Monday, May 28, 2012

Social Thinking and Pragmatics

Today was my first day at my new internship at a pediatric private practice.  I am looking forward to all of the learning that is to come this summer as I go from 2 clients to 13 :)  One of the sessions I sat in on today had some great tools that I wanted to share with all of you.  The client was working on social thinking and pragmatics (diagnosed with Asperger's) and the SLP I am working with used a wonderful book that I was unfamiliar with.  It's by Michelle Garcia Winner and is called You are a Social Detective! 

This book was great because it teaches kids pragmatics in language that they can understand.  The book talks about what is "expected" of them and what is "unexpected" and you can spend time asking the kiddo what types of actions, language or situations are expected or unexpected.  This type of language can be helpful for carryover in the home so that parent's can help to address these concepts later at home.  This is definitely going on my wish list!  Another neat tool that the SLP I am working with used was called Custom Boards found on the iTunes store.
She used this to make personalized social stories for her client.  I am also putting this app on my wish list for later, because it could be useful for a multitude of speech goals!  What do you all use to target social thinking and pragmatics? Have you found Michelle Winner's books or materials to be helpful?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Relieved and Thankful

I have been on a blogging hiatus the last week or so because I have been studying, studying and more studying for finals.  As of today I have officially finished my first year of graduate school and boy does it feel GREAT! My head is not so clear right now because all I can think about are the residual terms that are left swirling around my brain right now, like dysphonia, hypokinetic dysarthria, obturator and velopharyngeal port!  However, I am reminded of how thankful I am to be working towards a profession that I feel so compassionate about and that makes a difference in people's lives.  I found this quote a few weeks back and it really resonated (no I am not talking about hyper or hyponasality ;)) with me.  It is simply stated, but is wisdom to us all. 

All you speechies out there are probably cringing at the grammar there, but it just wouldn't be the same without that "good" :)

On another note I am excited to start a new chapter in my graduate career....Internships!  I start a summer internship in a week working in a pediatric private practice!  So look forward to some new posts and updates soon!  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Technology in Therapy: Apps and the iPad

Well dead week is upon us here at school and we are all gearing up to take finals next week.  Why do they call it dead week anyway?? I'm pretty sure it's one of the most alive weeks we have!  Oh well...along with studying I have been frequenting a wonderful site called The iMums where they have been featuring wonderful app giveaways to celebrate Better Speech and Hearing Month.  One of the greatest giveaways yet is the Speech-EZ Apraxia Picture Sound Cards giveaway.  I saw this booth at ASHA and it looked like a super useful program to have. Click here to enter in the giveaway.  I even won an app called Pocket Artic!  Now I just need an iPad :)
The iMums are four moms from around the globe who specialize in reviewing and searching out the best apps for kids, families and professionals. Having gone to ASHA this last fall I realized quickly how useful technology and the iPad can be in the therapy room, so I have been trying to stay up to date on the latest and greatest apps for speech and communication.  Even if you don't have an iPad yet (like me!), you can still save many apps to your iTunes and then sync them up later when you do take the big plunge :)

I'm sure many of you know what free apps are available to you, but I thought I would gather them all in one place.
Super Duper has 3 free apps.
1. Age Calculator
2. Let's Name Things (This app I use on my android!)
3. Using "I and Me"

Clean Up: Category Sorting
Let's Build a Bedroom
Thomas and Friends: Engine Activities
PBS: Kids Video
Little Writer: Tracing Words and Shapes
Sounding Board
i Learn With Poko: Seasons and Weather
Miss Spider's Tea Party

Many of the above apps are only free for a limited time so get 'em soon!  What apps are most frequently used in your therapy room?  

Friday, May 4, 2012

May Is Better Speech and Hearing Month!

All you speechies out there know that May is Better Speech and Hearing Month (BSHM).  To celebrate and honor this month my graduate program is hosting a free Speech and Hearing Fair!  If you live in Butte County and you know somebody that could benefit from a speech, language or hearing assessment let them know about this FREE event!  Click here for more details.

Another great way to celebrate BSHM is to take advantage of Super Duper's app sale!  All of their wonderful fun deck card apps are on sale for $1.99 during the month of May! 

How are you celebrating Better Speech and Hearing Month???

