Sunday, January 26, 2014

Winter Revisted


This winter I am revisiting my old posts for therapy ideas and I am updating them with links to other SLP posts and Pinterest ideas. I am trying to give proper credit as I make these additions: I provide a link to the original post so please be sure to click on those links so you can see the wonderful sites with all of the creative ideas.  These posts are primarily a place where I can catalog sites for quick reference when I need to find them.  Follow this link to see my previous Winter posts.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Santa Mouse

Santa Mouse is a classic Christmas book about a little mouse who decides to give Santa a gift of his most prized cheese. Santa is so touched by the little mouse's gift that he names the mouse "Santa Mouse" and lets him come along on his sleigh. The end of the book encourages children to leave a piece of cheese in the tree for Santa Mouse and in turn he leaves a small present hidden in the Christmas.  This has become part of the Christmas tradition for many families.  There is a second book called Santa Mouse, Where Are You?  One year, I used this book with all of my clients and gave each of them a mouse ornament. Oriental Trading had some nice ones reasonably priced in bulk.  Or the kids can do a craft activity making a mouse or a fake piece of cheese (hanging real cheese in a tree could become a stinky tradition, especially if the cheese falls or sticks to the tree).

Here is a youtube animation of the story.

This book can be used in therapy in many ways: using the story to pull our articulation targets, language goals, and extension activities.

Articulation: Obviously this is a great book for /s/ targets: Santa, Mouse, Christmas... but any sound can be targeted with a little creativity by pulling target words out of the story or using carrier phrases with the specific target.

  • Vocabulary: discuss new words as they are used in the story. Example: Mouse's imaginary friends
  • Concepts: Locations - Use mouse and cheese cut outs to place in various positions on a Christmas tree picture. This can be done as a receptive or expressive language activity. 
  • Sentence structures:  Develop sentences to target whatever sentence structure to be practiced.  Make a mini book for the child and glue these sentences to each page.  You can also cut up the sentences and have children unscramble them.
  • Verbal Expression: Re-telling the story.
  • Comprehension / Inferences: Discuss whether the "friends" are real or imaginary.  It is amazing that many children miss this concept or fail to fully understand it.
  • Social: Discuss how the mouse feels "lonely" with no friends, how thoughtful he is to want to give Santa his cheese, how his behavior makes Santa feel happy, which results in Santa befriending him.
Crafts are always fun to do and great for working on following directions and processing information.  Or, you can just use them as a motivational activity with the child earning pieces of the craft to complete it. 


  • Cheese and pom pom mouse: Cut a small triangle from a yellow sponge for the wedge of cheese.Glue a grey pom pom to the sponge for the mouse's body.Cut a nose, ears, and eyes from felt or foam, (or use wiggle eyes). Glue them in place.For the mouse's tail, cut a 2-inch strip of chenille stick or felt. Glue one end under the back of the mouse's body. 

Cute Original Ornament Sweet Felted #Mouse and #Cheese by amazingowl on Etsy, $30.00 #craftsPaper Ornament Crafts: Merry Mouse Ornament - Another good cone-shaped ornament.  :)Chenille Mouse on a Popsicle Stick        
I have uploaded a couple of documents:

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Advice to new SLPs: ATTITUDE

This blog post is dedicated to the many young SLPs and Assistant SLPs out there just starting up their careers.

You have your basic education (whether it be at the Bachelor's level or Master's level), now comes the time for the "real" education. Don't get me wrong, your academic education is vital. But, as we all know, the real learning comes in the application of the knowledge and transforming the knowledge into a real skill.

Here are some very basic suggestions that I give to new SLPs who work for me.  These suggestions are from the perspective of an SLP working with children but most are applicable across settings and clients.

Attitude with child/client & parents - attitude is important; try to be...

• Cheerful – Always look happy to see the kids and parents: People want to feel you are personally interested and invested in them.  If you looked bored, uninterested, or distracted, they will not develop much confidence in you as their therapist.

• Animated – With kids you need to use animated expressions to hold their interests and have Fun! Even if you feel horrible, you have to act happy.  This may not always be possible, but you should do your best to breathe life into your therapy sessions.  On the flip side, don't go over the top and appear fake or contrived.  Also, animated does not mean "loud".  Some children respond better to a calm therapist (especially hypersensitive kids).  You can be animated and calm at the same time by using facial expressions that show excitement about what the child is doing.

