needed to happen. And then instead of spending time doing therapy with the child, they trained the parent what to do. And the parent executed the plan.

and had that SLP as their touch person, they made more progress than the other two groups. The parents are the secret sauce. Specifically, parents that aren't just getting homework, parents that aren't just being told, generally speaking, read to your child more, and you should talk more with your child. Say everything that they're doing, which that one is a good one, there's so much more to it that brings it to a therapeutic level instead of just a good parenting level, which...

Most parents that come to speech therapy, they're good parents already, but they need to know what to do that brings it to a therapeutic level. And I think sometimes, you know, that SLPs were afraid that it's going to take our job, but it's not because we have a different area of expertise, but that parent is the expert in their child's life and they are their best teacher for good or for not good. They are their child's most effective teacher because your child will learn lessons from you that you don't even realize you're teaching.

Well, I'm sitting here listening to you and I'm thinking, boy, this woman has some guts saying this right now. There are going to be people that do not like hearing this. I mean, you're basically saying you don't need me as much as you think you need me is basically what you're saying. Are you saying this? in a way, in a way, because I've also no techniques that you don't know.

And I know a whole giant toolbox of them. Like come into my workshop, let me let you borrow some tools that you need for your specific child right now. Because I think one of the things that makes parents think that they can DIY when they actually can't, because sometimes they can't. Sometimes I'd say I'd actually argue for DIY. Sometimes I would say, my lanta, please, please, please do not DIY because I've seen the effects of DIY after like a decade. That leaves us with and that just.

Christy Faith (26:37.262)
the fallout from that, especially because they never stop to find out whether or not their kid needed more. But speech therapy is not a point A to point B, open the book, follow the worksheet program. It is not. It's not something where you can go, you know, here are the 10 steps to learning R. I tried making an R curriculum. I am still in the thick of it. It still does not make me as happy as I know I would love it to make me because it can't.

I can't package even knowing all that I know, even working with almost 600 kids now in my career. I still can't put everything I know into a workbook that I make and structure because everything's so individual, which is part of it. It sounds intuitive as well because I, you know, when I worked with kids, that was one thing that I loved about working one -on -one with kids when I was teaching them how to write versus teaching in the classroom.

was I couldn't tell you where I needed to go. You reach a level of expertise where as you are experiencing the student, you are seeing where you need to go, the turns you need to make right then and there. It's very hard to follow a protocol. This is why in the homeschool space we say, don't let the curriculum be your master. But yeah, it's that intuitive piece. And yes, that makes so much sense that you do need the professional that

knows this is going to sound funny, but you need the professional that knows everything to empower you with the pieces that are that you need to do. And then you, what I'm hearing is that you check in again and you, you know, then you make some turns and then you get progress that way. And I bet you sometimes you do say, no, we need a couple sessions. Do you ever do that? yeah. Yeah. And actually I have most of my families actually still see me weekly.

but they may progress overall faster than what they would expect elsewhere. And the reason why we still have to work weekly, and I always give my family's options because we'll get to, we should definitely talk about it later, talk about finances, but we work together weekly because they're working with their parents, so they're making progress quickly enough that they need the next step like now, but.

Christy Faith (28:56.91)
when you're implementing the different exercises and things like that, and you know exactly what you need for this week, sometimes the next week you've made a big bump. Sometimes you've made a little bump. Sometimes you need to tweak and you need more supports to get over the next hump. But that tweaking and then I have the parents just go with it. I expect that they are going to work in between. And that way we get more progress done. But if life happens, I mean,

It happens. I'm a parent too. Exactly. If you're enjoying the show and you don't want to miss out on future episodes, hit that like and subscribe button and show us some love with your comments. Those five star reviews really do make a difference. Well, there's two questions that I want to ask you. The first, well, there's a lot, but.

The first one I want to ask you is I know you worked in seven different school districts. Parents are going to be going to the pediatrician. The pediatrician is going to notice a speech delay and the pediatrician will tell a homeschool mom, you should not be homeschooling anymore. Your child needs speech therapy. You get that in the schools. Your child belongs in the school. So I want to dive down that road. What does speech therapy look like in the schools?

