In the Community - iCan Bike
“Do it badly; do it slowly; do it fearfully; do it any way you have to, but do it.”
― Steve Chandler
In the Community - iCan Bike
This week we'd like to recognize iCan Shine and Crimson Center for Speech-Language Pathology for organizing an amazing opportunity for children with special needs to spend a fun-filled week learning how to ride bikes independently. The summer camp style program iCan Bike (formally Lose the Training Wheels), focuses on helping local children become life-long independent bike riders. Special recognition, of course, goes to the amazing volunteers who spend their week running back and forth alongside the campers while they practice, and the donors who help make it possible. Its amazing what can be done when a group of people come together for a common cause. We look forward to watching it be a success again next year! Click here for information on how you can support or participate in this program.
“Do it badly; do it slowly; do it fearfully; do it any way you have to, but do it.”
― Steve Chandler
Autism Speaks, Simon Property Group, Inc, and the Noerr Programs Corporation have come together to provide a wonderful program for children who have special needs that make it difficult to see Santa in the standard setting (long lines, lots of noise, huge crowds, etc).
On Sunday December 7th, the Caring Santa program will provide a sensory-friendly Santa experience for children at 120 different Simon Malls, for two hours before they open. Find more information here. It looks like many of the locations are already sold out, but call to see if there is a waiting list, or if not, call anyways to let them to know that there is interest in having additional days and opportunities!
We love kids for so many reasons - one of which is their complete (and neurologically driven) inability to perform higher-level thinking. When paired with a lack of naps or too much sugar, this can make for some seriously funny meltdowns. On this Black Friday, we hope that anyone venturing out into the mobs can find humor in madness (it's either laugh or cry, right?). You are likely to see absurd tantrums thrown by children as well as adults, so please remember this link and enjoy your ability to maintain a reasonable attitude:
34 Hilarious Photos Of Kids Losing It Over Nothing
"Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference." - Winston Churchill
Kids Crying About Nothing
What Is Speech-Language Pathology Anyway?
What is a Speech-Language Pathologist?
Speech-language pathologist, or SLP, is the professional name for speech therapist. SLPs work in hospitals, schools, and private practice to treat people of all ages with a variety of communication needs. As experts on vocal cords and other structures in the throat, SLPs in the medical setting also treat disordered swallowing. SLPs hold either a master’s degree or a doctorate degree from a university that is accredited by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA). State licenses are necessary in order to practice. In California, SLP practices are regulated by The Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology and Hearing Aid Dispensers Board, and the specifics may vary from those in other states.
What is a speech-language pathology assistant?
A speech-language pathology assistant, or SLPA (referred to as a "slippa"), has a similar job to assistants in allied fields (like occupational therapy assistants, or physical therapy assistants). SLPAs are highly trained in providing direct speech-language serves. In other words, they are licensed to run speech therapy sessions and activities in order to help people meet their communication goals. Each SLPA has a designated supervising SLP, who will administer assessments, make diagnoses, council families, and support the SLPA. Together, SLPs and SLPAs collaborate to provide high quality services.
What exactly is communication?
Communication is the exchange of ideas between beings (in our case, human). We typically think about it as being verbal (meaning word-based, such as talking and writing), however it is actually a much broader system. If you imagine yourself in an emergency situation with someone who speaks a different language, how would you communicate? Facial expressions, gestures, imitating environmental noises, placing stress on certain words - these are also considered to be communicative.
What is language?
Language is the symbolic representation of ideas. It is symbolic, because ideas are infinite and abstract. We have to take our thoughts and convert them into consistent, meaningful words so that other people can translate them into their own thoughts correctly. Language can be expressive (writing, talking, making gestures, etc.) or receptive (reading, listening, understanding gestures).
What is speech?
Speech describes the motor process (muscle movements) of producing sounds and words. For example, in order to say “pop”, my lips start together, then my mouth opens wide and comes back together again. While the word itself is a part of language, the controlled movement of the mouth is a motor function, which is controlled by a specific part of the brain. In speech-language therapy, people can be treated for speech, language, or both.
What is Assisstive Technology?
As described in the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) of 2004, assistive technology (AT) "is any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of a (person) with a disability". Examples of AT are: prosthetic shoes; wheelchairs; hearing aids; augmentative and alternative communication devices; closed captions.
What is AAC?
According to ASHA, augmentative and alternative communication (referred to as AAC) " includes all forms of communication (other than oral speech) that are used to express thoughts, needs, wants, and ideas. We all use AAC when we make facial expressions or gestures, use symbols or pictures, or write." Less commonly, when people have more profound speech or language difficulties we might introduce a number of technology-based (also known as aided) AAC options. For example, the exchange of picture symbols is commonly used by people who are non-verbal (unable to speak). The most widely known system for picture exchange is PECS. Other options are computerized and produce voice output to speak for the person. For more information, see ASHA's website, or feel free to leave us a question in the comment section.
