Doritos in speech? Score!


Now before all the super neat and tidy speech therapists freak out, we aren’t going to eat Doritos in speech.  I know images of kids with orange faces and fingers (not to mention Dorito breath) might bring to mind your own personal vision of  “The Shining”, so relax.  What I am suggesting  is using the brilliant million dollar challenge “Crash the Super Bowl” commercials that Doritos sponsors each year.  These commercials are fantastic to use to teach and reinforce social language concepts such as expected/unexpected, prediction, inferences, think/say/feel, and main idea/gestalt thinking (all which align beautifully with Think Social lessons by Michelle Garcia Winner).The screaming goat winner from 2013 is still one of my favorites to use.  Inferences and prediction,subtitles, music and no spoken language makes this one great to view for social language!

As with all video clips, preview them first!   You can always use View Pure to filter out the annoying ads from youtube videos too (it’s awesome!).  I created this FREE (and you know we speechies like free stuff!) football themed activity sheet on TPT for “post game analysis” of social language in commercials here .  

The Big Game: Social Language in Commercials worksheet

Print it out and use it as a fun way to explore social language concepts!  You probably won’t get a huge trophy or a confetti shower, but your students just might think you are the best SLP ever!  I also have a board of social language videos that you can peruse HERE .

Here’s a list of some of the best 2015 entries to use (all kid friendly):

 Man-child  (great for unexpected/expected!)

Doritos Monster 

The Angler

Baby’s First Word

When Pigs Fly

Dog Dream

Kick off a great therapy session and please share any good commercials you have used lately here!

From Social Detective to CSI….

social autopsy



I work with an amazing speech language pathologist in my school system named Suzanne, and she is a master of using the Think Social and Superflex curriculum (both from Michelle Garcia Winner)  with our kids who struggle with social language!  Suzanne mentioned she is using social autopsies with many of her kids, and while it rang a bell, I wasn’t familiar with the details. It sounded kind of interesting (and a tiny bit creepy).  After plugging the term into my dear friend Google, I found out it is definitely a very cool tool to use in therapy!!  Bonus: social autopsy dovetails nicely into the social detective theme too, don’t you think?

Social skill autopsy is a concept coined by Rick Lavoie, a special educator.  This video is a great insight into why he feels social skills are critical for children (in this example, kids with LD).  We often focus on just our friends with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) when we talk about social language abilities, but the continuum is much broader.   He also wrote a fantastic book “It’s So Much Work to Be Your Friend” that continues the social conversation.  His understanding of why culture is so hard for kids to navigate socially and how we as adults (teachers, parents, therapists) can support positive social interactions is extraordinary.

A social skills autopsy is founded on three ideas:  most social errors are unintentional, punishing kids for unintentional errors is not only unfair, but inappropriate, and traditional remediation is not effective.  Can I get a hallelujah?!  You may think this is not new information, but for many people it is a paradigm shift.  If we think about it, we all have probably had experiences on the other side of this equation.  The difference is that we have enough social awareness and incidental learning strategies that we didn’t continue to make the same mistakes over and over again.  Once was enough!

For example, many years ago, I walked into a small museum in Europe.  I grabbed my camera and took a picture with a flash to capture all the beauty, and a security guard immediately grabbed my camera and made me leave the museum, yelling at me in French.  I did not understand (because I sadly don’t read or speak French) that flash photography is forbidden as it damages the paintings.  My error was unintentional and I was upset and confused as to what had happened.  I might do the same thing again in another museum if my social awareness was not intact enough to figure out what I had done wrong.  I might also incorrectly assume that all French museum guards are rude and angry people.   Was it my intention to do the wrong thing and upset people?  No, and for most of our students it isn’t their intention either.

Dr. Lavoie goes on to describe the intervention strategy in four steps:  practice, immediate feedback, instruction and positive reinforcement.  There is a fantastic article from LD online that gives details and examples of this technique.  I found a few free printables that you can use in therapy with your students for social skill autopsies from   here . Dr.  Christine Reeve has a fantastic blog geared to the autism classroom that is full of great ideas btw, just search “social autopsy”.

Have you used social skill autopsies?  Share your experience here!



The Broke SLP

broke slpWell, it’s January and by now all the school funds for materials or mini-grants are like my Christmas decorations, gone for another year.  However, we have a whole five months of school to go and the winter blahs are upon us.  Gray, dreary days mean it’s time to shake up our lesson plans as both the kids and the therapists get a bit squirrelly (especially when there is no outdoor recess for a week *shudder*).  What to do when the all your shelves hold are the same old, same old staring back at you and even the treasure box is running low on fun?

My wonderful CFs (clinical fellows-first year speech language therapists that I supervise) always inspire me with their creativity!  No one knows better how to stretch a dollar than a new grad.  I watched a lot of great therapy this week with my genius SLP newbies and wanted to share some free ideas to brighten up your therapy.  I am happily surprised when they grab onto the concepts of Social Thinking (Michelle Garcia Winner) for their students with social communication impairments.  This is a paradigm shift for most new grads (I still don’t understand why this is not included coursework in the communication disorders programs, but that is a topic for another day) and most have taken the information and run with it!   One activity I saw was the use of “expected/unexpected” visuals and videos to talk about perceptions and behaviors.  You can download the free therapy ideas with visuals here or from this great website here .

