June 5, 2018

The Anxious SLP



Hi, my name is Kayla and I have anxiety.

Actually, I've had anxiety since elementary school. Tension headaches and migraines were my first symptoms. Elementary school, y'all. I was young.

I didn't realize it was anxiety causing these issues until I was in college. Early on, doctors said my headaches could be from posture. I went to the chiropractor with limited relief. Headaches worsened and alleviated depending on the year (such as who my teachers were and what classes I was taking), and sometimes even the time of year (big exams, social events, etc). I started to put two and two together. It started to make sense.

Then grad school happened. I went on anxiety medication. It was the greatest thing to happen to me. A tiny dose of Zoloft was enough to regulate my emotions and keep me in check. My headaches decreased dramatically. As a matter of fact, I don't know if I've had a migraine since 2012. Tension headaches still come and go, but much less often. I've actually been able to come off of my anxiety medication since I've been married.

I've become very in tune with my anxiety and when it worsens. Certain times of year when work becomes insanely busy. When I am alone for an extended period of time (ex: if my husband goes away on business trip). During the summer when I am "off" work and have too much time on my hands.

I've never been ashamed of my anxiety. I am very aware of my anxiety. I think being aware of your anxiety is the best thing you can do. The next best thing you can do is find a way to cope with it.

Coping with Anxiety

  • Apps, such as Stop, Breathe, Think. This app will give you a daily reminder to take time out for mindfulness. 
  • Exercise. Join a gym or go for daily walks.
  • YouTube has channels for yoga, such as Yoga with Adriene. Best of all, these videos are free. 
  • However, sometimes getting out and about (aka socializing!) is helpful as well. See if your community has a yoga class! Or any classes you'd be interested in joining, where you can be around other people. 
  • Watch what you're eating and drinking. Sometimes, caffeine can make anxiety worse. Junk food can make it worse, too! Try eating balanced meals and limiting caffeine (and alcohol).
  • Watch for the signs that anxiety is creeping up on you, and take time to reflect and relax. Catching anxiety early can ease the symptoms, IF you can tell when it's worsening.
  •  If these suggestions do not work for you, talk to your doctor. Sometimes, anxiety cannot be managed by diet, exercise, and mindfulness. Do NOT be ashamed to ask for help from your doctor. It doesn't mean a life sentence of anxiety medication. And even if it does... so what?
Anyone who struggles with anxiety, I want you to know you aren't alone. Whether you are in undergrad, grad school, your CF year, or working with your CCCs... you aren't alone. 

Also, I encourage you to watch for anxiety symptoms in your students. Sometimes, no one else will realize that a student is experiencing anxiety. Having gone through it myself, I feel a little more in tune with the signs and symptoms. Let your students also know... they aren't alone.

Friends, our jobs are stressful. Life is stressful. But you're never alone. ❤

If you experience anxiety, please leave a comment telling how you best cope with it. We can all learn from each other!

January 17, 2018

Using a Dollhouse In Play Based Speech Therapy

This is my dollhouse. It is one of my favorite toys to use in play-based speech therapy with preschoolers and kindergartners. Half of my caseload is made up of preschool and kindergarten children. That being said, I use a LOT of play-based therapy. I've found that by using a dollhouse, I can target almost any goal with these students! It is ESPECIALLY easy to use this activity with mixed groups because it's so natural and fluid to go back and forth between skills!



Categories
Practice categories by sorting furniture into the correct room, sort by function (things you sit on, things that use water, etc.), sort by color, or sort by size!

Pronouns
Use dollhouse family members and sort furniture to each person! "This is HIS chair, this is HER bathtub, this is THEIR table."

Verbs
Tell what each dollhouse family member is doing! "He is showering, the baby is napping, she is swinging, they are cooking, etc." You can even practice future and paste tense using this same approach.

Nouns
This sounds obvious, but you can practice naming common household objects. Hello, FUNCTIONAL!! You can use a dollhouse with the earliest of communicators.

Expanding MLU

Practice expanding upon a child's labels! When a child says "bed" you say "a BIG bed" or "jump on the bed"!  Anything the child says (and trust me, more than likely your student WILL talk while playing with the dollhouse) just expand upon it by 1-2 words!

Prepositions
Hide object or dollhouse people within the house. Talk about where they are (under the bed, behind the bookshelf, between the fridge and the table).

Requesting
Withhold furniture and dollhouse people in a clear plastic tote. Model requesting items from the box, then have your student request! Go back and forth between modeling and expecting your student to request an item.

