Thursday, March 31, 2016

Thinking Outside the Box in Speech-Language Therapy

One of the things I have really come to appreciate about our profession, is the ability of an SLP to be a nonconformist.  I consider myself a fairly traditional gal, but when it comes to my work I will do what ever it takes to help my students understand a concept or reach a goal.  I would venture, most of us feel the same way.

Today was no exception.  I have an absolutely darling little kindergarten student who has a phonological processes difficulty.  We have made incredible gains using the cycles approach along with some other articulation techniques.  She is very highly motivated and just relishes being better understood by her peers, teachers, and family, and as soon as she learns a target production, she scans ahead and self-corrects like nobody's business.  Stopping is reduced, gliding is reduced, but fronting of /sh/ (sorry, don't know how to insert phonetics into my blog!) was eluding her.

This is where thinking outside the box became critical.  We had previously talked about the parts of the tongue, we did auditory bombardment, we used pictures, apps, flashlights.  Zilch!  I was grasping when it came to me...a pipe cleaner and a bead.  We knew she could now produce /s/ consistently, but moving to /sh/ was vexing.  The pipe cleaner represented the roof of her mouth and the pink bead was her tongue.  As she moved the bead along the pipe cleaner, she was able to grasp how her tongue had to change for the /sh/ sound.  A couple of trials and she had it.  That little girl fell into my arms and then sprawled across my lap with relief.  She did it!  We laughed and said /sh/ over and over and over. Then she showed her teacher what she had learned and her teacher jumped for joy.

Thinking outside the box in action!

It was a bead and a pipe cleaner, and it resulted in improved communication.  It is days like today that I am happy to announce I am a nonconformist.  It is days like today that make me so happy I am an SLP.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Things SLPs Should ALWAYS Say: By the Frenzied SLPs

Two weeks ago the Frenzied SLPs brought you their top things an SLP should NEVER say. The posts ran from inspiring to comical, but certainly they all fit the bill for "what not to say." This week we are doing a 180 degree turn to things SLPs should ALWAYS say. I cannot wait to read the wisdom of my fellow hostesses, Laura of All Y'all Need and Sparklle SLP as well as our other Frenzied SLP friends.

For this post I'm going to muse on the polar opposite of my post highlighting my very tongue in cheek and rather snarky "Things SLPs Should Never Say."

10. Yes, Mrs. Smith, it is oppressively hot in my un-windowed speech closet. Fortunately, our school is located on a beautiful campus and I love the idea of taking therapy outdoors on days like today. So much wonderful language development can happen if we just come out of our closets!

9. You will be offered quite a lot of information today and it can be very overwhelming. I understand. Please, feel free to stop me if you have any questions. I am always available by phone, email or conference, if afterward you think of anything else you want to ask.

8. Every child has unique gifts, it's true.

7. It does seem that every year, we are tasked with more and more. Sometimes it feels insurmountable. Understanding that, I will always do my best to act as a model of kindness and stewardship in our world and help your child to be the best possible version of himself.

6. You look awesome! That color is great on you!

5. I understand how worried you are. Sometimes it does feel like the deck is stacked against you.  Our goal is to help your child capitalize on his strengths while supporting him in his weaknesses. He is unique in his profile and we need to collectively flesh out what exactly is impeding his ability to achieve.

4. I was concerned Johnny was not himself in speech today, so I sent him to our school nurse.

3. I chose this field not for the mega-bucks I will never earn, but for the rewards I receive every day when a child learns something new!

2. While it's true heredity can play a role in your child's development and you may have had similar difficulties when you were young. That information is very helpful and will help us to paint a more accurate picture. Know that I think of Johnny as an individual, the one and only, Johnny. I will consider all contributing factors and will then tailor my work with him based his needs.

1. Yes, summer is important. It is important for students to spend uninterrupted time with their families. It is time for them to read for pleasure. It is time for teenagers to earn money or for kids to go to camp. It is time for kids to engage in the activities they love, like sports or theater. For me? I need that time, too. The rigors of schedules and paperwork are all consuming and sometimes it's all I can do to keep my head above water. I return each September energized, eager to try new things, and excited to help your child grow.

