Low-Tech Speech Therapy

Here are some of my go-to (super cheap) activities (when I’m not feeling all creative, Speech Lady Liz- like).

Bags
paper bag activity

I get white, paper lunch sacks and the kids decorate their own.  I put cards in the bag that target each child’s articulation goal.  The student rolls the dice and they have to say the word that many times.  Such an easy game that often gets requested by the kids.

I also use this for my language kids.  I put in verb cards and they have to put the word in a sentence, tell me the past, present, future tense or whatever their particular goal is.

Wh-dice
dice activity

This is a good activity to use after a holiday or weekend.  The student draws a picture of what they want to talk about and then depending on level they:

  1. Tell me all about the picture and then we roll the dice and their classmates have to answer the who, what, where, when questions or…
  2. I roll the dice and the student answers the who, what, where, when questions.  I write the answers on the board and then we figure out how to put all the information in 1-2 sentences so it’s cohesive and listeners can understand what they are talking about.

 

Dobbers
dobber activity

Each child gets a dobber and a month themed page.  We practice sounds and depending on how many they get, they get to either color in or use the dobber to mark off how many they produced correctly.

Beans
beans activity

That’s right, beans.  For this activity you need two cups and a bag of dried beans.  One cup is for “good” sounds and the other is for “not quite there” sounds.  It’s a good activity for those visual learners.

I hope this post goes to show that one does not need all the fancy, expensive products to facilitate appropriate and successful speech therapy strategies.  That being said, anyone want to donate an IPad to this speech lady?

(This post originally appeared on Speech Lady Liz)

Elizabeth Gretz, M.S. CCC-SLP is currently working as a school-based SLP, clinical SLP and an avid SLP blogger in Austin, TX. She is the creator of www.speechladyliz.blogspot.com , a blog dedicated to providing other SLPs and parents easy, adaptable, fun and functional therapy ideas to use in any setting.

Best New Games for Speech Therapy

I have always used toys and games in my speech therapy sessions that are designed for all kids, meaning the fun factor comes first. It has been my passion to find outstanding products marketed for the general population, that have the DNA to build speech and language skills. I want to share some of my Best New Games for Speech Therapy:

1. Buzz Blast by Discovery Bay Games

I knew “Buzz Blast” was a favorite when kids begged to go first to share their answers as soon as a new challenge card was presented. Kids delighted in the timed task of coming up with original answers to four challenges: describing the differences between two pictures in “Check and Double Check,” filling in the blanks on “Silly Sentences,” answering abstract questions in “Brain Play” or blurting out their “Tongue Twisters.” Kids fed on each other’s creativity as they gave an answer, passed the Buzz Blast timer to the next player, and continued generating original answers until the buzzer went off—oops, you have to talk fast so you’re not left holding that buzzing buzzer! “My perfect picnic would include____ but no____, called up favorite foods, games and people, and even “making a new friend” to be perfect. Kids need to think in categories, describe, “How is a window different than a mirror?” use abstract reasoning, “Name a way you are like a pencil” and compare. You get the most for your money with this set of 4 games. Buzz Blast gets the conversation moving while building critical language skills:

  • categories
  • association
  • similarities and differences
  • abstract thinking
  • can be used in later stages of carryover for articulation therapy

Recommended age: 7 and up

2. Chuggington’s Traintastic Cargo Game by I Can Do That! Games

Hang on to your conductor’s hat for a clever, multi-leveled, game of fun, strategy and learning. Drive your favorite Chuggington train into the depot to load up your boxcars, making sure your cargo is in the proper order. Spin to determine what boxcar to open and select tiny cargo pieces based on their color, shape or number. Faced with several options, players must decide what category to pursue to sequence their cargo pieces, matching a chosen Vee card. Ensuring that different ages can play together, the Vee cards are as simple as a sequence of five colors, or as difficult as ordering a combination of 5 numbers, shapes and colors. Kids loved opening the game board boxcars to retrieve their cargo, requiring an element of memory as players try to remember what car holds which cargo. All bets are off when a player spins “Move the Train,” and the circular board rotates to mix up the boxcars and their loot. Language is strengthened while kids learn early categories of color, shapes and numbers, as well as use the words to sequence their cargo–first, second, third, last–and pick up some emergent literacy skills while matching and ordering game pieces.  This high quality game is enhanced by the packaging, providing a detailed town around the inside of the box to create more opportunities for talk. Language learning:

