Friday, October 5, 2012

Speech Buddies

I first heard about Speech Buddies at the 2010 ASHA convention.  I thought it sounded like such a great idea, but could they really work???  Well, after using Speech Buddies for several weeks, I believe they really do work!  I used the /r/ Speech Buddy with a 7 year old client who was not stimulable for /r/ before using speech buddies.  His baseline data was 0% for /r/ in all positions.  We used the /r/ probe throughout the first one hour session.  One week later, the client achieved 60% accuracy for producing /r/ in all positions of syllables while using the /r/ Speech Buddy probe.  Some increase is expected in the early weeks of therapy.  However, a 0% to 60% increase is greater than I would normally expect to see.  

How do Speech Buddies work?  There is a probe for each sound.  I used the /r/ probe which is pictured on the bottom left.  You place the probe in the child's mouth and instruct them to unroll the coil while saying /r/.  We practiced saying /r/ in syllables at first (ie. re, ray, rye, eerie, ear). After achieving success with /r/ in syllables, we tried to move to /r/ in words.  It was difficult for the client to produce the entire word with the probe in his mouth.  Instead, we started with /r/ syllables using the probe, moved to /r/ syllables without the probe, and then moved to /r/ in words.  The probe offered enough tactile support to get us started and assisted with generalization of the "good /r/" into words.  I have struggled for years to offer this type of support to students struggling with /r/ production.  

Talk it up!


Friday, September 14, 2012

Check out what I've been using in therapy this week...

I started using Speech Buddies /r/ probe this week.  I have to admit I was skeptical about this product because it seems very different from traditional articulation therapy.  However, after one week, I am impressed!  Check back in two weeks for a complete reveiw.  Does anyone have experience using Speech Buddies in therapy?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Short Synonym Lesson

This week, I've been teaching synonyms to my middle school students.  Their favorite synonym activity has been Three Little Pigs Rewrite.  I handed out a copy of the The Three Little Pigs and we read it as a group.  I asked them if they noticed any overused words.  They immediately pointed out "little" so we brainstormed synonyms we could use instead of little and then looked in the Thesaurus to find even more.  We continued to brainstorm synonyms for other words in the story.  The kids were cracking up as we read our new and improved story at the end of the session.  It went something like this...."The first tiny pig constructed his residence out of straw because it was simple. The second diminutive pig assembled his dwelling out of sticks.This was slightly more powerful than a straw abode.  The third petite pig erected his quarters out of bricks."  
"The Gigantic Naughty Wolf"
I wrapped up the session by reinforcing that this activity can be used in the classroom setting.  When the students write papers in other classes, they should replace overused words with more interesting synonyms.  

Talk it up!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Resources Galore

I try my best to avoid all of the back-to-school hype.   Back-to-school ads began just when I had fully began to relax and enjoy my summer.  Seriously, it started way too early.  This year was no exception.  I avoided "back-to-school" anything until 7 AM on the first teacher work day.  And boy am I paying for it! I have paperwork up to my eyeballs and no lesson plans to speak of.  Good thing I work well under pressure!  So, where do I go to find my lesson plans/ parent resources/ therapy materials to get back on track???  Good question!  

Speech/Language Blogs
In my "free time" (a.k.a. when I'm procrastinating that paperwork up to my eyeballs) I peruse Speech/Language Therapy Blogs.  This is perhaps the most affordable source (free!) for a wealth of ideas.  You can find ideas to target goals for every age range and every ability level. Check out my favorites on the right!  

I've said it before and I will say it again, you're missing out if you're not on Pinterest.  Join now and follow PediaStaff.  You will find more ideas than you know what to do with.  Roughly 30% of my therapy material comes from ideas/downloads from Pinterest.  

Fluency Resources
I have an unusually high number of fluency clients this year.    I found some great resources from The Stuttering Foundation.  I handed out 8 Tips for Teachers and played Stuttering:  For Kids, By Kids at the beginning of each fluency session.  Watching the video really set the stage to have nice conversation about stuttering and associated feelings.  

Apps for Children with Special Needs
New to the world of iDevices and apps?  Start looking around at A4CWSN.  Check out the free apps tab and the favorite apps tab (my favorites!).  I go to this website frequently to see what's new.  

