SLP and the Arts

Jon Sarkin: When Brain Injuries Transform Into Art from NPR 4/18/11

"Jon Sarkin was working as a chiropractor when he suffered a massive stroke. Afterwards, the 35-year-old became a volatile visual artist with a ferocious need to create, as his brain tried to make sense of the world at large.

"[My artwork is] a manifestation of what happened to me," Sarkin tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "I've learned how to visually represent my existential dilemma caused by my stroke."

Sarkin is the subject of Shadows Bright as Glass, a new book by science writer Amy Nutt. The book describes Sarkin's journey from happy-go-lucky doctor to manically-compulsive artist. It also raises larger questions about identity and what makes us each who we are." For full article and audio version of interview go to:

The Boston Conservatory Program for Students on the Autism Spectrum
NOTE: Videos may take time to load.

The Boston Conservatory for Music, Dance & Theater partnered with the Autism Higher Education Foundation in 2007 to create The Boston Conservatory Program for Students on the Autism Spectrum. This first-of-its-kind conservatory program pairs students on the autism spectrum with Boston Conservatory music education graduate students for weekly lessons. Students, ages 9 and up, also receive support from a “consult team” that includes a music therapist, a speech pathologist, special educators, as well as professional musicians and music educators with a diagnosis on the autism spectrum. For more information see video below and/or visit the Conservatory Website

FILM: "The King's English" Delves into Stuttering

From Wikipedia:

"The King's Speech is a British historical drama film directed by Tom Hooper from a script by David Seidler. The film won the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival People's Choice Award.

Because of his stammer, Albert (the future George VI) dreaded public speaking. After his closing speech at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley on 31 October 1925, which was an ordeal for both him and the listeners, he began to see Lionel Logue, an Australian-born speech therapist. The Duke and Logue practiced breathing exercises such as diaphragmatic breathing and the Duchess rehearsed these with him patiently. As a result of the training, the Duke's opening address at Australia's Federal Parliament at Canberra in 1927 went successfully, and he was able to speak subsequently with only a slight hesitation.

The film stars Colin Firth as King George VI and Geoffrey Rush as speech therapist Lionel Logue, who helped George VI overcome a stammer. Filming commenced in the United Kingdom in November 2009. The film was limited release in the United States on 26 November 2010 and it will be general release across the UK on 7 January 2011." See the Youtube movie trailer below:



Individual Registration
Member: $79.00
Nonmember: $103.00
Group Registration

The use of music to teach children with autism is widespread, but there is little research in speech-language pathology proving its power. This program gives an overview of current music research and principles for using music in speech and language therapy. Get practical strategies for using music and songs to promote growth in attention, engagement, social skills, imitation, following directions, answering and asking questions, commenting, increasing vocabulary, and learning daily routines.

Learning Outcomes
You will be able to:

* list research studies addressing the use of music with children with autism
* name three components of a verbally enticing song
* discuss three areas of intervention with children with autism that can be enhanced with music
* list and sing 10 songs used to enhance communication skills in children with autism

Group Registration Note: A group registration entitles you to one Web or telephone connection to this program. Any number of people may listen and earn ASHA CEUs on that connection. The person who will act as site leader for the broadcast should register on behalf of the group. After registering, the site leader will be able to download seminar instructions, handouts, and CEU materials. The site leader needs to have, or create, a login to the ASHA Web site.

Live Broadcast: January 25, 2011 (3-5 p.m. ET)
Last day to register for Live broadcast: January 24, 2011


NY Times review

"Ms. Grandin was born in 1947 in Boston, and her autism was diagnosed when she was a child. At that time most psychiatrists considered it a mental disorder caused by cold, withholding “refrigerator mothers.” Helped by a mother who was anything but, Ms. Grandin was nurtured at home and by a few farsighted teachers who helped her unlock her talents. Most comfortable around animals, she grew up to become a sought after animal behaviorist and livestock consultant, world famous for designing humane slaughterhouses."

From Web manager: Temple Grandin is a faculty member at Colorado State University and I recently saw the premier held on campus. There was standing room only and Temple answered questions after the showing of the well received film. A special night. The film would provide an excellent tool for student, faculty or parent discussion.

C. Gray

HBO film site:


The movie, Where the Wild Things Are, based on the famous book by Maurice Sendak is stimulating...some say too stimulating. Common Sense Media parents rate it inappropriate for children under 6 or 8 and some say it's iffy for 8 years and above. See the discussion,review and suggestions for how to discuss it with your children at

Here's a clip from the movie:


Find art activities courtesy of KinderArt® which "features many activities and lesson plans which have proven successful with children and adults with disabilities. In order to help those who work with special children and adults, we have listed a few appropriate activities here in one place. In addition, at the bottom of this page, we have provided you with links to resources specifically designed for children and adults with special needs."