  • vocabulary: colors, shapes, numbers, first/next/last
  • learning sequences
  • can be used as a reinforcing game for articulation therapy

Suggested Age: 3 years and up

3. I Built It! Memory Match+Tic Tac Toe by I Built It! Games

The possibilities are endless with Memory Match+Tic Tac Toe as kids create and customize their game before playing. Continually under construction, this set of games is flexible for endless fun and learning. Unscrew the 18 game pieces and insert your personalized pictures, drawings or stickers to set up for play. If you want to play Memory, be sure to draw in duplicate! A sample sheet is provided to jump-start your play. Extra free drawings–including 3-D Shapes and Numbers– are easily downloaded from their website or simply create your own. My kids started out coloring the pictures provided but wanted to customize the second round along their favorite theme. I used this game to teach what insects do to prepare for winter by having a child draw the insects in duplicate and giving facts about their survival when they made a match. The language learning potential is unlimited:

  • vocabulary
  • concepts
  • emotions, facial expressions
  • opposites
  • sounds for specific articulation practice
  • word-finding

Age 3 and up

Who Am I? by HABA Toys

Who am I? An astronaut? Rain boots? Or a fried egg? Ask the right questions and you’ll discover the answer. The “Guesser” straps on the headband, while the rest of the players select a picture card and attach it to his forehead with a cute question magnet. Through a series of yes and no questions, the child determines what picture is on his forehead. Guess your picture card before you use up your 10 tokens from “no” answers.  All the pieces fit into a small cartooned tin which makes this game ideal for travelling in a speech therapist’s bag!  This game is a great language building experience which is a load of fun:

  • Asking and answering questions
  • Thinking in categories
  • Deductive reasoning

Recommended Age: 5 years and up

Mermaid Beach By Gamewright

Intrigued that a girl their age actually created this game, kids jump right into “Mermaid Beach” and love this beachy-Go Fish card game. There is no lying around on Mermaid Beach because you have to be on your toes to craftily play the right cards to empty your hand and possess the most high scoring shell cards at the end of the game. The colorful cast of undersea characters include Priscilla Pearls,  Swirly Shirley, and Mussels Mark–a speech tongue twister in itself! Play your cards to win some shells, but watch out for Sneaker Waves who laps up an opponent’s shell card, or the yucky Seaweed that adds another card to your hand. Don’t be left with The Sea Monster or your tally will diminish. I’ve seen parents pick right up on teaching their child vocabulary of who has “more” or “less” shell points. Language lessons:

  • beach vocabulary
  • math vocabulary of more and less, 2 more than you, etc
  • if/then discussing options and strategy
  • articulation practice

Ages: 6 and up

What’s In the Cat’s Hat? by I Can Do That Games

Wait a minute, The cat  just left his hat behind with a little surprise inside. It’s our job to guess what it is. Kids love being the Hat Master who selects an item from around the room, hides it in the hat and waits for you to guess. Each turn you choose two cards to ask questions of the Master –Is it round? Does it come apart? or carry out a clue–Lift the hat by the brim, or Feel the hat with your elbows. Little flaps open on the hat to give a smell, a peek (you only see shadows), or a feel of the object hidden inside. A language building game of deduction, “What’s In the Cat’s Hat?” gives kids lots of practice combining information, asking questions and describing the hidden object. After the clue to “Jiggle the hat,” my little friend said, “That gave me a clue, it’s heavy!” or after poking his finger in the hole he said, “It’s definitely hard.” Your therapy room provides all the variety for many rounds of this game. Kids selected a train car, remote control, cotton ball and scotch tape dispenser. Children had so much fun with this game, after an hour of play, one said, “Do we have enough time for another round? Of course! Language learning:

  • Asking questions (kids are given some help with picture cards depicting the question
  • Answering questions
  • Descriptive vocabulary by category (how it feels, looks smells)
  • Deductive reasoning
  • Auditory memory

Recommended age: 3 years and up

Disclosure: The above products were provided for review by their companies

(This post originally appeared on Play on Words)

 

Sherry Artemenko M.S.CCC-SLP, a speech language pathologist for over 35 years, has  a private practice, Play on Words LLC, popular blog, www.playonwords.com, and is the founder of the PAL Awards (Play Advances Language) which distinguish the best new toys, games and books that have the DNA to build language skills in children.

