SLP Toolbox Storage

Sunday, August 6, 2017 No comments

I see you working your tail off for your students/clients. I see you supporting your colleagues, sharing ideas and implementing evidence based practice. I see you when you are elbow deep in paperwork and Medicaid billing, wondering when/if it will ever end. I am right there with you. 

I created these toolbox labels to go with the rustic decor of my Fixer Upper Style speech room. As a simple way for me to say THANK YOU for following along, I am sharing them with my newsletter subscribers for free! Not a subscriber, no worries! You can subscribe here.

I know how happy it makes me to have my room set up in the beginning of the year, organized and ready to bring on the new school year. It won't be perfect by any means, but that time I put in at the beginning of the year sets the stage for my year. I hope that this SLP Toolbox will help ease your load, even if just a bit. At the very least, it will make your organizational heart happy to look at as you use it throughout the year.

What tips, tricks or advice do you have for starting the year? I'd love to hear them! Comment below with what works for you.

P.S. If you haven't heard, I am currently moving on up in the world to a larger speech room. I am sharing the journey of my Fixer Upper style makeover with all of you. A picture says a thousand words, so if you would like to check out what I've done so far (bloopers and all), hop on over to SLPTalk on Instagram or Facebook. Before you go though, don't forget about your FREE SLP TOOLBOX DOWNLOAD!

Functional Storage in My Speech Room

Thursday, July 27, 2017 No comments

Speech Room Decor

I made a bit more progress on my speech room makeover today by repurposing a display for eyeglasses. I love that it rotates and provides functional decor for my room!

I switched out the existing display with white pegboard that I purchased at Home Depot. They cut it to the exact size that I needed. To go along with my rustic style, I used plastic flower pots from Home Depot that I glued twine onto. They were the perfect size for my needs. I attached chalkboard clothespins found at Michaels to label each flowerpot. That certainly wasn't necessary but having them match the style of my speech room just made me happy. 

Prior to my current display, I have used book bins or the top drawer of a rolling storage cart to store Articulation and Language Sticks. Their durability and having multiple targets on each paint stirrer make them an easy resource for me to grab and go in a pinch. 

Speech Room Makeover

Articulation Sticks are honestly a staple in my speech room. I love having over 1,000 stimulus words at my fingertips to target articulation while also introducing a variety of vocabulary concepts with picture supports. Working with a high risk, low socioeconomic and high ELL population, it is important that I maximize our activities to close that gap. 

Language sticks allow me to further differentiate student needs within mixed groups. Currently displayed are Category Sticks and Describing Sticks.  I am updating my Grammar Sticks so I can share them with you and add an updated version to my collection. If you are interested in learning more about how I use the sticks, you can check out the links below.

Language Sticks in Speech Therapy

Descriptive Language in Speech Therapy

Using articulation sticks in speech therapy

What tips do you have for organizing materials using functional decor in your classroom? I would love to hear!

Fun & Functional Speech Room Decor: SLP Books

Tuesday, July 11, 2017 No comments

These books were one of the first decorations I put out in my new speech room. Not only do I love the way these SLP books look, I love their function too! I am very intentional about the decor in my room and the meaning that each holds. When I spotted these at Michaels, I just knew they were perfect for what I had in mind!

is for SPEECH. The "S" will house favorite moments as students graduate from SPEECH. I only wish I had started this 17 years ago! When students graduate speech, I will have them write what their favorite memory was in speech and I will write something I love about them. Relationships are huge and anytime I can take the opportunity to share a meaningful connection, I am all in.

L is for LAUGHS. I will write the LAUGHS that I always want to remember in "L". Our job is full of them! What better book to open when you are having a tough day or need to lighten up Medicaid billing? I keep a little "He Said, She said" journal of funny moments with my own kids that we love to look through together. Our "He Said, She Said" journal along with our Thankful Journal are my favorite books in the house.

 P is for PATH, as in the path you take in life. The "P" will include stand out moments with students, families, and colleagues that remind me why I am on this PATH. You know, the ones that affirm that you were right where you were meant to be

I am busy working on my "Fixer Upper" style speech room but will be sure to post the reveal when I am finished! In the meantime, if you love a good DIY project on a budget, head over to Instagram for some behind the scenes action.

Help Me Find My Voice: Where to Start with Students Who Are Non-Verbal

Thursday, June 22, 2017 No comments
Guest Blog Post by Rosemarie Griffin

Working with students with autism or other complex communication disorders can be overwhelming. With the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders being 1 in 68 children, we as speech language pathologists are responsible for helping these students find their voice. As clinicians, we provide the critical guidance that helps students identify, acquire, and use a functional response form.

When we have a student who is non-verbal or limited verbally working on direct instruction of manding or requesting skills is needed. Sometimes a goal for manding is not created, as many of the standardized tests that we use in the field do not test this area of language. Before we discuss strategies for incorporating manding into your student’s day, we first need to outline what manding is exactly.

Manding. A mand is a request. This chart explains this concept more in depth.

Verbal response
Specific to the learner’s motivation
After seeing a cookie            Saying “eat cookie”
Wanting to play iPad             Saying “iPad”
Seeing a book you like          Saying “read book”
Wanting a drink                    Saying “drink”
Seeing a ball                         Saying “let’s play ball”

Below is a detailed explanation of what a structured manding session might look like for a student using an AAC device.

The teacher is working with a middle school student who is a very early learner. He has not had access to a robust education program, so he is working on acquiring a functional response form. He is currently using a picture exchange system. He is working on using one picture to request wanted items and actions: he takes the desired picture off of the correct category page, puts it on the velcro phrase strip on the front part of his book, and hands it to the teacher.

