Spring Break

Cherry blossoms

Photo by morning_rumtea

Just a quick housekeeping post to let everyone know that ASHAsphere is going to take a brief “Spring Break.” We’d love it if you’d take a minute to leave a comment to let us know how you’re enjoying ASHAsphere so far, leave any suggestions you may have on the types of posts you’d like to see, or just say hi and let us know you’re reading!

If you’re interested in contributing to ASHAsphere, please fill out and submit the blogger application.

Thanks so much for following and we’ll be back in a week or so!

Calling all SLPs and teachers to update the iOS system on their iPads & iPods

(This post originally appeared on GeekSLP)

The iPad, iPhone and iPod touch run an operational system called the iOS system. This is the system that allows you to run apps and perform all functions on your device. It comes pre-installed on your devices when you purchase it from the Apple store.

It is very important that you keep your iOS system up to date in order to have apps run smoothly and also take advantage of the enhancements  and the possible bug fixes provided by Apple.

Updating your iOS system is FREE

While most apps will work on older versions of the iOS system, keeping an up-to date update will guarantee you best performances.

In fact, some apps also do not work on older iOS versions (e.g 3.1); therefore you will not be allowed to purchase the app from the app store. First let’s learn how to identify which version of the iOS system you are running on your device.

1. Identifying the iOS system on your device:

1st. Go to the setting area on your device and click on “General”:

2nd. Under the “General” menu, click on ” About”:

3rd. Under the “About” menu you will see the information you are looking for under the “Version“.

On this example you can see I have the Version 4.3.2 of the iOS system; which is the most most up to date version as of 4/23/2011.

2. Understand app’s iOS requirements

Now that you know how to identify which version you have, now let’s learn about the fact that some apps do not support older version of the iOS system.

When you are purchasing an app from the app store you will notice that the app has several requirements, one of them is compatibility with iOS systems. Take fore example the number one, best selling educational application: Star Walk for iPad ; it requires that you have the iOS 3.2 in order to run this app. See image below:

Notice that the app requires that you have iOS 3.2 or later; if you have anything older the app will not install. Another example is an AAC app called Expressive:

As you can see, Expressive requires that users have the version 3.1.4 or older in order to run the app on the devices.

Now that you know how to identify your iOS system, and understand that some apps will not run on older versions of the iOS system; you will need to know how to update it. This is the easy part of the whole story.

3. Updating your iOS system

You will need to connect your device ( iPhone, iPod or iPad) to your computer to update it.

1. Plug your device

2. Open iTunes

3. Select your device and make sure you are under the ” Summary” section.

4. Click on “Check for Update”.

You are all done!

I hope it helps… Now go update your device

Barbara Fernandes is a trilingual Speech- Language pathologist, a geek  and an app developer. She is the founder and CEO of Smarty Ears Apps , a company that creates apps for speech therapy. Barbara is also the face behind GeekSLP TV, a blog and video podcast focusing on the use of technology in speech therapy. Barbara has also been a practicing speech therapist both in Brazil and in the United States. Barbara has created over 21 applications for the mobile devices for speech therapists.

I Guess I’ll Need a Job

(This post originally appeared on the NSSLHA blog)

I’ve welcomed 2011 with open arms.  It seems, as a fourth year audiology student, that this year has been a distant mirage.  Here we are though — in just a few short months, many of us will be crossing stages, shaking hands, and even receiving hoods.   We’re prepared for the world ahead right?  Well, I guess our first stop is actually finding a job!

If you are anything like me, the thought of job searching seems daunting.  Where do you even start?  I’ve luckily had to go through the search for an externship that taught me some valuable lessons.  Others I have learned from those who have gone before me.  I’m going to share some of these with you in hopes that we will all enter our job search with a somewhat peaceful mind.

