This page is designed for parents who have questions about the child’s speech and language development. Please visit my other pages too, especially Your Middle Schooler even if your child is years away from the tween years. Please contact me if you have any specific questions or need information in any specific area of speech and language development.
Back in mid-December I attended a one day workshop called “Yoga and Mindfulness in the Classroom: Tools to improve self-regulation, learning and classroom climate” Lisa Flynn, E-RYT, RCYT presented a program that she designed to help bring yoga and mindfulness into the classroom. Not only did she present the concrete parts of the program, Ms. Flynn also did a good job explaining how students could benefit both academically and behaviorally.
My motivation for attending was to learn a little bit about mindfulness and incorporate some quick and simple techniques into my therapy sessions. I was actually planning for that to be my smart goal for the year. The initial sequence presented focused on activities that could easily fall under the SLPs scope of practice. One listening activity focused on auditory attention, some breathing and head/neck movements could fall under oral motor, movements that pair up with others could fall under social and another activity focusing on relaxation/imagination is basically visual imagery. I’m sure I could find many more examples.
Ms. Flynn has modified many of the basic yoga positions to be “school friendly.” This means nothing too challenging, minimal space requirements and no touching the floor. Even more impressive is that she has put together a variety of sequences to choose from depending on needs. Ms. Flynn was also very mindful of the time constraints schools face, creating sequences that vary from 1-2 minutes to 20 minutes. Her suggested sequences include
- Morning meeting
- Take a Break
- Pre-Writing and Writing Break
- Pre-Test and Test Break
- Mood/Energy Shift
- Close of Day
Several of these 1-2 minute sequences would be perfect for speech/language therapy sessions.
Yoga and Mindfulness in the Classroom was hosted by PESI. It really was a good bang for the buck. Not only was Ms. Flynn very knowledgeable but she also shared an awful lot of information and the take homes were very complete. If you wanted to implement her techniques on a larger scale there were materials available to purchase. Ms. Flynn has created sets of cards to guide, explain and demonstrate the aspects of her program and I must say they were quite good.
If it would up to me, I spend some consult dollars on this program to have Ms. Flynn train the teachers and develop a program that would fit my schools needs. I see this approach as proactive and being able to help in so many ways. I could also envision physical education teachers taking the lead on this to help incorporate this into daily practice. This is a program all kids could benefit from. This could be considered a universal support in schools and foster skill development in so many areas.
This was honestly one of the most enjoyable workshops I’ve been to in a long time. I do have to wonder if it was enjoyable because we got to get up and move around. If movement and breathing made the workshop more enjoyable that just proves it works. I’m looking forward to incorporating many of these techniques into my therapy sessions.
Read more about Lisa Flynn’s Yoga 4 Classrooms program on her web site
I recently came across a set of online flash cards, focusing on the language development needs of younger children. These articulation/vocabulary/phonemic awareness cards are designed Kimberly Marino M.A. CCC-SLP, and are truly worth a shout out. Ms. Marino has used her expertise as a speech language pathologist to choose early acquired high frequency words focusing on the early developing sounds of /m/, /h/, /p/, /w/, /b/, /n/ and then pairing those words with clear photographs. I particularly like the photographs, with the white background the photograph pops.
Any Speech Language Pathologist will look at these cards and see their immediate value as a therapy tool or something to give to parents for practice at home. I would have loved to have a set of these when I was working in EI or with more involved preschoolers. These cards may look simple but are tailored to the developmental needs of young children.
My First Sounds and Words cards can be purchased on Esty for $10. There are several printing options to created different sizes. There is also a My First Sounds and Words set 2 focusing on the next level of sound development T, D, K, and G.
Kimberly Marino M.A. CCC-SLP is also the author of Speech Mama Blog, Empowering parents with the tools they need to help their little one or big one become a better communicator. Follow her at thespeechmama.com
I came across this blog post written a few years back “I teach Kindergarten and I don’t like Teachers Pay Teachers” by Matt Gomez kindergarten teacher. The comments posted by others have taken off. I wanted to simply comment but I knew my comment would be very verbose so I figured I could turn it into a blog post (and have another reason to mention my material on TPT). Keep in mind that my view of TPT as a Speech Language Pathologist is going to be a little different. Also Mr. Gomez isn’t the only one who doesn’t like to use TPT….lots of similar blog posts out there. [Just noted a follow up blog post by Mr. Gomez, “Teachers Pay Teachers-the Sequal” again tons of comments. I wish I had his following!]
Reading the article I can clearly understand Mr. Gomez’ point of view.
#1 Of course teachers are trying to sell things that work in their classroom. Teachers and therapists have been doing this for years. It was just a lot harder to do and they did it through the larger publishing companies. You have to look at TPT as a self publishing company. Over the course of 30 years I have purchased (at great expense) lots of books and materials from educational publishing companies that never went through trials, had data collected, was tested out or demonstrated. At least with TPT if I buy something that doesn’t work, I’ve only lost a few dollars (well maybe a more than a few with ink/paper costs). I agree that the PDF format makes it difficult to customize to totally meet the needs of a class but I’ve experienced that with lots of materials over the years. This is where your creativity should come in. Still working with materials in a PDF format is still easier to modify (the activity not the materials) than, the computer program that basically gives the kids the answers if they can figure out where to click or any of a number of applications that tout to be educational. I guess my point is there are limitations with all materials. I look for materials and Apps that fit the specific needs of my students and never buy anything just because it is cute or fun. I thoroughly look through the materials to see if it even comes close to fitting my needs. I also continue to use some materials that are over 20 years old. Why….because they are the best at targeting the specific skill I’m working on. As an SLP I can get away with old and tattered.
#2 TPT my be fostering the “laminating culture” but they didn’t create it. We’ve been laminating for years. Common Core is making teachers turn to sites like TPT for help. Schools with good curriculums have had to throw out those curriculums and materials. Most don’t have the funds or even the understanding to supply common core and teachers are trying to do the best they can. Many are worried about losing their jobs if common core isn’t followed or if their students don’t score well on a test. If the people who commented on Mr. Gomez’ site put their efforts into advocating for education instead of being miffed over comments about TPT imagine what could happen.
#3 I did cute when I was younger. My personality has changed, my workload has grown and for me there just isn’t time for cute. Even some of the school wide cutesy stuff bothers me (why do we need pajama day?). I haven’t given away a sticker in years. Kids do like to have fun and I try to foster that through hands on activities, laughing, joking and conversation, all while staying focused on my goals/student needs. I totally agree with Matt that real images and hands on materials are much more valuable than cutesy images that are basically charactitures of themselves. Learning while experiencing “real” things/situations/theories/ideas always works out better.
#4 I would be hesitant to use any item from TPT for anything more than a supplementary activity to practice skills being taught. To use a created “program” listed on TPT, the data isn’t gong to be there to support
#5 Other than tutoring (usually for a lot less than teacher pay), most teachers have few other ways to supplement their income. SLPs often give discounts for private services when insurance cannot be accessed. Even then insurance and especially medicaid/medicare, often doesn’t even come close to an expected hourly rate for speech therapy. Why shouldn’t individuals try and market their ideas. TPT just makes it easy. Speech Language Pathologists create or customize just about every bit of material they use to fit the needs of specific students. If I’ve created something that works well for me, maybe it will work for others. You never know where that one great idea is going to come from.
#6 Sharing ideas and material is wonderful. There is just no reason to reinvent the wheel every time a new subject, theory, curriculum or flavor of the day pops up. TPT is a time saver and I imagine sometimes a life saver. If you’re not a graphics wiz it’s the place to go.
Basically I like TPT and I like what it does to create business opportunities for educators. I have a few items on TPT, primarily articles suitable for a school newsletter and one killer packet of workshop materials for paraprofessionals on Speech and Language development. I doubt I’ve made 100 bucks in the three years I’ve been with TPT. I’ve purchased about 35 items on TPT and use about 10 consistently. That’s probably a higher percentage than with my purchase and used of very expensive traditional materials.
My advice…..if you’re going to use TPT
Don’t impulse buy
Use TPT products to supplement an activity or reinforce a skill not as a total lesson.
Look through the material, make sure it is something that comes very close to fitting your students specific needs.
Will your students like it?
Can you use it in different ways and with different levels?
Consider the overall cost. Educators are not business people and often don’t factor in paper, ink, wear/tear on your printer and your time
Make sure it is a time saver for you
Always check out the free downloads but don’t print unless you really like it (again time and money)
Don’t pay too much
Check out my TPT store , especially if you’re an SLP looking for articles to put in your school newsletter (a fantastic professional goal by the way) (ok I had to throw that in)
Something about the end of the school year just sucks all my energy and creative juices. After some R & R, I’m ready to get back to work. Now I just need some ideas. Anyone have some interesting and possibly controversial topics for me to tackle?
One thing I have been doing during my down time is continuing to market my book, The School Speech Language Pathologist is an Administrator’s Guide to understanding the role of the SLP in schools along with strategies to aid staffing, workload management and student success. Most of my marketing takes place via twitter or Facebook. I sell a few copies here and there. Even in the field of speech language pathology my book is a niche book. I would love to sit at a booth during any conference and share/sell my book but the overall cost for something like that can be thousands. It is rather difficult to justify the cost when you literally make only a couple of dollars per copy anyway. Specific educational web sites won’t carry your book unless you self published through them. I imagine there are a few SLPs out there that might be in the same boat. My thought was that I could offer to split a table with several SLP authors at conferences. Anyone interested? Again, not sure with travel it would be profitable. I would probably have to find 10+ SLP/education authors to make this a go.
TPT is another resource I both contribute to and use. My products consists primarily of articles appropriate for school newsletters. (You can check out my TPT store here) I also have one product that focuses on inservice training for teaching assistants. As one of our smart goals the SLPs in my district put together some inservice training for teaching assistants on what SLPs do, the nature of students with SL difficulties and how assistants can support SL students in the classroom. I wish there was a speech and language branch of the TPT store. I feel that many of the SLP produced products get lost in the shuffle.
My principal has asked me to put together some more articles appropriate for school newsletters. While I have topics in mind again I would love ideas/suggestions.
Basically, I need some help getting my creative flow going. Has any pressing issue come to the forefront in your school setting? I’d love to hear about any unique situations positive or negative that have come up over the past year. I’m also sitting here waiting to see if ASHA will accept my presentation proposal. Since this was the first time I put a proposal together I am hopeful but realistic about getting accepted. If I do get and invitation to present I will just have to force that creative flow. That I will keep you updated on. Now how to work on all of this and still enjoy my summer?
One year ago this month I published my first book The School Speech Language Pathologist, An Administrator’s Guide to understanding the role of the SLP in schools along with strategies to aid staffing, workload management and student success. I don’t have to explain to SLPs why I was compelled to write this book. It evolved first in my head, then as a powerpoint and then as a small book. Tired of feeling overwhelmed and disrespected, I pushed the completion of the book into high gear after winning a self publishing contract through my publisher Booklocker (which I highly recommend as a self publisher).
Publishing this book was a milestone in my life. To celebrate that and to thank my many followers, I want to give away 5 copies to active followers of my blog, The School Speech Therapist. To become an active follower, sign up through the feedburner link on the right. You will receive an email to activate your subscription. Winners will be chosen at random on April 30th 2016.
My book sales have been slow but steady. I’ve been pleased with the feedback I’ve received from other SLPs. I’m still working on getting it into the hands of those who need it such as school administrators. I’ll take any suggestions on how to do that. We all need to do a better job advocating for ourselves, our skills and our students. There is too much wrong with the way most of us service students in schools, primarily around workload. We have become blurred with teachers and most administrators don’t believe we have a lot to contribute. I’m rarely consulted on practices, policies or even student decisions beyond showing up to IEP meetings where they legally have to have us there. This book is just a start and I hope someone with more energy and better connections will expand the fight (yes unfortunately it is a fight at this point).
Thank you to everyone who follows The School Speech Therapist and my companion Facebook page. If you can’t wait to buy my book it is available through Amazon (see link below), Barnes and Nobel and through my publisher Booklocker.
March 2nd is The National Education Association’s Read Across America Day. Read more about it on the NEA website . Does your school do anything special for the Event. My school usually does a little something to rah rah reading. While this is a very important event, don’t forget to encourage your students or your children to read all the time. Reading is a great way to develop language, vocabulary and background knowledge.
Lots of cute t-shirts out there to celebrate the day and of course the required Dr. Suess hat
Several years back the powers that be came up with RTI or Response to Intervention. Seriously what a semantically flawed title. RTI was interpreted and implemented differently in every school system based on the administration’s perspective. At first I disliked RTI, I felt it was a program that delayed needed services. RTI also suggested that accommodations could be a cure all for students who struggled.
Then for a while, I thought RTI was really working and it did for some kids. It was very dependent on the understanding/knowledge of the RTI team and willingness to put effort into the process. Teachers were beginning recognize weaknesses/issues and bring up names of at risk students sooner. However, looking back I think the names were brought up because teachers were more concerned that the student in question would not do well on state wide testing without accommodations. (It’s amazing how those students got fast tracked.)
There has to be some sort of a referral process but I’m still not convenience RTI is an effective model. RTI is set up to be a regular education service. Who makes up the RTI team will determine the quality of the accommodations presented. I’m just not convinced that those without a special education background can identify the possible weaknesses and make the proper suggestions for accommodations. Some school systems include a School Psychologist as part of their RTI team which is a big plus moving the process along in a more efficient manner, perhaps even skipping right into formalized evaluation.
Basically what comes out of Tier I and Tier II RTI levels are a lot of accommodations, many suggestions and a few observations. The teacher is instructed to put the generated accommodations in place to see if that works first. This makes perfect sense with some students but not all. With more involved students it’s 12 weeks or more wasted collecting data on accommodations. In many cases accommodations that a special educator, SLP or School Psychologist could tell you are not going to target the student’s specific underlying needs. Developmentally, 3 months is a very long time for a struggling student.
What is happening to the student during this long period of time without specialized instruction? Gaps in learning are going to emerge making it even harder for a student to catch up, school is going to get more difficult and confidence will flounder. Only those educators with a strong special education background are going to understand the underlying consequences.
Now look at IEPs, we actually have a section for accommodations in the document. Yes, most students will benefit from some accommodations. Some disabilities must have accommodations. However, since the advent of RTI and state wide testing the list of accommodations written into an IEP has grown significantly. Do accommodations without instruction, models and guidance really work? When it comes to accommodations, (written in RTI, 504s or IEPs) that is only one of many questions to be asked.
- Are we giving a false impression to parents and teachers that accommodations are going to cure the problem?
- Are students passing both classroom tests and state wide exams only because they are given every accommodation in the book?
- Do we provide so many accommodations without needed instructions that students have a false sense of their own capabilities and success?
- Are we teaching kids to expect the world to accommodate them in all situations? (Imagine the implications with college and work situations)
- Are we keeping kids from understanding their issues and disabilities, not holding them responsible for their behavior and learning?
- What is wrong with the system if we have to provide accommodations for so many students?
- Are individual accommodations needed because the need for universal supports and expectations has been ignored?
- Why would a special education national screening program be set up in a way that those suggesting accommodations do not have the educational background to understand learning disabilities and weaknesses?
- How can accommodations work when the underlying issues have not been formally identified or recognized by specially trained staff?
Every time I sit down to write accommodations for my speech and language students I focus on if the accommodation is needed, will it be effective, can it actually be implemented on a regular basis, will teachers/parents understand what an accommodation will achieve and will the accommodations keep the student from achieving higher expectations. I know one of the reasons I write so many accommodations, in an IEP, is to try to impress upon teachers (and those working with language disabled children) that language disabilities affect all aspects of learning. I also have the advantage of working on the underlying language needs and to help the student develop their own understanding and strategies for success.
Increased reliance on accommodations less specialized instruction is just a trend I have observed since the implementation of RTI and state mandated testing. Has your experience been the same?
Today I am publishing a retread article I first wrote for examiner.com back in 2012. I thought about this article after presenting a paraprofessional training last week. The attendees asked if I could give them some specific examples of pragmatic difficulities in more typical students. While I was able to provide examples, my response wasn’t as organized as I would have liked. I think I will be sharing this article (or improving on the article) next time I present to paraprofessional or parents. As always suggestions and comments welcomed. Teresa
Reading and understanding social context is key to good pragmatic skills
When kids are taught “context” most classroom teachers are usually referring to the context of a story. Students, especially the ones who have non verbal learning disabilities, aspergers or even just lack social experience may not understand the “context” of social situations. Not understanding the context of a social situation may cause misunderstandings and this is where difficulties arise. Students may not understand when they are being teased or even bullied. They may not be able to distinguish bullying from playing around. They may not “get” the jokes. They may not understand sarcasm.
The students who for what ever reason miss or misinterpret social cues, social language or social context, are the kids who fall through the cracks. These students are usually bright enough to pass standardized tests. They’re usually doing well enough in the classroom to get by. Classroom teachers know something’s wrong but they just can’t put their finger on it.
Whenever teacher’s or parents suspect needs within the social skills area, it’s just as important to make a referral to the student support team. General supports may help a little but they will not significantly aid this type of disability.
So what’s going on? At that point it’s important to take a look at the child’s manner of performance and general interactions in both structured and unstructured situations. A skilled speech language pathologist or school psychologist will easily identify children who miss or misinterpret social cues on a regular basis. Those professionals will recommend further formal assessments if necessary. You many also begin to hear the term “pragmatics”, which is the all encompassing professional term for children who demonstrate needs in the social skill areas.
Administrators tend to say, “Just put them in class where they can practice their social skills.” That’s not the solution. Most people don’t understand children or even adults who have difficulty in the pragmatic realm. They can’t remediate social skills on their own. People with pragmatic difficulties may not even understand or realize what they are missing or misinterpreting. If remediation of pragmatic skills was that easy or automatic we wouldn’t have kids or adults with these issues. The reality is that these kids need some therapy, instruction or coaching, whatever you want to call it. Just like reading and math, awareness, learning and carryover of appropriate pragmatic skills is not going to happen without intervention.
Students need to learn about social context, how to analyze it and how to read it. You have to keep in mind that even with good instruction, pragmatic skills will probably always be an area of weakness the student. It’s important to give them the best tools possible. In most school systems either the School Psychologist, Speech Language Pathologist or better yet a combination of both will service the student with pragmatic needs. There are specific programs out there to address social skills or pragmatic development. However, it is just as important to learn and practice pragmatic skills in a naturalistic context.
Below are some beginning suggestions to help students raise their awareness around “reading situations” which aids understanding of social context. Many of these beginning skills are also referred to as learning to recognize and interpret nonverbal language.
- Look at the relationship of the person or persons involved. Is it a family member, a close friend, a stranger, a teacher or other respected adult. Go over several examples of how they might approach or react to different people.
- What is the tone of the interaction. Is it a happy situation, mad situation, sad situation. Go over several examples of this, be dramatic if necessary. Most children can tell what tone their parents are using so begin with that as an example.
- Are the people using sarcasm? How do you tell? Is someone joking around or are they serious. This takes a lot of practice. Even during role playing sometimes the kids aren’t sure if examples are serious or not. To see the confused look on their faces tell it all.
- Facials Expressions….It’s extremely important to know how to read those. You have to be aware and know what to look for. This come easy for most of us but for people who have difficulty with this pragmatic skill or have difficulty making eye contact it’s challenging. You miss a lot of nonverbal cues thus contributing to misinterpretations.
- Gestures…same as facial expressions you have to look for them and interpret them correctly to help understand intent.
- Mood….What is the mood of the situation. How can you tell? Did something just happen to make the person angry? In that case you will approach the situation differently. This again could invite a variety of emotions and all have to be figured out.
Most people develop pragmatic skills so naturally it’s rarely noticed. Even people who don’t have a specific diagnosis, associated with difficulties in the pragmatic realm, may misunderstand or misinterpret social situations. These suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg when beginning work on improving awareness and understanding of social context and overall pragmatic language development. Children who experience pragmatic difficulty have to be walked through almost every misunderstood situation for meaning and intent until they can start to do it on their own. It is highly suggested that a professional with experience working with pragmatic skill development be consulted.
Explain, explain and explain some more. If you have a child who frequently misinterprets social situations talk to them about it all the time. Let teachers and other adults they encounter know about the struggles your child has. Talk about how to handle situations and how to react to situations. If you know the child is entering a situation that may be difficult for them to understand, be proactive and prepare them for the situation. Talk to them about what to expect and how to handle a situation. Remember, you are your child’s best teacher and advocate.
Read more of my articles on Examiner at http://www.examiner.com/speech-pathology-in-boston/teresa-sadowski
Last April I introduced my first book The School Speech Language Pathologist, An administrators guide to understanding the role of the SLP in schools along with strategies to aid staffing, workload management and student success. It has been a lot of fun working on book promotion and I’ve received almost 100% positive feedback from other SLPs. Several SLPs have mentioned that they have good enough relationships with the administrators to share the book. Yeah! Two SLP’s reported that their administrators asked to peek at the book (double Yeah!).
Two SLP bloggers have been kind enough to highlight my book on their blogs. I want to share their perspectives with you. Both of these blogs are very professional and interesting so take a peek around their sites while you’re there.
The first review was written by SLP Darla Gardner: Ms. Gardenia’s Speech Room
The second review was written by SLP Mandi Schaumburg: Panda Speech Therapy
The School SLP can be purchased through a number of sites including AMAZON (see link on this page), Booklocker (my publisher) and Barnes and Noble
Thanks to both Darla and Mandi for taking the time to The School SLP. Any ideas on how to get this book into the hands of administrators is greatly appreciated.
After taking a little bit of a hiatus from blogging due to vacation it is really hard to get started again. I lugged my computer 3000 miles with the hopes that I would get some writing and book promotion done but that didn’t happen. Since school got out I’ve jotted down several ideas for articles but never quite found the time or passion to develop them. Well, it’s time to get back on track.
This past weekend I attended the first concert I’ve been to in over two years. It was some old rockers but it was still loud. Ear protection did not even dawn on me until the break between bands where next to the beer line was the table selling ear plugs. At that point I flashed to the generic package of disposal ear plugs purchased after the last concert two years ago sitting in a drawer at home.
As an SLP I’m embarrassed by the fact that I didn’t even think of ear plugs until I saw them being sold. I gladly forked out the $15 dollars and figure if I liked them I could at least get a short blog post written about them. And of course protect my hearing.
The brand being sold was ETY Plugs from Etymotic Research. I wish I had another brand to compare during the concert but I was fairly impressed with the sound quality when the ETY plugs were in. How can I describe it……It was more than just muffling the sound, the plugs seemed to filter out the static like noise. Of course it did not make it sound a recording but I think I heard the lyrics a little better. Clapping sounded muted and I did have to remove the plugs to speak to others.
The design of the ear plugs allows for a consistent seal (even a better seal after I got home a read the instructions). These ear plugs are reusable and do need to be cleaned. I used a little soap, water and a q-tip. Even without a comparison, I think I could recommend ETY Ear Plugs for concerts. My generic plugs just muffled sound.
That old quote “If it’s too loud, then you’re too old”, was coined by DJ Ernie Anderson and popularized by Ted Nugent, use to sound so cool. Today, given my age, experience and my un-coolness I would probably scold Ernie and Ted and tell them to change it to “If it’s too loud, use common sense”. Now I just have to remember to bring my ear plugs to the next concert.
A side note….Some real jerk of a Dad (sorry Dads) had his 4 or 5 month old baby bouncing on his shoulders. The baby did not have any ear protection and looked like a deer caught in the headlights. As the guy was trying to get as close as he could to the stage, I saw one of the workers tell him to get the baby out of there. No Mom in sight. Made me cringe.