Exactly. And why is it ineffective? And it's not ineffective. let's just put it this way. I think this is what I want to say. I think speech therapists are put in an awful position. They are. They are. Because of their caseload, what they their expectations because they of course, every child they have is on an IEP, which is a legal document. So with compassion to what speech therapists have on their plate, let's talk about

why. Yeah, yeah. Group speech therapy is not I mean, it's like funny that we actually have to defend why group speech therapy isn't great. Like really in our country, we're having to defend this. But yeah, we actually are. So give that mama something to say to that pediatrician in the doctor's office. Okay.

Christy Faith (31:03.182)
So usually the first thing that they'll say is not just you'll get speech therapy there. They'll also tell you that the reason why they're not talking clearly is because they're not properly socialized. And the answer is that right? Yeah. yeah. yeah. What? man. Okay. Before people know that I'm homeschooled in a district, they are way more open in the background of an IEP or an ISP meeting. I'm going to tell you right now. And I've worked with some of the most

sweetest, most amazing, most sacrificial teachers. I've worked with some amazing ones. I have an administrator who has a small chunk of my heart because I just, I'm like, I love that woman. And she does the best she can under the circumstances she is given, but I feel like the system is broken and it puts them in a crunch. It really does. But I've, I've heard from even other teachers like, they would talk if they were here. They're just not socialized. That's why they're not talking. No.

No, they have an actual difference with their phonological memory. They have a phonological disorder. Their brain does not code sound correctly or their brain does not learn language well because of these different factors. It is genetic. If it was all about environment, then we would be calling CPS, right? But we don't because you shouldn't blame yourself for having a child with a speech or language difference, just like you wouldn't blame yourself that your child needs glasses, right?

So that's a big one. Preach it girl. I get real feisty about that one. Cause some of my moms get some really hard conversations. And one of my freebies is a planner that has four cheeky things that I say when somebody says something about my kid with a language delay. Cause I had a kid with a language delay. He had a really traumatic birth. It's an interesting story that I will not share here, but you know, speech language pathologists have.

kids with language delay too, it's genetics or it's a traumatic event or there's so many different medicines that cause like that's one of the side effects if you take a lot of different medications during pregnancy. How do you know? You just don't. So anyways, but one of the things that I would tell them to tell their pediatrician is that the socialization actually doesn't have anything to do with it. Didn't you know it's genetic? yeah, my speech language pathologist, feel free. Just say, just say my speech language pathologist, call me yours, just claim me.

Christy Faith (33:25.774)
Use that pronoun. To the thousand, the upon thousand. Just say, yeah, yeah. The speech language pathologist I was talking to. Whatever. You know, you know, they're going to take you up on this and they're going to be going to conferences and giving you big hugs. They are.

Every time I go to a conference, there are hugs and there are tears and I have got to start remembering to bring tissues because I never do. And then I'm crying and I never wear waterproof mascara besides the point. Anyways, I know I tell people to name drop me all the time. Everyone has permission to name drop me for really any reason as long as it's just clear that I'm not practicing speech language pathology in any of the states that I'm not licensed in.

But you can totally say, well, I was listening to this continuing education by a speech language pathologist and she says it's genetic. In fact, I looked at the American Speech and Hearing Association's website and they were talking about like totally doing. American Speech and Hearing Association has wonderful resources. And actually, if you're going to go milestones, don't look at the CDC because they've been funky since 2020. Not going to say anything else. But even the American Speech and Hearing Association has agreed that they've been a little funky since 2020 and they would agree that.

children should be talking more slash sounding better by a certain age. But anyway, talk to your talk to your pediatrician about the fact that it's genetic. It runs in your family. Maybe you know, have an uncle that has a bit of a speech to him and be like that. And then when he guilt strip you, I want you to go in there concretely because he may disagree with you no matter what you say, because you're the parent and he's the doctor and he went to a whole lot more school than you. But if you're listening, there was just an eye roll. Such a big eye roll.

They'll see it on YouTube, but they're Who knew I was gonna laugh this hard and have so much fun interviewing a speech and language pathologist But you are so fun. We're usually social people. So yeah, we're type A or we're really social one of the two I have to admit we're either analysts or those Okay, I want you to come in there with that knowledge that homeschooling

Christy Faith (35:35.982)
is sometimes the absolute best place for speech and language development, if not always. Thanks for joining us for part one. We hope you gained some valuable insights. Be sure to catch part two where we're gonna continue this great conversation.