Read the story here
I am obsessed with this story of a little girl who decided to wear her hot dog costume to dance class on "Princess Day." I love that she wanted to do it, that her parents let her, and that her teachers and peers admired her for it. Totally inspired - keep dancing to your own tune, Hotdog Princess!
Read the story here
As the population of students get older, the number of them who are working on articulation shrinks, and unfortunately so does the pool of engaging activity ideas. This is not a great situation for those (of us) who are still working on speech sounds...like that pesky /r/. Here are some activity ideas to try out with your students who are beyond BINGO and Articulation Station.
Charades: Write down a bunch of target /r/ words, and have the students take turns acting them out while the other group members try to guess. Tell them ahead of time that all of the words contain /r/, so they can filter their guesses accordingly while having fun - which is a great skill for generalization (thinking about /r/ sounds in words before saying them). If your group isn't getting in enough of repetitions, add some extra practice between turns. Once the correct guess is made, I like to go around the table and have each student say the word three times. To take it a step further, I encourage them to try to make improvements with each repetition (and without feedback from me). Another option is to have them each make up a sentence with the word.
Heads Up!: This app is super fun for people of all ages. To play, one person holds the phone up to her forehead (so that the screen faces the rest of the group). The teammates - or in my sessions the rest of the group members - describe the noun on the screen. The 'guesser' can tilt the phone up to pass on a word, or tilt down to move on after a word is correctly guessed. After the timer runs out, you can look at (and practice) all of the words that came up. You can't single out targets that contain /r/, however, it is a common enough sound that there are usually plenty of opportunities. Because of the variety of decks available, it's easy to make sure the options match the crowd. Each deck has different topics, and some have variations on the rules. For example, in the Animals Gone Wild deck you must get your teammate to guess the animal by describing it or acting it out (animal sounds encouraged). Download the Just For Kids deck for free to access gems like Selena Gomez, and a bunch of cartoons that I have never heard of.
*Bonus* The app records the people guessing with the selfie cam, so afterwards you can watch the mayhem (which kids tend to love doing) and also listen for those /r/s.
Classroom Projects: Ok, so this one isn't "fun", but it can be a great resource. Not only does it help curb the amount of preparation and materials required by you, but it also embeds speech practice into academics. If we can get students thinking about /r/ in the vocabulary from classes, then hopefully that will start to carry over to when they are actually using that vocabulary. You can highlight /r/s and practice reading articles, or hold discussions about the material. My favorite is when there is a long term project, like a presentation, that you can work on across a number of sessions.
Reading Passages: Another "thriller," I know, but it's pretty effective. Articles can come from classroom curriculum, k-12reader, or more fun sources such as an excerpt from a student's performance piece or seasonal traditions like "'Twas The Night Before Christmas." I like to have each student go through and highlight all of the /r/s they can find independently (including tricky ones like "3"). Then we take turns reading paragraphs. The students often catch /r/s that they originally missed, and help their peers as well. Overall, this is a great exercise for attending to speech sounds and practicing them with some structure.
Articulation Dice Game: There are many versions of templates for this game on the Teachers Pay Teachers website, but they generally contain 6 columns or rows, each representing one of the 6 sides of a dice (interesting tangent on the singular form of dice). Each column contains a list of target words. The students take turns rolling a dice, and choosing a word from the corresponding word to practice. Whoever completes an entire column first is the winner (or at least concludes the game). Here is a link to my template. I have pre-populated the colums with complex r-clusters and vocalic-r for different students to work on, but there is also a blank one on the bottom.
Another piece that I find is missing when searching for resources for the older students is guidance on how to modify instruction. These kids have been hearing "up and back" for years, and that obviously hasn't worked for them. Here are a few tips that I find to be effective:
I wish I could count the number of times I have told a family that caregivers, teachers, and aides are so important in teaching our students using AAC. I wholeheartedly believe that the people who spend hours a day with our kiddos are the key to their success, but what happens when we are responsible for teaching the teachers? Staff trainings can be really tricky. Defining the roles and creating an assistive technology implementation plan can be one of the most complex parts of setting up an AAC device for a student. You train the members of each child's team for their specific roles, be it keeping the device charged and modeling or developing pages.
Staff wide trainings are a completely different beast. You have a group of people with varying levels of expertise, exposure, and (frankly) interest. How do you create a training program that is comprehensive enough to give good, uneful information yet broad enough to be applicable to all the students on your caseload. Some teacher/aids need to learn how to turn the device on/off & be sure it is charged while others want to know how to program and create user areas.
I have a few trainings that I run pretty consistently (1-2 times per year) as we are always getting new staff members and our staff are changing programs. The first training focuses on communication partners recognizing and responding to all communication attempts. I cover the basics of behavior as communication and shaping these communication attempts.
