Being More Responsive

ASHAsphere in multiple screens

Approximately 14% of the visits to ASHAsphere are now coming from a mobile device. With that in mind, we have implemented a new responsive design theme for ASHAsphere to provide a better user experience for our mobile users. We were previously using two plug-ins to optimize the user experience for tablet and smartphone users, but we think that a responsive theme will provide a more uniform user experience across all platforms. While the design is a little different, all the existing ASHAsphere content and features should still be accessible. If you have any problems or cannot find something, please let us know in the comments. Switching to a responsive theme is part of a larger ASHA strategy to use responsive design techniques to meet the needs of our growing audience of mobile users. Feedback and suggestions are always welcome!

Tom Jelen is the Director of Online Communications for ASHA.

Adventures in Faux Pas


Photo by quatro.sinko

Also known as Adventures in Oh No…I Made Her Cry!

Yep…I’m not ashamed to admit it. I made a student cry…the first time I saw her this school year. *sigh* But really…it wasn’t my fault. Well, okay…it was…sort of.

One of the activities that I do at the beginning of the year is a “get to know you” activity. You know one of those fill in the blank worksheets that you can do with your students. It tells all about likes/dislikes/familymembers/bad habits…whatever. They are innocent…safe…and somewhat fun-like activities…right? Right? Wrong…

In all honesty, I can’t even remember why I started having kids fill them out. It was probably either something that was in the drawer when I started work and it seemed like a fun activity…or (and I’m ashamed to admit this) it was something one of my practicum supervisors did and since they did it, it must be pretty cool, and I should do it too.

Now, if you do these activities – I’m not saying it’s wrong. Not by any means..But, let me tell you my story and see if you change your mind.

Picture this…I’ve had two days of therapy and we’ve been happily filling these things out both days. On the third day, I have a student who comes in with a speech partner. This student is not diagnosed with anything in particular but we all have our suspicions (be honest you know you have at least one just like her on your caseload). I bring out the worksheets and explain what it is…

Immediately I see this student shut down. She starts mumbling under her breath and I can tell this isn’t going to be good. I hear words like… “stupid”… “everyone”… “not going to do it”… and I think…OH NO! Then I see the tears start…*sigh*

What have I done? It’s the first day of speech and I’ve made a kid cry. Dang! That is not a good way to start the year.

Come to find out I am not the only one doing this brilliant activity (shocking isn’t it?). In fact..every teacher this student saw was doing a similar brilliant activity. By the time she saw me..she no longer considered it a brilliant activity. It made me realize…just because it’s the first time for me – does not mean it’s the first time for them.

Now, I’ve often said the same thing in reverse when it comes to playing games. Just because it’s the 30th time this week I’ve played Candy-Land does not mean it’s the 30th time for that particular student. They still get excited about it even when I’m thinking “I just can’t play this idiotic game one more time”.

Imagine my chagrin when I realized what I had done. I was excited about this brilliant activity. What a great way to get to know each kid and see them for the amazing individuals they all are. But, I had completely forgotten that it might not have been the first time for them. This kid had already filled out four of these papers (in three days) and there was no way she was doing a fifth. In fact, she told me fairly plainly that I should go see Mr. X if I wanted to find out about her because that’s the one on which she spent the most time.

Okay then…talk about feeling small…

Needless to say, I’m scrapping the whole “get to know you” worksheets. There has to be a better way.

Now, obviously I could have gotten upset that she wouldn’t fill out the form…and truth be known, I did…but when I thought about it and realized what I’d done, I understood. A part of me was pleased that she could tell me (eventually) what was wrong…even if a part of me was annoyed that I didn’t get the worksheet filled out. Needless to say… we won’t be filling those out again any time soon!

Next year…I think we’ll have a “get to know you” game of Pop-Up Pirate…Or Candy Land… or ThumbBall…Anything but worksheets!

I’d love to hear what you do for similar activities…do you do anything? Please…drop me a line. Obviously, I’m going to need some time to plan!

Until then…Adventure on!


(This post originally appeared on Speech Adventures.)