Where Are They Now? Marketing Can be Fun And Professionally Rewarding.

A few years ago, I came down with a bad case of the “marketing bug” and I just can’t seem to get over it.  I have found marketing to be very contagious.  You have one successful story or event and you just can’t wait to do another one!  I have also learned the benefits go far beyond the publicity it brings to our services.  It has given me much professional satisfaction and reward!

So, last fall I was thinking….. “What creative marketing story could I come up with for this year?”  Hmm…… let me think….. 2011 is the 20 year anniversary of our pediatric Cochlear Implant program, so maybe we could locate one of the first patients we implanted and find out how they are doing now!  People love those “Where are they now?” stories.  So, I contacted our marketing department and they thought it was a great idea.  Luckily, we were able to find Ashley (the cute little girl in the picture above).  We contacted her and she willingly agreed to come in for a picture and story.

I remember sitting in the marketing department anxiously awaiting Ashley’s arrival the day of her interview.    Would she remember me?  What would she look like?  How would her speech sound?  Would she still have that big smile and cute laugh?  I was actually a little nervous!  To my delight, Ashley walked through the door and we took one look at each other and immediately embraced in a warm hug.  It was like a big family reunion.  And, I had the answer to all my questions. Yes, she did remember me and coming to therapy here 20 years ago.  She also remembered some specific tips I had given her to improve her articulation skills (in fact, she was still using them today!).  Her speech was surprisingly clear and intelligible.  She also still had that warm smile and cute giggle when she laughed.  Hearing her talk about her marriage, job and school work made me very proud.  Little Ashley had grown into a mature, successful and happy young lady.

 Ashley’s story and pictures ran in our hospital newsletter and the Ohio Speech Language and Hearing Association’s website.  It turned out to be a very effective marketing tool. The responses from everyone who read it were positive.  I was very proud of Ashley and the small part I had played in her life.

So, I hope I have inspired you to come up with your own marketing story.  I guarantee it will have a positive effect on the patients and you will find it professionally rewarding.   Please check with your employer before looking up any former patients to assure you are not breaking any HIPAA laws.  We were able to look up Ashley as it was approved as a marketing story.

 

Terry Wiegel M.S.CCC-SLP is the director of rehabilitative services at Dayton Children’s Medical Center in Dayton, Ohio.  She has been a speech language pathologist for almost 32 years, working mostly with pediatrics.  Terry is also the public relations and marketing director for the Ohio Speech Language and Hearing Association.

It’s Not You, It’s Me (Staying Motivated in January)

an unwitting victim...bwahahhahahaa

Photo by bark

Here we are in the middle of January, middle of winter with spring break a very distant light at the end of the tunnel.  As a child, I remember dreading this January-February time period and endless gray days, going on…and on…and on.  Now I realize the staff wasn’t any happier than we were!

When I find myself a little crabby, a little slow getting out the door and with a little less spring in my step, I take responsibility.  “It’s not you, it’s me,” I say to myself as a very wiggly boy manages to hit both sides of the door frame on his way in and I feel my eyelids blink a beat too long.