The manding session takes place at the start of his time spent working one on one with his teacher. The teacher has in her possession some of his favorite things: DVD player, chips, Pete the Cat book, Gatorade, and a slinky.

Manding Session:
Student: Puts his picture book onto the table. Puts the picture of Gatorade on the sentence strip of his picture book and hands it to the teacher.

Teacher: “Yeah, let’s get you some Gatorade.” Pours a small amount of Gatorade into a cup and hands it to the student.

Student: Drinks the Gatorade. Hands the sentence strip with the Gatorade icon on it to the teacher.

Teacher: “Drinking Gatorade.” Pours another small amount of Gatorade into a cup and hands it to the student.

Student: Tries to reach for the slinky.

Teacher: “You want the slinky.” Goes to the toy page in the book and points to the picture of slinky.

Student: Grabs the picture, puts it on the phrase strip and hands it to the teacher.

Teacher: “Here is the slinky.”

Student: Plays with the slinky for 30 seconds.

Teacher: Presents the student with the Pete the Cat Book. “I have Pete the Cat.”

Student: Continues to play with the slinky.

Teacher: “Oh, you want to play with the slinky some more.”

Student: Plays with the slinky for 30 more seconds. Goes to the food page in his book, selects the chips picture, puts it on the phrase strip and hands it to the teacher.

Teacher: “Chips.” Gets a plate and gives the student 3 chips.

Student: Eats the chips. Hands the phrase strip to the teacher again with the word chips on it.

Teacher: “Eating chips.” Hands the student more chips.

Student: Points to the DVD player.

Teacher: Because this is a new mand for the learner, shows the student where this is located in the book and points to the correct photo.

Student: Puts the DVD picture on his phrase strip and hands it to the teacher

Teacher: “Let’s watch a movie.” Student and teacher watch 2 minutes of his favorite movie.

 No matter your student’s age, if they are limited verbally direct instruction with manding is essential. Helping others find their voice is such hard and rewarding work. I hope that when you encounter a student at this language level that you will work directly on manding.

Rosemarie Griffin is a speech language pathologist, board certified behavior analyst and product developer. She is the creator of the Action Builder Cards. To learn more about this manding or to gather information about using applied behavior analysis to help students increase their communication skills, check out her website or like her facebook page here: ABA SPEECH ON FACEBOOK.

Choose Positivity

Friday, May 26, 2017 No comments

Caution: Real talk ahead.... If you've been around here for a while, you know that I like to keep things positive.That is intentional. Trust me, I am not surrounded by rainbows and butterflies. These speech hills are not always alive with the sound of music. ;)

There are days that it takes every ounce of restraint that I have not to vent and air frustration. After all, venting feels good in that immediate moment, doesn't it? However, just as positivity creates a ripple effect, so does negativity. Only negativity creates waves that can quickly become toxic.

Is venting productive? Some would argue no but in reality the answer is yes, sometimes it is. Chances are, you can think of at least one person who no one seems to mess with because they push back the most. So why avoid it then? Vent, complain, sulk your little heart out, right? Nope. Say what? Why?

The answer is simple. Eager eyes are watching. Those eyes may be your students, parents, colleagues, prospective SLPs, etc. As a speech-language pathologist, YOU are a role model for effective communication. What you put out there for the world creates your ripple. What do you want that ripple to carry?

This does not mean that you have to blindly agree to whatever comes your way. There will be times when in order to advocate for you, your students, or your family, you may need to respectfully disagree. Here are some tips to do so productively that maintains the greater good.

WAIT 24 HOURS: It is harder to see the picture when you are inside the frame, right? So before you click send on an email or post on social media, take the time to step back, reflect and let your knee-jerk emotions level out a bit. 

OFFER SOLUTIONS: Your concerns will hold more merit when paired with possible solutions. Try to think of at least 2 solutions that you can offer to help solve the problem. Your suggested solutions may or may not be used but you will know that YOU have done YOUR due diligence in a productive manner that encourages a positive outcome.

CIRCLE OF TRUST: We all need them. Make sure that your small, carefully selected circle of trust has your best intentions at heart and will lovingly call you out if you are overreacting. This circle of trust should be helpful in brainstorming solutions too. (Stating the obvious here... maintain your ethical responsibility of confidentiality. It may not be your story to tell.)

REFRAME YOUR THINKING: YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE, YOU REALLY DO. You don't need to take my word for it though. This is a great time to pull out that file, box, notebook, etc. of "feel good" moments. You know the one. The treasured place that houses sweet letters from students, parents, coworkers, awards or recognition you have received, that sweet handcrafted token from a student... what gets us by on the toughest days. If you don't have one yet, start today. Write down some of those sweet memories, moments of success, kid sayings that have you belly laughing.  Your future self will thank you.

KNOW WHEN TO WALK AWAY: This is perhaps the most difficult one and will differ for each of us. We all have our own unique circumstances and only you will know where to draw the line in the sand. This one is an absolute last resort. Ideally you won't ever need to use this tip but if you do,  do so knowing that you have exhausted all other options.

DANCE IT OUT: Whether you have moves like jagger or are two steps behind (like yours truly), sometimes you just need to dance it out. Throw those feel good songs on. Jam out to on the way to school. Use them to debrief on the way home.

You'll never feel happy until you try! Listening just puts a spring in your step, doesn't it? ;)

What helps you keep your positivity? Let me know! Wishing you all a HAPPY day full of POSITIVITY!