First, where do we even LOOK for jobs?  There are many websites, such as ASHA’s or AAA’S, that have sections dedicated to job postings.  Also, if you know of a particular state you are looking in, it may be wise to visit State Association websites.  You can also look in publications, like the ASHA Leader, where many employers advertise.  For audiology students, Audiology Online has a large job posting area.  Perhaps more importantly, ask your professors, friends, or former students.  Often word of mouth may be the ticket to your next job.  Just today, as I sat in a conference meeting, someone overheard me talking about my upcoming job search.  He was nice enough to lean over and tell me about a job opening he knew was about to be posted.  How do you narrow it down?  By this point, you hopefully have a good idea of what kind of job you want.  Take time to evaluate what you are seeking:  pediatrics? adults?  school setting?  hospital? cochlear implants?  autism?  Are you willing to go anywhere or are you looking in a particular geographical area?  These are all important things to think about — and are likely sometimes what causes a job search to be stressful.

Preparation is key.  Make sure you have a resume prepared as well as cover letters stating your intentions to supply to potential employers.  It’s crucial to have these reviewed by others.  I suggest at least 3 people.  It is wise to include professors and clinical supervisors in your reviewers.  They will be able to help you decide what to include and make sure it is prepared appropriately.  Your paperwork is not the only preparation key.  Ask professors, supervisors, and coworkers if they are willing to provide support for you as a reference.  You will want to include this information on your resume.  If you have not yet been through an interview experience, it will be a good idea to set up a mock interview.  Many academic programs will designate time for this; however, if your school does not, ask a supervisor or professor (or both as it would likely provide different interview styles) if they would help you by setting up a mock interview.  It’s also a great idea to do a mock phone interview, as many times, this may be the first step in the interview process.

Speaking of the interview process, lets discuss for that for a moment.  In today’s world, it is not uncommon for an interview to be in person, over the phone, or now, even over video conference (like Skype).  Be prepared for any of them.  You’ll also want to be sure that you have appropriate interview apparel and extra resumes/information on hand during the interview.   Research where you are applying — you wouldn’t want to show up somewhere and not know anything about the job/employer and their business.  Prepare questions to ask during your interview (easy to do if you research the business and cannot answer a question on your own from that research).   You can expect any type of question — it could be knowledge based or a question about how you work with others.  No matter what the question is, take a moment to answer thoughtfully.  Most importantly, be yourself and be honest during your interview.

Perhaps most of this you already knew, but if not,  I hope it helps.  Try to remember to remain positive.  Always look at any interview as good experience, even if the job doesn’t come through.

I wish you the best in your upcoming job search. Feel free to leave comments/questions/words of advice.  I will be walking the same road as you!  And because we can all use a little humor in our life…

Happy Hunting!

Sara Davis is NSSLHA’s is Region 3 Regional Councilor. She is a fourth year Doctoral Student in Audiology at the University of Memphis.

New App Review Blog For and by SLPs (and Other Therapists)!

Sometimes big things can start with 140 (or fewer) characters:

Twitter message "#SLPeeps, app reviews. Do we want to make a new blog? We can create new app reviews and also post anytime one SLPeep has a review:

At least we hope it’s going to be big! This tweet from Deb, an SLP pal practicing in Pennsylvania, started a conversation between four bloggers that over the period of one weekend resulted in a new blog, TherapyApp411, which we are happy to announce has launched this week!

TherapyApp411

We jokingly called the blog a spin-off (hopefully more in the vein of successful spin-offs such as Laverne & Shirley rather than the short-lived, unfunny The Ropers) because we will be cross-posting reviews from our own blogs: The Speech Guy, TiPS: Technology in Practice for SLPs, Speech Gadget, and SpeechTechie. The main goal is to provide a centralized location for information on the very hot topic of mobile devices and their uses in therapy. Our mission is to provide reviews and other content regarding apps and devices from a therapists’ perspective. In addition to our own $.02 on various apps and news items regarding mobile technologies, this blog is open to contributions from other writer-therapists: SLPs, OTs, PTs or other disciplines who would like to contribute! We are looking for contributions that reflect therapists’ personal experience with apps and place them in the context of therapy sessions. We have posted a template for reviews so that uniform information will be contained in each post, but also allow for individual writing style. The blog currently has reviews of the interactive book A Present for Milo, the sticker-scene-creator ClickySticky, and my take on how to re-purpose (through a language lens, as I am known to say) GarageBand for iPad as a therapy tool.  We offer an email form for subscription (free, of course) and directions for subscribing through Google Reader as part of the SLP Blogs Bundle.  You can also keep up with us by “likingour page on Facebook!  I hope you’ll check the blog out and, if you have an app you’d like to share, consider submitting a review.  Thanks!

