Gilly becomes a Speech-Language Pathologist

Interesting and inspiring things I learn on the way

May to August: A “Summer”-y September 5, 2011

Filed under: What I'm up to — gilliangrevstad @ 10:21 pm

So for anyone who was avidly following my blog back in spring, you probably noticed that I took a hiatus this summer.  After wrapping up almost three years of working at UBC Student Development and moonlighting as a student at the same time to earn all the pre-reqs necessary to qualify for the M.Sc.SLP program at UBC, I was spent, so from May to August I went to live with amazing family friends, David and Jennifer Kaisaris, in Winnipeg, MB and to work at their business, the St. Norbert Hotel.  Here is a sketch of how I spent my summer:

  • Spent time with my dad and my doggy, Corduroy.
  • Learned how to keep the accounting books for a bar/beer vendor/restaurant/hotel, including counting up money from Video Lotto Terminals (VLTs) and spent many hours of quality time in the office with my friend Danny.  I love the Nob oatmeal so much I’m trying to recreate it now that I’m back, but so far I’m not even close. 😦
  • Gained valuable serving experience working behind the bar, which was almost always quite fun and will hopefully help me get a serving job here in Vancouver to earn some extra money while in grad school (stay tuned…)
  • Played softball with a great group of people who at the start of the summer were all complete strangers to each other.  Our team was called the Honey Nut Ichiros!

  • Did a workout bootcamp with Andrea Kaisaris and some other gals during the horribly cold start of summer…the intense wind really added to our resistance training (ha).
  • Went to see an amazing exhibit: Titanic – the Artifact Exhibition, with my Auntie Marj and her friend Phyllis…it was so cool, some things were so amazingly preserved and you got to hear scenes acted out of what the ship launch, a day in the dining hall, and the sinking would’ve sounded like.  You also were given a character card at the beginning of the exhibit that described a real person on the Titanic and at the end you learned if you had survived or not.  Phyllis and AM did, I did not. 😦
  • Went to two Winnipeg Bluebombers football games, one with my dad and one with my friend Cam…my dad and I had so much fun people watching we kept forgetting to watch the game!

  • Took in a Winnipeg Goldeyes baseball game with my friend Keri and her family…Keri used to work there so she had all the inside scoop on the players.
  • Went to my friend Candace’s cabin near Kenora and waterskiied for the first time in probably 10 years, and went “quad-ing” (not “minitrucking” as I said) for the first time ever.  I also discovered that I think I really like badminton!
  • Went glow-in-the-dark mini golfing with my dad for $2 thanks to a sweet Group-on…we even got free glowy necklaces and bracelets!

  • Went to Grand Beach with my friend Britt on probably the windiest day of the summer and body surfed in the huge waves of Lake Winnipeg.
  • Went to the Fringe Festival to see some plays, and also went to see Wicked for the second time in my life…I almost loved it even MORE this time since I knew all the words to the songs!
  • Had many delicious dinners with Auntie Sandra, Uncle Bud, Barb, and Keagan (and usually also AM and my dad)…mmmmmm.
  • Played lots of Scrabble.

I’m sure there were many more great memories too, but that gives you an idea of what I was up to!  I also went on a couple trips this summer:

  1. I came back to Vancouver for games 5-7 of the Stanley Cup finals to cheer on the Vancouver Canucks (obviously), and had such a lovely time visiting friends and enjoying the spirit of the city.  I wasn’t downtown during the riots, but I was there the next afternoon and can attest to the amazing job volunteers did of cleaning up the chaos/wreckage.  It’s too bad that happened.  That said, I am SO excited for this season to start up and to cheer on my boys again!
  2. I went to Toronto for a brief couple of days to stand by my Simoney when she got married to Zorik…their bigtime wedding will be in Israel in October, but this was the legal one (since only Jewish Orthodox weddings are recognized in Israel if I understand correctly).  It was neat because everyone thought it was an engagement party but I got to be in on the secret and get the bride-to-be drunk and have a sleepover the night before, and go to her dress fitting and run errands and keep her supplied in champagne the day-of.  I also had the honour of decorating the chuppah!  It was a little weird since I’d never met her fiance before, but I remedied that on my last trip when…
  3. I went to Israel in August to visit them!  Since I’ll be in school for the October wedding and will therefore miss it, I went to Tel Aviv and stayed with Simone and Zorik for just over a week.  We went all around Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and various little other towns, including an ancient Roman town called Caesaria.  We also got to go to their wedding venue and do the food tasting, and that was AMAZING!  I swam a number of times in the Mediterranean Sea (we also swam in the Sea of Galilee) and took a couple of Simone’s yoga classes, and she is an awesome teacher.  One of the best things about this trip was getting to know Zorik, who is so wonderful.  Yay!

