Friday, February 2, 2018

Carnac The Magnificent in Speech-Language Therapy

I was working with a student last week, in science class. He was getting very frustrated with me because I was asking him about the group plan and needed to ask for clarification several times. What became very clear was that I didn't have all the information and he wasn't giving it to me in his responses, despite asking him clarifying questions. Herein lies the rub with social communication difficulties, "you think I know what you're thinking." I don't I'm not a mind reader!

In the car on my way home I was drafting my weekly email to his my mind. I wanted to help them understand that our student has difficulty understanding that he has to communicate what he thinks and knows in order for us to all be on a level communication playing field, because we aren't mind readers. That notion jogged a memory of Johnny Carson and his Carnac the Magnificent character. How could I bring Carnac to speech therapy?

I immediately ordered a giant turban from Amazon because who doesn't love a little kitsch in speech? I plan on helping my student understand that others don't know what's on his mind using a mind reader scenario and some games from my therapy closet. I found three games I believe will lend well to this concept: Inklings, Buzzword, and Whoonu.

The object of Inklings is to write clues to help your teammates guess the seven answers on the subject card. The idea is to get your teammates to guess your seven answers using as short a clue as possible. More points are awarded for shorter clues.  For instance, if the subject is things that are yellow and the answer is lemon, a possible clue could be sour.  After we play using the subject cards provided with the game, I am going to add more social subjects such as relating an experience from school with answers including subjects, date, place, discourse, conclusion, etc.

Buzzword will be wonderful for helping students express a specific message. The object of Buzzword is to have your team guess the answers to the clues around a central theme. I think I am going to modify the rules so that the Buzzword isn't given at the outset of the turn, but needs to be guessed. So players would give the clues and the others would guess the theme or buzzword. I'll have to select specific cards and omit some more obscure clues, I think.

The last game I plan on using is Whoonu. In Whoonu players win the most points by correctly guessing other players' (the Whoozit's) favorite thing. The snag is that the players guess the Whoozit's favorite thing from the cards in their hands.

These games are introductions of sorts and will pave the way for more discussion and activities around sharing thoughts to improve communication. The bottom line is I want to help my student understand he bears a portion of the responsibility to provide information to others to prevent communication breakdowns as well as to learn to ask questions about what others may or may not know. I''l let you know how it works

Does anyone have any suggestions as to how I can make this different or better? I would love to hear your thoughts, I'm not a mind reader after all! :)


  1. I love how your mind works! Your speech room sounds like so much fun!!!

    1. Thanks Mary! My mind is a tricky place for sure :) I do try to make speech effective and fun!!