Mary Huston, MS, CCC-SLP, is a school based SLP with James River Multidistrict Special Education Cooperative. As part of the school-system, Mary is an active part of the RTI team for her district. Mary authored the iPad application Categories Learning Center, co-authored the SLP Goal Bank, and has another app in production. In addition to her own apps, Mary has consulted on apps with other SLPs (Pro-PA, T. Coyle, Canada; Easy Concepts, S. Benton, Barbados). Mary is on the Smarty-Ears Apps Advisory Board and routinely consults on Smarty-Ears applications with founder and CEO Barbara Fernandes.  Mary has guest lectured on using Cycles Technique for phonology therapy; Lambton College, Sarnia, ON (2011) and has presented on using iPads in therapy at North Dakota Council for Exceptional Children (2011) and Minot State University (2012). Mary is also an active user of social media and collaborates with SLPs internationally on a variety of subjects, and the author of the blog, Speech Adventures.

Don’t Procrastinate, Advocate!

Rotunda at the U.S. Capitol, Washington DC

Photo by Tadson

The typical student in Communication Sciences and Disorders wears many hats. These may include student, clinician, graduate assistant, and about a million others that vary from person to programs, alike. One hat, which should be worn by all CSD students, is that of an advocate for our profession.  Sometimes, as students, it may feel as if our voices get lost in the cacophony of noise in the professional world.  There are over 12,000 members of NSSLHA. If we come together, our voice can be heard and we can make an impact on the future of our profession. It is never too early to begin advocating for the careers and the clients we will spend a significant portion of our lives helping.

TODAY, September 19, is NSSLHA’s 2nd Annual Virtual Advocacy Day! Virtual Advocacy Day provides a mechanism for students to learn just how easy it is to become an advocate. Through this event, and others, we are establishing a way for all NSSLHA members to learn how to correspond with their elected representatives at both the state and national level. Coming together, our message will become loud, and make our voices heard. This will benefit the profession at large and the patients whose lives we impact. Imagine the impact of senators and representatives receiving hundreds of e-mails all on the same topic during the same day. This will certainly peak the curiosity of a legislative assistant whose grandmother recently had a stroke, or nephew was just diagnosed with autism. During the Executive Council’s “hill visits” in the spring, we have seen firsthand the impact of educating the members of congress.

This year, there are three key national issues we are stressing: IDEA Funding, Medicare Therapy Caps, and the Hearing Aid Tax Credit Bill. More information is available about each of these bills at the ASHA Advocacy Center. You can also search for local legislative issues relevant for an individual state. Professionals, we encourage you to join with us for this day of advocacy. Collaboration between students and professionals is critical. You serve as our role models and mentors and we will one day join you as peers in professional careers. We encourage you to stand with us and write your elected officials as well!

You can participate in 5 simple steps:

  1. Visit the ASHA Take Action Center.
  2. Select the “Students Take Action” link to view additional information on key issues.
  3. Edit the letter to your liking. The more personalized information and stories you provide the more effective the communication.
  4. Enter your contact information in the fields to the right of the letter. Based on your address, the system will automatically identify your members of Congress. Make sure to identify yourself as a student and insert your school name.
  5. Select “Send Message” and you’re done!


Caleb McNiece is 3rd year doctoral student in Audiology at the University of Memphis. He received his B.A. in Communication Sciences & Disorders and Spanish from Harding University. He is a trainee on the US Department of Education funded project, “Working with Interpreters,” at the University of Memphis. Caleb serves as the Region 3 representative to the NSSLHA Executive Council chairing the Social Media Committee and as President of the University of Memphis NSSLHA Chapter.

Rene Utianski is a Doctoral Candidate in Speech and Hearing Science at Arizona State University and a Research Collaborator at Mayo Clinic-Arizona. She received her B.A. in Speech and Hearing Science and Psychology from The George Washington University and her M.S. in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Arizona State University. Rene serves as the Region 9 Regional Councilor on the NSSLHA Executive Council and is the 2012-2013 Council President.

Apps targeting Adults with Aphasia

On this episode, I have decided to focus on a few apps I know that target skills which have been impacted by a stroke leading to Aphasia. Individuals with aphasia experience difficulties in one or more modalities such as reading, writing, as well as speaking and auditory comprehension.

Many SLPs working in the hospital  or at the skilled nursing facility settings complain that the majority of the applications were designed for small children. While this is in fact true, today I will do a basic demo of a few apps I know were designed with the adult population in mind.