So that was my summer!  It was great, and such a nice/much-needed departure from the hectic few years I’ve had recently, and just an overall really good choice for how to spend it.  That said, it was also fantastic to be back in Vancouver, which I love so much.

Tomorrow is the first day of school for me and I’m surprisingly nervous…I guess the first day of school always feels like the first day of school.  🙂  It is weird not to be worrying about coordinating the Imagine Day and to instead just be thinking about how my first day will go, but I’m looking forward to meeting my professors and classmates and to learning more about what my next two years will look like.

Stay tuned!


The Miracle Worker movie

Filed under: Deafblindness,Movies related to field — gilliangrevstad @ 8:43 pm

The last week I was in Vancouver, ie the end of April, my friend Christine and I watched the movie version of The Miracle Worker, which was filmed in 1962 and starred Patty Duke as Helen Keller and Anne Bancroft as Annie Sullivan.  The movie is based on the relationship between Helen, a deafblind child, and Annie, her teacher.  I promised I’d write about the film in a previous post, so here are Christine and my highlights!

1. One of the most hilarious parts of the movie (which isn’t a comedy) was when Helen and Annie are having a mega-battle in the dining room as Annie tries to teach Helen proper table manners instead of Helen’s typical mealtime strategy of running around the table tasting things from everyone else’s plates using her hands.  They are literally physically fighting and chasing each other and then one of them throws a whole jug of water in the other’s face.  I can’t remember who was soaked, but it was funny.

2. One of the main difficulties for Annie in teaching Helen is that her parents spoil her and let her get away with a lot.  Despite the fact that Helen’s parents (her mother in particular) are willing to do anything to help her (different schools, strategies, cost is not the issue), they don’t really hold Helen to a high enough level of accountability, and so she doesn’t rise any higher to reach her potential.  After the dining room incident, Annie convinces Mr. and Mrs. Keller that she needs to have time alone with Helen, that the child needs to be dependent on her for everything, in order for Helen to respect her and learn to behave so that she can then learn to learn.  The family has a garden house, and they cook up a whole clever ruse where Helen has to dress nicely like she’s going somewhere far, they drive and drive, only to return to their house without her realizing and Helen and Annie move into the garden house for two weeks.  All of this was so that Helen’s parents can still see her and watch her progress but Annie also gets what she needs to teach Helen ie complete dependence on her.  It was particularly amusing during this whole escapade because Annie Sullivan was dressed like a spy in all black and with dark sunglasses and a hat…very stealth.  I couldn’t help but wondering who the clothes were supposed to hide her from, since Helen can’t see anyway… (I also wondered at one point in the movie how Helen would’ve been toilet trained…that must’ve been a really big challenge for her parents!).

3. One of my favourite lines from Annie Sullivan was “It’s my idea of the Original Sin: giving up!”  I think this is critical in Helen’s education and one of the main reasons why Annie succeeded where many others had failed before her…she really believed in Helen’s ability to overcome her challenges and learn to communicate with others.  This also may end up being a mantra of mine in grad school when things seem really tough!

4. The moment when Helen finally clues into the fact that the physical finger movements Annie is making into her hand are the names of objects/ideas in the world is really profound.  What struck me especially was how sudden it seemed…Annie had persevered with the same strategy for so long and then finally, something just clicked in Helen’s mind.  I think this relates to point 3 in that you may have to try a number of different strategies, or you may just need to keep plugging away at things that are tried and true, but if you don’t give up then eventually there is a good chance of success.  Obviously there are times in life when this would be a bit naive, but when dealing with learning and overcoming obstacles, I do believe that it is often possible to reach one’s goals.

Overall, this was a really great film, and really interesting for people who are interested in deafblindness.  Christine and I both really enjoyed it and it made us excited for the years ahead in our studies and in our future careers.  I’ll leave you with a funny quote that for some reason cracked Christine and I up from the film’s theatrical trailer:

“This film will leave you with a happy feeling your heart has seldom known.”


Decided! March 30, 2011

Filed under: Grad School — gilliangrevstad @ 10:44 am
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Just paid my $200 deposit…I’m going to UBC (again!)! Wooooooooooooooo!!!


Cute things kids say, part 1 March 29, 2011

Filed under: Cute things kids say — gilliangrevstad @ 9:50 pm
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I say part 1 because I imagine this could become a recurring type of post…

Anyway, in LING 452 today we talked about atypical language acquisition, in particular children who are deaf or blind (not both together…was neat that we talked about this on the same day that I went to the deafblindness talk!).

My professor, Susannah Kirby, was talking about the acquisition of colour terms for sighted vs. blind children.  Landau and Gleitman wrote the book Language and experience: Evidence from the blind child in 1985 (hello, summer reading!) that examines L1A (L1A=first language acquisition) in visually impaired kids, and this is some of the data from their book when they were exploring with kids what kinds of things can have a colour…so cute (FYI, Kelli is 5 years old and blind):

Adult: “Can an idea be yellow?”

