Better Speech and Hearing Month May 25, 2021

I have shared several stories about my days as a speech pathologist, but I haven’t explained why.

May is Better Speech and Hearing Month to promote and inforn the publice about communication skills. Besides working with children on articulation and language skills, speech pathologists may work with cognitive deficiencies, swallowing disorders and lip reading for hearing disorders.

ASHA is the professional organization for speech pathologists and audiologists. My story today is about doing hearing screening tests with non-verbal adults.

One of my duties at the adult day care and workshop was to test all clients ears once a year for decreased hearing.

Several of my clients were elderly and quiet. I was warned about Joe and his ability to strip quickly. I walked in to see a sweet smiling older gentlemen in his 60’s . We walked back to my office with no problems

I explained the head phones and that he would would hear different tones in his ears. I would push a button. The tones would get louder and softer. Joe would push a hand button to indicate when he heard a tone.

I started with the lowest tones because they are usually the easier to hear.

I looked up between the 500 herz and 100 hertz, Joe had stripped to his birthday suit and was smiling at me.

After a moment of shock and bewilderment, I walked to the door to call for a male aid. As I waited outside the room, I was at a loss how Joe stripped in less than 30 seconds.

When the male aid arrived, he helped to dress Joe and escort him back to his group’s room. As he left, Joe wiggled his fingers in a good bye wave.

The following year, my fellow pathologist had a turn with Joe. I explained what he had done to strip in the last testing session. I don’t think she believed me but during the test, she looked up to see Joe naked and smiling. After these incidents, we had a male do the hearing test. If Joe stripped, The test could continue to the finish before calling an aid.

Joe never stripped for a male tester.

If you are experiencing a decrease in ability to hear and understand speech, it is time for a audiological evaluation. But keep your pants on!



Not what he seemed

He smiled as we walked

soft chair, wearing headphones, hears tones

I hear Joe’s button

looking up, Joe is smiling.

naked, his clothes on the floor. copyright 5/25/21

Global Accessibility Awareness Day May 20, 2021

Today is the tenth anniversary of bringing digital accessibility as an important factor in good web design. Worldwide there are more than 1 billion people that have a visual, hearing , physical or cognitive challenges affecting their ability to use the internet.

When a webpage is designed with accessibility in mind, the changes also enhance the ability for all people to easiliy navigate web pages. Some issues to consider when evaluating web pages are following.

Low vision and blind individuals use voice over or a braille display to interact with web pages. They use a keyboard to launch commands not a mouse to scroll throught the links. A website should have more than color to denote buttons and links. If graphics or pictures are used, there should be a written discription of the graphic.

With hearing impaired persons, closed captions or transcripts should be include for any video elements. The captions should be in sync with the displayed video.

Physically challenged individuals may have devices that use alternate movements to scroll through pages and select links. They may need voice commands to navigate the web with Seri or other personal assistant devices.

Keeping your web page clean and uncluttered will help persons with cognitive issues. Empty links and buttons should be eliminated for easier scrolling.

It takes a short time to check your webpage for accessability but we will all benefit .

over 40% of individuals over the age of 65 have one or more accessibility challenges. Making your webpage more accessibile will open it to a larger number of consumers. People will return to sites that are easy to navigate.

For futher information




All people want to use the internet.

Citing issues with access.

Challenges even able bodied individuals.

Each group has different issues

Some need clean fonts

Some auditory cues.

Individuals desire access

But web designers put in bells and flashing lights.

In the body of page to catch attention.

Leaving some to miss important information.

In web design, access is good business.

Taking the time to allow all to use the site,

Yields many more consumers copyright 5/20/21

Motown Memories May 18, 2021

When I was a student teacher for special education, I was given many of the non-verbal children. One 5 year old boy still remains in my memory.

This small Downs child would not answer his teachers or even make a sound. I asked to have a parent/ teacher consult.

Lee’s Dad came to the school. He reported,”He’s is always singing around the house.”

“What is his favorite song?”

“Gladys Knight and the Pips,”Midnight train to Georgia.”

I changed my lessons to pair conversation with intonations. Sometimes I would repeat the phrases with him and other times I would ask a question for him to sing a response.

He was quiet at first but gradually, his voice became louder.

The reward for a good session was allowing Lee to listen to “The Midnight Train to Georgia.”

Instead of listening, Lee sang the words of the chorus at the top of his lungs. The song was paired with head and hangs movements. Lee could certianlly sing. The musical part of his brain trained his verbal brain to learn to talk.

Even today, when I hear that song,I see a little boy singing and strutting his stuff.

Here is a link to ,”Midnight Train to Georgia.”



Motown Boy

Lee’s quiet.

Sitting, staring at nothing.

He is living in his head.

But play Motown and he starts to sing.

and struts!

copyright Carol Farnsworth May 18, 2021

National Frog Jumping Day May 13,2021

Looking over informal national days, I was intrigued. What was this all about? In my research, the celebration started in the 1930’s to highlight Samual Clements, affectionally known by his pen name, Mark Twain.

