Thursday, April 28, 2016

TPT Store

When I set up this blog several years ago, I linked  it to my old email account.  Then I sort of forgot about that account.  I stopped using it because at one point it had been hacked.  A couple of weeks ago I logged into it and was surprised to see over 1000 requests to share links to my self made materials linked to blog posts.  At some point Google Docs converted to a new format and apparently many of my docs  did not convert properly.  So, since I have to go through some effort to re-establish links and fix my docs, I decided that I would put them on TPT.  Hopefully this will be a more permanent and reliable storage solution and it seems a bit easier to access.  I will be working over the next few months, as time allows, to fix my docs and place them in my store.  There will be a small fee for items to compensate my time, but I will also try to place a few things in for free.  So please be patient as I work on these and if there is something you are trying to access, check back from time to time to see if it is available.  I will post links to the item in my TPT store as they become available.

Friday, February 26, 2016


Over the years I have had several clients on the Autism Spectrum who have a problem with collecting things and refusing to get rid of them.  Some examples:

  • A child who printed out pictures from her computer and refused to throw them away. Problem: using costly ink  cartridges up very quickly and hoards of paper everywhere.
  • A child who papered her walls with drawings and any scrap of paper she liked. Problem: obvious?
  • A child who kept objects because they have memories for him. Problem: too much junk and too much emotion in keeping his "things".
So what's to be done.  First, it involves a gradual process of downsizing.  Mass cleaning would be traumatic for these children.  My recommendation  is to scale things back in degrees over time. 
  • First, begin a dialogue with the child (if he is able to do this).  Explain that you understand these things  are special.  Show the child your method of holding on to special things you do not want to forget (photo albums, pinterest boards, computer files, flash drive).  
  • Create a social story about holding onto memories, not things. The story can also discuss the peace that comes from order and organization (only achieved by culling out things).  Review this story daily with the child for a week or two so he/she can internalize the ideas.
  • Start with the least special items. Or, choose the least conspicuous area (a remote corner of the room or an area not of current interest or value). Tell the child, "We are going to do what our story talks about. Let's choose one area (or 5 things) that we can take pictures of.  
  • Snap photos of the items.  At this point, based on what your child needs, you can download the pics to the computer and either print them out to put in a photo book or save them to a picture file.  If your child loves the ipad, this would be an excellent way to store the photos.  The child can then see that the loved items are always accessible to him and they are now portable.  This might also become a good way to help the child self soothe when in stressful situations out in the public.   
  • For the child who hoards pictures or papers, start by making binders of them.  Or take a picture of the wall with the pictures to save on the computer.  Perhaps you could buy 10 simple frames to use for special items and arrange these on one wall in a nice display.  Then the child can change out pictures in these 10 frames when new pictures are found.  Create a social story that states only 10 items can be on the wall and they must be in these frames.  
  • Pack the actual items away in a box after the photo is taken.  If your child is okay with getting rid of the item, do so.  If that's still too hard, place the box in an inaccessible location such as the attic.  Your child may need time to adjust to the idea and be comforted knowing the  item is nearby.  But, don't  let your child talk you into getting it back.  When he thinks about it, refer him to the picture.  
  • Help your child write memories down about the item, if that helps.  You can create stories about the items.  This is a great way to practice language skills and writing skills. 
  • Continue this process over several weeks slowly culling and removing the clutter from your child's room (or your home). 
  • Over time, the hope is that you will be able to donate the items or throw away the excess papers since they are no longer such a strong attachment to your child. 
Here is an example of a social story: 

I have lots of stuff in my room.  
I like my stuff.  They hold memories for me. They make me feel happy.
When I get new things, I am not sure where to put them.  Because I have too much stuff.
Too much stuff makes the room look messy.  Sometimes I can't find something.  Or since there is so much stuff, I am not sure what to look at first.  

Too much stuff can be bad.
It makes a room messy.
It makes people feel confused when they can't find things they need.
It makes them feel stressed 
It makes keeping the room clean and healthy a difficult job.

I need to keep the things I use everyday: my clothes, my furniture, my...
I can keep 10 things I love the best to look at.
The other things I like, need to be stored away so that my room is not messy and unhealthy.
If I think I will miss something, I can take a picture of it so I can look it whenever I want to.  Pictures are not messy as long as I keep them in my book or on my computer/ipad.
I will give away the things that are not special to me anymore. Someone else might need it.
I will carefully pack away the things I feel I need to keep. First I will take a picture to save the memory.
The box will be put in the attic.  I know where it is but I should not try to get it down.
When I want to see the item in the box, I will pull out the picture of it and think about it.
I will find the 10 things I love the most and will keep those in my room.  
When I find a new thing I love, I will need pack up something old so my new thing will have a place to go. 