Thank you Leslie Lindsay for writing a comprehensive book about Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS).  This book is informative enough to teach an SLP a thing or two, yet chatty enough to be a page turner for other parents.  My favorite chapter, "What You Can Do at Home:  Tappping into your Inner Speech-Langauge Pathologist," gives creative therapy ideas that can be implemented at home (or in the speech room!).  I have recommended this book to a few parents and have received great reviews.  Add a copy to your professional library today! 
Speaking of Apraxia: A Parents' Guide to Childhood Apraxia of Speech

Talk it up!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Favorite (non-iPad) Therapy Materials

It's time to spend my budget money.  For many SLPs, this can be a challenging feat. Sure $350 may sound like a lot, but then you flip through the catalogs and notice all of your top "wants" are $100.  That budget money can go pretty fast. How do you know what therapy materials will be great and which ones will leave you wishing you had made better choices?  All the therapy hype seems to be centered around the iPad these days.  My school doesn't purchase iPad apps for me so I rely on Super Duper and Linguisystems for the majority of therapy items.  I am going to list some therapy materials that are sure to please.  Please share items that are staples in your speech rooms! 

Jumbo Articulation Drill Book
This is my number one tool for articulation therapy.  There are many pictures/words/sentences for every sound.  The black and white pictures are kid friendly. 

Language Burst
This is a great time filler at the end of therapy.  I also use it for a quick warm-up activity. 
Product Image

Word Feast
Excellent vocabulary lessons for middle school students. 
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Chipper Chat
One of those great games that can be used for any goal. 

Hear Builder- Auditory Memory

This is something new to add to your therapy tool kit! This interactive software program teaches key strategies for remembering numbers, words, sentences, and stories. Hear Builder reminds me of a video game that can keep children engaged for long periods of time.  The animation and story line are exceptionally appealing to the students.  They get to help the recall agents save Memory Town from the evil Dr. Forgetsit.   Within the 5 subcategories (Numbers, Words, Details, Closure, WH Info), it teaches memory strategies that can be used to pass the level and are actually practical in life.  For example, one student was having difficulty passing a level where he had to memorize 4 numbers with a 10 second delay.  Hear Builder helped him learn to repeat the numbers over and over until it was time to type in the code.  I have the professional edition of Hear Builder which allows me to alter the difficulty level for particular students.  It also allows me to add background noise.  I have found these features to be very helpful.  After using this program for one week, I am excited to try the other versions of Hear Builder!  Does anyone have experience with the other versions?  Are they as great as the Auditiory Memory version?

Talk it up!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Cloudy With A Chance Of...

Hello. I'm reporting from tornado alley and the season for catostrophic weather is in full swing. Just last week, there was a tornado watch in effect. Apparantly this was pretty traumatic for some kids because they were talking about it all week. I thought, "Why not turn this into a speech activity?" This high interest activity has helped to address goals for some of my students with speech/voice issues.  I began the lesson by stating that some people use their voice for their career. Can you think of any jobs that require a good voice? Let the students brainstorm and write their responses on the board. Hopefully, they thought of a meteorologist or a reporter.  If not, guide them in that direction.  Next, watch this video: 

Have a conversation about what made this man's voice "good."  With one of my older students, I made a rating scale that included rate, volume, pitch, pausing, overall intelligibility, and stress.  This lead to great discussion about voice.  Now, instruct the student to make their own weather forecast.  Give them five minutes or so to research upcoming weather in their area and make some quick notes.  Tell them that they will have to give a one minute weather report.  Video their forecast (I used my iPad).  Watch the forecast with the student and have them rate their voice using the same parameters listed above.  If they are unsatisfied, try again!  This lesson leads to great discussion!!  For example, how is the meteorologist's voice different from my voice?  Does the meteorologist speak differently to his family than he does on TV?  Would it be weird if we talked like a meteorologist all the time?  Have fun with this!

