Figuring Out Speech


Do you ever feel like you’re slogging through another therapy session?  Especially if you are working with a long-term child who has been with you awhile and is likely to stay with you a good deal longer?  Sometimes adding a new person to your group with the identical deficits can be just what the party needs.

And what if this new client required no paperwork?  Does it sound too good to be true or have you figured it out? What I’m suggesting is the inclusion of an action figure to the circle.  I have one kiddo that really improves his articulation productions when he’s speaking for the action figure.  The fact that he slows his speech rate certainly helps, but the authoritative tone that superheroes apparently require is a big part of it too.

I’m kind of partial to Thor myself, but you could have a variety of action figures for the kids to choose from or have them bring one from home (or have them check their pockets, the male version of Mary Poppin’s bag).  Using action figures is also a great way to break the ice with a quiet child who might be more willing to speak for someone other than himself.  And while eye contact is ideal, the honest truth is that eye contact can be sensory overload for some kids.  Providing an object for joint attention, can be a happy compromise.

(This post originally appeared on Activity Tailor)

 

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.

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.

A Note of Reality From the Trenches

Is the glass half empty or half full?


Photo by Cali4beach

I’m definitely a glass half-full type. And while I certainly believe in the value of conducting thorough research before making big decisions, I also believe that optimism is an integral component of any business plan. Because no matter how well organized your plan is, you are taking risks and self confidence can help see you through.

This summer I wrote a series of posts about my experience with starting a private practice. I’ve compiled and expanded these as “Forge Your Own Path,” which currently appears in the online edition of The ASHA Leader. I truly believe the autonomy and flexibility of working for yourself is feasible for many SLPs and if you have the inclination, you should seriously consider pursuing it.

This November, I attended the ASHA convention in San Diego and decided to pop in on a few private practice sessions to refresh my spirit and give me some new ideas for marketing and referrals. This fall, I did a large number of screenings for both preschool and elementary-aged children.  While the percentage of referrals for full speech/language evaluations was typical, I found that fewer families chose to pursue one with either myself or another SLP. If, a full evaluation was completed and therapy recommended, more families were opting for a “wait and see” approach or periodic monitoring, especially if it wasn’t covered by health insurance.  This issue of “not covered by insurance” or at percentage rates too high for many families, looks to be a chronic issue for an on-going service such as speech services.

The number of SLPs looking for contract work has increased dramatically in my suburb. This summer the private school I contract with had four or five SLPs inquire about providing services. I’m not sure if this is a reflection of private practitioners needing to “widen the net” to build a caseload or, perhaps, some are trying to escape the massive caseloads in the public schools or unrealistic productivity requirements in clinics or hospitals. Whatever the reason, there are more of us out there.

So I was surprised the presenters gave such a rosy outlook on an economic climate I would approach with caution. Perhaps the name recognition of a well-established practice helps to offset the impact of a softer market, but for a solo practitioner, the effects are very real and hard to ignore.

This doesn’t mean your dreams need to be put on hold, just that you need to be prepared. You may want to build slowly while maintaining a full or part-time position elsewhere. Having enough savings to support yourself for several months is a wise course of action, especially if you decide to commit solely to your own practice.

For myself, I’m planning another screening at a different preschool sometime in January. I’ll provide another talk at a moms group or school on language development.  I may advertise in a local parent magazine. And I’ll continue to provide exemplary customer service because the best referral source always is previous and current clients.

So if you’re jumping in, proceed with caution and be prepared. Our services are valuable and there are many ways to let people know. Sometimes it just takes a while. Stay inspired—2012 awaits!

Are you currently practicing on your own? Please share an idea for building a caseload or establishing a new practice.

 

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.

Quotable from ASHA Convention

 

view from San  Diego Marriott
Photo by Kim Lewis

My notebook is brimming with hastily scrawled notes and printed handouts.  I have presentations downloaded on my computer and a convention program loaded with descriptions of speech and language topics.