I believe Tactus is the starting point for those of you looking for apps for adults. Their website is



Here is a list of the apps demonstrated on this episode:

Naming Therappy by Tactus Therappy

iName it by Smarty Ears

Language Therappy by Tactus Therapy

Small Talk by Lingraphica


(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.


Google Earth and Cracking Curriculum Content

It’s exciting to have the continued opportunity to contribute to the ASHA Leader for a few of their APP-titudes columns.  It’s a different kind of writing, and I have to go back to stuff I did not learn when completing my journalism degree at BU, and that Magazine Journalism class I never took (I never really liked asking people, you know, questions), but it seems to come out ok after editorial assistance.

In my piece that just came out in the August 28 issue, I discuss apps that clinicians can use to facilitate the daunting process of making your therapy educationally relevant, meaning that the context mirrors or parallels what is going on in the classroom setting.  This is a huge passion of mine, though I feel I must clarify two possible misconceptions.  First of all, I am not talking about SLPs being tutors of classroom subjects.  Rather, the classroom content can be used as a context or target to target goals and strategies: e.g. categorization, description, use of graphic organizers, visualization, and so on. Secondly, although this topic is important, I realized as I saw my column in an issue filled with information about Common Core, it wasn’t really about Common Core, as (for now) those standards are only in Language Arts and Math.  But the information I shared can be about Common Core, and I decided where possible that I would include a Common Core Connection in my posts to link resources shared here to relevant Common Core standards, as I know many public school SLPs are struggling to integrate those.

In my column, I wrote, “In addition to the built-in maps app, Google Earth, available for iOS, Android, and any desktop or laptop machine, provides an extraordinary view of any geographic region. Google Earth allows clinicians to target spatial concepts, descriptive language, categories, and reading comprehension, all by zooming in on locations and viewing photos in the Panoramio layer. The stunning interactive 3D imagery available on the desktop version will soon be available on mobile devices as well.”

These columns are written somewhat ahead of time, and I wanted to let you know (and see) that the free Google Earth app NOW has 3D imagery for select cities (with more to come): Boston (yay), Los Angeles, Seattle, Denver, San Francisco, Geneva, and Rome.

A 3D view of Boston you can interact with via touch.  The new Tour Guide feature makes Google Earth even more navigable with “playable” (and pausable) views of landmarks and key geographic features. Panoramio Photos provide you with countless visual stimuli to explore, describe and discuss with students.


The new version also comes with a super-handy tutorial that opens on launch (later it can be re-accessed anytime under the “wrench” icon) that can provide a nice lesson in following directions:

This visual/touch tutorial shows you how to navigate in Google Earth for iPad, and also gives you a good opportunity to target spatial concepts including cardinal directions. Again, bring it up anytime under the “wrench” icon.

I really hope you enjoy this great app.  The only caveats I can share are that the 3D imagery is not available on iPad 1, and that I sometimes get a message that “Google Earth is running low on memory” but the app continues to function.

Common Core Connection
This app can be used, with your verbal prompting and scaffolding, to target standards such as:
SL.3.3. Ask and answer questions about information from a speaker, offering appropriate elaboration and detail.


(This post originally appeared on SpeechTechie)


Sean J. Sweeney, M.S., M.Ed., CCC-SLP, an SLP, instructional technology specialist and consultant, works in private practice at The Ely Center in Newton, Massachusetts. He is the author of the blog SpeechTechie, a contributor to the ASHA Leader, and recently took on a role as Product Development Manager for Smarty Ears Apps.

McGyvering Therapy

Lightbulb Terrarium

Photo by jfeuchter

There are times in the world of the speech clinic when you will have opportunities to change the lives of the persons you serve. It is the responsibility of the mindful clinician, fully focused in the moment of the clinical encounter,  to marshall all possible resources, techniques and training to change the outcomes of persons served  with as few as one simple decision. It is a testament to the primacy of communication in everyday life, that the mindful clinician can find a key to a successful outcome in everyday life. Do you remember the ABC television series, “McGyver”? Its hero stands atop a dais renowned in television history, for his ability to solve fantastic and seemingly overwhelming problems with simple solutions. Is it possible that the speech-language pathologist has at her/his disposal such simple solutions? In this EBP day and age, “McGyver” solutions to clinical questions are not the solutions often sought. Yet, even though the solution chosen may not be strictly based upon experimentally-tested methods, the persons served often learn from these procedures and make positive change. What are examples of “McGyvering” in speech-language therapy.