According to JEANNETTE CATSOULIS (New York Times, July 29, 2009)"...the title character [in the movie Adam], a Manhattan engineer who suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, Mr. Dancy is credibly eccentric yet still accessible. His pin-neat apartment, stocked with multiple macaroni-and-cheese dinners and monotonal outfits, reflects a mind drawn to symmetry and familiarity. So when the dreamy Beth (Rose Byrne) moves into his building and his life, Adam — already at an emotional and professional crossroads — is forced to develop a whole new set of coping skills.

Considering the story’s twee details — Adam’s passion is the heavens, Beth’s is teaching tiny children — and a tonally disruptive subplot concerning Beth’s parents (Peter Gallagher and Amy Irving), 'Adam' is more involving than you might expect.

The humor is delicate, and the performances sweet and sure; the script (by the director, Max Mayer) is not entirely predictable, and the Manhattan locations (lovingly photographed by Seamus Tierney) have a starry-eyed glaze. What, you mean New York City isn’t a tranquil, leafy haven?"
Web Curator note: Albeit fiction, this film would make for an intriguing discussion tool for student SLPs and practicing professionals.

For the full NYT movie review go to:
Fox Searchlight official movie site:

Music movement graphic
REI Uses Rhythm and Music in Therapy

According to The REI website, they were "founded in 1994 by Jeff Strong and Beth Kaplan after more than a decade of research into the traditional uses of musical rhythm in therapeutic practice. From 1982 to 1994, Jeff Strong explored traditional therapeutic rhythm techniques from around the world, immersing himself in traditions from Africa to North America, South America to Europe."

REI "discovered ways to use specific rhythms and techniques to facilitate improvements in many of the symptoms associated with a variety of neuro-developmental disabilities such as autism, ADD/ADHD, learning disabilities and more (visit the Custom Program page to see a more complete list of the types of conditions we work with). We are the first organization to define the clinical application of auditory rhythm to stimulate and synchronize the brain."

The website includes video testimonials from SLPs and OTs, research articles. a blog by REI's founder Jeff Strong, and information on their customized programs for young children, teens and adults. You can also receive an free REI introductory DVD. REI Home Page: REI article:

Illustration from <i />No Mush Today
Illustration from No Mush Today

NO MUSH TODAY Lori Calabrese is a children's author who writes picture books, short stories, articles, crafts and experiments for children.

On her blog which features authors and illustrators of children's books such as No Mush Today written by Sally Derby and illustrated by Nicole Tadgell, she writes: "I love kids and I love children's books. Before I began writing for children, I was the managing producer for a large television company where I wrote scripts for TV shows and DVDs. With 2 boys at home, I'm fortunate enough to read LOTS of children's books. This is how I've discovered that I can't get enough of them. We make endless trips to the library and read stacks of books. The books that I've read to my children have inspired me to write my own. I've honed my writing skills at The Institute of Children's Literature and I'm a member of the Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators. My goal is to write one of the best books that a child can read. Reading new and classic stories has been inspiring, but I've also learned that writing is hard work. A good story is not an accident. Very few stories come out right the first time and require re-write after re-write. However, it's worth it! To quote Eve Bunting, "Think of Good Night Moon and how many children have gone to bed loved and tucked in safe for the night with that picture book. It is not War and Peace, but don’t tell me that it doesn’t have its place in the future, because it does."
To visit her website click here:

Songs That Teach Logo
Songs that Teach Homepage Graphic


Longtime musician and educator Arnold Rosenthal, (Mr. R as he's known among students and colleagues), has an intriguing past having played with Gary Lewis and the Playboys, Jesse Ed Davis, and Leon Russell. He has taught in the Los Angeles Unified School District with fully accredited teaching credentials since 1994. He applied his musical talents to the development of an all-encompassing, musical program for children, based on Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences and brain-based learning. The materials provided by Songs that Teach are dynamic resources for communication, literacy and learning goals. He lends a strong blues and pop element to his songs, backed by elementary child singers, a combo that is very attractive to early learners and much applauded by his school board. Read more about the program at and learn more about the man, Mr. R at

According to Wikipedia, the entire book was written by Bauby blinking his left eyelid. A transcriber repeatedly recited a French language frequency-ordered alphabet (E S A R I N T U L etc.), until Bauby blinked to choose the next letter. The book took about 200,000 blinks to write and each word took approximately two minutes. The book chronicles everyday events and what they are like for a person with locked-in syndrome. These events include playing at the beach with his family, getting a bath, and meeting visitors. The book was published in March, 1997. It received excellent reviews and sold 150,000 copies in the first week. Ten days after the book was published, Bauby died of pneumonia.

