Friday, June 27, 2014

How a Speech Pathologist Became an Author

I am going to deviate again from my usual app review postings with this post.

Since publishing my books, numerous SLPs have told me that they have ideas for books. They ask me if is difficult to self-publish, how I got started, and a host of other questions. I thought I would use this forum and my website to talk about being a speech pathologist and author. Feel free to send me questions and I will answer them as best as I can on this blog. Below is my first installment.

I began writing writing my first Help Me Talk Right book in 1990. I had just separated from my partner, and sister, with whom I had shared a private practice. She kept the practice and I moved on. At the time, I had two small children and decided to take some time off before opening my own private practice. One day, I got a phone call from a friend whose daughter had a lisp (she said the "th" sound instead of the "s" sound so that "sun" was said "thun"). She wanted to know what she could do to help her child without spending a lot of money. This was not the first time a parent wanted to know how to correct her child's speech on her own. My friend asked me if there were any books available to help her. I told her there were none. But then I thought, why not give parents what they want if it will help their children speak better? Why not write a book that was a complete therapy manual for teaching a child to say the "s" sound? This was certainly preferable to parents trying to correct their child's speech without guidance, doing it incorrectly, resulting in failure and frustration for parent and child. I spoke with my friend. We agreed that I would write each week's therapy lesson for her and she would give me feedback on how the lesson went. If there was something she did not understand, I would resend the lesson with a clearer explanation. If the lesson went well and the child accomplished the goal for that lesson, I would write the next lesson and wait to hear from her. We went back and forth in this manner until the day came when her daughter completed all the lessons and was using the "s" in conversation all the time. Success! I now had a complete program that would work for parents in just 15 lessons.

My next job was to find an illustrator to make the pictures for the lessons' worksheets. Up to this point I had used pictures from materials I had purchased. I could not use them in my own work. I called the art department at the local university and told them about my project and illustration needs. They gave me the name of a student. Chris agreed illustrate the pictures for my first book. Next I needed to find someone to edit the book for errors and then a typesetter. Lastly, I needed to find a printer. I decided to go to a local printer in order to be more involved in the process. I did a first small run of 500 copies. When the printer handed me my completed book, I felt as if I were holding my baby. That may sound silly, but that was the feeling. I had given birth to a book!

Since the publication of my first book, How to Teach a Child to Say the "S" Sound in 15 Easy Lessons, I have self-published 3 more. I now have How to Teach a Child to Say the "R" Sound in 15 Easy Lessons, How to Teach a Child to Say the "L" Sound in 15 Easy Lessons, and most recently Preschool Stuttering: What Parents Can Do.

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