Things can be nice but things don't stay around forever.  My memories are always with me, in my head.  If I am afraid I will forget something, the pictures will help me remember. 

You can create a similar story  that specifies your problem, correct thinking regarding the problem, and the solution.

Why a social story? Because they work.  Kids with ASD like rules and tend to follow them. However, the rules often need to be their own internalized thinking. The social story is a script or rule of expectations.  Rehearse it frequently with the child so that he/she can internalize these ideas and allow them to become a new 'rule' for them.  For most children, adding pictures to the story is immensely helpful to help them visualize (thinking in pictures).

*Disclaimer: This is just a general idea on how to begin to address a  hoarding problem.  These problems can be more complex and may require the assistance of a psychologist or other mental health professional.  Use your discretion and knowledge of your child's needs when devising an individualized approach.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Inside Out by Disney Pixar

This week I decided to take my social groups to see Inside Out, the new Disney Pixar movie.  I am currently running four groups this summer consisting of 3-4 children per group.  Since this movie deals with emotions it seems like a "no-brainer" that it would be beneficial for social groups.  The moment I saw the trailers I thought "Aha! That's what we are doing this month."   I use Michelle Winner's Social Thinking curriculum (R).  Her Super Flex (R) curriculum is all about villains and a social super hero in your brain helping you make good choices.  So the idea of little emotions in your brain dovetails nicely with this type of teaching.  I know there are differences of opinion on the movie.  Michelle's recent blog touches on some of the differences of opinion concerning the precepts of this movie. Click here to see her blog.

After seeing the movie (several times), I feel there is value in it.  The emotion characters display great visuals of facial expression, body language, and tone of voice.  Recognizing  the role of "sadness" as helpful validates the idea that all emotions are necessary and no one emotion should  rule over everything.  There are deep lessons about how growing up also means letting go of childish things, even if it hurts a little (or a lot).

We spent last week going over hidden rules of the movie experience covering everything from standing in lines, concessions, choosing seats, watching quietly, being mindful of others, and exiting the movie theater.  This week I am meeting the groups at the theater to apply all that was discussed last week.  I have told parents that they are welcome to attend with siblings but asked them to sit apart from the group.  My reasoning for this is that group dynamics differ from family dynamics. Having a parent sit with them would likely influence behaviors externally versus intrinsic or self-controlled behaviors.  The goal is that one day, when they are old enough, they will go to the movies with their friends and know how to behave appropriately.  We have also discussed peer pressure; if your friends are misbehaving that does not mean you need to misbehave also.

The next couple of weeks, we will delve into the movie details.  First I will check for comprehension.  I have found that many children with social disorders fail to follow the story line and the rationale for the various experiences. I have had them tell me fractured details of a movie or story with no idea how those events fit together to form the plot.  Next we will discuss the various emotions and their characteristics.  We will discuss the importance of the various emotions.  We will validate the benefits of feeling sad, angry, fearful, etc.  But we will also stress the importance of  not camping out or getting stuck in those feelings.  It should be interesting!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Summer 2015 Mini-Camps

The Speech House is a private speech therapy practice in Tyler, TX.  We are certified and licensed speech pathologists.  Mini-camps are designed and led by speech pathologists with training and experience in social pragmatic disorders.  These are not like traditional camps.  They are group speech therapy sessions focused on social communication skills delivered as a mini-camp (meeting for 60-90 minutes for several days, depending on which camp you are choosing).

Who should attend? Children ages 6-15 years with social pragmatic disorders. Children who have these types of problems may (or may not) be diagnosed with any of the following disorders:
  • ADHD
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Social Pragmatic Disability
  • High Functioning Autism
  • Asperger’s Syndrome
  • Language Disorders
These classes are best for children with average to above average cognitive abilities. Children with mild mental retardation or low cognitive skills may be unable to grasp the ideas being presented.

What is a social pragmatic disorder? It is being unable to appropriately interact with others.  Some children have difficulty navigating the social world for various reasons. They may be unable to establish and maintain peer relationships, have problems understanding social rules, be left out of activities, or feel uncomfortable in groups.  They many not understand the hidden "rules of conversation": talk to someone versus talking randomly to no one in particular, be aware of the interest of others, look at others when communicating, stay on topic, take turns, etc.

