Stop Playing Games!!

stop playing games

What?!  Did I just actually say don’t play games in speech? Not quite, but please let me explain.  As I travel around speech rooms supervising new therapists and working with my own private speech kiddos, I have noticed a trend.  In the quest to make therapy engaging and fun for our kids, we search high and low for the perfect game to gain “buy in” from our students. The holy grail appears to be ‘Cariboo’ based on facebook posts, but I am sure there are many other favorites across speech rooms.  As a young therapist, I didn’t want to necessarily share my student’s new favorite game in speech with the parents. I feared they would run right out to buy it, thus removing the magic bullet that I had ‘discovered’.

I have since learned that there is no magic bullet or game that will work each time with every kid. In fact, you can have the most amazing lesson plan for therapy EVER in the history of speech and it won’t connect with the student that day, for whatever reason. Don’t take it personally.  Being flexible is one of the secret weapons in our SLP arsenal and learning to adjust the session based on the student’s response, is an acquired skill. Don’t let yourself believe that finding a different “greatest game in the world” each and every week will guarantee success.  It won’t, but it might burn you out and make you broke.

I DO want speech to be fun, and there is nothing more boring to me than sitting around a worksheet doing the same old same old.  So where is the sweet spot for therapy balance? Combining a variety of goal focused activities, including games, that target core vocabulary (both academic and community based language), social language skills, and time to pause and learn in the moment is the recipe for a successful therapy session. Add a little movement, a sense of humor and the opportunity to connect the therapy room skills to the rest of their world, and you have a winning combination for your kids!

What are your thoughts on using games in therapy?

TPT Boost Sale AND Linky Party? Yes Please!

shining stars linky party

TPT is having a BOOST sale on Wednesday, 8/19!  I don’t know about you, but I plan on striking while the iron is hot, and scooping up some new materials at up to 28% off ( don’t forget to use the code: MORE15 when you check out).  I am joining up with SLPRunner (thanks!) for a linky party, so take a look at what other fabulous SLPS are recommending you add to your cart too!

In my SmartmouthSLP store you may want to pick up this new card game, Fishing for Compliments.  It’s fish themed fun to work on giving and receiving compliments for your readers:

fishing for compliments 8x8 cover

Have you met Sid (Socially Inappropriate Dude) and Sis (socially inappropriate sister)? I have a new social story series about these two siblings, as they go on unexpected adventures and head back to school in this one!  Your students will help them figure out expected/unexpected choices and identify what the people around Sid & Sis might be thinking and feeling.

Sid and Sis First Day of School 8x8 cover

This Social Skills Squish Bundle will help your students work on five different areas of social awareness (calm body, topic maintenance, using or losing words with big emotions, appropriate volume, and matching verbals to non-verbals) with fun play-doh squish mats and activities!  Perfect for younger students working on social skills!

social skills squish bundle 8x8 cover

Check out these other great social language products from Speech Paths, SLPRunner and Peachie Speechie to add to your carts too.  Happy shopping!

original-2009219-1topic maintenance cover slprunner                       social stories peachie speechie

Old Dog, New Tricks!

old dog new tricks

This is my old boy, Archie, looking thrilled to be in the tub (not)!  But as cute and mopey as he is in this picture, he is not the old dog I am referring to.  That old dog would be me.  I was chatting with some other “seasoned” SLPs about technology in our field.   We were laughing at the memory of handwriting IEPs on carbon paper and that amendments required drawing a line through the mistake and initialing it.  Those days are gone!

What is second nature to my own boys and the new grads that I mentor with apps and social media, requires visual tutorials and lots of time for me to master.  Thank goodness for Youtube and collaborative boards on Facebook!  One of the great things about our field is that we all share information and support one another, and this is true in the virtual SLP realm as well.  I have learned a tremendous amount from Natalie Snyders, Jenna Rayburn and Meredith Avren (The Peachie Speechie)!  I got to thinking about the GIANT learning curve I have been on this year.

