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.

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.

Mobile Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) – New Tools for the SLP

iOS tablets in various sizes

Photo by Kevin Marks

The iPad, iPod, and the competitors of these products that will continue to emerge in the next months provide SLPs with unique and flexible additions to their “toolbox”. In particular, the applications for augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) have been widely embraced by SLPs as a low-cost alternative to expensive, purpose-built “dedicated” speech generating devices (SGD). Third party payers from schools to private insurers are jumping on the “least expensive alternative” bandwagon (although it is unlikely that Medicare or Medicaid will ever consider an iPad as “durable medical equipment”). These tools are generally affordable solutions to individuals with disabilities and their families (even if it takes a little saving up for…). The available “apps” range from automated flash cards to well-developed, evidence-based software conducive to the development or re-acquisition of language.

Here we have a classic good news – bad news situation! The good news – we have another tool that will be effective for some individuals as their primary AAC device, or as a scaffold to more complex systems, or for some, for use as a back up device or part of a multi-modal system that includes a dedicated SGD, signs/gestures, vocal approximations, etc. The bad news – practitioners may be pressured to abandon what they know about appropriate practices in matching technology to the individual’s needs in favor of the inexpensive (and perhaps, more readily obtainable) option. So – the bottom line is to remember all we know about appropriate practices in assessment, advocate for those practices, and remember that AAC includes both devices and, importantly, the services to SUPPORT the use the of device in order to obtain effective and efficient communication.

SLPs and others interested in this topic should also review the “White Paper” recently issued by the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Communication Enhancement. The White Paper is based on interviews with more than 25 AAC “thought leaders” between January and March, 2011, representing multiple stakeholder groups. In addition, I encourage you to join SIG 12, to be part of ongoing discussions on these technologies on the SIG 12 listserv!

Amy S. Goldman is an associate director of the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University where she directs Pennsylvania’s Initiative on Assistive Technology. Amy has specialized in AAC throughout her long career as an SLP and is chair of the steering committee of ASHA’s Special Interest Group on AAC (Special Interest Group 12).

Should You Buy an iPad Now?

(This post originally appeared on SpeechTechie)

Probably, yes.

We have all been witness to the flurry of blog posts, tweets, Facebook updates, and news stories on the potential of the iPad for teaching and learning. Though I was initially a bit delayed in drinking this particular flavor of Kool-aid, I am definitely a convert to this device’s portability, versatility, interactivity, and the instantaneous student engagement that results whenever it is pulled out (see Heidi Hanks’ post for a second on this, and Barbara Fernandes’ for a third). My one reservation is in the “versatility” area- the iPad still has its limitations with regards to producing work, especially written work, and though it contains a web browser, it cannot access many of the wonderful educational interactives out there that are Flash-based (and therefore should not be thought of as a replacement for a laptop). However, all that said, the iPad and the cornucopia of apps available for it have proved an essential addition to my therapeutic toolkit since I bought it last Fall (and keep in mind that I say that as a part-time SLP currently- if I had a more diverse caseload I think I would be even more enthusiastic about the iPad).

Why now? I have had a number of inquiries in the past months about the iPad, and my response has been that waiting for the arrival of iPad 2 would be wise. iPad 2 was just announced this week for release on March 11, and as expected it is faster, thinner, and equipped with dual cameras for FaceTime, PhotoBooth, and video creation. The pricing structure remains the same, with the 16G WiFi model (my recommended starting option as long as you know your district will let you put the device on their network- ask!!!) at $499. Now is also a good time to consider whether you would be happy with a first-generation iPad at a greatly reduced price, as many fanboys (probably me too) will be selling theirs and Apple is offering refurbished models for pretty cheap.

So, I’d say go for it. Before the buzz around iPad 3 starts (probably in 2012) and kills our buzz.

Check out this snippit from the video used at the iPad 2 announcement on Tues, featuring Howard Shane’s (of the Children’s Hospital, Boston- Communication Enhancement Center) thoughts on it being a “game-changer” for kids with autism). It actually made me a little verklempt.

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.

Apps for Bilingual SLPs and English-speaking speech therapists working with Spanish-speaking children.

