“Strangers are just friends waiting to happen” - Rod McKuen
This inspiring show of community support for a 6-year old boy with autism, who, after inviting his entire class, was devastated when he realized that not a single person was showing up to his birthday party. His mother vented on Facebook, and the response from complete strangers was not only surprising, but absolutely heartwarming.
“Strangers are just friends waiting to happen” - Rod McKuen
Vocal Health Frequently Asked Questions
FAQ: What is a voice disorder?
An abnormality of the pitch, loudness, and/or quality of one’s voice.
FAQ: I’m young; do I really need to worry about my voice?
Yes! Even young children can have voice problems if they don’t use there voice properly. People whose professions require frequent talking and/or singing are more at risk for voice problems than the rest of the population.
FAQ: How will I know if I have a voice disorder?
FAQ: What is vocal hygiene/health?
FAQ: What things are harmful to my vocal folds?
FAQ: What habits are good for my voice?
Keeping your vocal cords hydrated
Monitoring how much you use your voice
Knowing what is good and bad for your voice
Being extra careful when you are sick
Practicing good performance behaviors
- - Crescendo --> decrescendo
- - Gently bite your tongue tip and speak
- - Yawn/stretch your facial muscles
- - Massage neck and face muscles
FAQ: Will it help if I drink water right before I have to speak or perform?
Not for that performance. Water has to be absorbed into the body in order to be effective. Also, when you drink water it goes down into your stomach, which does not actually pass through your vocal cords (your vocal cords are in your airway, which goes to your lungs).
FAQ: What should I do if I think I might have a voice disorder?
If you think you might have a voice disorder, implement good vocal hygiene practices immediately and make an appointment with your doctor.
Want more information? Click here to visit the American Speech-Language Hearing Association's page on voice disorders.
I Hear Ewe
I Hear Ewe is a free and super simple app that I like using with preschool aged children. It only has 3 screens, each of which displays a 3x4 grid of buttons. Each button has an image of an animal or vehicle - when you activate a button, the view zooms into that image and a voice says "This is the sound a (item chosen) makes: (sound effect)". Once completed, the view automatically returns to the grid. To see one of the other two grids, simply swipe left or right. It is that simple. The screenshots below feature a grid on the left, and an activated button on the right.
Grid/page 1: Farm Animals
Grid/page 2: Wild Animals
Grid/page 3: Vehicles
Depending on the child, I may use this app as a reinforcer, to work on making requests, for categories, for cause and effect, or to practice identifying the right picture when presented with a label and sound effect. You can't customize the voice output to skip the labels (it would be cool to be able to opt for just the sound effects), but luckily there are other apps for that.
Protip: Print out full page screen shots of the three grids, and laminate or place them in plastic page protectors. Children with impulse control issues or who cannot produce the labels can point to the printouts while you remain in control of the tablet and thus the activity.
“The greatest ideas are the simplest.” - William Golding, Lord of the Flies
Good Morning! I have to make this a quick one, there is a Starbucks run and morning meeting on my agenda today!
Here are some of my favorites from this week!
1. Okay admittedly this has nothing to do with therapy or students, but who else is absolutely loving Scandal lately?
2. On to more practical things this post from PrAACtical AAC (haha get my pun!) has some great resources for using AAC and how to promote core words in the classroom.
3. If you are local here in San Diego, the NFAR Race for Autism is March 21st. It is such a fun race and a great way to support local organizations who work with our kiddos. This one is near and dear to my because they gave my organization a grant a few years ago and it helped a fellow speech therapists run a workplace readiness seminar.
4. These fun ideas for a Dr. Seuss day at school! Unfortunately I will be at a conference that day, but I know the OT and SLP I work with have an amazing day planned for the kiddos!
5. This, just this!
Happy Friday friends after work today we are headed back to Orange County for a friend's wedding tonight! Love is in the air this year I tell 'ya!
Have a great weekend!
Who doesn't love THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR? Such a fun book right! I remember reading it as a kid and my students love it! Plus, it has all the hallmarks of a great therapy book (1) colorful illustrations (2) repetition (3) basic vocabulary.