Much of my information relates to preschool or school aged children and a great deal of that pertains to reading issue (though I did dabble in other areas as well).  But I collected a few great quotes in San Diego.  Good reminders of what we do, how and why we do it.

“It’s not about the tool, it’s about the technique.” (session 1370)

This really resonated with me.  I love my iPad and I use it with regularity in my therapy sessions.  But I’ve heard numerous therapists say that parents have been pressing the device into their hands with the insistence that it be used to perform miracles.  Well, it’s pretty fabulous, I’ll agree, but it isn’t all that and as long as human beings remain social creatures there will always be a need for personal interaction.  So, yes, I will use technology but in therapy it will always be a tool I use and not the treatment itself.

“Availability, Affability, Ability and Accountability” (session 0416)

I attended a session on growing and maintaining a private practice that promoted these “Four As” as a basis.  The beauty of this though is that it really pertains to any therapist in any setting that strives for excellence in care.  Be fully present during treatment times and available to your clients and families.  Be friendly and easy to get along with.  Continue to further your learning and incorporate new ideas and research into practice.  Take responsibility for your actions (and document it while you’re at it).

“I can pick and choose which circuits I want to run.” (Opening session)

Each day we make conscious decision in our attitude.  Each day we have an opportunity to grow.  I imagine our brains as a dense forest.  We strike out and, with much effort, create a path.  And each day that we travel that path, the underbrush becomes more downtrodden, the space between the trees widens and the path becomes easier and more visible.  You make a decision each day where those strong paths run to.

“Enjoy the good life.” (San Diego Food and Wine Festival)

Ok, so this isn’t from the convention itself, but it was part of my ASHA experience.  And don’t we aim for this already?  Furthering our education, mingling with like-minded souls, helping others.  Absolutely, the good life.

enjoy the good life sign
Photo by Kim Lewis

(Kim is one of the official ASHA Convention bloggers! Stay tuned for more insights from her and the other bloggers before, during and after convention.)

 

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.

 

 

I Was an Exhibitionist

The perks of a big state or national convention are many.  It’s a chance for intensive learning, an opportunity to chat with colleagues, a time to check cues off the list.  But let’s face it—you love the exhibit hall.  The freebies, the salespeople (be honest, you want to be talked into the purchase), the practical inspiration for your treatment sessions.

Exhibit Hall C didn’t disappoint.  It seemed I always walked through the doors and smack into the Super Duper booth. Have you ever had this experience? It’s akin to walking in on the North Pole.  Those smiling faces of the logo are everywhere, helpful elves are pressing brightly colored bags into your hands and, oh, the toys, the games!  Don’t be alarmed if you arrive home to a large box that blew your budget.  You won’t be the first one to fall victim to ASHA intoxication.

I had to drop in on PediaStaff and see if Heidi was in the house.  And there she was!  We’ve communicated by email but not met in person and it was so nice to finally put a face to the name.  While they focus on placement of therapists in various settings (CFYs, too!), I love them for the fabulous newsletter and Pinterest board.  They’ve gained more than 5000 followers for their board in a few short months.  You need to check it out.

I also needed to swing by the SmartyEars booth and say hi to Barbara, aka GeekSLP.  I’ve met her  before at the NC Speech-Language-Hearing Association conference and if you ever have a chance to drop in on one of her sessions—take it.

Friday morning found me at the Say It Right booth promoting my books, Artic Attack and other /R/ Games and Artic Attack and other S/Z Games.  This was my first experience being an exhibitor of sorts and I loved it.  Lots of pediatric therapists coming by looking for a new technique or looking to add titles from the line they’ve already had success using.  Christine Ristuccia, Say It Right founder, was there to interact with fans and field loads of questions about her methods for incorporating yoga into speech
therapy.  How cool is that?!

I left with an order receipt I’m a little nervous to look at (though I know when I unpack the box I’ll be delighted) and an embarrassingly long wish list.  “Dear Santa, I’ve been a very good therapist this year….Love, Activity Tailor”

(Kim is one of the official ASHA Convention bloggers! Stay tuned for more insights from her and the other bloggers before, during and after convention.)

 

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.