Hello! I don't know about you guys but it is warm and sunny (read almost 85*) here in Southern California. I am lucky enough to get to plan field trips pretty frequently and have a lot of freedom in choosing activities. This week the OT and I teamed up and took some kiddos hiking at a local beach.
The OT I work with is amazing and we co-treat multiple times a week (but that could be a whole post on its own) but we especially love getting the students outside and in a new environment. For this trip we had a nice mix of abilities, some of our less verbal/interactive students and a few of my social skills guys. It may seem odd to plan a speech day around hiking, but here are the skills I targeted.
(1) Increasing Communicative Functions: For my more emergent communicators (yes we brought their iPads to the beach. Are we brave or gluttons for punishment- the jury is still out!) we worked on labeling what we saw, particularly things that were different or interesting and making friendly comments. There are always opportunities to practice greetings and "excuse me" on the trails. Some of my more sophisticated communicators worked on engaging in a conversation for multiple turns, listening to other's interests, and staying on topic. We are really targeting asking relevant questions with peers, so we practiced asking other's about their experiences at the beach.
(2) Personal Narratives: What is a better chance to practice your narrative skills then a special day at school. This target really fits all my kiddos at all levels (for this trip) as everyone has a reliable mode of expressive communication. For my more emergent communicators we simply answered questions about the immediate past as we were going- what did you just see?, what did you just do?, what did you see? This was my favorite skill to work on because we brought one student's iPad and made a Pictello story he could share with his family. It was a great way to get some of the students who needed less support in on the game- while we were eating lunch as a group we added the photos and narrated the story.
Finally, we addressed basic group skills. Staying with the group, waiting for peers, turn-taking, and how to act in public. I think I have mentioned this before but the students at my school need a significant amount of support, so any chance to be out and about is a great learning experience.
Hope everyone is enjoying the springtime weather!
What is your favorite thing to do when it starts to warm up?
Babies Are Brave!
This baby is doing some experimentation of his own. Sometimes you've got to just go for it.
You can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you. - Mary Tyler Moore
Why Science is 'The Best' For Practicing Language
After six months of adjustment to working in an elementary (slash-middle) school, I'm happy to report that I've pulled myself together and am ready to start putting things out into the world again. For my inaugural post, I am giving a shout out to science!
Science, or more specifically doing science experiments, is an excellent way to work on language with your students, and here's why:
Stay tuned for some ideas and materials for science experiments that I love!
“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” - Carl Sagan
Goodbye insurance reports – hello IEPs!
After many good years working in some of San Diego’s finest private speech-language therapy clinics, I have decided to make the leap over to the educational system. I am excited for the new adventure, and a bit overwhelmed by the drastic changes that come with it. A wise mentor once told me “just keep showing up” and that is my mantra for now.
If you are also in need of some inspiration, watch this video of an amazing boy completing a triathlon – did I mention he has cerebral palsy. My favorite part about this clip is that he repeatedly falls, gets up, and continues on with literally his entire heart. That combination of grit and determination is going to take this kid far!!
Stay inspired * Molly
Hi guys, I hope you had and amazing week. I am so excited for the Friday train. We have a busy weekend planned with lots of friends coming into town and a visit to the horse races! I have had back-to-school therapy plans on my mind all week- so I figured I'd share my finds with you guys. Hope you like my short and sweet edition of Friday Faves!!
What do you plan when the students first come back to school?
Any fun weekend plans?
Hi guys, hope you week is off to a happy start! Last Tuesday I shared some of my favorite tools for monitoring progress with your AAC students. Today I thought I would share some of the resources I use to communicate with parents. Often I find that the most challenging step in getting families to use AAC at home is making it approachable for everyone. As therapists we tend to make general suggestions "model during snack" or "use it playing his/her favorite game." While I absolutely think this is great advice, and have said all these things myself, sometimes it helps to break it down even further- to have families visualize what this will really look like in their day-to-day lives.
The first point I always talk about is creating an environment where your child feels heard and validated. Communicating the importance of responding to our kiddos communication attempts is so important for families, we want to remind them that they are encouraging more communication not ignoring all non-AAC messages.
Next up we talk a little bit about modeling and I share some of the plethora of resources on Aided Language Stimulation and places they can go to access resources on their own.
Lastly we talk a little about what this can look like in their lives. From my experience with the Hanen programs, I have learned that more is more. We get down to the nitty-gritty of what they see. (1) When/ what activity is a good time for their family? (2) What do you expect your child will want to say? (3) How will you react and what will you model for you child. Really picturing it helps families visualize what will happen and make it seem much easier to incorporate into their lives.
What do you guys do to help families use AAC at home?
Any good tips?
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.