Why Speech Therapy for this problem?  Speech Pathologists are trained to provide intervention for all kinds of communication based disorders.  The inability to understand nonverbal communication, process information from others and the situations, and communicate effectively are foundational to social interactions.

Where will these groups meet: Groups will meet at our office.
                                                               The Speech House
                                                               2117 S. Fleishel Ave.
                                                               Tyler, TX 75701
COST: Dependent on which camp is chosen.  Contact us for more information.

Current Offerings:  

BOOT CAMP: Social skills boot camp introduces the core vocabulary and ideas that are used in all of our groups.  All children interested in any of our camps must start with a boot camp.
WHEN: June 8, 9, 10, 11
Section 1:   9:30-10:30 a.m. (ages 8-11)
Section 2:   3:15-4:15 p.m.  (ages 12 and up)

Campers will be grouped by age. There will be 3-6 campers per group. Times and dates are subject to change as needed.

Cost:  Contact us for more info. 

Registration is open now until June 3.

Once you decide to participate in a camp, we will schedule a screening session for your child. This screening serves to determine appropriate placements of campers and identify individual needs to be addressed. There will be a fee for the assessment. We reserve the right to turn applicants down. If your child has a disability that cannot be addressed by our curriculum or if your child does not demonstrate characteristics of social problems, we will inform you of why our camps will not meet the needs.

*We will offer additional Boot Camps later in the summer if we have enough new campers to form a group.  So if you miss this offering, please call our office to be placed on a wait list for a new section to form.

**If your child has participated in previous groups at our office within the past 18 months, they will not need to attend a Boot Camp.
Other Offerings being considered (Depending on interest):
  • Movie Time - Campers will be learning about the social etiquette of attending a movie and then sharing in a group experience of going to a movie.
  • Dining Out - Eating out can be difficult for some children.  We will discuss and role play dining in a sit down restaurant.  Then we will participate as a group in a dining experience.
  • Social Detective - To understand social situations, we must learn to observe and make decisions about the situation and what is expected depending on the setting.
  • The Art of Conversation - Conversation can be a difficult skill. Sometimes we are too one-sided in our conversation and need to learn about listening skills, being interested in others, and staying on topic.
  • Book Club: Wonder - Group will read the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio.  We will use this book to launch into discussions involving empathy and perspective taking as well as delving into vocabulary, reading comprehension, and group projects.

Check this page frequently as we are still in the process of developing our offerings for this summer.
June 15, 2015 Update: 
 Groups will meet once per week through the summer.  If you want your child to resume a group or to be added to a group, call our office for information. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Wordless Books: The Bountiful Benefits

"Wordless books". When I first heard the term I couldn't help but think it was contradictory; like an oxymoron (jumbo shrimp, pretty ugly, working vacation...).

Wordless books contain no words or very few words and tell a story through pictures.  

Here are some of my favorites: Link to photo file

These books are wonderful resources for work on language skills and for social skills training. Here are some general ideas.

For speech or language impaired children, oftentimes they only need help with expressing ideas.  If they already know how to "read" scenes and interpret them, then we can focus on the expression of those ideas:
  • Verbal expression: Have the child look at the pictures and tell the story in his own words.
  • Written expression: The child writes sentences to match the page. Or, older children can write an entire story to go with the pictures.
  • Answer questions about the scenes.
  • Ask questions about the scenes.
  • Inference: What can we infer based on the pictures?
For children with social pragmatic disorders, we need to help them learn to "read" the scenes.  We can do this by asking specific questions while pointing out things that lead to correct answers. The skills areas often weak with these children include the following:
  • Gestalt processing: Figure out what is going on by observing the whole picture.
  • Coherence: Link the interpretation of each page in relation to what was happening on the previous page (rather than interpreting each page at face value/as a new thought).
  • Emotional understanding: Observe the facial expressions to help interpret or to assign emotional states to characters (thus making more accurate interpretations).
  • Prior knowledge: try to recall personal experiences with the scenes/situations/feelings
  • Inference based on our prior experiences/knowledge.