The book has been adapted into the feature film of the same name, directed by Julian Schnabel, written by Ronald Harwood and starring Mathieu Amalric as Bauby. While Bauby was still alive, French director Jean-Jacques Beineix made a 25-minute film, "Assigné à résidence" (or "House Arrest"), that captured Bauby in his paralysed state, and the process of the book's composition.
See the NY times article/review on this film:
Also check out what ASHA Leader has to say about the portrayal of speech therapy.
...and last but not least, here's the trailer:

Art by NIAD member
Art by NIAD featured artist,'88

NIAD, the National Institute of Art & Disabilities, provides an art program that promotes creativity, independence, dignity, and community integration for people with developmental and other disabilities. Website had online galleries and highlights individual artists. Fantastic art, great project--serves as a model program. Go to:

WINGS to hit Blas Bleu Stage in Ft. Collins March 29 through May 5, 2008

For anyone who works with those who have suffered strokes, this play allows insights that may not be attainable through formal training.

“Wings takes us into the strange, terrifying, shattered world of a woman who, we realize as the play unfolds and the pieces of the beautifully constructed mosaic begin to fall into place, has suffered a stroke. For the woman, time, place, language, speech, and thought have lost their meaning…. …Wings is an emotionally powerful experience. It is a magnificent adventure into the mind and a revelation of the strength and mystery of the human spirit. Richard Eder, in the NY Times called Wings, “an intensely moving vision, one of uncanny perception, a voyage of illumination.” He added: “Wings is wise, magical and shattering.”

Bas Bleu Theatre Company’s mission is to present outstanding theater that inspires both audience and artist alike in an intimate “salon” setting. Bas Bleu’s goal is to enrich the cultural life of the region and, in so doing, add to the common cultural experience that bonds us all to our community and the world around us. Visit their website for more information.

Autism: The Musical, winner of numerous film festival awards will be premiering on HBO Tuesday March 25th (9 pm EST) with a DVD release to follow.

“One of the most candid, down-to-earth, organically inspirational documentaries you’ll ever see….an unsentimental, simply photographed chronicle of the autism epidemic that doesn’t try to show too much or conceal the rough places. Amazing…extraordinary…it will have audiences cheering long before the final act.” Boston Globe, 11/07

Elaine Hall & her son Neal, photo by Cindy Gold
Elaine Hall & her son Neal Photo by Cindy Gold


In 1980, autism was a relatively rare disorder, diagnosed in one in 10,000 children in the United States. Now it is one in 150.

AUTISM: THE MUSICAL counters today’s bleak statistics with one woman’s optimistic pledge to lead a group of autistic children in defying diagnosed expectations by writing, rehearsing and performing their own full-length musical.

left to right, Adam, Neal, Elaine Hall, Lexi, Henry, Wyatt. Photo by Cindy Gold)
left to right, Adam, Neal, Elaine Hall, Lexi, Henry, Wyatt. Photo by Cindy Gold

Following five Los Angeles children over the course of six months, director Tricia Regan captures the struggles and triumphs of their family lives and observes how this musical production gives these performers a comfort zone in which they can explore their creative sides.

Both on and off stage, AUTISM: THE MUSICAL is a call-to-arms, bringing attention to a modern-day epidemic, all the while celebrating the way the human spirit can overcome any challenge.
Offical website:

Eli Stone debut brings Autism controversy to TV viewers.
American Academy of Pediatricians demands that ABC cancel show dramatization of a court case on relationship of vaccines to autism. See Chicago Tribune blogger Julie Deardorff’s review of the show and it’s topic.

Louder Than Words: A Mother's Journey in Healing Autism, by actress Jenny McCarthy
Read about Jenny’s journey and see pictures of the author and her son on Oprah’s website
Jenny is spokesperson for TACA, "Talk About Curing Autism" an organization that supports families dealing with children who have autism. Here's their site, many resources for parents are provided here.

ABOUT.COM actually keeps tabs on entertainment news related to special needs.
No guarantees about the accuracy of the content but it's interesting to follow.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly Film 2007

Jean-Dominique Bauby, a French fashion magazine editor and the author of the international best seller on which “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” is based, suffered an even more extreme form of confinement. In his early 40s, he suffered a stroke that left him in a rare affliction called “locked-in syndrome.” He retained vision and hearing, and his mind continued to function perfectly, but his body was almost completely paralyzed. He could not move or speak.

Asperger’s Syndrome Gets a Very Public Face
"...what makes the 21-year-old Heather Kuzmich different from others with Asperger’s is that for the past 11 weeks, her struggle to cope with her disability has played out on national television."

Parallel Play
In August, the Pulitzer Prize-winning music critic Tim Page wrote a poignant article for The New Yorker about life with undiagnosed Asperger’s.

Metro Music Therapy, Inc. is a private music therapy practice originally founded as Rocky Mountain Therapy Connections in 1997 by Lori Sanders, MM, MT-BC, NMT, Fellow. "Our key commitment is to provide the highest quality music therapy and Neurologic Music Therapy interventions based on scientific and clinical research." They provide consultation across a variety of disorders.