  1. Take a “Life Savers” sugarless candy. Tie a strand of waxed dental floss to the candy, then instruct the person served to take it on the middle third of her/his tongue. The person sucking the candy receives discrete sensory feedback for isometric exercise. Concerns about salivary production and salivary control are easily addressed. The person wishing to practice the Mendelsohn maneuver (assigned to persons to improve laryngeal elevation and upper esophageal sphincter function) has a hard target for pressing the tongue dorsum into the soft palate.
  2. Inspired by Netsell’s work with the U-tube manometer, the clinician may give a person served a glass that contains approximately 2 inches of water and a drinking straw. The person is asked to blow a continuous stream of bubbles for at least 5 seconds. Expiratory strength training such as that achieved by this activity, benefits persons with all variety of needs: voice, swallowing, speech and cognition.
  3. Horticulture to go? In a long-term care setting, there are often persons served who do not want to leave their rooms – therefore wishing to decline your scheduled treatment – due to pain, depression, fatigue, cognitive impairment, etc. The speech-language pathologist may then take to the patient’s room, on a cart, a variety of horticultural materials for the patient to cultivate while sitting, or even while lying in bed. The mindful clinician can map onto the horticultural activity, a large number of cognitive, linguistic and communicative goals.

If there are general rules for “McGyvering” a treatment activity, they might include -using materials most people will have; replicating an activity most people perform in everyday life; giving the persons served copies of the treatment materials to use in their natural environments as soon as possible; and the person served can describe what is happening when they do the activity. I hope readers of this piece discover for themselves how to “McGyver” treatment.


Carey Payne, MCD, CCC-SLP, is an SLP in Elmhurst, IL.  He knew nothing about speech-language pathology as a profession until he needed it as a client. He was helped at his university’s speech clinic to improve his fluency. He has helped persons of all ages in numerous work settings, for almost thirty years hence. 

Appdapted: Pinterest

You wouldn’t really call me a captain of Pindustry, or one of the Pindustrialists of the Pindustrial Revolution, and I wouldn’t be considered  a source of Pinspiration. I would like to think of my self as a unique Pindivudal.  Okay I’ll stop I’ll stop I promise, hmm   maybe just one more?  I am not a source of Pindigestion.  If you’re not on Pinterest yet you really should be considering it has opened it’s doors to everyone. So it’s pretty much Pinevitable that you’ll be pinning soon.

I am not a hardcore Pinner by any means as Pinterest is really geared more toward women. Case in point, here is a picture of what I see when I log into Pinterest. I know very manly.  It’s because I only follow women!

What I have found Pinterest useful for is somewhat different from how I see other SLPs utilizing it. For the most part Pinterest is used for collecting all your ideas, pictures, inspirations, etc… on your favorite topic and creating a virtual bulletin board of sorts. So it works well for all those crafty SLPs always wanting to create the next cool activity or just keep your cool ideas in one place. Which is totally fine if you have the time allotted to make these activities or have insomnia and have some extra time in your day ;) . Here is an example of what I have found a  typical SLP board looks like. You can see the pins are  made up of: links to blogs, links to activities, links to checklists, examples of games etc…

I  have started to use Pinterest a bit differently. I am using it as a giant bulletin board for ‘flash cards’. I have been experimenting with creating phoneme boards as well as a figurative language board. Here is a link and an example of my Idioms and Figurative Language Board:

Once the board is created I then use a free app called Bazaart. Using this app you are able to make some pretty cool mash-ups (Bazaart calls them “restylings” ). What is really neat about Bazaart is that you can select anyone’s profile and do a ‘restyling’ of their pins. Simply type in their Pinterest user name and it brings up all of their boards. Here are a couple of examples of boards I made using Bazaart.

/str/ words mash-up
Final /p/ words mash-up

What’s even cooler than your basic sound board mash-ups are boards where you can create your own visual scene! What I recommend for you to do if you do want to make your own visual scenes, is to go to and search for pictures with white backgrounds. The white backgrounds will make it much easier to crop the background out and place into your scene.  You can use these scenes for articulation, fluency, expressive language, written expression, and the list goes on.  Here is a basic example of a visual scene I created using Bazaart. I have titled it ” A Bad Day in the Neighborhood”.