I know I fall short now and again, of using just the right words. I try each and every day, though, to treat parents with compassion. Parents have a difficult job and being the parent of a child with speech-language needs is even more challenging.

I would love to hear your ideas of the "Things SLPs Should Always Say!"

Saturday, March 12, 2016

My Top 6 Home Hacks: A Linky

This may sound surprising; I have some quirks! While some of my quirks may be just a bit annoying, I prefer to think that they are merely what makes me, me. I beep under tunnels for good luck, I find moths truly disturbing, and don't like old kitchen sponges. My other quirks can be viewed as more productive. As I was washing dishes the other day, I thought a linky sharing home hacks I have found to be time and money savers would be fun and enlightening and maybe even a little endearing.

My top 6 home hacks for busy SLPs:
6. I find the size of "scrubbies" a little too big, so in order to be easier to handle and to save a few cents, I cut them in half. They are easier to use and last twice as long; win-win!

5. When our children were very young I taught them to ball their socks together before placing them in the hamper. Why you ask? Well, I was tired of washing single socks and having them in the drawers waiting for me to wash their mates. I always felt as if I was half done with the laundry. No more singletons in my drawers and even today as teens, our kids wad up their socks. An added benefit is that they always wore matching socks!

4. I tend to be a creature of habit and pack the same lunch every day; salad. One day as I was dining with friends, upon seeing my salad dressing leaking from its container, my friend mentioned she saves prescription containers for transporting dressing. I tried it and lo and behold it worked like a charm! I still place the bottle in a snack sized baggie to ensure it doesn't leak.

3.  I am a "curly curl." One of the cardinal rules of curly girl hair care is not to use a terrycloth towel. The shaft of curly hair is similar to the way a pine cone is layered, so terrycloth tends to catch and cause frizz. I like microfiber towels, but didn't want to spend too much on hair towels. I bought two microfiber dishtowels and stitched them up to make a perfect hair towel. 
2. The thought of all the plastic society consumes laying in landfills for perpetuity troubles me. Just the baggies alone I know we use is exorbitant. Years ago I found this baggie and bottle dryer in the Lehman's Catalog. It is well worth the $25.00 I paid for it and it gives me a little piece of mind that our footprint is just a tad smaller.

1. My final and most important home hack: if the urge to houseclean comes over you, grab a cup of coffee and a good book and wait for the urge to go away!

What time and money savers do you recommend? I would love to hear about your favorite home hacks! Link up and share your wisdom.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Things SLPs Should NEVER Say By: The Frenzied SLPs

This week your Frenzied SLPs are exploring the "things SLPs should NEVER say." Many thanks to Laura of All Y'all Need and Sparklle SLP for their behind the scenes work to keep the Frenzied SLPs organized! I am taking a tongue in cheek look at this topic because goodness knows I can't take myself too seriously! Without further ado I present the top 10 things an SLP should NEVER, EVER, EVER say at a parent conference.

10.  Yes, Mrs. Smith, it is oppressively hot in my un-windowed speech closet. If you would like I will call down to the lobby and ask the concierge to turn on the air conditioning and bring you an icy lemonade.

9.  Before we start our conference, I'd like to explain some terms you should be familiar with in order to truly understand the reevaluation process. Please know that as our educational zeitgeist morphs, new buzzwords will be added to the edu-speak lexicon that promise to confound you. Simply retrieve these terms from your mind palace and you will be all set. Please inform me at the outset if you have any difficulty sustaining attention, because I have a plethora of pharmacological suggestions to assist you. You can query your primary care physician about them. Don't worry our school nurse will do an ACTeRS scale to monitor your response to the meds as well as to establish a baseline. BTW, I only use this jargon (that likely sounds like Klingon to you), to demonstrate that I am highly trained in the most current and evidence based methods and in no way want you to feel uncomfortable or ignorant.