Turn-taking
It's easy to model "my turn" and "your turn" when you're using dollhouse people! Practice sentences like "my turn to swing" and "your turn to swing" (or "my turn to sleep" and "your turn to sleep"). Possibilities are endless!

Following Directions
Give 1-2 step directions using the furniture and dollhouse people! Example: "Put the boy in front on the stove" or "Before she goes to bed, give her a bath!"

Articulation
Model articulation in natural conversation using the items you're playing with, while talking about what the dollhouse family is doing, etc. I've even put artic cards on the floors of each room and used that as an opportunity for additional practice. Ex: if your artic card says "snow", put it on the bedroom floor. Every time a dollhouse person enters the room, you can say "Oh no-- don't step on the SNOW!"

Social
Use the dollhouse people to model expected vs unexpected behaviors. Talk about WHY one dollhouse person shouldn't shove another person, eat their food, or throw a tantrum when things don't go their way.

Possibilities are endless! Do you use a dollhouse in play-based therapy? Do you use any of the examples I gave? Do you do something different? Let me know in the comments!





December 27, 2017

App Review: Little Stories Pro by Little Bee Speech




This app has been an absolute lifesaver for me, as an SLP with a caseload of 60+ students. I see students from preschool-6th grade. I see mixed artic-language-fluency groups. I have kids that I see using the 5-Minute program. I see students of all cognitive abilities. And I've used this app with each and every one of them.

Little Stories boasts that it can be used to improve speech, language and literacy-- and I agree! I've used it for all three areas with success.



Photo From: Little Stories Pro (app) by Little Bee Speech

Working on articulation? Little Stories has you covered.
There are 82 stories included in this app. You can search stories by speech sound, therefore allowing you to pick stories that are loaded with your target sound! You can preview the words within the story before actually reading the story, to ensure that they are appropriate for your student(s). The story even tells the reading level so you can feel confident in your passage choices! When reading the story, you can choose to have the target words bolded, if you choose (I use this feature for children who are just starting to work on their sounds in reading passages, then I fade away as they begin to master the skill). The option for speech recording (where you can mark errors on incorrect productions) is one of my favorite features, however. I love letting the children hear back their productions AND the fact that data collection is made simple. Added bonus-- tongue twisters for each story! Because what student doesn't love a silly little challenge?





Photo From: Little Stories Pro (app) by Little Bee Speech
Working on language? Little Stories has you covered.
These same 82 stories are also easy to use with language students. Working on a certain point of view or verb tense? Guess what? The story preview allows you to see what POV and tenses are used in the story! After you've picked a story (don't forget you can check the reading level of the story before beginning), there are comprehension checks available. Target story retell by recording the child telling his version of the story. Work on 4 step sequencing by dragging and dropping chunks of the story into the correct order. Answer wh- questions by choosing from a field of four. Answer open-ended questions when you're doing, using personal connections. If you like the story and want to read more like it, there's an option for that! Simply take a peek at the "related stories" option.


Photo From: Little Stories Pro (app) by Little Bee Speech
Working on literacy? Little Stories has you covered.
Each story has a list of sight words included! You can even practice sight word flash cards before beginning the story, as a review. When reading the story, you can choose to bold the sight words if needed. If you're working with a younger child (or a child who is still an early reader), you can actually CHANGE the format of how the story is visually presented to make it easier for the child to navigate and read. If you're working on reading fluency, there is a timer option with with automatically calculate words per minute AND allows you to mark errors via a speech recording.


Photo From: Little Stories Pro (app) by Little Bee Speech

Mixed groups? Little Stories has you covered.
Take a look at the information presented above. Each story contains each of the elements (speech, language, and literacy). Even fluency can be targeted easily, thanks to the reading passages, opportunities for speech samples and recording options. No matter your target, you can use this app for your group. Honestly, it's my go to for quick-planned mixed-group therapy. You can even save the information under the students' names to keep up with data over time!

Sorry to be long winded, but I tried to cover everything that I'd want to know about an app before purchasing. It's important that you know just how much this app has to offer-- and boy does it offer a LOT!

Have you used this app? Are you still on the fence? Let me know in the comments!


*I received this app for free in exchange for a review. However, all opinions are my own. I love this app!

Until next time,

June 29, 2017

SLPs and Amazon Prime: A Love Story

 

Are you an SLP?

Are you a busy human being?

Are you ready to shop conveniently from home?


If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then you NEED Amazon Prime!


"But I already use Amazon. Why do I need Amazon Prime?"