In the past 8 months of 2015 I have joined Instagram (love), Periscope (jury is still out), and learned to create my own pins on Pinterest.  I think I may need a Pintervention, as I am slightly addicted to it!  I learned how to create TeachersPayTeachers products on Powerpoint, edit pictures with A Beautiful Mess and Instasize apps,  and utilize Camtasia to record presentations for new SLPs.  I have struggled with Twitter (meh) and am getting ready to start using an iPad to create social language training videos for a grant project.  Each time I struggle with a new skill and come out the other side, it gives me a great sense of satisfaction!  Not that I am fantastic at everything, far from it,  but just that I am able to learn and grow is enough.

The only constant in our field is change, and you can either embrace it or let it frustrate you.  I choose to embrace it.  Give it a try and dip your toes into Instagram.  You will be amazed at the great SLPs and ideas you will find just by looking up the hashtag, #slpeeps!  Not sure what that means?  Check out this post by Nicole Allison.  Besides, I have read that constantly challenging yourself to learn new things keeps your brain young and flexible, and that sounds like a win-win for this old dog!

What has been your experience with the social media learning curve?

Sometimes the Speech Therapist Shouldn’t Talk.

clipartpanda.com

clipartpanda.com

My first post CF job as a SLP in a rural Florida school many years ago, was a bit interesting.  The SLP before me had apparently gone a bit off the rails, by choosing to not do any IEPs for the year. Yikes! I worked through my caseload of more than 80 kiddos that year by getting creative, setting up centers in my tiny room and slogging through that towering pile of IEPs to get them up to date.  It was a huge learning curve for me!

One of the things my littles told me was that the aforementioned SLP would also tell them “no talking” in speech as she put in a movie for them to watch every day.  “No talking in speech???” I thought in a huff.  While that “therapy” is definitely not effective or appropriate, it sparked a memory of the Hanen Program that I had used in my hospital internship. “It Takes Two To Talk” is still such a great resource for families working on language development and they have added the “Make Play Rock” series for supporting language growth in kids on the spectrum.  The concept of OWL:  Observe, Wait and Listen, has stuck with me all these years.  Here’s a great info-graphic from Hanen about this technique HERE .

To generalize our field, we love to talk and we are word nerds extraordinaire!  However, with many of my students on the spectrum, constant talking is like turning a fire hose on their brains.  They need quiet and time to process all the language demands headed their way.  I try to share with the teachers that I work with, especially when my kids head into inclusion classes, that the premise of OWL is really important…and hard to do!

Less language is also crucial when our kids melt down.  Talking is often not helpful in these circumstances, in fact, it tends to tick them off more.  Reducing sensory input, including language, can calm a situation down and give the child the ability to reset themselves emotionally. You can find a time later to process what happened without the emotion of the event, and it is much more effective!

I have also found with my students on the impulsive side of the curve, that teaching them to use this technique results in people wanting to engage with them more often.  When they see that the student isn’t going to talk over them or interrupt them, and will actually listen to what they are saying, that makes them a valuable friend.  Good listeners are hard to find these days!

It may feel like the opposite of what we are supposed to do, but in reality sometimes it’s okay for the SLP not to talk!  Share your thoughts here….

What’s In My Cart: August 2015 Linky Party

WhatsInYourCartLInky

Hard to believe, but not only is it time to go back to school around here, but it’s also time for the TPT Love Back To School Sale on Monday 8/3 & Tuesday 8/4!  I want to share some of my social language TPT products for you to consider picking up this week as well as three items from my growing wish list of great SLP products. I am linking up with Jenna Rayburn from Speech Room News for this fun linky (thanks Jenna!). Take a minute to peruse through the other SLP bloggers linked up for this event, as you are sure to find lots of things to love and your wish list will be a bit out of control too. Don’t forget to use the code:  BTS15 for an additional discount on top of each seller’s discount, up to 28%.  Woohoo!