• Positive and encouraging – This suggestion can be applied in several ways: 
  1. Condition/Diagnosis: Even if you suspect something is really wrong, choose your words carefully.  Bad news is best broken sensitively and giving parents time to process the information.  If I suspect a child has Autism, I will mention "red flags for a developmental disorder" and recommend the parent goes to see a specialist who can diagnosis what is going on with the child.  This gives them time to digest the information, often coming up with the suspected diagnosis on their own. The only thing worse than "dropping a bomb" on a parent ("I think your child is Autistic.") is giving them the wrong information.  Developmental delays in young children can be something other than what we initially think they are. 
  2. Corrections: When a child makes errors, do not be overly critical. If they miss something, you say “Great try. Let’s do it again.” Do not say, “No, that was wrong. Do it again.”  Don't focus solely on taking data and marking errors.  Remember that the goal is to make them successful and it is your job to get them there.
  3. Behavior: Often you will see kids who have behavioral problems or who act out for a variety of reasons. (see blog post: Behavior) When you visit with the parents, don't stand there and report every negative behavior their child committed.  When that child is with you, it is your job to figure out how to achieve cooperation; that is a big part of our job.  If you must enlist the help of the parent, do it in a constructive way, not a destructive way.  Parents of difficult children already know their child is a "handful".  They will be highly appreciative of a therapist who can see their child's positive qualities (every child has some, you just may have to look extra hard to find them).  Be sure to point out the good things the child does.  When you speak of the behavioral problems, address them in terms of "how we can help the child" versus just complaining about the child.  (Think in terms of "informing vs. tattling").
• Confidence – always act like you know what you are doing and present an air of confidence, especially with parents. Know why you are doing what you are doing in case they ask. If you do not know an answer to their questions you can say, “I will need to look into that and get back with you on it.  If you don't understand or trust what you are doing, the parent won't trust you either. In order to be confident you will need to spend time preparing for each session and learning or reviewing information.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Gruffalo & Social Skills

I admit I just saw the great post at about speech and language activities to use with one of my favorite books, The Gruffalo. Be sure to hop over to the link and read her post... it is full of great ideas.  At the end of the post I saw a "blog hop".  I did not know what this was so I checked it out.  It is a place to link blog posts of a similar subject.  Since I love this book, I thought, "I want to be part of that!"  I checked out the posts and most of them discuss this book or other books by Julia Donaldson.  But, none of them seemed to touch on the "social thinking (R)" aspect of this story.  This was one of my favorite applications of this story. 
Spoiler Alert: Reading this post will give away the story, if you have not yet read it.

The story follows a little mouse who is approached by several predators while walking through the woods. This is no ordinary mouse, he is a very witty mouse who saves himself from becoming someone's dinner by using some clever tricks.  This story can be used to teach the following social skills sets:
  • Understanding the Perspectives of others: Mouse knows the others are thinking of "eating" him since they are natural predators. This idea can be used to address making "smart guesses" and using our brains to think about what we already know about things (prior learning).
  • Deception: He rightly interprets their invitations to dinner as being deceptive ways of getting him to their homes. You may need to discuss this with the student to see if they understand this idea that though the animals say "for dinner" they mean as the "main course", not as a guest.  (Multiple meanings/Hidden intentions). So many of our kids with social skills disorders are gullible or naive.  This might be a good way of introducing "stranger danger" or helping them to learn that some people might be deceptive for one reason or another (bullies).  They can learn to think about what they already know and make better assumptions about motives.
  • Problem solving skills:  Mouse taps into his prior knowledge or experiences (what he told the others about the Gruffalo and how they will react to seeing him) in order to escape being the Gruffalo's sandwich.
  • Theory of Mind: This reminds me of the Sally Anne test; who knows what? 
         What does Mouse know? (That Snake wants to eat him).
         Does Snake know that Mouse knows he wants to eat him?  (no)
         How do you know this?  (If he did, he would not believe the Gruffalo story).
         What does Mouse know that Gruffalo doesn't? (animals are afraid of Gruffalo)
         What does Gruffalo think, that is not true? (He thinks they are afraid of Mouse).
         Why does he think this? (Mouse told him they were & the animals run away).    

Other Speech Therapy Goals:
  1. Color the Gruffalo:  This page can be used to process information from the story by recalling the colors of the Gruffalo parts or to follow instructions in coloring the page.
  2. Story Sequencing/Story Telling with pics from many of the resources.
  3. Learning descriptive words: wobbly, prickly... & other vocabulary: warts, tusks...
On-Line Resources:

The official Gruffalo website: Interactive games, free cards to print, mask, finger puppets, recipes...

Itsy Bitsy Learners Preschool Pack: alphabet, numbers, cards...

tes connect: A teacher share site from the UK, where this book originates.  Click the link and it will take you to a wealth of book activities and worksheets.  You must join the site to access materials but it is free. Here a few of my favorites from this site:

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Emails: Permission to Share

I have two email accounts. My gmail account is rarely used since it got hacked awhile back and spammed a lot of people.  Apparently it is the account linked to this blog...

I checked it the other day for the first time in a very long time and found several email requests to share materials from this blog site.  So, I have posted a message to the right giving permission to do so.  I am happy for anything here to be used as long as given proper credit.  This can be done in several ways.  Here are two ways I generally use:   add the source's name and blog site or post as a link back to the original site (this also serves to drive traffic to that site). 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

SLP Assistants

I love the idea of Assistants and have had assistants in the past and now have a new assistant.  Assistants are great.  What is not great is the way the education process is currently done. 

WARNING:  I am getting on my soapbox for a moment about SLP Assistants.