Sean J. Sweeney, MS, MEd, CCC-SLP is a speech-language pathologist and instructional technology specialist working in the public school and in private practice at The Ely Center in Newton, Massachusetts. He has presented on the topic of technology integration in speech and language at the ASHA convention and is the author of the blog SpeechTechie: Looking at Technology Through a Language Lens.

The Rest of The Story: The Changing Face of Early Intervention

About one year ago now, I started hearing some new buzz words swirling around the Early Intervention Program in my home state of Wisconsin–words like evidence-based practices and coaching, natural learning environments and primary provider. As a pediatric speech-language pathologist, I was a bit intrigued. Mostly though, I was rather annoyed and quite a bit skeptical. After all, I had been trained to look analytically at a child’s speech or language, come up with a plan to fix it, and implement that plan systematically and objectively. Suddenly, it seemed, I was being asked to take a step way back. To work through parents rather than through the child, and to train parents to be speech therapists. And I found it absurd to expect parents to learn in a few short months what I had learned in six years of higher education.

Because I’m the curious type, though, I started asking lots of questions and doing lots of research. I’ll be honest and say that my primary motivation was to prove that this approach was wrong. I dug through the research on speech and language outcomes for early intervention, looking for the “evidence” that was being touted about so loudly. I found research to support the clinician-directed ABA intervention and language facilitation in play with which I was very familiar and some research to show that parent-led intervention could improve child language and phonology as well. Yet I found not one large, well-controlled study that proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that this “new” approach—the one that called for coaching parents to responsively engage their children in the context of natural learning opportunities–was any better than what we were already doing.

A funny thing happened along the way, though. The more I read, the more I began to realize something else. In focusing so narrowly on speech sounds, vocabulary development, and two-word phrases, I was omitting a huge body of research about child development. I started to see that so much of what was being asked of us as early intervention professionals had less to do with speech and language outcomes per se, and more to do with infant and toddler mental health. I began reading research that suggested that most significant factor in a young child’s development was not the amount of time that child spent in therapy, but rather the degree to which that child’s parent was responsive and engaged. And I began to understand that my single biggest source of power as an early interventionist was not to be found in playing on the floor with the child myself, but in helping that child’s parents become more responsive and engaged with him.

This isn’t to say, of course, that I suddenly began to think that there was no value in interacting directly with a child. This is far from true. Interacting directly with children helps us to discover what does and does not work with that child and allows us to model strategies for parents. There is every place for this in our early intervention practices. But this past year, I began to understand that I needed to be much more intentional about when and how I interacted with children. I also needed to be much more careful about building up parent competence in enhancing their own child’s development, rather than giving the appearance that a child’s development was dependent on me. After all, as a weekly early intervention visitor, I was with that child less than 2% of all his waking hours. It seems so silly that I ever assumed that I was the agent of change in a young child’s life, but I did. This past year, it finally dawned on me that early intervention wasn’t about me and what I did with the child…it was about that child’s parents and what they did with him. And if I couldn’t effect change in that, I simply wasn’t doing my job.

One year later, I’ve realized that these evidence-based practices aren’t about me training parents to be speech-language therapists at all. Children under the age of three don’t need their parents to be speech therapists. They need them to be parents. I’m not being asked to give up my role. I’m being asked to take all the information I have about child development, mesh it with what I’ve learned about infant and toddler mental health, and find ways to intricately weave those practices into the fabric of that child’s relationship with his parents. I’m being asked to get into that child’s life, to know his daily routines—no matter what they are–and to work within those. I’m being asked to start where the parents are, not where the child is. It’s complicated, it’s complex, and it’s messy. And it’s my job.


Becca Jarzynski, M.S., CCC-SLP
is a pediatric speech-language pathologist in Wisconsin. Her blog, Child Talk, can be found at www.talkingkids.org and on facebook at facebook.com/ChildTalk.

AAC and the Digital Divide. Access and Money

Old fashioned census device

Photo by Pargon

(This post originally appeared on the SLC Therapy blog)

I am the first to raise my hand or nod in agreement when and if the question “Do you think current top of the line AAC devices are cost prohibitive?”