There are so many reasons to sign up for Amazon Prime. Let's explore!
  • Free 2-Day Shipping. This is the biggest perk, in my opinion. If you suddenly decide that you want to do a craft, but you're missing pieces to complete the craft (example: 500 Foam Barn Stickers*, and YES, I have ordered these more than once!), you can order it and it will be at your house in 2 days with FREE SHIPPING. If you are planning to do a book lesson, but the library doesn't have the book you need, you can order it and have it in 2 days! What about products in bulk? If you can't make it to a Sam's or Costco, never fear! You can order 60 Glue Sticks from Amazon* at a fair price. You can't do that at Walmart or the Dollar Tree! Amazon can send almost anything to your house within 2 days. (Psst-- certain areas even have same day delivery options!)
  • Free Unlimited Photo Storage.YES, you heard right! All those pics you have clogging up your computer and phone? What about all those PECS pics you've taken that you aren't using at the moment? Move them over to Amazon Prime! They'll store them for you!
  • Prime Reading and access to Kindle Lending Library. Borrow and reading books for FREE using these services. As a book-a-holic, I cannot complain. I can read books for free, right from my phone or iPad! Search for children's books that you can use in therapy as well. Nothing beats FREE!
  • Amazon Instant Videos. This one doesn't really have to do with being an SLP, but... it's free movies! You can stream videos (sort of like Netflix) for free with Amazon Prime. That's just another great perk that comes free with the membership.
  • BONUS: Coming Soon... Amazon Prime Wardrobe! Amazon Prime has a new service coming out, similar to Stitch Fix! I know many SLPs and teachers LOVE Stitch Fix, so I can't wait to see what Amazon has in store for Prime customers!

So here's what you can do. You can try Amazon Prime for free! Click my affiliate link here (Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial) or on the photo below and you can sign up for a free trial. Be sure to try out as many perks as possible during your trial. As an SLP-Amazon-Prime-Lover (for over 5 years now), I cannot recommend it enough!
*Post contains affiliate links.

June 24, 2017

SLP Now Review: Can It Help the Busy SLP?

Kayla SLP Affiliate Link


Hi, all! I am here today to review SLP Now, a membership site for SLPs that you may have already heard about. But what SLP settings can benefit from this membership? What is the purpose behind this membership? What does it do for the busy SLP? Let's explore.

I have been using SLP Now for over a year now, as a school SLP, and let me tell you something. It is a game changer! SLP Now is useful for both clinic AND school SLPs. It's optimized for students preschool through high school, with the largest focus on skills needed for PreK-5th grade (perfect for me, because those are the grades I work with). You know your students and you know what grade levels they are performing at, so you can pick and choose the skills best suited for the children on your caseload.

Speaking of skills... this membership offers skill packs for grammar, language (comprehension), vocabulary, and articulation. Specific skills are offered within each area, and there are currently 20 skill packs available, including packs for synonyms, idioms, verbs and narrative language.  The best part is that there are more skill packs to come, and as a member, you will have access to each skill pack as it is released!

Do you do themed therapy? I do! I love using themes because I feel it keeps both me AND my students on track and engaged. Well, SLP Now has you covered. Right now there are almost 50 themed packs available on the site. Yes, you heard right. ALMOST 50!!! Each theme includes a parent letter, 2 books to use with the theme (physical books not included, obviously, but that's what Amazon and libraries are for!), vocab cards, comprehension cards, an activity, a craft AND a reading passage. There is literally something for every child on your caseload. Personally, I enjoy using books in therapy. If you don't, the themed therapy may not be the most beneficial part of the membership for your. However, you can still use the reading passages, crafts and vocabulary portions!

But what's the purpose? What can it do for me as an SLP? For me, the biggest benefit is to reduce my time spent planning and prepping so that I can have more time actually doing therapy! The membership is laid out in such a way that you can select a skill (or theme) and print. It's that simple! However, it also helps with establishing baselines for your students (each skill pack includes a page to help you determine the child's current level), keep data (yes, also included!), and keep parents involved with themed therapy newsletters. It also cuts out the guesswork of "what will I be doing next week in therapy?!". Simply pick a theme and go from there!

One of my FAVORITE parts of the membership, however, is the Facebook group! Marisha, the creator of SLP Now, is always available to answer any questions you have, and you can bounce ideas off of each other within the SLP Now community!

There is a monthly and a yearly option for the membership, so you can always try for a month to see if it will work for you. If so, I recommend signing up for the yearly membership because it offers a discount (opposed to paying month by month for a year).

And if you want in on a secret... there are some very exciting things in the works that you'll want to be a part of! Keep an eye on SLP Now to see what's coming next!

