Building Language Supports Using Low-Tech AAC

Building Language Supports Using Low-Tech AAC

I’m still riding high from SLP Summit earlier this month. In case you missed it, my presentation was titled “Building Language supports through AAC”. I co-presented with Brian Whitmer from Coughdrop AAC. He handled high-tech while I spoke about low-tech AAC.
 The excitement, the connections, the information and the buzz was so uplifting and informative. I’m so thrilled to have been a presenter during this groundbreaking activity. The comments and questions, were so good, and I want to take the time to answer some of the really pertinent questions here. I’ll also provide many of the links and resources that I talked about.

No more FOUA (fear of using AAC).

So let’s jump right in…
As the year for me is gearing up, I was discussing some suggestions for low-tech AAC or no-tech communication opportunities with one of my colleagues.  I suggested to her that she might try some routines during sessions, and what came to my mind was the “magic wand” greeting and greeting song from the webinar you did during the Winter SLP summit.  I was just wondering if perhaps you had a list of suggestions for routines you might use that would have an expected or repetitive response, similar to those activities I mentioned above?”~Caitlyn
 
This is a great question from Caitlin. I agree that routines are amazing in the special needs classroom. Here are some of my favorites:
Use the magic wand to reinforce greetings when entering the room. A lot of our kiddos are not expected to greet anyone in any way. This is a really important social skill and a way for them to connect. Model waving and saying hi, hello. As soon as you get any type of response, give them some magic.
With the younger kids, integrate a Hello song and Goodbye song. The links to see them are here on my YouTube channel. (please excuse my bad singing, haha).
As the kids get older I like to use something more age appropriate such as Whole Brain teaching rules. We start each and every session with the “rules”. I use the posters for visual support,  hand movements, and consistency. We love them. Here’ a little video of us using them during our speech session.
I’ve had really good success with the use of a simple visual schedule, just three or four little picture cards to show what we’ll be doing during our speech time. It doesn’t have to be perfect or beautiful, just consistently used.
Incorporating songs and song choices into our group time has also been a big hit. I use a Go Talk (more low-tech AAC) with little recorded snippets of each song for each buttons. Some examples are: Wheels on the Bus, Looby Loo, Twinkle Twinkle and Head & Shoulders. Over time you get the advantage of the students learning the songs too  (especially if you incorporate hand movements and make it fun). Here is a link to my Pinterest board of transition songs.
Routine and predictably are your best friends. Last year, I followed the same basic routine in each of the three functional skills classrooms I work with. Here is my magic list.
Primary functional skills: Magic wand, hello song, criss cross applesauce, go talk song Choices, core vocabulary board activity, 3 – 4 minutes iPad time for the whole group as a reward, the Goodbye song.
Grade 4 5 6 functional skills: Say hello and shake hands as they enter the room, whole brain teaching rules all together, core vocabulary activity, 3 – 4 minutes iPad time for the whole group as a reward, age appropriate song on iTunes that we all chose together.
Grade 7 8 functional skills: Say what’s up and shake hands (or fistbump) as they enter the room, whole brain teaching rules all together with more age appropriate hand movements, therapy activity, 3 – 4 minutes iPad time for the whole group as a reward.
I hope this gives you some good ideas for your sessions.
“How do you print the Core Board so large?”
Great question.  You don’t need any oversize printer or Kinko’s.  Each page has four symbol squares, I have them in order, with really complete instructions. Just glue them to a poster board and then laminate. Easy peasy. Click here to learn more about the BIG Core board
Is there research to support the 10-second hold for pointing when modeling? Everyone loves research
to back up what they’re saying especially when trying to get ABA professionals on board. -Amanda

Another great question! I don’t have the answer yet. There are several references to the 10 second point, but as far as research for the exact time I’ll have to keep looking. I’d say it is a suggested time by some highly experienced AAC experts (see these references). 

“Can I get a handout of the slide presentation?”

So many people asked for a copy of the slide presentation, I apologize for not including it.  You can click here for the attachment. 

I’m also answering some of the questions on Facebook. Click here to see.   

Thank you so much to everyone who attended.  I’m working on another AAC presentation as we speak.