Absolutely they are! They have always been. A lot of things are expensive…

As a consultant and evaluator of Assistive Technology, I was and still am excited about how the world is moving to create technology devices for people with disabilities. I am impressed with the Apple iPad, iTouch, and iPhone products. I am excited about the Android apps. I am thrilled with Tablet touch screen computers. I am enthusiastic about the technology reaching the consumer level.

I just wish someone would just say that the iPad, iTouch, and iPhone were created for all consumers. If they were completey geared towards people with special needs..challenges seen in Motor Access, Visual Access, and Hardware flexibility would not be present. Do I own Apple products? Yes! Do I use them in assessments? Yes Do I recommend them? Sometimes.

I am glad that so many useful apps are being created. I am saddened that training is not a component. The apps for AAC seem to present to consumers as a magical button to families and make the non-tech SLP an AAC expert. It looks visually welcoming and more socially acceptable than a larger dedicated speech generating device. The apps meet the demand without quality assurance or review…consumers are screaming for the tool that will work for their family members with communication impairments. It is our job as a profession to impart knowledge, training with whatever tool is being recommended.

Along with challenges of motor and visual access is the economic access. Insurance is nonsupportive in reimbursement or paying for non speech generating devices. Most people want and should be able to use their medical benefits. Not every family can afford to purchase with experimentation and hope that this new app will get Johnny talking!

Sure the medical insurance panel community should step into this century. At the same time, we need to have more reasons for recommendations than “it works”. They need data…and so should SLPs and other AAC Consultants. I’m amazed at the number of professionals abandoning sound analysis and sacrificing that last $700 a family has to use an iPad. Let’ make our analysis look like a true evaluation with a process map that will actually get the person talking. If the iPad is the recommendation, so be it! But give them a plan to actually get talking.

Last Christmas the Hollyrod Foundation accepted donations for the iPad and the Proloquo2Go. It was/is a wonderful program. I gave and was happy as an SLP that the child’s SLP had to be listed and actually be part of the planning of the device.

Here is a link to a white paper by AAC-RERC discussing AAC apps and mobile devices.

My utopia wish:

  1. Develop an affordable AAC device using the One Child Per Laptop mode.
  2. Insurance Panels allow people to use their benefits for durable medical equipment suitable in this century.
  3. Stop the cool AAC app and focus on quality control and letting parents know what the apps are capable and incapable of doing…and asking parents “Does this app work with the communication vision you have for your child?”
  4. Apple donates iPads to families as learning tools as a way of saying Thank you to a market they did not think of when they created the iApple family products.

Landria Seals Green,M.A., CCC-SLP is a speech-language pathologist and Executive Director of SLC Therapy. Mrs. Green enjoys her work as an assistive technology consultant.

Could Voice Therapy be a Remedy for Stuttering?

black and white wavy lines/pattern

Photo by edwin_young

It has been long known that stuttering, especially in severe cases with blocks, stops and interjections, could produce a real voice disorder as a post effect.

In most of these cases of severe stuttering, while the patient is blocking his speech we can see how much pressure is building below the closed vocal cords until they finally open for that interjection of speech production, causing the upper circulatory neck veins to be full of blood,well shown and causing a severe friction effect on the vocal cords themselves.

Thus, there is not much surprise in the clinical connection between stuttering and a secondary voice disorders. The voice of these stutterers is harsh, choppy, and very distinct.

Voice therapy might help with stuttering – really?

Speech pathologists who treated many stutterers throughout the years have seen numerous times that by treating the secondary voice disorder not only is voice quality improved but, surprisingly enough, the stuttering has become less severe and in some cases is gone completely!

This is actually not so surprising…any speech pathologist who has the specialty to treat stuttering will tell you that one of the best remedies clinically proven is to change the output pattern of the patient speech. Since voice therapy is doing just that…it may as well be a wonderful remedy for severe stuttering.

What would be the clinical procedure?

In the evaluation process I see many stutterers with a secondary voice disorde. While testing the voice and speech production of these patients I will decide which of the disorders to tackle first and which technique to use. Most probably if the patient’s voice is harsh and choppy I will choose to treat him with a technique that will try to solve both disorders or, rather, to do voice therapy that will decrease the vocal abuse secondary to his fluency disorder and improve his vocal production while working against his dis fluency behaviors by changing the speech production process all together.