I am a bilingual speech pathologist, and for those of you who work with Spanish-speaking children you know how frustrating it can be trying to get ready for therapy. Most of the time we are limited to two options: live translation of English materials or spending hours creating our own Spanish materials. The limited resources in Spanish pushes us to creating our own materials on a daily basis. This can be very difficult for us with an already very limited time on our hands to serve so many children. Thanks to the iPad and the iPhone, developers all around the world are creating apps. This allows us to take advantage of the apps produced in Spanish that can be purchased anywhere. The number of apps in Spanish is still very limited in comparison to apps in English. However, the ease of development of the apps makes it a lot easier for us therapists to access products in other languages. Here are my top 5 apps in Spanish that can be used in therapy:

1. Spanish Articulation Probes

Bilingual slp app logoThis app allows therapists and parents to work on specific sounds. It works like flashcards. It contains over 500 flashcards in it separated by specific phonemes, mode of articulation, and phonological processes. This is a very useful app not only for bilingual therapists, but also for English-speaking clinicians who should work on speech errors in both languages when treating children with articulation delays.

2. Learn Spanish and Play

Learn and play app logoThis is an app for working on basic vocabulary and even categorization. Choose from one of (the) 8 scenes: “granja, Zoologico, Insectos, Mar, Frutas, Hortalizas, Colores and Familia”. There is a teaching and a testing component to this application. Once you have worked on the vocabulary you can go to play game mode and test for learning of vocabulary.

3. Play2learn

Play2learn app logoThis Spanish app is part of a family of apps in several languages, including Russian, Italian, French and other languages. It is very useful if your caseload comprises of students coming from several countries and you want to work on some basic vocabulary on their first language. Play2learn is also an app for basic vocabulary, but with a few more options than Learn Spanish and Play. It contains concepts such as body parts, clothing items, toys, colors, technology vocabulary and many more. It also has a component for verifying learning with coloring activities.

4. Conjugation Nation

conjugation nation logo
This is an app for more advanced learners working on subject-verb agreement in Spanish. The user is given a verb and a pronoun and must type the correct verb conjugation. This is a basic app but is one of the best tools I have ever seen for working on subject-verb agreement: a very prominent feature of Spanish grammar.

5. Spanish Grammar: Ser/Estar

Spanish grammar app logoThis app, despite being a bit difficult to set up is very useful for teaching the differences between “ser/estar” both translated as “to be”(“to/be”) in English but used differently in Spanish. This app gives users lots of ways in which each can be used.

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you have any suggestions of apps in Spanish please send me an e-mail to geekslp@yahoo.com. I would love to post it on my blog. Also keep in mind that any of these apps can also be very useful for English-speaking clinicians trying to brush up or start up on their Spanish skills.

Barbara Fernandes is a trilingual speech and language pathologist. She is the director of Smarty Ears and 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. She is a an active participant of the Texas Speech and Hearing Association as a member of the TSHA Culturally and linguistically diverse issues task force. Barbara has created over 15 applications for speech therapists.

ASHAsphere–There’s An App For That

Ok, there’s not really an ASHAsphere app–but here’s how you can create one for your iPhone or Android phone:

iPhone

  • In Safari, go to http://blog.asha.org
  • Tap the “add” icon (see arrow below)
  • Tap “Add to Home Screen”
  • Tap “Add”
  • Voila! You now have an ASHAsphere app! The icon isn’t very pretty, but it gets the job done.

Android

  • In the browser go to http://blog.asha.org
  • Tap “Menu”
  • Tap “Add Bookmark”
  • Tap “Done”
  • Close the browser and go back to home screen
  • Tap the + symbol
  • Tap “Shortcut”
  • Tap “Bookmark”
  • Tap the bookmark for ASHAsphere and drag to the screen

Note: I’m not positive that these Android directions work from any Android phone; I tested them on a Droid HTC. If you have a different Droid that requires different steps, we’d really appreciate it if you’d leave a comment indicating what phone you have and what you have to do differently.

We hope you

Embracing The Potential Benefits Of Using New Technologies In Children’s Speech And Language Therapy

(This post originally appeared on PediaStaff.com)

Communication is so much more than speech, now more than ever, and the gap between the technological literacy of parents and the Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs) assisting children with communication disorders has never been greater – and it is accelerating at a dizzying pace. Speech language pathologists are communication disorder specialists, not computer experts. Many SLPs are from a different, older generation, or just coming out of a newly digitally-connected generation. The communication disorder and sciences profession is rapidly changing at such a fast pace that we must adapt to new tools that were never really intended for speech language pathologists. We must find modern means to keep children’s attention and motivate them to be good communicators.

Doll at computer keyboard

Photo by Kodomut

Since facial expressions and simple gestures, humans have attempted to figure out all kinds of messages one person is trying to get across to another person, or, in a sense, what a sender is trying to convey across to a receiver. The Sender (A) has a message of information (X) for the Receiver (B). The question now is, what is the most effective, efficient, understandable way to get that informational message across from person A to person B and then back to A (and so on)? That is every pediatric SLP’s dilemma to figure out in order to provide the best possible therapy. Part of that dilemma is finding and keeping up with the exponentially changing, newest additions to the communication disorder ‘tool bag’.