Want to see more? Join today using the code KAYLASLP and get $10 off*! I would love for your life to become easier via the use of this site. It has significantly reduced my therapy plan-and-prep time.... so click here to join!

Have you used SLP Now? What are your thoughts? What do you find most useful?


**The code KAYLASLP is an affiliate code. You will get 10% off and I will get a small percentage for referring you to the site.





April 18, 2017

5 Steps to Improve your IEP Goal Writing



No matter how hard I try, it always seems like my IEP goals could be better. Every year, as I look back on my previous year's goals, there are always a few where I think, "This doesn't even make sense!" or "I should have included..." or the dreaded "How in the heck did I expect to measure THAT goal?!"

It's fine. I'm learning! Rules and regulations on what goals must include will keep changing and therefore, I will keep changing the ways I write my goals. However, I've came up with a short list of "make sures" that I now refer to before writing a goal.

#1 Always Include the ABCDEFs of Good Goal Writing




 This one sounds obvious, but it's easy to forget a step. Plus, the higher-ups keep adding new letters to the goal writing alphabet (it used to only be ABDC, then ABCDE, and now I'm being told to add an F!) So, let's review.
 




  • A- Audience: Who is your goal written about? Who are you targeting with this goal? 
    • Example: My audience would be the student's name.
  • B- Behavior: What behavior are you hoping to change or improve with this goal?
    • Example: Increase in MLU, production of vocalic /r/, decrease in stuttering instances.
  • C- Condition: Under what circumstances and by what date?
    • Example: By the IEP end date, in a small group/individual setting.
  • D- Degree: How much change are you expecting to see? 
    • Example: 80% accuracy, 4/5 trials.
  • E- Evidence: How can you prove there is growth?
    • Example: Checklists, criterion referenced tests, behavior observations, frequency count.
  • F- Frequency of progress monitoring: How often will you check for progress?
    • Example: At least 1x monthly, 1x quarterly, weekly, etc.
This is the basic template I have ingrained in my brain. I modify for each student, but this template ensures that I have each area covered.

(C)By the IEP end date, in a small group or individual setting, (A)STUDENT (B) will independently produce vocalic /r/ at the word level (D) with 80% accuracy during 4 data collections (F) (measured at least 1x monthly (E) by the SLP using a criterion referenced test).



#2 Know How You Are Going to Measure the Goal

When I first started my job, I inherited goals such as the following:

Johnny will complete age-appropriate receptive and expressive language tasks with 80% accuracy during 3/4 trials across 4/5 sessions.

Oh my word. I had no idea what skills I should be targeting in therapy, how exactly I was supposed to measure them, and HOW in the WORLD was I going to keep track of 80% during 3/4 trials over 4/5 sessions? The numbers alone gave me a headache.

I learned to simplify! I write my goals to be SPECIFIC, so there was no question what skills were being targeted. Use 3/4 trials OR 4/5 sessions, but not both! I took out as many numbers as possible and made it crystal clear that Johnny needed to be able to correctly name 80% of the targeted synonyms during each progress monitoring check, and to maintain that 80% for 3 progress monitoring checks for that goal to be considered "mastered".

I also started making progress monitoring tools as I wrote the goals. Primarily, I use SLP Toolkit for progress monitoring. If I write a goal that isn't included on their pre-made templates, I make my own using Word or Powerpoint. This way, I KNOW my goals can be measured and I have just the tools to do it.



 #3 Keep Your Goals Specific

Remember that goal I mentioned early, where "Johnny will complete age-appropriate receptive and expressive language tasks..."? Okay, let me just say, there are HUNDREDS of components that could be included within that goal.

Narrow down the skills you want to target and write goals specifically for those skills. Do not combine multiple skills into one goal, unless you know how you will check for progress. For example: Allie will correctly name regular and irregular verbs and nouns with 80% accuracy".  This goal will be really hard to graph because it's actually targeted 4 different skills-- and the results may look skewed when combined together! My advice is to break it up into the smaller, more specific goals that will be accurately reflected when graphed.



#4 Aim For Progress, But Be Realistic

You only have a year to target these goals. If you have a student who produces "l-blends" with 0% accuracy, it may not be the best idea to write 1 goal saying that "Susan will produce "l-blends" in conversation with 80% accuracy". If you decide to keep that as a goal, add other benchmarks so that even if the overall goal isn't achieved, you can show that progress was made because Susan met the benchmarks of "l-blends" at the word and phrase level.

Always aim high for your students, but again, if you think your student may NOT reach the goal, but you still want to try-- add in benchmarks to show progress along the way!