What exactly do we do in voice therapy against stuttering?

There are typically a couple of very good techniques to choose from nowadays. While any voice therapy technique that will work to change the breath support pattern of the patient while advocating vocal cords relaxation physiotherapy is good and will have positive results on both the stuttering disorder as well as on the secondary voice hoarseness, I would much prefer to use state-of-the-art techniques that are more suitable for this complex combined situation of an Hoarse-Stutterer.

Let me briefly discuss 2 specially designed techniques for that:

WMD (Sonorantic) technique:

Introduced by Watterson,McFarlen and Diamond , features use of sonorants ( nasal consonants like /M/ and /N/ and liquids (half a vowel) like /Y/) in the teaching materials while implementing a change to abdominal breath support and emphasizing relaxation drills to the vocal cords. The idea behind this unique technique is that when we produce these sonorants , friction in the vocal cords is much reduced compare to using materials with ordinary common consonants – making this a best match to these stutterers!

MMSM (Minimal Movements Specialization Method) technique:

Introduced by Dr. Weiss, was designed as a voice coaching technique for singers and actors , then was implemented as medical voice therapy and has shown tremendous success with these actors that had dis fluency problems prior to treatment. Again, we see the power of changing the speech pattern in these patients. This relatively new fascinating technique may become a powerful weapon against stuttering since it features not one good voice but a thousand of good voices…the patient is learning how to control his vocal output using minimal movements of his speech muscles, making it possible to change the voice output in thousand different ways, so you could have a different speech pattern every day…which will most probably will have a vast positive effect on any stutterer’s speech outcome, and by decreasing the primary disorder will reduce voice abuse to solve the secondary voice disorder as well.

Gal Levy M.Sc. CCC-SLP, has more than 21 years of experience in clinical treatments of Voice, Fluency, Articulation and Language. Gal is working as a school based SLP, Home health SLP and in his private practice at Frisco, TX. He also writes professional articles on various speech disorders and state of the art treatments on Google’s new Encyclopedia, Helium and AC writers websites. Gal participated on Community Focus radio monthly shows with Dr. Griffin advising KEOM 88.5 FM listeners on voice, fluency and tongue thrust clinical issues.

10 Ways to Motivate the Unmotivated Student

“Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.” — unknown

As a speech language pathologist for grades 3-5 in an elementary school setting, one of the challenges I regularly face is trying to make good progress with students who are unmotivated. You know, students who don’t want to be in speech, don’t want my help, and generally don’t want to try anything I want them to try. Students who cross their arms and try to avoid making eye contact with me out of fear that I’ll try to get them to–(gasp!)–actually DO some sort of speech work.

I admit it, sometimes I’m tempted to just give up, dismiss them, and say, “Well, when they WANT to make progress, they can come back to speech.” But, really, it’s my job to motivate even my most unmotivated students.

So, what’s an SLP to do?

Here are some strategies I’ve found useful:

1. Use visual behavior tracking charts. – That’s right, reward charts aren’t just for preschoolers anymore. I have a large grid that I use as a basic chart (see photo at the top of this post) to help motivate students to participate, and I modify it for every student on my caseload. Some students earn one square per session, others earn 3 or 5 squares per session, depending on how much reinforcement they need on a given day for a given task. Once they reach a star, they earn a prize/special activity. Of course, a chart alone won’t do the trick unless the student wants the reward he’s working toward, which leads me to my next point.

2. Allow students to earn a “work free” speech session.
– What does the unmotivated student want most? To be left alone! I have two students who will work diligently for weeks or even months just for a chance to take most of a speech session “off” from speech work and just “play” on a computer or iPad during speech. (What they don’t realize is that many of their goals are addressed by the computer games!)

3. Challenge students to beat their own “record” for a certain task. – Let’s face it; drill work is awful. It’s hard to motivate even enthusiastic students to complete drills cheerfully. However, if we make the drill task timed and the student tries to beat his last score, drill work can actually become fun! For example, I’ll set my timer for a minute and see how many perfect “r” words from a set of 70 flashcards the student can produce, and then I’ll let them try again (several times) to see if they can beat their best “record.” (I got this speed challenge idea from the “Superspeed” Whole Brain Teaching game, and just modify it based on my students’ goals.) Students actually beg to stay after their regular speech time to try to keep beating their records.