Have other questions about speech-language pathology? Please let us know what you would like to learn more about!
So, you're a speech-language pathologist? I know exactly what that is... said no one ever.
In the Community - A Night to Remember Prom
This shout out is for a community event that is more than deserving of some attention. A Night To Remember, organized by local residents Rob & Cheryl Shields, provides a night of extravagance and joy to students with special needs who might otherwise miss out on the prom experience. As described on their website, "A Night to Remember is a FREE Prom honoring students with special needs ages 15-22 yrs. old. It’s more than a Prom…it’s an experience! Our Honored Guests get hair/make-up done, limo rides, and walk down the Red Carpet complete with paparazzi before entering the dance/dinner. It’s also a night of integration – as each student with special needs is partnered up with a San Diego high school student who serves as their host." The inaugural prom was held in 2011, and it is growing stronger every year!
We could not be more behind this event! A huge call of encouragement and gratitude to the Shields', the donors and volunteers who make it possible, and of course, to the honored guests who inspire us everyday...Check out their website or facebook page for more information, to volunteer, or to make an important donation (any ladies wondering what to do with your old prom dresses, here's a great opportunity!).
“When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It’s to enjoy each step along the way.” -Wayne W. Dyer
AAC Genie is an application that is intended to help SLP's with the diagnostic aspect of AAC assessments. For me, AAC assessments used to be incredibly intimidating. I had no idea what I needed to probe or how to go about creating an assessment protocol. Once I gathered all this information, how do you create a recommendation from all this data? AAC Genie was invaluable to me when I began doing these assessments. It streamlines most of the important information into a one stop shop for evaluating a variety of skills. As far as apps go (for me) this one ranks on the pricer side at $11.99 but it has more than justified the cost based on how much I use the app.
AAC GENIE: THINGS I LOVE
AAC GENIE: HOW I USE IT
So what exactly is AAC Genie? According to the manufacturer's website, AAC Genie "is an informal diagnostic tool that is intended to assist speech-language pathologists and others with identifying skill areas that relate specifically to the language representation methods commonly found on augmentative communication systems." It is important to remember that this app does not recommend specific AAC devices or apps, and nor should one assessment tool. AAC device or app selection should be the product of multiple assessment tools and decisions made through a feature matching process (you can find resources on what features to look for here, here, & here and some resources to compare apps here & here.)
When you finish with your assessment AAC Genie creates this handy printout that you can screenshot and/or save in your photos (watch those last names if you choose this option!) or send in an email. It is great for keeping data and monitoring progress.
The first 2 categories visual identification and visual discrimination are ways to assess the best button size and from what field the examinee can best select from. Visual identification prompts the user to find the _____ from an increasing field of choices and buttons of decreasing size where there is only one picture on the screen. Visual discrimination is laid out in the same way, only the user must locate the icon from a field of foils.
Next up are the language probes. All administered from a field of 3 and with simple probes.
The word association subtests ask the examinee to "find the one the ____ goes with" and even probe negation, "find the one that's not ______."
The final subtests are related to the Unity vocabulary specifically and may only need to be administered if that is a concern for you.
Overall- AAC Genie has been such a great tool for me and I use it so many different ways! I really can't recommend this app enough!
Upsee * Inspiring to the Max
This unique device was invented by a mother whose child has cerebral palsy. In the video, she describes how difficult it was to help him experience the sensation of walking, and the process of developing a functional system. The smile on his face while in the Upsee is priceless. Hopefully it will not only melt your heart, but inspire you too!
*For even more (mixed-emotion) tears, see Charlotte's, Daniel's, and Bethany's story at the bottom of the link.
"There needs to be a lot more emphasis on what a child can do instead of what he cannot do." - Temple Grandin
Lets be honest, kids are pretty bad at a lot of things. And who can blame them? Their eager brains learn from experience, which basically means trial and error. Some of the failures that kids experience while gaining new skills are immensely inconvenient and contribute to why I think that good parenting is one of the most difficult jobs around... letting children fail (and ultimately learn) takes intense patience, hard work, strategies, and sometimes even equipment!