At the age of 29, he was fired by another newspaper to find himself broke and at a loss for a vocation. He visited a friend in Angel Camp, CA ,to see if he could get enough gold to pay his depts, instead he wrote the story, “The Jumping Frog of Calaverus County”. The story that made him a national and later an internationally known wirter and humorist.

The story of a simplistic owner of a jumping frog and the vagabond that tricked the owner into a wager and swindled him

The colorful characters and the antics of the gold rush was what the public craved. Clements retold stories he heard at the mining camp but with his own unique humor and style.

In Calaveris County there is a four day celebration ending with a frog junping contest. People dress up as the mining charactories and even Mark Twain himself.

We all could use a good laugh. To read the story click on the link below. Jump to it!



Frog Jumping

Look for a lean frog.

One with long legs.

Hold out a fly to tempt him.

I wager he will do fine.

Just keep people away.

copyright May 13, 2021

A Twilight Zone Day May 11,2021

The start of the following story is true. The twist at the end is fiction. But the moral is true.

There was a young black mentally challenged man living with his foster mother since he was released from the state hospital , where he had been since birth.

His foster mother taught him many skills to keep himself and his room clean. He enjoyed helping with the laundry. He was meticulous in the way he folded towels and bedding. He would give a hug to his mother after they had finished the day’s work.

This young man was non-verbal. I worked with him to develop a picture book so he could point to needed items and answer simple questions.

An opening in a commercial laundry was found. Patrick seemed a perfect fit. The state subsidized his pay and training. Patrick did his job well. Even doing more work than some of his fellow workers.

One woman, who wasn’t the fastest worker, accused him of touching her. Patrick did touch her on the arm to get her attention to look at his picture book to communicate.

After the training period, Patrick was let go. He was sad he could no longer do the job he loved.

Below is the Twilight Zone story


Laundry Man

Patrick was happy in his new position. Clean laundry everywhere and he could fold it all! He set to work and had to be reminded to take breaks and lunch. While he touched several co-workers arms to ask them “where was the bathroom?” No one paid him any attention. He found a restroom but he used the ladies room by mistake.

A fellow worker looking to find a way to rid the laundry from Patrick, accused him of touching her and using the ladies room. Patrick was let go.

The next day, The large washers broke down. Laundry that had been neatly folded was scattered around the room. The woman that accused Patrick had the worse day. Her work was inspected and it was found wanting. She lost her job due to her own laziness.

Patrick smiled and continued to enjoy his home’s laundry.

copyright 5/11/21

National Nurses Day May,6, 2021

Nurses, like many other medical professionals, have worked long and hard this year. Some have given their lives to nurse others.

Though women have played a major role in births, holistic knowledge and caring of the dying, no formal training was offered until the mid 1900s.

Women were conscripted in the Revolutionary War to maintain cleaning and feeding and care of wounded soldiers. The women aquired medical knowledge by observation and hands on learning.

Formal nurse training was established by Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to graduate from medical school. Florence Nightingale established formal training for nurses during the Civil War. Nursing attracted volunteers such as Walt Wittmen, who nursed his younger brother and others in Washington hospitals. Part of his work was to write to families of the wounded on their behalf. His poem, “The Wound Dresser”, addresses the nursing of wounded and dying patients.

Here is a link to the poem.

From handed down knowledge to the highly trained nurses of today, they are a work force of 3.5 million. They deserve our gratitude.



A Nurse’s soft touch

Needed to start the healing

of body and spirit

copyright 5/6/21

Happy May, May 4,2021

Tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo. I have an interesting memory of this holiday. When I was in college, I had a hispanic roommate. She belonged to the Chicano Student Organization. I was allowed to work on their fund raisers, becouse of my roommate Connie. The group would have a dance with a live band. We would make frijoles , tamales, Mexican rice and beef pieces with burritos to sell and make money for the group. When the food was gone, we were allowed to join the dancing.

I was the only gringo in the place. I drew much attention from the young men. They talked sweetly to me, but in Spanish.

Finally, Connie went with me to the ladies roon. She explained, “Those young men are talking trash to you.”

“But why?” I responded

“They want to know what they can get away with if you don’t know Spanish.”

“What can I do?” I lamented.

Connie thought for a moment and said, “I will sit next to you at the table, If I kick you… slap whoever is talking to you.”

We returned to the dance, I was approached by a handsome young man. He smiled and spoke softly.

I felt my friend kick me and I slapped that man. He was shocked and moved away. This happened several more times before the consensus was I was to be respected because I understood their language. I was asked to dance with no bad language or groping. I had learned a lesson. Sometimes is in the meaning of the words not in the way they are spoken.

The following poem will appear in Spirit Fire Reveiw in May. I dedicate it to Connie and all her friends.