All new technology is a tool; one tool of many to aid in the communication between a parent and a child. They are not gadgets to replace interaction or placeholders in important social connections between two emotional human beings. New technology is just one tool to help bring people together and aid in understanding basic, functional needs and wants for quality daily living. A new technology can motivate and facilitate a connection and exchange of ideas or emotions with another person. More tools include animals, blankets, crayons, puppets, games, music, bubbles and puzzles. Therapy tools are meant to motivate and open up opportunities for speech and language development in children. If an iPad helps a child share a smile with their parent, a shared moment of attention, attachment and engagement – that is a good thing. The tech device is just a therapy tool of gaining a child’s attention. It is only with joint attention that more opportunities for interaction can occur.

Finding that attention-grabber takes work, work on the parent’s end and work on the therapist’s end of intervention. We must engage with children and their ‘tech toys’ in order to stay connected to them to some degree. That does not mean that an app or a gadget is a replacement for interacting with a child. Interpersonal interaction will never be replaced – humans are social beings; we need each other to survive and blossom. The tool means nothing and is rather useless without the person using it to facilitate human bonding. We must find what keeps a child’s attention to maintain the level of attention required for communication opportunities. We have evolved from early interaction and attachment, to pragmatics, to gestures, to play, to language comprehension, to language expression – each one an important step in communication and engagement with one another. Each step is a huge communication milestone and it all starts with attachment, attention and interaction. We must get on the floor, be face-to-face and give our full attention to children on their level in order to begin to foster positive shared experiences.

SLPs need to learn how to use new tools and help teach parents, teachers and children how to share these modern communication opportunities. We must learn how to effectively and efficiently embrace children’s new digital language knowledge. We all use Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC) devices every day. People with or without communication disorders, whether we call them AAC or not: cell phones, cameras, daily planners and computers – we are all users of AAC devices. We should not be overwhelmed by new technologies it is just that we have to take the time to learn more about them. It is like learning a new language – and if children are trying so hard to communicate – why can’t we the caregivers and therapists put in effort to understand what is available to children today? Technology is part of our new job requirement. We as SLPs have to stay one step ahead to give these children the best opportunities for communication possibilities. Our new challenge as speech language pathologists and parents is to keep up with the new ways children are learning to communicate.

It is our job as SLPs to understand and to integrate that digital language into therapy to aid children by taking technology from other fields never intended for SLPs. If children are going to engage in this type of online socialization, help them (and us) learn how to navigate this new digital world together. We cannot be perfect therapists, perfect parents, grandparents, or even perfect aunties or siblings, but we can get on the level of a child and really want to find ways to connect with them. Children want to share experiences with us strange and intriguing adults, but they need us to understand and follow their lead sometimes. Children need us to understand their world. Adults, yes, this means homework and taking the extra time to learn about areas in science and technology that may be unfamiliar to us. We must be active participants in order to connect and receive the full, active attention of the children of today.

Connection between people is the most important part of being human. Communication is always evolving. Just like our language dictionaries that require constant updates, speech language pathologists have to keep our tool bags updated and current. We have to keep up with the children of 2010, but keep therapy grounded in human connection to focus on the basics of daily living, wants and needs facilitated by real people. All technologies are just tools of getting a message, information or code (X) from person, Sender (A) to person, Receiver (B) and vice versa. New technology can seem complicated but all these methods have only one purpose- they are methods of connecting people to other people. Speech language pathologists must see all technological tools as just part of the SLP tool bag to effectively use these current and those ancient technologies in therapy. It is no longer necessarily augmentative, alternative communication, but rather, typical digital communication that we must adapt to in order to help children. That does not mean we cannot communicate with children if we do not understand this digital language. Basic, face-to-face communication will always be based on body language and gestures of nonverbal, behavioral communication which speech language pathologists are educated to understand, translate, decode and decipher as a model to the caregiver. SLPs are conduits to pass on skills to others – we are decoders and resources to children. We are resources to parents who desire to achieve attention then engagement with their child; but just need some guidance and support to get there.

SLPs will have to adapt at a faster rate to the exponential increase in therapy tools available for our tool bags and what speaks to children. What keeps their attention? There are many resources available to all of us to be better educated in an increasingly fast paced, digital world. Let us keep up with the children of today and share what we learn to stay as connected to the people we love as humanly possible. So, how do we all stay informed about the exponentially changing, newest additions in communication facilitating technology tools? As a start, we can begin by learning and sharing information from the resources right in front of us. The Internet is full of wonderful educational and therapeutic tools including information on apps and website links for children with communication disorders. Let us therapists and parents listen to children, and to what they can teach us. All anyone needs is a place to start. The following list of highly recommended links is one place to start in helping adults understand children’s digital language of 2010.