Remember feel the FOUA and do it anyway,

Beautiful Speech Life

Share the wins: School SLP Success Stories

Share the wins: School SLP Success Stories

As a school speech language pathologist (SLP) we are lucky to be a part of some wonderful  SLP success stories.  After all, that’s why we do this job; we love to be able to make a difference.
SLP Success Stories
This is a really cool little story with a happy ending. A few years ago we got a new student in one of our functional skills classrooms. He was really quiet and when he did speak, he was very difficult to understand due to a severe phonological disorder. Little Ivan (not his real name) had also gone for years with an undetected hearing loss.
SLP Success Stories
With time we were able to correct a lot of his phonological errors. As people begin to understand him, he became more confident and less shy. Ivan was a very kind student and quickly became the leader of the class. So much so, that we started to wonder about his diagnosis of moderate intellectual disability.
When he was reevaluated, sure enough Ivan’s former diagnosis did not fit. Turns out he simply had a learning disability. I guess that the learning disability paired with the extreme shyness, the inability to be understood, the language impairment and the hearing loss had all combined against him.
Our team slowly transitioned Ivan into the resource room and general education setting.  We took it slowly and had lots of supports in place. The first day he took the regular bus home (instead of the sped bus) the school psychologist and I followed the bus to make sure he was able to independently get off the bus and go straight home. (He was).
It wasn’t an easy transition and we had to stand up against a lot of people that didn’t believe us. But it was so worth it!
I’m happy to say that Ivan has is still in a general education classroom with resource support. I still get tears in my eyes telling this story, we were able to change the course of his life.  That is so powerful!
Let’s celebrate our wins together! Today is the start of a new feature. I’m sharing one of my SLP success stories today and in the coming weeks I’ll feature yours.  I’d love for you to submit a quick story, just email me at beautifulspeechlife@gmail.com if you’re interested. I can’t wait to hear what you have to say.
Shine Bright,
Beautiful Speech Life
 P.S. You can read more inspirational stories about SLP bosses here and here. I’d also love for you to come and join the fun on facebook, you can be the first to see live videos where I share SLP tips and tricks.
SLP Summer Planner for Speech

SLP Summer Planner for Speech

Do you love planners as much as I do? I created a special SLP summer planner just to help you make sure your summer doesn’t slip away.

SLP Summer Planner for SpeechAnd the best part…it’s FREE!

WE made it through another year! Now for a well-deserved summer break. If you’re like me you start the summer with very well-intended plans of projects, revamps and things-to-do. Sometimes the transition from flat out running and wrangling kids all day to summer relaxation can be a little tricky. SLP Summer Planner to the rescue.

So you take a few days to adjust. You make some vacation plans and you sleep in. Binge watch Netflix and before you know it, summer’s over.  If you’re happy with that then great.

But… what if you start the summer knowing how you want to feel at the end of it? What if we a take little time to reflect on the past year and celebrate our successes?  Let’s make time for what we really want to do with these precious months and use the SLP Summer Planner to make it happen.

SLP Summer Planner

What can you do to take care of yourself and refill the well? Who do you want to spend your time with? Figure out if you really want to do projects.  If yes, pick ones that will make you feel good. Maybe you just want to sit under a tree and get lost in a book.

Give yourself what you need. The work you do is so very important. You really do make a difference. Because you “SLP”-ed Like a Boss all year, you deserve to be the boss of your summer.

I hope you use this SLP Summer Planner with a sense of play and intention. Then when summer comes to an end (which it always does) you can use the final sheets to transition into the coming school year.

Wishing you an incredible summer,

Beautiful Speech Life

Beautiful Speech Life

P.S. Watch for the SLP Like a Boss School Planner coming soon.

SLP Like a Boss: Adrienne from Learn with Adrienne

SLP Like a Boss: Adrienne from Learn with Adrienne

In this series I’m interviewing SLP boss women who work by day as a speech language pathologist, but at night (and on weekends) they are building a business. I’m talking about websites, blogs, courses and therapy materials for their fellow SLPs and teachers. These are women I admire professionally and who inspire me. I write this series because I feel we can all make our practice as SLPs better and stronger by connecting with other SLPs.
This month, I’m featuring Adrienne from Learn with Adrienne. I met Adrienne two years ago when we took a massive online course together.  I’m pretty sure we were the only two SLPs in the class and we became accountability partners. I was one of the beta testers for her course and am so impressed by what she’s created. She is an ASHA certified speech language pathologist who, along with her sign language course, works in early intervention.
 