 

 

#5 Have a Peer Read Your Goals

 At my school, if one of our SPED staff has a question about the way a goal sounds, we send it out to other SPED staff members for a "proof". There's no telling how many times one of us has caught a simple mistake on another person's goals. Something as simple as forgetting to tell how the goal will be measured, making sure it's not too complicated to read (aka, too many numbers or skills in one goal), and making sure that it can be progress monitored/graphed. Sometimes you need another set of eyes, because just think-- if that student moves schools, and your goals aren't clear, you may be getting a phone call from the new school asking you "What EXACTLY is this goal getting at?!". Save the embarrassment, and let a peer proof them for you!!


What are your best tips for writing good IEP goals? Let me know in the comments!



April 8, 2017

5 Under $5: Easter Must-Have Items for Your Therapy Room

 

Searching to add some "cheep" and "egg-citing" items to your Easter-themed therapy? Here are 5 must have items, each under $5, to add to your toolbox for hands-on therapy this Easter!



1. Mini Eggs


These mini-eggs are nice for a quick reinforcement for drill-type activities. Pair them will any "Feed The ___" activity (many of which can be found on Teachers Pay Teachers) for an instant hit with your preschool-1st graders. Or, give each student a mini Easter basket (extra points if you put some Easter grass inside!) and see who gets the most eggs in their basket!

For older students, scatter empty tissue boxes (or the empty tin buckets, like those mentioned here) across the floor and toss the eggs inside. Place point values on the boxes for added competition!

These eggs came from the Dollar Tree, but they're also available on Amazon*.

 

2. Bubble Wands

 I talked a lot about how to use communicative temptations in speech-language therapy before on my blog. Use these bubble wands as a seasonal variation to target initiation (want!),  requesting (open bubbles), increased sentence length/syntax (I want bubbles). Keep the lid on tight so the student HAS to make some attempt to request help from you to open up the bubbles. Talk about the verbs "blow", "pop", "chase", "catch", "float". I also use bubbles to emphasize final consonants because you can literally talk about "pop"over 1000 times during a bubble blowing session.

If you want them for under $5, you're going to need to visit your local Dollar Tree, Walmart, or Target dollar spot!



3. Plastic Easter Eggs

I'm sure you've already figured out how to use plastic Easter eggs in therapy, but here is how I use them. I buy them in 2 sizes-- the jumbo and regular size. By doing so, I can target words such as "big", "little", "bigger", "smaller", etc. Inside, place mini-objects (can be used for articulation or for later sorting into categories), pictures (verbs, articulation cards, 1-2 step directions, etc) or assorted colors/sizes of pom-poms* (descriptive language- "I found the big yellow egg with the small pink pompom inside!"). Hide them around the room (keep the hiding spaces more obvious for your smaller children and tougher for your older students). You can also target following directions by giving clues as to where they are hidden (ex: "Look under the thing you sit on" or "Look between two bookshelves") or play a game of "Hot or Cold" ("You're getting warmer...!"). Pro tip: make a master list of where you hid the eggs!
 
These are literally available EVERYWHERE! Mine came from Walmart, but you can also get them on Amazon*, the Dollar Tree, Target, etc.


4. Easter Grass

My primary use for Easter grass is as a filler for a sensory box. I typically buy enough green Easter grass to last my all through spring (paired with beans as a garden themed box), and multiple colors for my Easter themed box. It usually takes 4-5 bags to fill up my large sensory box. Within the box, I may hide plastic eggs, small items for articulation or categorization, etc. Really, I use the grass as a filler and just use my sensory box the way you would typically use a sensory box! The grass is super cheap at Walmart and the Dollar Tree, but also available on Amazon*.





5. Stretchy Bunnies/Slingshot

Two words-- target practice! Tape a target* (or two) on the wall and aim the bunnies at the target! This game is best for older students because it does take some extensive coordination to actually hit the target, but it's a pretty quick reinforcer for your somewhat reluctant speech-language students. I've also heard other SLPs talk about using stretchy items to teach flexible thinking. Lots of possibilities with this one!

Mine came from the Dollar Tree, but there are similar variations on Amazon*. Just watch the prices-- some are outrageous! ALWAYS check your local Dollar stores first!



~BONUS~

As always, Teachers Pay Teachers has some awesome affordable options for under $5 as well. Some activities that I use every year are my Easter Egg Basket Categories activity, Mia McDaniel's Easter Egg Articulation, and Speech Therapy Fun's Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt Clues.

*Post contains affiliate links to Amazon.