Mission control 8x8 cover

This executive function packet is sure to help your elementary aged students tap into organizational skills that will help them succeed this year!

wow worry wonder 8x8 cover

Wow, worry or wonder is a perfect social language product to support your students transitioning to middle school, and gives them strategies to address common social emotional concerns.

social skills squish bundle 8x8 cover

Looking for a little social language fun?  Try this five pack of Social Skills Squish dough mat activities to work on a variety of social skills necessary for a great year!

What am I looking to snap up?

How about this gem from Peachie Speechie? 20 simple social stories for school scenarios!

meredith social stories

I love this smartphone themed activity from SLPRunner for topic maintenance and turn taking!

topic maintenance cover slprunner

One more great social language activity is this fun game with a QR twist, What Would You Do? Wizarding Inferences, from Speech Time Fun:

wizarding fun
To all my fellow SLPs back to school this week, good luck and here’s to a great year ahead!

 

The First Year: Perspective from a CF Supervisor

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School starts for me next week.  I’m a bit nervous as my home school underwent a major renovation and we haven’t gotten the all clear yet to move back into our rooms. Did I mention it starts next week?  The first week back is all meetings, moving and organizing, plus hugging friends you haven’t seen in a few months!  The learning curve is a bit smaller each year, and that makes the transition a little easier.

The other event that happens this time of year is that I get to meet my new crop of CFs! I had 9 last year and may have 11 this year (note:  I  do not have a caseload in addition to these CFs, it wouldn’t be possible!)  I’m thinking we need to come up with a collective name for a group of CFs.  How about a “quiver” ?  They are sharp, ready to launch and a little nervous.  That may be a periscope topic soon!

My school system intentionally and purposefully mentors our new CFs.  I am one of four SLP leads/CF supervisors for our large county and it really does make a difference for our new grads in that first year (and in retaining good SLPs beyond that first year).  After a few rounds of supervising, I streamlined my paperwork process and listened closely to what my CFs were asking about.  My best advice to them, especially in the beginning months, is to remember to breathe, leave work at work and ask questions!

Communication is key (duh!) and feedback not only for the CFs, but also for the mentoring SLPs, is crucial.  So, I came up with a freebie for other CF supervisors HERE that encompasses both of these pieces.  In addition, I have included a list of great links by some amazing slp bloggers about that CF year.  I hope you will find this packet helpful and cheers to a new year!

The Kissing Conundrum

kissing conundrumI have a kissing conundrum.  I see several adorable kiddos that love to give kisses, both in therapy and in my special needs church classroom on Sundays.  How they love everyone around them (most days) is one of their gifts, but the cautious side of me worries a bit. My phrase of the day has been “Kisses are for mommy and daddy”.  I tell my kids that I love them too, then try to redirect with a high-five or a fist bump.

Out in the world, randomly kissing people they know, and those they don’t, can make them vulnerable. It can make boundaries a little fuzzy.  It makes them stand out as they get older. I saw this last week with one of my favorite former students, who is now in middle school.  He walked up to introduce himself to a new volunteer in our church class last week unprompted (yay!).  As he was greeting the new guy, he then leaned over and kissed his hand.  The poor volunteer didn’t really know what to do, and he was a bit perplexed.  He looked at me and smiled nervously.

I took my buddy to the side and we chatted a bit about how you introduce yourself to someone you have never met before.  I then asked him what he thought the man was thinking when a stranger kissed his hand.  My friend sat there a minute thinking about it and said to me, “Okay, watch this”.  He then walked over to someone else he hadn’t met, introduced himself, shook their hand and looked at me smiling.  No kisses.  Perfect, a teachable moment that worked!

Thinking about this situation, I started wondering when do we need to start this discussion with families?  How old is too old?  How young is too young?  How do we foster and support our kids as they grow into young adults with healthy boundaries, without losing that loving spirit?  Now you understand my kissing conundrum.   I have made social stories for my little ones and used the Circle of Friends visual targets with my older students.  Any suggestions, especially for middle-schoolers through young adults, would be greatly appreciated.  Share here!!