School speech pathologist helps kids

Glen Korstrom
Northern News Services

NNSL (May 15/98) - Speech pathologist Wendy MacDonald sits in an office surrounded by games, puzzles and cards.

There's a Mr. Potato Head, a game called Qui-est-ce? and another called Place and Trace.

"Those are more for pre-school kids," the Winnipeg native says. "For older students I usually use cards and books."

MacDonald is the one speech pathologist at the Stanton Hospital medical clinic who does not travel around the Western Arctic.

She rotates between different Yellowknife schools, in keeping with the schools' six-day timetable while working to help kids improve articulation and enunciation problems.

Sometimes her focus is on children with limited vocabularies, while other times it turns to helping slow the speech of those that stutter.

"With adults we usually get them to prolong their words (to inhibit stuttering) while with children we try to get them to insert more pauses," she says.

Using a sentence with the word "apple" in it MacDonald prolongs the word to sound more like "aaaaappplllle" for the adults, while inserting longer pauses between the words to demonstrate how she would help younger stutterers.

"Children would just think it's weird," she says of prolonging words.

MacDonald and her husband, Paul, both intend to stay in Yellowknife for the long term.

Part of the reason the two want to stay are their two children: seven-year-old David and two-year-old Mariah.

"Outside of work I spend time with the kids, and I like to go to the park, bike and read," she says.

MacDonald moved to Yellowknife 10 years ago and stayed for five years. Then the family moved to Regina so Paul could complete a bachelor of education and pursue teaching.

They returned to Yellowknife two years ago.

Part of her community outside work and family are fellow Lutherans. MacDonald teaches confirmation classes and is president of the Evangelical Lutheran women's group.

"I'm going to a church conference in Calgary in June and I went to one last May in Camrose, Alberta," she says.

This summer, the MacDonalds will visit both sets of relatives: Paul's family in Prince Edward Island for two weeks and Wendy's relatives in Winnipeg for 10 days.

"It's hard with the grandparents so far away," she says.

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