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

PECS 101: Binder and Penny Board Reward System

This post is a Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) 101.  I am definitely not an expert on PECS yet, but I had a wonderful supervisor last semester who got me started with my very own PECS binder, so I wanted to share with all of you!  If you are new to PECS it used for kiddos who have little to no language or kids that need a high level of reinforcement for their language output.  

It begins by teaching an individual to give a picture of a desired item to their communication partner, who immediately honors the exchange as a request. The program goes on to teach discrimination of pictures and how build those words into sentences. In the more advanced phases, the clients are taught to answer questions and to comment.  See their website for more information on PECS and conferences that go into detail on the program.

What you will need:
1. Binder
2. Velcro (LOTS!)
3. Cardstock (I used heavy duty file folders and cut them up)
3. Pennies
4. PECS images
5. Laminator or clear Shelf liner
6. Pencil pouch
7. Baseball card protector pages

So lets see the binder...

Inside I have a zipper pouch that holds extra Velcro, images that haven't been laminated, pens, etc. 

Next is a mini visual schedule.  It has the activities that will be worked on during therapy including the activity currently being worked on.  When the activity is finished the child moves it to the All Done pocket.  I used foam board to make it extra heavy duty.

Next I have pages of PECS images that are held in plastic baseball card sleeves.  I got my from Target in the "baseball card" section :)

Next I have a part of the binder that is for the Penny Board Reward System.  This is also a tool my supervisor gave me for rewarding my kiddos while they are in therapy.  It is a pretty simple concept.  You have ten pennies (off the board) and you reward the child by giving him/her a penny after a targeted response or even for stepping foot in the therapy room.  You decide whats appropriate.  They add the pennies to the board.  For older kids you can give a sticker/prize after ten pennies, but the little ones think building up their penny board is reward enough!  This is a quick and easy reward system and is always with you when you have your PECS binder.

Lastly every PECS binder needs an "I want...strip."  This strip is used for building three word utterances.  You can also teach the sign language to go with.  I want...sticker. This portable strip can be made for parents to stick on their fridge to alleviate difficult meal time decisions (I want goldfish) and many other places where communication is difficult. 

Now where to get your PECS images.  Most people use Boardmaker a software with TONS of great PECS images in English and Spanish.  Our clinic has one, but I know that it is pricey, so here are some FREE websites to get PECS images for your binder.  My supervisor also gave me a great packaging! When you buy a new puzzle, game, toy or cereal box save the cardboard.  You can easily cut it out and add it to your binder!  I did for the farm animal image you saw above. 

Websites for Free PECS...
Do2Learn (by far the best one I have found) (about half way down the page)
Also remember to try a google image search...often many PECS are on google.

Hope this gets you jump started on a PECS binder.  Please feel free to share how you use PECS in therapy or any ideas on what to add to my binder! And a big THANK YOU to Dana for going above and beyond your supervisor duties and helping us make these binders.  You Rock!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What Is This? A Describing Activity

It's that time of the school year.  If you are like me you have been using many of the same therapy activities to target your goals.  Your kid's are getting tired of the same old Super Duper cards and quite frankly you are too! If this sounds familiar, then this post is for you.  I tried an activity called What is this? in therapy recently and it was a big hit. The idea originally came from childcareland, but I adapted it to work on describing.  

On the outside of the folder is a clue. Read this to the child without showing him/her the picture.  If they have trouble guessing show them the clue in the "window."  Last you can reveal the main picture in the folder.

This is great game because you can model the ways to describe the pictures (i.e, colors, animal/person, what it does, how it tastes etc.) and then give the child a chance for you to guess.  Here is the printable document I created for this activity, sorry there are no pictures to go with.

The other tool I have been using when working on describing is the Texture Hand.  I found this on good ol' Pinterest, but linked me to Mrs. Bainbridge's Class who has the pdf of the hand for FREE.  I have found that it really helps kids with describing how something feels and is also great because it gets their tactile senses involved in language.  

You really can use whatever you have around the house, but here is what I used for the different textures.