You can extend the ideas using these free printables for jigsaw puzzle pieces   (great for cause/effect activities or contrasting unexpected/expected behaviors) or making your own free game boards with social scenario questions (or using videos) here and here .  One more great free social activity packet from Speech2U  on TPT, has visuals, video links and great descriptions to use, making it a Slam Dunk.

Are you sensing a pattern here?  Free falls right into the sweet spot of our budget-woohoo!

Last but not least, if you have older students or just really want some great insight into our students with ASD (autism spectrum disorder), check out  .  Youtube has many videos by Alex that are worth a few minutes to watch! This is a treasure trove of ideas and understanding of the social world from the point of view of people who have social language impairments.  Alex Plank and friends delve into insightful discussions about dating, work, and what it means to be a person with ASD.  It offers great talking points (and ideas that can work into therapy) for our students in middle, high school and beyond.

What are your favorite freebies for social language therapy?  Don’t be shy, share them here!


How wild is too wild???



Well, New Year’s has come and gone but wild times are still here, just ask any teacher the first week back to school!  Looking for a social language activity on matching our behavior to our environments?  You have come to the right place!  “Mr. Tiger Goes Wild”, by Peter Brown, is a great book to start your lesson.  This story follows the theme, “There is a time and place for everything-even going wild.”   But how wild is too wild?

This is a hard concept, particularly for our younger kids with sensory issues.  Their engines rev up way too high or too quickly and it’s difficult for them to calm back down.  For our older students, sometimes the function of their “wildness” is attention, so we need to be cautious that we don’t feed that monster 🙂  The book tells a lovely story about a tiger who is tired of being proper and wants to revert to his wild, non-clothes-wearing, roaring on all four paws behavior.  His very proper friends are upset by this change and the story goes on to tell of how they all compromise to feel free to be themselves (within reason).

I have created 9 cut apart cards with 12 social language questions to delve into MGW’s social thinking concepts such as expected/unexpected behaviors, rules that change depending on the setting and considering the feelings of those around us.  I also made a printable mini-poster for students to ask questions regarding people, place and timing for being “wild”.  You can find them both here at TPT.

It would be a wonderful companion lesson to create a calm down kit for younger kids to use after a wild time- it could include a weighted vest, a special spot in the room to calm down, breathing techniques, fidgets or squishy toys, a cup to get a drink of water or some soft music to listen to, for a few minutes.  This is a good example from Pinterest or this one .   Talk to your amazing OT friends and get their suggestions too (particularly if the students are using the program, How Does Your Engine Run?).

And last but not least, don’t forget to define what WILD looks like- it can mean vastly different things to different people!!  That might be a fun art project to draw or cut pictures out from magazines to show what the concept of wild means to each student.  You could cut out tiger shaped masks and glue/draw the pictures on them for your younger students or brainstorm ideas with your older kids.

This cute video clip can help illustrate it too and lead to a great discussion on when it’s okay to be wild, and when it’s not. Here’s to having a time and place for everything, even being wild!

Happy New Year Beasties!



Oh Christmas break, how I love you!! I had the luxury of catching up on some movies (and some sleep) that I missed this year including Maleficent, the retelling of Sleeping Beauty.  It is told from the point of view of the “evil” queen, Maleficent, who cast a curse on poor Aurora (aka Sleeping Beauty or Brier-Rose).  Of course it includes the tried and true plot point of killing off the mom, but it completely flipped the Disney version I watched as a child.  It offers a great starting place to talk about point of view and perspective taking with my older students.

I would start the lesson by talking about the Grimm story and any background knowledge that my students have. If they have seen this movie, what were their thoughts?  It would offer a great opportunity to compare and contrast (hello common core) the Disney animated version or the Grimm fairy tale with Maleficent or even the different versions of the evil queen (Aurora remains fairly consistent throughout the stories).

The lesson can continue with making inferences about the characters from movie clips such as this one with this one .  I would talk about the change in mood, tone, the music, and the characters appearances as clues to make smart guesses about inferences and predictions.  You can even compare the point of view of Aurora’s character before and after she understands who Maleficent is  ( here and here ) using my free POV graphic organizer from TPT.

For older students (middle school on up), it would open up an interesting discussion on the concepts of good/evil and the motivations behind the character’s choices (for example, the king’s treatment of Maleficent).  It is often the perspective of students with ASD that people and choices are “black and white”, but this movie really looks at the gray areas well, that people can struggle with good and evil.   I might also include talking about my favorite fairy tale cliché’, that love conquers all, and how there are many different kinds of love(for example:true love’s kiss can be a prince vs. a mother’s love).

So there you go Beasties, a social language lesson plan to start the New Year!