Highly recommended links to learn more about children’s digital communication:

Megan (Panatier) Bratti, MS, CCC-SLP, lives in Los Angeles, California with her husband.  She graduated from California State University Northridge with her Master’s degree in Communicative Disorders and Sciences, Speech Language Pathology in 2006.  Megan explores technology and its potential in the communication disorder and sciences field with, Avocado Technologies, co-founded with her husband, Bruno Bratti, an Integrated Circuit Engineer.  Avocado Technologies is a forum on a Facebook page and on Twitter @avocadotech to engage others with the latest stories and news about communicative disorders, language, speech therapy, education, science, linguistics, literacy and technology found on the web.

Halloween Themed Apps to Improve Children’s Language Skills

Halloween apps

Photo by Barbara Fernandes

(This post originally appeared on the GeekSLP Blog)

In the spirit of Halloween I have decided to look at a few Halloween themed apps that can be used by parents and speech therapists to improve children’s language skills. I have been doing therapy mostly with the little ones, so sometimes I am very bias towards talking about apps that can be used by the preschoolers and kindergarteners; this time I will try VERY HARD to find apps that you guys can also use with our older crowd, deal?

I will also try to give some ideas of activities that you guys can implement. Sometimes I think we forget that even though the iPhone and the iPad are great tools, we still need to be part of the process of improving our children’s language and articulation skills. The technology may lead us to expect that the apps will be doing all the work for us, but please SLPs and parents: do not let it! Language and communication are an interactive process and we should be using the apps as tools only, not the be all resource. I hope you guys like the recommendations I have this time.

1. Parents Carve-a-Pumpkin
This app allows you to “carve” your own pumpkin without getting dirty and without having to use a knife. It is great to work on body parts: eyes, mouth, nose, etc by having the child say which part she will build next before allowing them to move the parts.

This app is also great to help students with some adjectives: spiky, happy, scary, etc. If you also want to teach some geometrical forms let your child “cut” it by hand. It is compatible with the iPod and the iPad. In the end you can let the child e-mail and print their own pumpkins.

2. Cookie Doodle
This is by far my favorite one! you get to make your own halloween themed cookie.
First you pick your dough type, then you have to make the dough nice and smooth for your cookie, select the format, and you get to bake and decorate it! The opportunities for building language skills here are endless. Even if you are working on improving fluency skills, this will give you plenty of room for conversation and interaction.

With this app you can teach the child vocabulary words:

Verbs: bake, crack, mix, cut, bake, tap, pour, shake, eat, mix.
Nouns: plates, cookie, dough, cookie cutter, tablecloth, colors, all sorts of flavors, vanilla, salt, chocolate, butter, ghosts, cat, pumpkin, spider, etc.

Because this app also contains other cookie cutters themes you can also use for other festivities.

3. Dot! Connect HalloweenThis is a simple connect the dots app. I purchased this app thinking it would give me some more room for language development; however, I had to be very creative here to try to use it for therapy. The only idea I was able to come up with was using it as a tool for articulation therapy. Every time the child produces the target word you allow them to connect one dot, this way they know how many times they will have to trill that /r/( I guess I am thinking Spanish therapy here!). The Zombie picture has 48 dots, so 48 words for articulation practice!

4. Adapted book- 5 pumpkins.

This is an interactive book that uses sign language interpreters to tell and model the story. This app can be used to model appropriate fluency skills at the phrase level, as well as numbers and signs at the phrase level ( I caught myself trying to imitate the interpreter and learn some signs myself!)

Remember the apps are just tools, parents and speech therapists must take the next step in building the communication. Happy Halloween!

Barbara Fernandes is a trilingual speech and language pathologist. She is the director of Smarty Ears and 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. She is a an active participant of the Texas Speech and Hearing Association as a member of the TSHA Culturally and linguistically diverse issues task force. Barbara has created over 15 applications for speech therapists.

SLP Zen

Zen rocks


Photo by quinet

Few of us would claim that the job of an SLP is flowers and sunshine all the time. It can be super-stressful managing a caseload, planning interventions, completing evaluations, dealing with administrative hoo-hah, and keeping clients, families, and a whole other cast of characters happy. However, if our position were not challenging, many of us would surely get bored and move on to rockier pastures. The key is to be able to step back from our whirlwind work lives and avoid burnout. In this, as in many other areas of my life, I often turn to technology. Here are 5 ways technology can help SLPs with chilling out instead of stressing out.