Pancakes for Breakfast

This is a great book for language skills since it provides a sequence of events that can be used to tell a story from beginning to end. It is also excellent for social pragmatic language due to its use of thought bubbles to show what the character's intentions are; although many things go wrong in her plans. It is better to "guide" a child into making his own correct discoveries rather than "telling" him what is going on.  By guiding him with questions and pointing out things he may have missed, we teach him to sharpen his own observation skills and thinking processes.  Plus we all learn by doing so much more efficiently than we learn by being told. 

  • What time of day? The woman has on a robe and is washing her face so it is either morning or night just before going to bed. (Interpretation/gestalt processing)
  • What is she thinking about? Pancakes. Why? 
  • When do we usually have pancakes? Breakfast. (prior knowledge)
  • If she is thinking about eating breakfast, then what time of day is it? Morning.
  • What will she do next: cook pancakes or get dressed? (Sequential processing/personal knowledge)
  • What do you do first in the morning?
  • Do you think she likes animals? She has a cat and dog so she probably does.(Inference) 
  • How does she feel right now? Happy. How do we know this? She is smiling. (Reading emotions)
  • How does she feel here? Sad. (Emotional understanding).
  • What are other emotions she might be feeling? Disappointed
  • What is wrong? Based on the previous pages: she has run out of something. (Identifying a problem)
  • What does she need now? Milk. 
  • Why do you think this? She is holding the pitcher in her hand and the cup only has a little milk. (Problem Solving)
  • How do you think she will get more? go to the store.  
  • She lives on a farm. What is another way she can get milk?  Milk the cow. (Alternate Solutions - Flexible thinking)

a boy, a dog, and a frog

This book shows the story of a boy who goes to the pond with his dog one day. They get try to catch a frog who outsmarts them.  However, when they go home wet and disappointed, the frog is lonely and decides to follow them home. This book is great for retelling for language skills due to a sequential storyline.  It is also great for social pragmatics. Some to the social areas that can be drawn out it include:
  • Emotion Reading: Facial expressions on boy, dog, and frog
  • Eye gaze: what is the boy looking at? What is he thinking/planning?
  • Prediction: What will happen next?
  • Inference: Why does he feel this way? How did the frog feel about the boy trying to catch him? Afraid, mad, happy.  Since he followed him home, he must have liked the boy. 
The Snowman

This is the story of a boy who builds a snowman that comes alive at night and becomes his friend.  The boy shares his home with the Snowman who then reciprocates and shows the boy his world. It is great for the following skills:
  • Reading scenes and making correct interpretations.
  • Use of Eyes: What's the boy looking at? What's he thinking about? Social Thinking (R) Concept of what we look at is generally what we are thinking about.
  • Inference: The snowman is afraid of the stove. Why? 
  • Reading emotional states.
  • Friendship

Friday, May 23, 2014


Does your child have difficulty...

Making friends?                                             Playing games?          
                        Taking turns?                                

Understanding personal space: stands too close to others, touches others constantly, or stands too far away from the group?

Reading body-language, understanding intonation, recognizing humor, jokes, and figurative language?
Does your child...

                                               Misunderstand the words or intentions of others?

Get picked on or at least think that they are being picked on?

                       Demand his/her own way, refuse to share, obsess over a toy or topic?

  Fail to make eye contact with others and miss subtle
    cues in conversation?

Appreciate that others may enjoy different things or may have a different
    understanding or perspective of certain things. 

                                Send negative signals with his/her own nonverbal cues?

If so, then your child might benefit from these groups

WHAT: Some children have difficulty navigating the social world. They may be unable to establish and maintain peer relationships, have problems understanding social rules, be left out of activities, or feel uncomfortable in groups. It can be heartbreaking to see your child suffer social isolation. At The Speech House we offer Social Skills groups addressing these types of problems. Social skills are a form of communication disorder. As Speech Language Pathologists, we are trained to address these issues. Our classes address the ability to think socially and learn the hidden rules.

These social skills classes are directed toward helping children who have difficulty understanding and following social rules, engaging in conversations with other children, making and keeping friends, and understanding “perspective-taking” or theory of mind.  We do not simply practice social routines and scripts.  We take the children through a curriculum that addresses some of the basic problems causing their social skills difficulties.  We explain what "eye contact" really is and why it is important to others and to them.  We teach the hidden "rules" of socialization.  We teach them how to become a "social detective" and perceive what is appropriate in various social situations.

We have seen some significant and positive changes in our current social skills groups as a direct result of this curriculum.  We are very excited to have found a tool that is so helpful to these children.

See Camp Offerings Summer 2014

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.