Talk it up!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Benefits of Sign Language in the Middle Schools

Currently, I am enjoying one of the luxuries of being a school-based SLP- Spring Break!  What better time for a guest post?  Check out what Kristy, from Hear My Hands, has to say about incorporating sign language into  speech/language therapy for the middle school population.  Oh ya, don't forget to check out Kristy's website
Currently I don’t see elementary or middle school age students on my case load. I do work with high school students though and therapy can get pretty tricky to maintain their attention and motivation for even as little as the 30 minutes given to me to work with them. So … just recently I started an agreement with a few groups that if they got done what we needed to accomplish, then I would give them a quick mini-sign language lesson at the end of their session. This idea went over great! The girls in different groups thought it was ‘hot’ (their words – not mine) and so it began! But first – we started with a figurative language lesson because how could I pass up the opportunities to talk about ‘hot’ as in anything but the actual temperature ‘hot’! As that moment passed and I got my lesson accomplished, we moved onto a quick lesson in sign language! Ta-da – success! I signed SEE YOU LATER and away they went. And let me tell you – they remembered the next week!

Fortunately when I do work with elementary school kiddos they are quite more compliant so I don’t have to coerce them so much. But how would I use sign language with middle school students in therapy? There’s a few games that could work on your goals and incorporate sign language.

1.      SignBurst!
a.       Players required: 2 +
b.      Items needed: a timer, a pile of cards that are your target words for the session (and perhaps a couple previous sessions), and available hands! On each card with the target word should be additional related words (either synonyms, antonyms, associations, etc.)
c.       Rules: One student will sign the word and the other students are required to come up with the synonym (or antonym if that is what you are working on) for the word. So for example, the word on the card is ‘happy’. Other words on the card are ‘glad,’ ‘excited,’ ‘cheerful,’ ‘blissful,’ ‘joyful,’ etc.  The one student would sign HAPPY and the other students would have to beat the timer with as many words as they can think of for ‘happy’. **If the students don’t remember the sign given (e.g. HAPPY) then fingerspelling is permitted – not speech! H-A-P-P-Y.
sign language sign.jpg
2.      Deaf-ine it!
a.       Players required: 4 + (two groups of two minimum)
b.      Items needed: target words written out on index cards or from a worksheet
c.       Rules: With the timer started, one person reads the definition of the word to his/her partner(s). The partner(s) is required to sign the correct response. The team member reading the definitions continue to read more definitions until the timer goes off. For example: definition: “it’s round and tells times.” Other partner must sign CLOCK; and continue to the next definition. Points will be given for each correct response. The other team follows the same directions. At the end of each round, the team with the most points wins that match.
3.      Sign What? (the play on words – “Say What?”)
a.       Players required: however many other students during that therapy session
b.      Items needed: a story or article
c.       Rules: You (the clinician) read the story and emphasize the important parts in sign. The students need to know what the signs are prior to the story being read.  After the story is complete, you ask the appropriate comprehension questions. The person who remembers the correct answers gets a point. If he/she remembers the sign too, they get an additional point.

These are just a few ideas. In my therapies, I find it’s critical to rehearse word-finding skills. I find that almost everything I do has some word retrieval practice in there somewhere. Using sign language (limb gross and fine motor skills) can help jug the memory of the word(s) the student is trying to think of. Using sign language paired with the spoken word works different areas of the brain with the whole – here it comes big words – visuospatial memory! A student’s sure to remember a definition to a new word or concepts heard in a story when signs are attached to it.  The use of sign language allows for a fun new interactive way to teach the same ol’ goals.  I am able to get across my semantic language, following directions, auditory processing/comprehension, and pragmatic goals using the three goals discussed above.  Sign language comes across as a ‘hot’ way to learn the concepts they prefer not to rehearse.  Success in my book! Sign on!

Kristy works as a speech-language pathologist in the school systems, early intervention, as well as with private clients. Her specialty is augmentative alternative communication (AAC), which she believes fits perfectly with ASL. Kristy uses ASL both personally (with her daughter) and professionally in her therapy sessions and by teaching classes, tutoring sessions, and workshops. She is a Master Level Certified Sign Language Instructor through Signing Time®, a new blogger, a student in Nova Southeastern University’s SLP.D program, a wife, and a new mom of a 12 month old. Please visit her new blog and her Facebook page and become followers!

Thank you Kristy!
Talk (or rather...sign) it up!