Here’s my list for re-sparking my motivation:

  1.  Focus on one child or issue:  Sometimes when I choose one child or a specific issue that seems to be plaguing a couple of kids, and really delve into it, my outlook shifts across the board.  It’s amazing how improving success in one session “catches on” and suddenly, I’m on a streak! *Note: it doesn’t have to be your toughest kid you focus on.  Usually they’re getting the majority of your mind share anyway.  Pick the one that’s more….prosaic.
  2. Plan an “event” a month from now:  You’ve got a month until Valentine’s Day.  You could plan a party, an elaborate craft or cooking activity.  And there’s no reason the event has to tie in to a holiday.  When I’m thinking “big”, I start noticing all kinds of inspiration throughout my day.  As you get closer to the big day, you can start building the anticipation in your kiddos too.
  3. Change of scenery:  The Caribbean….Ah, that would be nice, but generally not practical.  Change the scenery where you are:  switch treatment rooms, change the posters on your wall (does anyone notice?), stand or get on the floor, sit on physioballs.
  4. Buy a new game or workbook:  Nothing brightens a day more than peeling off shrink-wrap.
  5. Continuing ed class:  I love being a student for a day and leaving with lots of new ideas and techniques.  I bring a notebook for taking actual notes and keep a separate sheet on the side for jotting down specific ideas for specific kids as they comes to me.  I end up leaving with a list of plans for the next week or two!
  6. Drinks:  No, I’m not suggesting a nip in your coffee to get yourself through.  Many of us are sipping something throughout the day.  I’m partial to black coffee or water, but recently I’ve switched to orange spice tea with a little honey.  I notice when I take a sip.  I think mindfulness is a good thing.
  7. Constructive complaining:  I don’t like groups of adults bellyachin’ about kids, parents, politics, whatever.  I get plenty of negativity from the news.  So, I don’t need to be sucked into the whirlpool in the teachers’ lounge.  That said, a little constructive complaining with someone upbeat can often help shift your perspective.

Enthusiasm is contagious!  Let us know what keeps you going!

 

Kim Lewis M.Ed, CCC-SLP has a private practice for pediatrics in Greensboro, NC. She is the blogger at www.activitytailor.com, providing creative ideas for speech therapy, and the author of the Artic Attack workbook series.

Maximizing the Performance of Your iPad by Closing Your Apps

Do I look tired? yeah! I guess this episode was recorded late at night and it shows. However, I think you will learn some good deal of information about closing down your apps from running in the background and therefore improving its performance.

 

 

(This post originally appeared on GeekSLP)

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.

Fun Resource for Therapy Ideas: Pinterest

Pinterest

Photo by rasamalai

Social media sites are a dime a dozen these days, and there are only so many hours in a day, so keeping up with them all is impossible. But in terms of therapy ideas and just plain fun, Pinterest may be worth checking out. Never heard of Pinterest? You’re not alone–while it’s been around since 2010, the site is still in beta mode, requiring an invite to set up an account. However, you don’t need to set up an account or a profile to enjoy Pinterest–you can simply go to the site, type in a search term in the search box in the upper left-hand corner of the page, and you’ll be able to see and click through to any results that come up.

But sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself–what exactly IS Pinterest? According to Pinterest’s “about” page:

Pinterest is a virtual pinboard. Pinterest allows you to organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. You can browse pinboards created by other people to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.

That’s great, you may be thinking, but what does this have to do with CSD professionals? At first glance, nothing. But it just so happens that SLPs and other therapists and educators are “pinning” therapy ideas by the hundreds, making Pinterest an invaluable resource for therapy ideas and inspiration. If you go to Pinterest and search “SLP” or “fine motor” or “audiology” or any term you might be interested in, you’ll see what I’m talking about. Pediastaff has pinned an incredible number of therapy ideas grouped by topic, and features a “pin of the week” of the most popular therapy pins.

Want to start exploring Pinterest and need an invite? Leave a comment and I’ll send you one. Already on Pinterest and want to share your boards with ASHAsphere readers? Leave a comment with your Pinterest url (e.g. “http://pinterest.com/ashaweb“) so ASHAsphere readers can find and follow you. ASHA is just starting with Pinterest so we haven’t really started using it yet; however, we have set up an ASHAsphere board, starting with December’s posts, and plan to update it with new posts going forward.

Google Forms and Spreadsheets—Fun Times with Data Collection!

Data and information collecting isn’t the most glamorous subject; however, with the influx of iPads into my school setting, and the increasing popularity of Google spreadsheets and forms, data collection has become a hot topic among the SLPs in our school system!

