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
  • PDD-NOS
  • 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
                                                                903-581-5421
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

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Social Skills Groups: Summer 2014 Offerings

View general info on social groups

Policy for all Camps: 

WHO: Children ages 6-15 years. 3-6 children per group (grouped by age/developmental levels). Children who have these types of problems may (or may not) be diagnosed with any of the following disorders:
  • ADHD
  • Learning Disabilities
  • PDD-NOS
  • 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.

WHEN: Generally we will meet one hour each day of camp.

WHERE: Groups will meet at our office.
                                                                      The Speech House
                                                                      2117 S. Fleishel Ave.
                                                                      Tyler, TX 75701

COST: Each camper must commit to and pay for all the scheduled days of the camp event; there will be no refunds for missed days.  Some insurances may cover part of the fees.  Contact us for more information as many require pre-certification. If insurance is filed, all co-payments or a missed visit fee will be charged at the beginning of camps and refunded only if all sessions are attended. If, for any reason, the insurance does not pay for the visits, the client will be billed the private pay rate for all of the sessions.

Current Offerings:  (see calendar here)

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 10, 11, 16, 17, 18
Section 1:   9:00-10:00 a.m.
Section 2:  10:30-11:30 a.m.

*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.

Activity Camp: MOVIE TIME !!!
Day 1: Review expected behaviors when attending a movie, social behavior mapping, and role playing.
Day 2: Meet at the theater and practice appropriate behaviors while movie watching.
Day 3: Meet back at the office and critique the experience, engage in conversation, role play.

WHEN: June 23, 24, 25 
Movie Matinee at Times Square Cinema: Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit

CONVERSATION 101:  Learning the basics of conversation skills.

  • Turn Taking / Conversational exchanges
  • Ways to keep a conversation going
  • Conversation stoppers
  • How to start, join, end a conversation

WHEN: June 30, July 1, 2

Activity Camp: Restaurant
Day 1: Review expected behaviors when dining out in a restaurant, social behavior mapping, and role playing. We will choose a dine in restaurant that requires waiting to be seated and ordering from a menu. We will practice behaviors such as waiting to be seated, not arguing over seating, choosing from a menu, ordering promptly, eating appropriately, staying seated while others finish, mealtime conversation...
Day 2: Meet at the restaurant and practice appropriate behaviors.
Day 3: Meet back at the office and critique the experience, engage in conversation, role play.

Postponed

Activity Camps
Groups formed after boot camp meet once per week to engage in a group activity.  During this time concepts of social relationships are practiced in functional ways.



***Check back on this link for new offerings throughout the summer and for changes to current offerings. 

   Contact us at  903-581-5421 to get more info or register.

Friday, May 23, 2014

SOCIAL SKILLS GROUPS: General Info...

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

Snowman_06.jpg

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.

Language: 
  • 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: