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!

Escape the Speech Room

Sunday, April 23, 2017 8 comments

I was recently invited to participate in a career fair at my son's elementary school. I was excited to participate and share my passion for speech-language pathology with them! I did not learn what speech-language pathology was until I was in college (gasp!) but am so thankful that I was blessed to be housed in the dorms across from a SLP major. Watching her creatively develop materials for her client in her clinical inspired me to take an introductory course to check out what speech-language pathology was all about. The rest is history!

In speaking with my son, one suggestion that he had was for the presentation to be interactive and engaging. I couldn't agree more so I decided to create an "Escape the Speech Room" activity that would introduce the students to various aspects of communication with missions in Articulation, Language, Fluency, Voice and PragmaticsThe students had a blast and they learned a bunch along the way! 

Knowing that the students would likely be listening to various presentations throughout the day, I wanted to give them the opportunity to get up and move while learning in the process.

Escape the Speech Room was broken up into 5 “missions” which were broken up into centers. Each of the 5 Missions reflected on an area within our scope of practice: Articulation, Language, Voice, Fluency, and Pragmatics.

Each mission contained a Debriefing Sheet with information about that particular area. It also included a list of materials that they needed as well as a description of their mission. Each mission uncovered a key to the help unlock the individual padlocks on the box. Once the groups solved their missions, they came together to learn about some of our work settings and decode the final clue. The individual padlocks all contained a card with a setting an SLP may work in. The students used those cards to collectively determine what the passcode to the final word lock was.

When the students completed their challenge, they filled out a Reflections sheet to show what they learned and share it with the other students. This allowed students to learn about the different centers or areas of speech-language pathology by reading their fellow classmates' reflections.

Does this sound like something that you would be interested in using in YOUR setting? Let me know what you think! {Update: If you missed the copy sent out in my newsletter, don't fret! Per your requests, I included it here in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store. Sign up for my newsletter if you would like to have first dibs and try out some new products for free.}

Incorporating Literacy into Your Sensory Bin

Sensory bins are a great way to engage students with a high interest activity that can be easily incorporated into your day. 

I love to use this Recollections storage container that I purchased from Michael's Craft Store as a portable sensory bin that has a storage tray inside. The storage tray makes it so convenient to switch out the items in the sensory bin at a moment's notice. My sensory bin may have sand, water beads, rocks, cut straws, or colored rice/pasta within it. 

One way I love to incorporate literacy into my mixed groups is by using Open Ended Literacy Task Cards in my Sensory bin. I have several mixed groups so I print each target group on a different color of paper so it is easy for me to differentiate between target goals in my therapy sessions. One less task to juggle during one of those "all hands on deck" mixed groups does wonders to save my sanity.

You can check out how I created a colorful sensory bin using pasta in this video here.

{For more information on how I make my rice/pasta brightly colored, check out my blog post on DIY Sensory Bins over at Conversations from the Classroom. You can watch a step by step tutorial in this video here.}

BSHM Freebie Alert

Monday, April 17, 2017 No comments
Just like the end of the school year, Better Speech and Hearing Month is just around the corner (not that I am counting 😉).  I have several goodies up my sleeve for you but let's start with this fun, no prep freebie. You can download this SLP Fortune Teller here or click on the image below. The directions are built in with visuals to help you along the way. Have fun! 

P.S. When you download, make sure that you click "Follow" beside the green star (if you haven't already) so you will be the first to know about new uploads that come your way.