Kelli: “Really isn’t yellow…really talked about…no colour but we think about it in our mind.”

Pretty smart, eh?


Adult: “Can a dog be blue?”

Kelli: “A dog is not even blue.  It’s gold or brown or something else.”

Mostly, I like how Kelli sounds frustrated with the investigator in this one, haha.


Adult: “Could a thunderstorm be a colour other than green?”

Kelli: “Really not any colour…just out there roaring like a lion.”

Love it.  😀



Stop. Look. Listen. Lucky you.

Filed under: Deafblindness — gilliangrevstad @ 9:15 pm
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Today I went to a very interesting talk by Dr. Linda Mamer, Teacher Consultant for the BC Provincial Outreach Program for Students with Deafblindness.

It was fascinating to hear about the history of deafblindness – educators in Canada really started addressing the issue of educating young people with deafblindness when an outbreak of rubella (German measles) in the 1960s resulted in thousands of kids being born without the ability to see or hear due to the virus infecting their mothers during pregnancy.  Nowadays it isn’t rubella that causes deafblindness, but different syndromes.  Early infant screening has really helped in identifying children who have hearing and vision loss as soon as possible.

Linda Mamer described people with deafblindness – the most famous example of course being Helen Keller – as having a brain inside begging to get out, and the most important thing for interveners to achieve is be able to provide a deafblind person with the information input they are missing from their eyes and ears.  While there are now many strategies with which an intervener can approach communication with a deafblind person, one of the best is still having someone around constantly finger-spelling into the deafblind person’s hand, like Annie Sullivan did for Helen Keller.  This strategy is what adults with deafblindness cite was most useful for them when they were younger.

The aim is not for the deafblind individual to be dependent on their intervener, but on the information coming in…ideally they can get input information from many people.  Also, Linda emphasized how integral it is not to make assumptions about the cognitive abilities of deafblind people until they have the tools to understand what information is available to them and have the opportunity to consider and process that information.  The underlying goal of people working with deafblind individuals is to give these people the ability to be expressive communicators, however that looks for them.  It’s so important to match people where they are in order to see them grow from there (when Linda was talking about this I was reminded of one of the mantras we live by in my current position in Student Development at UBC: “Be where the students are.”).

Linda shared a lot of information in an hour to a rapt audience.  The passion she has for her work was very apparent, no more so than when she spoke about the thankfulness she has to the families who allow her to enter into their private lives, even when that might be difficult for them to do so (I find it hard to imagine when this wouldn’t be hard for a family).

All in all, I’m really glad I went to this talk; I learned a LOT…and it brought back memories of the fantastic play about Annie and Helen’s relationship, The Miracle Worker, which I saw with my friend Kim last year.  I’ll be watching the video in the not-so-distant future, and will post about it after.

PS. “Stop. Look. Listen.           Lucky you.” is a past campaign to promote Deafblind Awareness Week, which is the last week of June, aligned with Helen Keller’s birthday (June 27th, 1880).

PPS. Here is a link to a site with more info on deafblindness:


Cool Ted Talk: Deb Roy on “The birth of a word” March 25, 2011

Filed under: Cool video — gilliangrevstad @ 6:36 pm
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A classmate of mine in my Language Acquisition pre-req course shared this Ted Talk with us, and it is AMAZING. So neat in terms of language acquisition, but Deb Roy also speaks to how technology now allows us to map the connections between TV content and social media commentary, which is fascinating as well.



Filed under: Grad School,Introduction — gilliangrevstad @ 6:00 pm
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Hello, my name is Gillian, a 20-something Vancouverite (originally from Ontario) who has just been accepted into graduate school to become a Speech-Language Pathologist.  This has been a long time coming; I’ve worked really hard to get to this point, and I am SO excited and so thankful (relieved?) that my commitment and effort has paid off.  I’m not going to say here yet where I’ll be going, because to be honest I still have to decide and am still waiting to hear from a couple last schools, but the main point is that I’ve been accepted to a couple places already, and that means I’m going! I get to be an SLP! I’m pretty lucky, folks.

In this blog, I am going to share the learning, experiences, musings, and inspirations that will colour my journey from wanna-be to bonafide SLP.  This will be a way for some of my loved ones who may be far away to be looped in during this new chapter in my life (especially since I’ve made some of them get blogs when they began new adventures and they’ve been great sports), and for the many people who’ve helped me get to this point (thank you so much!) who may be interested in seeing how it all pans out.

Thanks for visiting my blog, I hope you come back again, and WOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOO I’m going to grad school!