Spooky Speech Treats

sid and sis trick or treat


The Holiday roller coaster is just about to start with Halloween later this week.  Luckily, it falls on a Saturday, so we get to avoid the sugar craziness and crashes this year.  I have a fun social story product about a pair of siblings, SID (socially inappropriate dude) and SIS (socially inappropriate sister), to talk about expected and unexpected behaviors on Halloween.  You can find it in my TPT store, SmartmouthSLP.   As a treat, I also found a few fun FREEBIES for speech this week on TeachersPayTeachers and wanted to share them with you!

Halloween vocab cardsThese cute vocabulary cards from Teaching Talking can be used in games and therapy this week to address prepositions, following directions, expressive language, and more!

halloween house

I LOVE this adorable paper bag puppet idea to work on spooky speech from Table Top Tales

witchs hat

Want a cute way to work on Yes/No questions with visual support? Check out this freebie from Speech Time Fun !

candy corn challenge

Looking for a yummy way to get 100 target responses in artic?  Try this tasty challenge from Peachie Speechie !

halloween exit slips

Last, but not least, I really like these Halloween themed “ticket out the door” to reinforce what we work on in therapy from Creative Speech Lab.

Happy Halloween friends!   If you have other spooktacular freebies for speech, please share your links here!

Well, You Don’t See THAT Every Day….

singing cat

I was observing one of my middle school dynamic speech duos this week and they were working on the functional concept of grocery stores for their in class group.  That can be pretty dry content, but boy, did they make it fun with a variety of interactive materials, AT devices and videos interspersed to illustrate the concepts! The kids were thoroughly engaged and enjoying themselves, commenting on their devices and answering questions during the entire hour!  These awesome SLPs even film the kids on an ipad during the in class, and upload it to Edmodo  for the parents to watch how their kids are participating in group.

My CF, Rachael, embedded vocabulary, sentence structure, AAC, articulation, voice and even social language into her lesson (yup, she’s pretty amazing).  As she was talking about expected behaviors in the grocery store, she showed a clip that illustrated her point beautifully HERE .  Several people burst into a ridiculous song about fruit in the middle of a Queens, NY grocery store, and the resulting video is social language gold!  It’s a perfect way to talk about expected/unexpected behaviors and what people might be feeling or thinking based on their expressions as they watch.

There is a series of these videos by a group called Improv Everywhere.  They include random musicals in a crowded food court, at a mall with Santa (note: in this one they use the words “putting my butt on Santa’s lap”, so proceed with caution and PREVIEW!), and one during a business presentation.  You may want to skip episode six as it’s an homage to beer (maybe watch that one when you get home after a long day of IEPs).

I also found videos from this group that re-enact famous movies in “real life” moments.  For example, a Harry Potter-esque little boy in a train station (with an owl!) is looking for platform nine and three-quarters, and asks many people for help.  It could foster a great discussion about fantasy/reality and the unexpected.  These videos typically run about three minutes, so you can edit or pause and discuss throughout the sessions.

While I won’t be bursting into song anytime soon, have you found any great videos to work on expected/unexpected that involve music?   Please share here!

An Attitude of Gratitude.


This time of the school year, we are up to our necks in IEP meetings, progress reports, data collections and lesson plans.  We SLPs are powered by strong coffee in the morning and sugary treats stashed in desk drawers during the afternoon energy slump.  The weeks will only go faster between now and the holidays! As someone who has been working in this field a long time (+20 years), I can forget how overwhelming this time of year can be for new grads and my fellow speechies who work from sun up to way past dark most days. This week is ending in a teacher work day and a Monday off for Columbus Day. Everyone is so looking forward to a little break to regroup!

Before we head out for the long weekend, I wanted to make an effort to let the people around me (in person and on email) know how much I appreciate them.  I see their hard work, even if they think no one else does.  Working with students with social language deficits has given me an appreciation of perspective and emotional reciprocity. Like I tell my students, I may be thinking about what a great job someone is doing, but if I don’t tell them, they won’t know!  We tend to get bogged down in our own little worlds and forget that community and connection are just as important and energizing as coffee and chocolate (well, almost).  It’s easy to point out what people are doing wrong and gripe about how unappreciated we feel.  An attitude of gratitude is a little more work,  but equally as contagious!

So here is my challenge to my fellow SLPs this week, talk to someone, send them an email or *gasp* a hand written note to let them know that you noticed all that they do and that you appreciate them. It’s such as simple gesture, but so powerful!  I have a cork board at home that I pin notes from parents, students and co-workers to remind myself on the bad days that what I do makes a difference.  It’s like sunshine to a flower, we flourish with an attitude of gratitude!

How do you encourage others?

Just one friend.

just one friend 2

I was observing at a high school this week when an eleventh grader entered the room. Friendly and unswervingly polite, this young man with ASD and some cognitive challenges, said hello and took a seat.  Soon after, another young man followed, giving him a high-five, and settling in at the table.  Over the course of the next hour, I found out the second young man did not have an IEP or the need for speech, he just accompanied his friend during their lunch period to the speech room.  Voluntarily.

I asked how long they had been friends and he responded, “Since 7th grade.  We hang out all the time.”  When the speech student left the room to get his lunch, his friend confided that he worried for him,  “He doesn’t really seem to know that not everyone is his friend.  He high fives people in the halls, but sometimes I think the others only do it out of guilt.”  He went on to ask if we thought he should talk to his friend’s mom as his friend had started a Twitter account and he was concerned there was potential for him to be bullied.  I had to fight the urge to ask him a million questions.   This young man was MENSA smart, involved in a million academic clubs, and articulate.  He was a rare combination of incredible intellect and deep empathy.

Why were they friends?  I mulled that one over and came to the conclusion that he really liked hanging out with this young man.  As someone who also may be on the fringe of the social pecking order for entirely different reasons, these boys found common ground.  Sometimes kids find each other in their commonality, making their own peer groups. I wished I could clone this young man for all the kids I see that need that one good friend.  The good friend who will look out for them when the adults who love and protect them aren’t around. I wanted to hug him and tell him what an amazing human being he is, but instead I just smiled and told him his friend was lucky to have him in his life.

He embodies what parents dream of when they imagine a friend for their child, not just the kids that struggle with social weakness or cognitive challenges, but all children.   We want someone who knows them and loves them almost as much as we do.  Someone to laugh with them and be silly.  Someone to talk to when they can’t or won’t talk to us about Twitter or girls or what worries them the most.

We need to figure out how to help kids become peer mentors, people who look out for one another and yes, even friends.  Empathy and kindness are highly undervalued character traits in this Selfie culture. Michelle Garcia Winner talks a lot about peer mentoring and how effective it is for kids with social language challenges (read a great article by her about Peer Models versus Peer Mentors HERE ). Speech Therapy can be great but we can’t travel with them through school.  Neither can their teachers or their parents, but their peers are there, we just need to connect them.  Life is hard, but it can be a bit easier with the help of just one friend.