For this scene I searched ‘city street’ as well as ‘superman’, ‘red car’, ‘stapler’, and ‘big bird’ with white backgrounds. The white backgrounds makes the cropping a cleaner process.

If you are ambitious you can  then take your visual scene and use it with another free app calledWriteYourCap, which allows you to write a caption and overlay it over your scene. You can also use this with some of the pins on my Idioms and Figurative Language Board.

I hope you have found this a Pinteresting post and if you have any questions always feel free to e-mail me or make a comment.


(This post originally appeared on The Speech Guy)

Jeremy Legaspi, CCC-SLP, is a Speech-Language Pathologist at Foundations Developmental House. He concentrates on autism, AAC, apraxia, articulation,phonlogy, and some feeding. You can follow him on twitter @azspeechguy and check him out on 

Back to School Organization

I haven’t written a post in a while because I have been trying to enjoy my last weeks of summer break.  The start of school is just around the corner and that means back to work for me.  This year, I will be starting a new job as a SLP at the preschool level in a public school.  I have seen my new speech room, however, I haven’t been able to get into the room and get organized yet.  I will be able to get into my space in another week or so.  In the mean time, I have been trying to get my “speech stuff” organized at home.  I have bins of materials that have been stored in my basement since we moved last summer.  It is time for me to sort through everything and gather up the items that will be useful for my preschool caseload.

Sorting through stacks of speech materials and selecting my favorite items is a post for another day.  Today I want to talk about my first step in organizing any space….containers.  We have all heard the old saying “a place for everything and everything in its place.”  I take this to the extreme when organizing my speech rooms.  That said, I have been spending the past few weeks shopping for new containers for my new room.  One of my first purchases was this for my desk.  I have seen pictures of this container floating all around teacher pin boards on Pinterest.

speech room organization

I absolutely love this idea. All of your “office supply needs” are met in one little container. The drawers are clear and I covered mine with sticky labels. I wrote on my labels, however, I have seen photos of fancy labels that people have printed for their drawers.  I bought my container at Lowe’s for under $20.00.  You can find this and similar storage containers in the aisle with the screws, nails and other fasteners.  I believe the original purpose for this container was to store small tools, nails, etc.  Some clever person decided it would also serve as a great desk organizer and I agree.  I am not sure who came up with the original idea.  If anyone knows the name of the person who first posted on Pinterest, I would love to hear from you so I can give her/him props.

In additional to searching tool aisles, I also went to one of my favorite inexpensive aisles….the dollar spot at Target.  The Dollar Spot is a great place to find therapy materials, small games and yes storage containers.  I love these small buckets.

speech room organization

This is an item that you can typically find at the Dollar Spot year round.  At holiday times, they have buckets with holiday themes.  These are great for storing arts/crafts items, such as glue stick, crayons, markers, etc.  You can also use them for sorting games, or for “Ants in the Pants,” “Flipping Frogs,”  “Hopping Bunnies” and other such games. The handles make it easy to transport the buckets from place to place.

Another item from the Dollar Spot:
speech room organization

I bought five of these.  One for each day of the week.  I will be storing my daily lessons in these on my desk top.  I almost bought a set of these online and I would have spent way more money than a dollar each.

Here is a Walmart find:
speech room organization

I love these envelopes.  They are inexpensive and I like to store my picture books with accompanying lessons inside these.  It keeps all those small sequencing and retelling pictures with the book.  I have also used zip lock baggies for the same purpose, but I find these envelopes are easier to store.

My other staple for organization is 3 ring binders.  I have found binders are the easiest way for me to stay organized. I just completed my calendar binder and I will share that with you in my next post.  I am very excited to get into my new speech room. Stay tuned for pictures as I clean, organize and get my room set up for the start of the school year.

That’s all from me for today.  If you have some great inexpensive speech room organization ideas, we would love to hear from you.

 (This post originally appeared on Speech Gadget.)

Deborah Taylor Tomarakos, MA CCC/SLP, has been pediatric speech language pathologist since 1994.   She has experience in both public school settings and in outpatient pediatrics.  She is currently employed by a public school system.  Deb has provided therapy services to children with a wide variety of communication deficits, including children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, CAS, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, language based learning disabilities, and literacy deficits.  Strong areas of interest include technology use in therapy, CAS, and literacy.  You can find her online at where she shares therapy ideas, resources, websites, and technology integration tips.