I don't know if this model is consistent across the nation, but in Texas the Bachelor level SLPs are graduated with only observation hours and no practical clinical experience.  This was okay before the granting of an Assistant License because the graduate could not practice without completing the Master's Degree and thus getting the clinical practicums.  With the granting of Licensure for the Assistant at the Bachelor's degree level, we now have a whole host of people seeking jobs with "no practical experience".  So, when I hire an Assistant I have to spend a lot of my time in the training.  I do this type of training because I am in private practice and the reputation of my business is built on "quality" of services.  The sad fact is that there are many facilities that do not value quality that hire these Assistants and do not supply training (and I have heard that many do not even meet the minimum supervisory requirements... some provide no supervision at all... although there is the threat of auditing by the state committee for licensure, there seems to be very little auditing going on). 

If you are a consumer/client reading this: Ask if your therapist is a fully licensed SLP or an Assistant. Do not fear having an Assistant, they do great work, but DO ask about the supervision.  They should be supervised a minimum of two hours per week.  A fully licensed SLP should bear all responsibility for the client and should be writing up the evaluation and providing and updating all treatment plans and goals.

If you are an SLP and are asked to supervise an Assistant at your workplace:  Read the laws for your state about supervisory responsibility.  As the supervisor, you are responsible for each client the Assistant sees.  If anything goes wrong, it comes down on your head.  Do not allow your name to be listed as a supervisor if you are not willing to take the responsibility for the work of the Assistant.  It is in the best interest of yourself and the clients that you supervise the Assistant in a manner that insures good quality therapy is being done.

To businesses that consider hiring an Assistant but have no SLP to supervise (home health agencies, nursing homes, schools, etc.): You CANNOT do this!  An Assistant cannot be the sole SLP without a fully licensed SLP in charge of the caseload.  It is against the law!  If an Assistant does not yet have a license, it is your job to provide the 100% supervised hours until they meet the requirements.

To the Academic institutions:  Please look at your degree plans with the realization that your Bachelor Degree candidates may be able to work as Assistants upon graduation and need some practical experience.  Just as a teaching degree requires a semester of student teaching, these students should spend a semester of hands on experience working with clients.  Perhaps consider a student teaching plan placing them in the public schools with Speech Therapists.  With my B.S.Ed., this is what we did.  (But 30 years ago, I had both a student teaching with Speech Therapy semester and clinical practicums since Bachelor Degrees were sufficient prior to licensure).

Finally, to Assistants:  I know it is frustrating to plan on a career, to work hard to get your Bachelor's Degree, and then to find yourself unable to get into the Graduate program to complete your degree.  Finding work as an Assistant is a marvelous way to get lots of practical experience while trying to get into a Master's level program.  For some, being an Assistant is the career path you have chosen for any number of reasons or circumstances.  It can be a great and rewarding path on its own.  My advice is to know the laws and rules/regulations in your state for being an Assistant.  You are just as responsible as any employer or supervisor for knowing these rules.  If they are not providing the required supervision, point this out to them.  If they refuse, find another job. Also, if the supervisor does not want to take the time and energy to train you, find another job. 

SLP Assistant jobs are difficult to find because SLPs are preferred.  However, with a shortage of SLPs, there are more opportunities out there.  If you cannot find a job as an SLP Assistant, I urge you to look for jobs in related fields where you can gain practical experiences working with people.  If your desire is to work with kids, get a job in a Day Care Center, as a teacher's aid, in a learning disabilities or study program (things like Sylvan, Learning RX, ABA programs, etc,).  If you want to work with adults, look into jobs such as being a sitter for the elderly, working in a nursing home as an activity director, working with the local MHMR programs, etc.  Even doing volunteer work will give you practical hands on experiences working with people.  If two applicants come to me for an Assistant position, I will always choose the one with practical experience.  The other thing I look at is GPA because grades reflect work ethic, in most cases.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

REVIEW: Social Skill Builder App

I was honored to have been invited to review this app. I had already been using the Lite version and had purchased two of the additional modules, so I was very happy  for the opportunity to get access to the full version.  This app puts appropriate clips of video modeling examples literally at your fingertips: iPad => fingertips! :-).  There are four settings in these apps: preschool, elementary, middle & high school, and community.  In the LITE version ($2.99) there is one module for each setting.  More modules can be purchased for $1.99 each.  The FULL version ($12.99), comes with all 10 of the currently available modules.  Future modules will be $1.99 additional purchases.  The idea of being able to purchase modules individually is an attractive option for someone who does not want to plop down $60-90 for a full app or piece of software.

What I like about this app: It gives good examples of expected and unexpected behaviors that commonly occur in these settings.  Each module presents various clips of situations (Table Talk - cafeteria scenes, etc.) that are likely to occur in that setting.  Each clip is followed by 1-2 questions to check for understanding of the concepts.  A reinforcer is played for correct answers.  The reinforcers are appropriate for young kids. Each module displays various problems, examples, and expectations that might occur in that setting.

I have used these modules in working with both individual clients and in some of my small social groups.  We watch a clip, answer the questions, and often will launch out into further discussion of our own experiences with similar situations.  The clips fit nicely with social skills training ideas.  I look forward to new modules, I am sure I will be purchasing them all.  It is a great and easily accessible resource.  It is not terribly expensive. Everyone likes those kinds of resources!

Here is a link to the website for more details: Social Skill Builder App