According to the Children's Health Network, children should be able to start weaning to cups around 9-18 months old. Sippy cups can be used to help that transition, however they were designed as a convenience to parents, not because they are necessary for children. There is even some argument that the sippy cup design can have a negative impact on a child's development when used in excess. The way a child drinks from a sippy cup imitates the suckling motion used with bottles, as opposed to the tongue positioning and coordination used for drinking from a true cup. Because of this, there is potential that overuse of sippy cups - and the consequential lack of practicing the adult swallow - can inhibit a child's natural developmental process. In speech, we occasionally see children who rest with their mouths open, have misaligned teeth, and have tongue positioning that may be associated with over use of sippy cups and/or binkies. From this perspective, it is ideal is for children to skip the sippy cup altogether.
That being said, I realize it isn't functional to bypass the sippy cup. I recently polled my colleagues at SmallTalk to see what their thoughts were on the subject. From a combination of speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, and mommys, the general consensus was this: work on cups at home, by placing a small amount of liquid into a cup while the child is seated (e.g., during meals). That way if there is a mistake, the mess will be manageable. Use a cup that is spill proof when you are out and about, but look into options that support development. Cups with straws, for example, offer a more adult way to drink than sippy cups. We also love these cups, which are a great compromise because they mimic regular cups while keeping spills to a minimum. I've recommended them to a couple of parents who have come back with glowing reviews. I've been told that similar cups are available at Toys"R"Us and Walmart.
Best of luck with your transition to cups - please share your experiences and any gems of advice that you have for us!
"There's no learning without trying lots of ideas and failing lots of times."
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything, by Linda Williams
This book is definitely a Fall favorite of ours. It is thematic without referencing any holidays, it has a recurring series of phrases that are easily paired with motions, and the fun follow-up activities can be catered to support a variety of goals. This Fall, I have been using the book in the clinic with children 1:1, but I've also had success with it in preschool groups in the school setting. If you haven't read the book yet, here's the basic plot: a little old lady - who isn't afraid of anything - goes into the woods to gather items and ends up walking home rather late. She is startled to see two shoes in her path, going CLOMP, CLOMP (I pair this with tapping my hands on the table, or stomping my feet if reading to a circle). The little old lady directs the shoes to get out of her way because she is not afraid of them, and keeps walking only to hear the shoes clomping behind her. As she walks home, she encounters a sequence of items in a similar way...
When I'm reading the story for the first time, I don't ask the kids to participate but try to create anticipation to see if they join in on their own - and they usually do. After the little old lady arrives home, there are a few more opportunities to go through the sequence in its entirety. *Spoiler alert* when they aren't able to scare her, the little old lady helps the items find a collective purpose by suggesting that they arrange themselves into a scarecrow for her garden.
I like to program language for my recurring activities into my own tablet. I have the iPad with TouchChat, but that is just one of many great options (for more info on finding the right set up for you, check out this post). For this story, I used a 4x4 grid and programmed in the language that children seem to be the most drawn to: the 6 items and their 6 actions, "get out of my way", and "I am not afraid of you." Here's what I ended up with:
*Check back next Tuesday for AAC programming tips inspired by this page!!
Art - I like to have the children color the pictures in, and we discuss things in a number of different ways depending on their specific goals. In the example below, we were working on negation. We used a piece of paper creased into 6 sections (fold in half lengthwise, then into thirds). The first section had the target written as a carrier phrase, and we practiced it with each of the items. I use similar set ups to practice sequencing the story by the order in which the little old lady encountered each item, and for semantic pairings (the noun went action, action). For other kids (executive function, following directions, etc.), we arranged and glued the images onto an un-creased piece of paper to make a scarecrow.
Pumpkin heads - This year at the clinic, we ordered miniature pumpkins and stick-on foam faces to make jack-o-lanterns for the kids to take home. This is quick, fun, and the kids love it! If you aren't in a position to send home pumpkins with everyone, you can always break out the gourds from earlier in the month and make amazing play dough pumpkin faces (the artist of this face placed the mouth on top of the pumpkin :)).
Shake your sillies out - This can be done before or after the reading. I typically do it before, as it can help some kids to sit down and focus for the whole book. There's also an argument that it primes them for the book by engaging them in music, play, and incorporating a number of the action words about to be highlighted in the story. The live concert of Raffi, who I believe is the Dr. Seuss of children's music, is the video I use.
We'd love to hear how you use the book in your practice in the comment section!
"You're never too old, too wackey, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child" - Theodor Seuss Geisel
Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC) is not only a modality for individuals to communicate their basic needs, but also for connecting with other people. This video clip captures what we at INSPIRED*IN*SPEECH see as the ultimate hope for all AAC users; laughing and connecting with the most important people in their lives. The video starts out a little bit slow, but it is short and quickly becomes an all-too typical conversation that leaves siblings laughing and parents trying to hide their smiles. Be sure to watch it to the end!
"Sometimes being a brother is even better than being a superhero." - Marc Brown
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.