Several of us have embraced using Google forms and spreadsheets to make our data collecting lives border on fun.  Before Google, my folders for kids were full of sticky notes, therapy data forms, attendance forms, and other assorted loose items.    Now, progress report time is cleaner and more data oriented, because much of what I need has been systematically collected by Google forms into the spreadsheets. (There is a spreadsheet for every form.)

 This is a brief description of various ways I currently use the forms and spreadsheets in practice–click the thumbnails for full-sized versions of the examples below.  A tutorial link for creating your own Google forms is provided at the end.

1.  Recording data and notes from a therapy session with a student. 
There is still a spot for sticky notes, and recording tallies on paper to achieve percentages, but most often, the main part of my sessions with students is recorded on a Google Form.

portion of a form

 

For each of my students, I have created a Google form based on the student’s IEP goals and objectives.  At the end of the session, I can quickly fill out the form (either on the iPad, or on the computer) recording notes and data instantly.

summary of responses screenshot

 

The data entered on the form is compiled by Google Docs in to a spreadsheet, and a summary of responses can also be done through Google.

sample spreadsheet of student data

2.  Taking Daily Attendance

Portion of my daily attendance form

We all know in the school setting why it’s important to keep track of how many times a speech student was seen per reporting period, and why sessions were missed.  I used to keep attendance on paper, then progressed to an Excel spreadsheet.  Lately, I’ve been taking attendance on a daily Google form which sends all of the information into a spreadsheet stored in Google Docs.  It’s very manageable!

3.  Recording and Sharing Hearing Screening Results

This is an area that came to me one day when I was scratching out hearing screening information on a piece of paper.  A year ago, a group of us in the school began typing into a shared document all of our screening information. I’ve since developed a Google Form that I can use while I’m screening a child. I usually have an iPad at my side as I’m screening with this form on the screen. (I just tap the results in as I go).  The results are instantly sent to the shared Google Doc—no need for a pencil!

4.  CFY Supervision

This year, I’ve had the opportunity to supervise a wonderful new Clinical Fellow.  I know that she will sail through this year with flying colors, but to be fair to her, and to adequately do my job as her supervisor, I have to observe for an allotted amount of time, and monitor her activities as prescribed by both the North Carolina State Board of Examiners, and by ASHA.  I’ve created a Google Form for observations, which throws all of my observation data into a spreadsheet which I’ve shared with her online.   This transparent online record-keeping has been helpful for both of us!

5.  Weekly written feedback to a graduate intern

Part of the form

 

I am fortunate in that I work at an elementary school close to a major university that has a top-notch graduate program, so I usually supervise two students during the course of a year.    We have been asked to provide weekly written feedback which is extra work to my paperwork mountain—except that I created a Google form for providing such feedback.  My grad student and I filled it out together every Friday last year, and all of the data was collected in a shared spreadsheet.    The forms are nice in that they clearly defined expectations, and also allowed for some anecdotal feedback.  At the end was a section for the two of us to write a short term goal for the coming week.

Nothing will totally replace all note-taking, and there is a place for hand-written data still in my office.  These are just a few ways I have used technology to make my life run a bit more efficiently. I have loved the ‘sharing’ aspect of Google Docs—so for example, if several adults are working on the same goals for a student, they all can send their data using the same shared form to the shared spreadsheet.

For a tutorial on creating your own forms, go to this page.

I’m sure there are countless other ways to use these in a speech therapy setting and that we (as a profession) are only at the beginning of using technology more effectively in our practice. Comment if you have ideas for further uses for Google forms in speech therapy, or would like to see a specific Google form topic addressed.

(This post originally appeared on Chapel Hill Snippets)

 

Ruth Morgan is a speech-language pathologist who works for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools at Ephesus Elementary School.  She loves her job and enjoys writing about innovative ways to use the iPad in therapy, gluten-free cooking, and geocaching adventures.  Visit her blog at http://chapelhillsnippets.blogspot.com.

Habilitation – What it is And Why it Matters to You

Most of us are familiar with the term rehabilitation and are comfortable with our role in providing “rehab” services.  Habilitation, on the other hand, may be less common. I don’t know of many SLPs who consider themselves “habilitation providers.” Audiologists may be somewhat more comfortable with the term as providers of aural habilitation, but not in other contexts.