Adrienne, tell me about yourself in seven words: 

I teach Sign Language online to beginners.

Where did you go to grad school?: 

Western Kentucky University.
What are your top three SLP must haves ?: 

1. Powersheets Intentional Goal Planner by Lara Casey. I started using this at the beginning of the year. It helps me set goals and have a structured system to chip away at my goals without feeling overwhelmed. My favorite part is the “Tending List” that you create at the beginning of each month. You can find out more about Powersheets on Instagram here: @cultivatewhatmatters Also, I enjoy following the Powersheets creator, Lara, at @laracasey.

2. My Swell water bottle. It keeps my water ice cold in the car between home visits for Early Intervention therapy.
  1. 3. My dayplanner: AT-A-GLANCE Academic Year Weekly/Monthly Appointment Book. I have used this type of planner for years. It has a slot for each hour of the day. I book my client sessions, write appointments, block out time for my goals, and plan meals. Love it.

What do you love most about what you do? 

My happiest moments are when I am helping people learn Sign Language. I love watching my students add Sign Language to their SLP toolbox while earning ASHA CEUs at the same time.

Julie, one of my students said, “I just got an Early Intervention referral…both parents are Deaf! I am so thankful for this course, not only for Speech Therapy, but now I am able to introduce myself, and show them I am trying.”

Another one of my students, Isabella, told me: “My cousin is Deaf and I have always wanted to have a conversation with her. I want to show her that I care and include her when the family gets together. Now, after practice and watching your videos in your online Sign Language class, I will be able to talk to her and we can become even closer.”

So, I am happiest when I am watching people sign to connect with others. #signtoconnect has become my motto.

Tell me your advice for the newly minted SLP: 

My best advice is to start an “Aha-Moments” Journal.

Aha-moments happen when you least expect them.

It is the twinkle in a toddler’s eye when she realizes for the first time that she can use words to make a request.

It is the 5th grader who finally perfects their /r/ sound in a sentence.

It is the high-schooler who delivers his big Graduation Speech confidently and smoothly in the auditorium. When you are sitting in the audience with proud tears of joy because he has dysfluency and has been practicing his speech with you for months.

It is the man in the Skilled Nursing Facility who can remember his daughter’s name again when she comes to visit, because he is using the strategies and tips you taught him.

Chase after the “aha-moments.” Cherish them, celebrate them, and strive for them.  In your “Aha-Moments” journal, write down whenever you help someone in a profound way. Write it down and celebrate it. When you feel discouraged, or have a rough day, you will have a beautiful collection of moments to remember times when you  changed peoples’ lives. At the end of your career, you will have a unique keepsake to walk down memory lane and reminisce about the lives you touched.

Tell me about your course: 

I teach the “Sign Language in 30 Days Online Course” for beginners. This course is for people who have always wanted to learn Sign Language, but feel intimidated. It is for people who are overwhelmed by learning signs from a book or random sources online. It is for people who need to know basic Sign Language vocabulary to use with clients, students, or patients in their speech therapy sessions.

As an SLP, I know that earning CEUs is always a priority for me to further my education on topics that I need to use in my own therapy sessions. My Sign Language course is available for up to 5 hours of ASHA CEUs for my students who are SLPs.

Before I first started learning Sign Language over ten years ago, I thought it would be so complicated and confusing. But once I started coming up with my own secret strategies to remember the words, I was obsessed! I never realized how most signs look like the words they portray. The language is beautiful. That’s one reason I love teaching Sign Language in my online course, because I can help beginners to learn the basics in 30 days. I shortcut the time it takes my students to learn. I teach them strategies to learn faster and remember signs for a long long time.
My students learn over 300 words in one month and have lifetime access to the class online to review in the future.

Tell me about your website: 

My website is www.learnwithadrienne.com. There, I give away the first lesson of my Sign Language Online Course as a gift. My site also has videos for Early Intervention SLPs. I share ideas and inspiration for therapy activities with babies and toddlers in my videos.

What SLP-boss inspires you?

