Monday, March 25, 2013

The Gruffalo & Social Skills

I admit I just saw the great post at playingwithwords365.com 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.

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.  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 would greatly benefit from spending a semester getting 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.