8.  Gifted Schmifted

7.  I agree, I agree. Our schools are failing our students and CCSS are for the birds. These kids don't know Diddley. Why, just the other day I was thinking I need to spend more time on the practical. You know things like nose blowing, drug prevention education, RAK. I will be sure to fit that in right after lessons on manners. It has become quite clear that we as educators are not doing enough to create a moral foundation in our students. In fact, I say, "The heck with math and reading!"

6.  You hag!

5.  I do understand, Mrs. Jones. It IS everybody else's fault!

4.  Just a couple of thoughts. I would suggest both soap AND water for hand washing.
No, I don't think the hands or shirt sleeves should be used. Yes, the tissue does go in the trash not on my desk. Lastly, and this is quite important, if Sally has a raging fever and a racking cough, please, she should STAY HOME!

3.  Absolutely, I technically work until 3:30 each day and only ten months out of the year. Shall we reevaluate my pay to correlate more closely with what I "work?" To be conservative here, we won't include before or after school hours or that pesky 30 minute lunch, so let's say you pay me by the hour for the students I see daily. How is $3.00 an hour for 5 hours per day? That is $15.00 times the 25 students that come in and out of my room on any given day which brings us to $375.00 per day. It's true I only work 180 days per year, so that is $67,500.00 per year. Not bad! Shouldn't I consider my Master's degree and 33 years experience? In that case, I really deserve minimum wage which is $7.25. Okay, now we have $36.25 a day times 25 cherubs ($906.25) times 180 days ($163,125.00) My word, I totally should get minimum wage!!

2.  I have done considerable testing with little Johnny and have gathered a wealth of information. Rather than overwhelm you with the minutia I have decided to just cut to the chase. Apple...tree!

1.  A longer school year and day? What the ...?

It's probably a good thing I never went into stand up comedy and that I have an intact filter!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Interview with a School Nurse

Close to one year ago, I began a blog series that included interviews from those working closely with students and each other in the schools. The series was well received, but I lost momentum toward the end! My bad. Still, there were a few individuals who graciously offered to answer my questions. So here are the final few installments of the interview series.

I have great respect for school nurses. I honestly don't know how they keep all those balls in the air; maintaining copious notes, dealing with tummies and headaches and loose teeth. They coordinate student absences and make sure kids have decent clothes. They manage lice (blech) and help keep staff fit and healthy with "biggest loser" challenges. They remind us to wear red and pink and always have ready answers to our personal questions. They are amazing! A good friend of mine is a school nurse in a local school and was kind enough to answer my questions.

1. How do you see a true multidisciplinary team functioning?
I think a true multidisciplinary team should collaborate, sharing their ideas as we all come from different perspectives. My greatest concerns are around the health of the child and how medications affect their day. It is important that we communicate this information to each other in the interest of the child. Fundamentally, we all need to respect each other's jobs.

2. What message do you have for the powers that be (administration, DOE, elected officials, etc. Your choice)
I want those with influence to understand our staff does so much for the children. We provide a safe and nurturing environment, an environment that allows children to learn.

3. What do you see as the most pressing issue impacting our students today? Why?
I feel social media, such as Facebook,  chat rooms, Snapchat, Instagram and Yik Yak, is more that the kids can handle. I don't believe kids fully understand how what they post scan effect them and others. As staff and parents we have a difficult time monitoring how kids are using social media. I also believe, children are using these site a much too young an age.

Another pressing issue today is that families do not sit down and eat dinner together. Mealtime is the perfect time to decompress and find out what is going on with your kids. It is a great venue for both problem solving and laughter! Not enough kids have this intimacy at home.

4. What energizes you to come to work everyday? What keeps it "fresh" for you?
I love the students and that alone keeps me energized. Some days it is just enough to see their smiling faces and they are happy to see me, too. Everyday there is something new to keep it fresh.

5. Describe your dream work environment? How does your dream compare with your reality? How can you make it a reality?
I feel blessed to be working in a fantastic environment. My dream? I wish all kids could have a clean, warm, nourishing home. The reality is, that by providing them some healthy food at school, some proper clothing and some consistency, we are, in small part fulfilling that dream.

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