So, what is habilitation? Basically, we are talking about services that help a person learn, keep, or improve skills and functional abilities that they may not be developing normally. Still not clear? Contrast that with services that help a person improve skills that have been lost after a stroke, head injury, illness, or other cause. The latter is rehabilitation – regaining lost skills or functioning. Habilitation refers to services for those who may not have ever developed the skill, such as a child who is not talking as expected for his or her age.  Adults can also benefit from habilitative services, particularly those with intellectual disabilities or disorders such as cerebral palsy who may benefit from services at different points in their life to address functional abilities.

Why the focus on distinguishing habilitation from rehabilitation? Anyone who has dealt with private insurance for a person needing habilitative services likely knows the answer. If you look closely at coverage descriptions for many insurance plans, you’ll likely see language specifying that services like physical therapy or speech-language pathology will be provided when skills have been lost due to illness or injury. This language automatically restricts payment for services to those who haven’t had a stroke or suffered an illness, including most children who don’t have a specific diagnosis underlying their speech, language, swallowing, or hearing problems.

Habilitation is getting national attention right now due to the implementation of the health care reform law. Part of the law stipulates that insurance plans offered through the state exchanges and Medicaid programs must provide services in 10 categories of essential health benefits (EHBs), including the category of rehabilitation and habilitation services and devices. ASHA has been anxiously awaiting the regulations regarding the EHBs and has been working particularly hard on ensuring adequate coverage for habilitative services through the Habilitation Benefits Coalition. The concern centers primarily on the fact that habilitative services are not common in “typical” employer plans, upon which the EHBs are to be based, and this lack of clarity around what habilitative services are and how they should be covered could result in continued difficulty with reimbursement for these services.

Recently, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued the Essential Health Benefits Bulletin in lieu of regulations. This bulletin is offered as guidance, but does not have the power of a regulation. Essentially, the bulletin gives the states the responsibility of determining EHBs, allowing for greater flexibility and customization to each state’s unique needs. Some highlights from this bulletin include:

  • States will have flexibility in choosing their benchmark plan and will have to supplement that plan with any of the EHB categories that are lacking
  • Plans cannot discriminate based on age, disability or life expectancy, but no specific guidance on this is offered
  • If a state doesn’t choose a plan, the default plan will be the largest small group plan based on enrollment
  • States will have to submit their choices to HHS for approval
  • Self-insured group health plans, large group plans, and grandfathered plans will not be required to cover essential health benefits at this time
  • Comments on the pre-rule bulletin are being accepted until January 31, 2012

When addressing habilitation specifically in the bulletin, HHS acknowledges that these services are less well-defined and that confusion exists over what exactly is covered by such a benefit. They have proposed two options for situations where the state chosen benchmark plan does not include habilitation. These include:

  1. Habilitative services would be offered at parity with rehabilitative services — a plan covering services such as PT, OT, and ST for rehabilitation must also cover those services in similar scope, amount, and duration for habilitation; or
  2. As a transitional approach, plans would decide which habilitative services to cover, and would report on that coverage to HHS. HHS would evaluate those decisions, and further define habilitative services in the future (p. 11)

As one can see, the issue of appropriate coverage for both rehabilitation and habilitation services is going to come down to state-level debates and decisions. ASHA will continue to monitor developments and take action, when appropriate, but the burden of the work will likely fall to the state associations and members within each state. If this issue resonates with you, we encourage you to contact your State Advocate for Reimbursement (STAR) and state association to assist in any advocacy efforts. Individuals requiring speech and hearing services, regardless of etiology, have a right to services to help them function as independently as possible. We have a tremendous opportunity now to ensure appropriate coverage for habilitative services as an essential health benefit. This is your chance to have a real impact on the future of health care.

Amy Hasselkus, M.A., CCC-SLP, is associate director of health care services in speech-language pathology at ASHA. She is also currently enrolled in a Masters degree program in communication at George Mason University, with an emphasis on health communication.