The Rosary Tree

by Carol Farnsworth

In an old pueblo church’s garden,

stands a small mesquite tree, a bench and a grotto protecting the Blessed Mother statue. The tree was festooned with many rosaries. Sunlight reflected like tears on the beads.

Large and small, colored stones and crystals, hand made and elaborate, they hung as silent witnesses.

A long black beaded one for the father who prayed on his way to work. Smooth polished wooden beads for the mother,

who prayed on her morning walks.

Two small first communion rosaries were interwoven for the twins who received them as gifts.

I watched as a teenager stood up from the bench and placed her rosary composed of rose quartz on a high limb of the mesquite.

I asked her, “Who are your prayers for?”

She quietly replied, “For my Abuela, her name was Roseta”.

This tree of memories of lost friends, neighbors and family has grown heavy with the prayers and memories of them this year.

copyright 5-3-21

Pocket Poem Day April 29, 2021

Today celebrates the ending of National Poetry Month. This is a day to select a poem that speaks to you and put it in your wallet or purse to have with you.

A poem like a bit of scripture readings has been carried by service men and women when going into battle. The poem gives comfort and hope to read it another day.

In my nother’s purse were several holy cards. They had a picture of religious art on one side and a prayer or scripture reading on the reverse. I can imagine my Mom taking out one of the cards while waiting at a doctor’s office to stay calm.

Activities suggested for this day include giving a pocket poem to a family member or friend. The poem can be original or from a famous poet.

Another way to spread poems is to take a piece of chalk and write a short poem or quote on your driveway or sidewalk. It will be interesting how many people pause to read the poem.

If you eat at a restaurant today, think of a poem about the food served or the friendly server, place the poem along with the tip. Be sure the poem will make your server smile.

Finally, If you are brave, you can give out copies of an original poem you wrote. It can be about your community or neighborhood. The point is to share poems and encourage others to read and write poems.

As Emily Dickinson Said,”one of my secret instructions to myself as a poet is whatever you write, don’t be boring.” I would add be sincere and have fun.



I examples of pocket poems.

I have a little poem

a bouquet of words, just for you,

laying them in your arms.

In my secret word garden

I grow blossems of feelings for you,

to decorate our home

the squirrel looks inside

at the people sitting around the dinner table

Hey…what about me?

copyright 4/29/21

Live and Let Live April 27, 2021

While perusing historical events for this day, I came across a sad moment in our past.

In 1953, President Eisenhower’s first executive order was to ban LGBT persons from holding government jobs. This was the height fear of communism. The President consider the group akin to communists as a security leak.

From the mid-1950’s to the late 1960’s, over 10,000 people lost their jobs because of their gender preference. Many more were investigated and left their positions on their own.

The executive order stayed on the books until 1995 when President Clinton rescinded the order.

This brings home how difficult it is to change people’s prejudices concerning others. The definition of prejudice is,” a preconceived opinion , not based on fact or experience.”

We all have some prejudices, it is in the human nature. Most people would say they are harmless. But every time we form an opinion not based on fact, we cut ourselves from others in our world. We build emotional walls that are not easily broken down.

Let us look hard at our current feelings concerning prejudices in the reporting and listening to current events. Do we see individuals, or do we label groups? Do we use the problems to start discussions or do we shut the door in verbal exchanges by issuing statements about groups with no basis in fact.

Disabled individuals have long battled against such thoughts and actions. We should be equally concerned with other groups battling prejudices. Watch what we think, do and say. We will be judged as a nation by how we treat each other.

We need to look for the common ground.




preconceived notions

raising heated emotions

everyone is different

judging others

us against the world

divides us into smaller groups

individuals build walls

very hard to scale

caring must come first

each person reaching for common ground 4-27-21

A Mother’s Pride April 22, 2021

I was thinking of the stages of parenthood. First there is the arrival of a dependent baby. All needs met by the parents. Then the child learns skills, knowledge is accrued and IQ tested.

Your child is consider grown but not necessarily an adult.

As the child grows, the parents strength and thoughts processes may diminish. At some point, the child passes his or her parents. That happened to me this weekend. I was visiting my daughter and her husband. They were knowledgeable about technology, health and finances. I listened as Ruth spoke of her doctoral dissertation and defense of it today. The Corona virus has put the presentation on a Zoom call. I will be able to watch and wonder,”Is this really my child?”

Both my husband and I are proud of her. But that doesn’t make it easier to know her knowledge is way above our understanding.

I remember the growing years with nostalgia. I see the young woman standing before me and marvel at who she has become.

The credit must be shared by a live in Grandma, other family and friends, as well as the inner drive in her to succeed.

I thank God for the gift given to us. I pray for Ruth and Chris.

So, I will watch, smile and maybe shed a tear of joy and love.



An effervescent Statistician

She started her zoom presentation for her dissertation.

She looked calm and cool.

When she was asked a question about her statistics,

she was effervescent in her voice and manner.

Her hands were animated, gesturing to the white board.

When through, we applauded the newest Dr. Ruth.

copyright 4-22-21