4. Allow the student to be the expert by teaching a skill to younger students. – If a fourth grade student is a poor reader but can read simple picture books, he could perhaps read a book to a kindergarten class every once in a while, preparing for the reading by doing word study and learning tasks with vocabulary from the book he will be sharing. This is a much more naturally motivating experience than reading for boring old Mrs. Ragan who already knows what the book says.

5. Make tasks more hands-on. – One of my third grade students recently said to me, “I like working with you, because we do stuff, and make stuff, and build stuff.” This was a student who for the first two weeks of speech refused to do any work at all with me when I was using traditional table-work activities (even when I bribed her with silly bands, her favorite!). Good thing I wised up!

6. Make tasks more physical. – Some of my most difficult to motivate students have been won over by a few sessions of playing physical games such as “Simon Says,” “Mother May I,” “Hot/Cold,” “Lego Creator,” “Charades,” or “Pictionary.” These games can be modified to address social skills (joint attention, turn taking, flexibility, taking others’ perspective), articulation (generalizing targets to sentences and conversation), receptive/expressive language (giving and receiving directions, vocabulary building, answering questions), reading (following written directions, recognizing sight words, reading CVC words, etc.), writing (summarizing, using transitional phrases, using descriptive vocabulary, etc.), and more. I think that much of the success of this strategy comes from pairing myself with fun activities, because, after a while of doing physical speech activities, many students don’t need as much reinforcement for cooperating and engaging with me–they actually begin to be reinforced just by engaging with me! And then, boy, we can make some progress.

7. Catch the student cooperating. – Then praise, praise, praise! (Be sure your praise is specific about what you liked –ex: “Great job using “although” in a sentence!”) I find that praising students in front of their peers, or especially praising them quietly by “whispering” to a teacher just loudly enough that they overhear me, can really shift a student’s demeanor out of an unmotivated funk. (I mean, if I overheard a colleague whisper to my boss how great I was, it would knock me out of a funk, too!)

8. Treat a few students to a special lunch “party” with you as a reward/motivator. – Our time is limited as school SLPs. But we typically do have a lunch break, and every now and then, it can be fun to spend it celebrating with students. For my fifth graders, special lunches have been a highly motivating reward. I’ve had students who have worked for two months (earning tokens toward their lunch party by following teacher instructions, being on task, participating in class and speech, and writing during independent writing times) to earn a special lunch with me (with pizza delivered, or McDonalds brought in, or something fun like that). You might even be able to request PTA funds to help cover costs.

9. Be lighthearted and make mistakes yourself during therapy sessions.
– If students know that you are fun to be around, lighthearted, even silly sometimes, they are often less worried about their performance on learning tasks in your presence. And when you, the brilliant adult, make mistakes sometimes, the stress involved in trying a new task is lessened in your presence.

10. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. – Some students are going to have an extinction burst before they begin cooperating. You may put a motivation plan in place, and find that they are even more defiant and uncooperative than ever, that they won’t work even for ahuge reward. But persist. Give it two weeks. Then, if it’s still not working, you can chat with the student’s learning team and try to modify your plan.

So, the next time you’re in a battle of wills with an unmotivated student, and your only hope of rescue seems to be in the possibility that they might be moving out of state, take a minute to think outside the box, and see if you and the rest of the child’s learning team can come up with some ingenious ways to motivate the student. Then, come back and leave a comment to let me know how it went!

What have you discovered that motivates your most unmotivated students? I’d love to hear!

Read more: Here’s an article about the dip in adolescent motivation levels, with theories regarding its underlying cause, which I found pretty interesting.

[This post originally appeared on The Gladdest Thing Under the Sun.]


T.J. Ragan, MA, CCC – SLP, is a speech language pathologist, wife, and mother who lives with her husband, her four year old daughter, and their two dachshunds in Durham, NC. She works for Chapel Hill – Carrboro City Schools and The Cheshire Center and writes a blog about happiness.