I was working with this student who has some pretty significant motor planning challenges. Because of those challenges, this student really struggles to activate the touch screen of her AAC device. We have it down to a field of 4, but accuracy is still inconsistent. Before looking into other, more high tech, options I thought I would probe visual identification and see if -overtime- her accuracy was increasing. I created a separate user area, so we wouldn't take up "real estate" on her communication layout and set out to create some games for her. Each page is a field of 4 (because that is our target for her communication system) with only one icon on the page. I programmed the buttons so that each subsequent button is in a different position from the last. The buttons speak and navigate to the next page. Can you guess what I programmed in ;) - The Very Hungry Caterpillar (see there was a point to that whole story).
I have tried to incorporate as many different ways to use the characters (and fruits) in the book so she wouldn't get super bored just reading the same book week after week. These are some of the things we do (courtesy of Pinterest and amazon- two my great loves!)
1. This one probably doesn't even count, -oh well- but first we read the book. I pause dramatically when it is her turn to "read" and she activates the button that corresponds with the vocabulary on the page.
2. These fun stacking cups. I love them because each has an interlocking lip so they stay pretty securely once you get them on. It really helps my students with motor challenges feel successful when it doesn't knock over each time they go to add a bowl. Also, they are great for colors, foods, and turn taking with the ity bitties.
3. This adorable hungry caterpillar paper bag puppet. You guys have no idea, this was the biggest hit when I pulled it out of my bag!
4. The student I use this for (most often) loves to hold and flip through pages. These flashcards are so colorful and fun. I give her the one that corresponds with each button until she has a whole big stack!
5. And of course Pinterst has a ton of cute crafts that we do every few weeks!
Happy almost Friday!!
Good morning (or afternoon-opps!) I hope everyone is having a lovely and relaxing president's day weekend. We drove up the coast to Laguna Niguel for a friend's engagement party and have been enjoying the beach and sunshine!
Henry (the dog) takes his job as guard very seriously here in Orange County :)
A few weeks back I attended a conference about utilizing universal designs for learning to help our student's succeed and I learned, for the first time about Read and Write for Google. You guys, seriously, my mind was blown. This service is completely free, the only thing that you need is a google account. It allows you to take text that is on the internet and simplify it, hi-light it, has a text-to-speech function, and creates vocabulary lists with definitions.
As you hover over the icons, the menu reads what each button is for so you don't have to remember.
The hi-light function has a few different colors so you can do one for vocabulary and a different one to export into a list.
Valentine's Day Edition <3
Valentine's Day Themed Snake Craft
This is a long-standing favorite craft of mine. As many of my favorite ideas do, this one came from my dad who taught Kindergarten for many years. It is simple, cute, and kids get really into it. Below are some of the results from my artists this year, as well as ideas for how to use the activity as a tool to support speech and language.
1. Prep: Cut out a bunch of hearts in three or more different colors. When I was interning at a school, I was able to use the shape cutters in the teachers' supply room. This year, I just printed a random heart outline that I liked and traced it onto the paper. To save time, I folded each paper in half length wise, and then folded that into thirds - for every cut I got 6 hears and used a whole sheet of paper. As usual, I recommend grabbing whatever you have lying around for decorations; in this case I used googly eyes, string, and a pen.
2. Starting with the tail, glue hearts one at a time so that each point overlaps the previous heart's top (see top image below, the tail is to the far right). I did 9 hearts for the craft, so that we could use 3 of each color. Once you have them all glued together, you can leave them as they are, or flip the snake over. If you choose to flip the snake over, I like to put another heart on top to make the head stand out (see bottom image).
3. This is where things get creative. I had intended for these to be lateral/profile views of snakes, but the preschoolers couldn't seem to wrap their heads around only giving the snakes one eye. I loved that kid after kid after kid insisted on the same adaptation (two eyes). It was also fun to see which kids wanted to add features like a nose or hair - and those that thought the suggestions were hilarious, because "nakes don't have hair", etc. I tried to intervene as little as possible when it came to putting the crafts together - in the end, each piece turned out to be unique, and perfectly imperfect.