1. Soft: cotton ball (you can see that it has already gotten a lot of love :)
2. Smooth: wrapped part of a Ziploc bag around card stock
3. Rough: sandpaper
4. Hard: glass stone (one of those stones you put at the bottom of a fish bowl)
5. Bumpy: sticker (I happened to have a sticker with raised letters on it)

Like I said anything works and the main point is teaching the meaning of the word so that they can use it when they are describing objects.      

Well I hope this gets your creative juices flowing!  I know these ideas helped spark some language in my therapy room.  How are you all working on describing in therapy?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Thank You Ark Therapeutics!

So I'm pretty excited about some great therapy tools I just received in the mail! One of my favorite blogs Speech Room News had a contest to win a DnZ Vibe tool and I was one of the winners (first time winner of pretty much anything I might add :) Anyways I got my loot in the mail yesterday and Ark Therapeutics was nice enough to include a ton of attachments! These are just a few...

Being a first year graduate student I haven't had too many opportunities to work with clients who could benefit from this kind of a tool, so I am writing this post to hear from YOU! I imagine it can be used for oral mech clients, articulation therapy and childhood apraxia...but what else are you all using these tools for?? Do you have clients who use this tool or a tool similar to the DnZ Vibe? If so how do you incorporate it into therapy and have you found it to be successful? Thanks again Jenna from Speech Room News (You Rock!) and Ark Therapeutics for these great tools. It is definitely going to help me in the future!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Children's Stories: Targeting First/Next/Last and Sequencing

Happy Friday!

So this post is all about targeting the concepts of First, Next, Last and Sequencing. I have been working all semester long with my client on these concepts and have created many great sequencing activities that I would like to share with all of you!

First I read my client a children's story. He is in Kindergarten, so many of these stories will be appropriate for preschool-1st grade kiddos. Then I presented him with the sequencing cards. (these cards vary in length some stories only had 4 and others had up to 10) These cards are pictures of the main events of the story. I would ask the client to pick the card that happens first, next and last. If I felt he didn't understand the sequencing of the story I would ask him to tell me the story back using the sequencing cards. These activities usually take around 10-15 minutes depending on how long the story is.

Something fun that I discovered is that many children's stories are on and one of my favorite new sites called storyline online. This website is wonderful because it has books such as Stellaluna, Harry the Dirty Dog and The Rainbow Fish all read by famous actors. The kids love it because its on THE COMPUTER :) and we love it because it gives our voice a break!

Here are all of my sequencing card sets...some of the images were taken from the web and the rest were photos I took. Enlarge them, add more images and have fun with your kiddos! The best part is that it works on many more concepts than the ones that I was focusing on :)

The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Youtube video that went with the Hungry Caterpillar here.)
Harry The Dirty Dog (used Storyline online)

How are you all targeting the concepts of First, Next, Last and Sequencing?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Describing Eggs: Just in Time for Easter

Okay so I know that Easter is this weekend but I'm pretty sure kids like opening Easter eggs year round! So this is one of the activities I have been using in therapy this past week.
I gathered items around my house that were small and that my client would be able to guess or would know how to describe. I hammed it up when I brought it out and we both "knocked" on the egg carton to wake up the eggs. Then we both took turns peeking into the egg. The person peeking would describe the item using it's color, shape, how it feels, what you use it for and what its made of. The other person would try and guess what was in the egg. My client loved this and is always asking to play with the eggs.
For homework I sent home three empty Easter eggs that my client filled with small items from his home. When he returned we played the same describing activity. We had to do it in the first five minutes of the session because he was bursting at the seams to tell me what was in his eggs!

Here is the document I sent home for the homework assignment "What's in the Egg?". Still new at posting documents on the blog, so the font isn't as fun as it was when I originally made it but you can have fun customizing it for you!

What kind of Spring activities have you all been using in therapy??

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Hello Everyone!

So here it goes. My very first post! I thought it was important that you get to know me. I am a first year graduate student at California State University, Chico studying Speech-Language Pathology. I have been so inspired by other Speech Pathologists blogs that I thought it was time that I started my very own blog. Hopefully you too will find some new creative ideas to add to your therapy. My focus is very child based. I love the little ones! Eventually I want to work in the schools or possibly with early intervention. I guess my internships will help me figure that out :) I have lots of documents I have made this year that I want to share with all of you, so be patient I will be digging them out of my computer files and adding them soon!