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!

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

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.