When building the snake, you can easily target sequencing, modifiers, phrases, requesting, following directions, answering questions, making choices, taking turns, plurals, negation, executive function, retell/narrative, or just about any other language goal. For some of my kids, we were aiming just to get through 10 steps without having a breakdown.
Have fun with this easy and adorable activity - I'm sure you'll end up with "snakes" "nakes" "sakes" and "fwakes" that could brighten anyone's week.
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” – Maya Angelou
'Appy Valentine's Day
Biscuit’s Valentine’s Day, by iStorytime ($2.99), is a great way to incorporate technology into your sessions this week. I love this app because it not only has a story, but built-in follow up activities as well. For the story itself, you can opt either to have it read to you or to read it yourself (Kindergarten-2nd grade reading level). Then, have fun with your students while playing with the other features: coloring book; sticker book; memory game; puzzle. Each of these additional activities could be used to reward drills of the child's goal (practice, get a puzzle piece, practice, get another puzzle piece, etc.). Predictably, the story-based app sets the stage for practicing language in many different ways.
I hope you get to have all sorts of heart-based fun this week - I'll leave you with some kid-tastic valentine's day jokes...
Q: What do farmers give their wives on valentine's day? A: Hogs and kisses
Q: What do you call a very small valentine? A: A valentiny
Hello! I hope your week is off to a great start! Today I wanted to talk a little bit about something that is very near and dear to my heart. Behavior management strategies. This may, or may not, come as a shock that I like things organized, clean, and tied neatly up in a bow! My husband may say it is OCD, I prefer to call it cleanliness ;). In my lifelong quest for calm and order, I have grown very fond of using behavior managment strategies in my practice. They are predictable, the follow a structure, and they make sense.
Working with students with complex communication needs often times means you are working with students who struggle with some level of problem behaviors. These can range from mild non-compliance to extreme assaultive behaviors. I have been fortunate to spend most of my career working closely with behavior specialists, so I have not had to walk this path alone. So, always consult your student's behavioral case manager before implementing any new behavior plan- and check out if there is a plan already in place.
That being said, here are a few simple strategies that have served my well in my practice.
1. Don't ask- tell! :: Oh the golden rule, don't ask your student to do it tell them what to do. Asking always leaves room for him/her to say no. "Don't you want to go to speech today?" vs. "it's time for speech, let's go get the Dr. Seuss game you love." It sounds so simple, yet I kick myself multiple times as day as I hear that little question slip out!
2. Prepare the student for what is coming, even if you aren't sure they will understand :: The analogy was once made to me about being in a doctor's office. Would I feel comfortable if I did not know what the doctor was doing, what was coming next? No, and it would probably make me more anxious than I already was. The same is true for our kiddos. Remember, time concepts are really hard and so is delayed gratification. Finish your work then you can play may simply not be concrete enough. Show them the time on the clock work will be done (when the big hand is at the 4) or where they can stop reading (draw a line or use a post-it). Giving a concrete number or time (depending on what will work for your student) gives a tangible stop time. We all work a little harder when we know there are only two more, but might give up if we thought we would have to go on forever.
3. Make the reward something your student is really motivated to work for. Let's be real for a minute. We all work for external motivators. Yes I run for the endorphins and so my heart stays healthy and shiny- but I really run because I live in San Diego and summer is all year round. We work for a pay check, got good grades to get into college, passed tests to get into the right clubs. When our kiddos are working for something they really want they are more likely to participate. 7 great minutes of hard work followed by 3 minutes of a break is a better use of time then 10 minutes of unengaged participation in my book!
4. Decide on a reinforcement schedule and stick to it. Are you going to use a fixed reinforcement schedule (every 5 answers, every 10 minutes) or a variable schedule (random timer or changing number of answers).
5. Remember to praise positive behaviors all of the time. Our kiddos want to please us and want to see us happy with them. Praise them for what they are doing right as simple as it may be (feet on the floor, or staying at the table).
Molly and Larissa are speech-language pathologists in San Diego, CA, who are looking to share inventive, inclusive, fun ideas for developing communication. This is also their platform for highlighting the many amazing people and resources in the community.