Slow Down and Breathe- We are pretty good at teaching people how to breathe with their diaphragms but often forget to do so ourselves. Try checking out a meditation podcast to relax after a stressful day, or prepare yourself for the day to come. One great meditation series is the My Thought Coach podcasts by Stin Hansen. I have them all on my iPhone for those days that have me feeling a little too stretched! Another resource is the White Noise app, which you can use to surround yourself with relaxing sounds. My favorite is crashing ocean waves, but you many prefer a camp fire, wind, a purring cat, or even a clothes dryer.

Other Therapeutic Listening- Often we don’t need to be lulled into a meditative state to take ourselves away from the stress of work. Try finding your favorite music and building your own stations with free streaming radio services (and apps) such as Pandora or Slacker. As SLPs, we often work to help people tell their stories, and treasure stories ourselves. I love listening to the This American Life app (all the episodes are also available to stream on the site) on route to work, allowing the funny and often moving stories of ordinary people to distract me for a while before settling in to focus!

Remember the Body-Mind Connection- Our busy days can cause us to neglect our bodies, eat stuff we shouldn’t eat, and be sometimes unable to muster the energy to exercise after a long day of sessions. However, watching what we eat and getting enough exercise can become a healthy positive cycle that reduces stress and boosts productivity. Technology can help. Websites such as FitDay or The Daily Plate and apps like Tap’N’Track keep us mindful of our nutrition (and it’s harder to eat that sugar-crash-causing donut if you know you will have to enter it electronically later). Likewise, you can begin or add to an exercise regimen using resources such as The Daily Burn or iFitness.

Keep your Ducks in A Row- We all get more stressed if we realize (or think) we have forgotten something important. Technology can help keep you organized. Check out my posts on simple (and free!) Google tools like Calendar and Tasks. There are also a lot of great blogs that offer organizational tips. To read posts on efficiency with a techie spin, check out Lifehacker, and you might also like Zen Habits or I’m an Organizing Junkie.

Knowing When to Disconnect- As much as technology can be our friend in all of the above stress-reducers, and in connecting us to others for professional development, we need to be able to step back from work and enjoy other pursuits, friends and family. Although my school system’s email program has an iPhone app, I recently deleted it from my phone. It is very unlikely that there will be some language emergency or technology crisis that I need to know about at any given moment, and the habit of checking work email while at leisure just invites agita (Adam Dachis of Lifehacker wrote an excellent post on this). That email that may annoy you? Why read it during a family dinner, or even know that it is there? No one should expect an immediate reply from an email sent during off-hours. It’s just that simple!

What are your tried-and-true ways for keeping sanity and serenity in your busy life?

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.

Blogging and podcasting for Speech Therapy

Geek SLP TV logo

Photo by Barbara Fernandes

Many of us were born before or when the Internet was just a luxury. I did not even put my hand on a computer until I was 11 years old. From that day forward, I often stayed awake at night just to learn how to create websites, play games or to surf the Internet. Today I still spend many hours daily in front of the computer– I love to blog and network with my fellow speech therapists online.

Imagine that each one of us now has the potential to share our knowledge with millions of people around the world, including with other speech therapists, parents and even individuals whom have a communication disorder. We all have something we can share; we can each be both creators and disseminators of information on a daily basis. I wish I could get paid just to blog, but so far it has been only a hobby.

On my blog called, “GeekSLP Blog”, I write mostly about the use of technology for speech therapy. I am an Apple fan and fan of all the gadgets that make my work easier and more entertaining for the children whom I give therapy. Blogging made it possible for common people like you and me to be the creators of information. We are no longer dependent on big corporations to “teach” us; we learn from one another and grow together. One of the greatest things about blogging is connecting with people that share the same passion (e.g I have several virtual SLP friends that share my passion for technology).

Podcasting has the same function as blogging just in a different format: video or audio only podcasts. I have named my video podcast “GeekSLP TV” (how creative!); people can watch it on YouTube or they can also download episodes on their iPhone, iPod or iPad. At first, it was kind of weird because you are putting your face out there; however, after my seventh episode things started getting a lot easier. I just hope people enjoy watching the podcasts as much as I enjoy recording it for my audience. The best aspect about podcasting is that you do not even have to be a geek to create a podcast; a voice recorder or a video camera is all you need to get started.

I hope you get inspired and start blogging or podcasting today. I would love to hear from you and your new way to share your knowledge with the world.

Barbara Fernandes is a trilingual speech and language pathologist. She is the director of Smarty Ears and 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. She is a an active participant of the Texas Speech and Hearing Association as a member of the TSHA Culturally and linguistically diverse issues task force. Barbara has created over 15 applications for speech therapists.