Lia Kurtin from SpeechandLanguageatHome.com. She makes amazing resources for Early Intervention on TPT. I use her materials all the time in my Early Intervention home visits. She also has a course about how to go “Bagless” in Early Intervention visits and use the coaching model.
If you are interested in taking an Adrienne’s course click here http://bit.ly/learnsignathome for more information.  I like the course so much that I am an affiliate.
The thing that makes her course different is that she groups the words into categories (of course she does, she’s an SLP) AND she gives you little tips and tricks that help you remember the signs.  For example, the sign for pizza (very important to me) looks like you’re putting a slice in your mouth.
I use sign language to provide visual support when I’m teaching core vocabulary. It really helps to have multi-modality. In my primary functional skill classroom we use the sign for “more” a lot. I took her course last summer and really enjoyed it. Since I have lifetime access, I go back and check in from time to time for a refresher. 
So there you have it, another inspirational SLP boss. If you enjoyed this interview, head on over to Adrienne’s site and learn more.
Is there an SLP you admire and would like to know more about? Let me know in the comments below.
Until next time, together we are stronger,
SLP Like a Boss: Dr. Carole Zangari from Praactical AAC

SLP Like a Boss: Dr. Carole Zangari from Praactical AAC

In this series I’m interviewing SLP boss women who work by day as a speech language pathologist, but at night (and on weekends) they are building a business. I’m talking about websites, blogs and therapy materials for their fellow SLPs and teachers. These are women I admire professionally and who inspire me. I write this series because I feel we can all make our practice as SLPs better and stronger by connecting with other SLPs.
slp-like-a-boss-october
Can you imagine interviewing a guru? That’s what I felt like when I had the great pleasure of a phone chat with Dr. Carole Zangari. Not only is she  is a professor of Speech Language Pathology  at Nova Southeastern University(my alma mater) where she teaches AAC classes at the master’s and doctoral level;  she also supervises AAC clinical services for children and adults, and administers an AAC lab. She has presented and published on AAC topics in national and international venues. She is a past coordinator of ASHA’s AAC Division. I could go on and on. Suffice it to say, she has opened the doors of AAC for thousands.
Tell me about yourself in seven words: passionate about aac, support colleagues + next generation
Where did you go to grad school?: Doctoral degree from Purdue University (where I spent most of my graduate time), Masters degree from College of New Jersey and undergraduate degree from the University of Pittsburgh.
What are your top three SLP must haves (other than your own amazing materials)?:
“Well, Anne, I learned not to get attached to therapy materials early on. I was working with adults with pretty significant behavioral and cognitive impairments during my CF.  My supervisor was pretty old school and of the belief that an SLP should be able to do therapy with (almost anything). Periodically, she would meet us at the door as we were going in to do therapy, hold out her hands and we’d have to turn our materials over to her and then go do therapy. We learned pretty quickly to focus on strategies. But if I did have to choose I would say internet access, a laptop and a mobile device, then you can access just about anything.”
What do you love most about what you do?:
“At this point in my career, every day is different. I spend about one third of my time with the autism grant and then teaching with the AAC clinic. For my hobby I have Praactical AAC. I love the diversity and being able to touch the next generation of SLPs.”
Tell me your advice for the newly minted SLP: (Anne’s note: This is GOLDEN)
“Mindset. Commit yourself to being an excellent clinician.  It can take a long time.  Give yourself time to learn, but commit to being great.  The real prize is in the outcome.”
Tell me about your blog:
“I started it in 2011 with my dear friend Robin Parker who passed away a few years later. We decided we would write blogs we wished we had when we got started.  Although we started it for SLPs, it has broadened to include parents and other professions. We receive 2800 page views every day, with an additional 2300 mailboxes that receive a daily post as well. At this point there have been over 1500 posts.”
What SLP-boss inspires you? :
“Jane Farrell in Australia. Her energy, her ability to lead teams and change entire schools. I’m inspired by every conversation we have or post I read.”
What is your favorite children’s book?:
I don’t know if you remember Caps for Sale? It’s a oldie but a goodie.  I read it when I was a kid. It’s so fun for describing and acting out.
What about picture books?:
All of the Alexandra Day books about Carl, like Good Dog Carl. They are so language rich, with a cool take on absurdities. They have almost no text, just the beautiful illustrations.
I feel so inspired now! How about you? If you’d like to know more about AAC, please go to the award winning blog Praactical AAC.
Let’s commit ourselves to being great,
 Signature
Did you like this post? Comment below and scroll down to the bottom of the page to subscribe to the Beautiful Speech Life tribe, we’d love to hav you! 
Check out the books Dr. Zangari likes here: Caps for Sale, Good Dog Carl
New Transfer Student with IEP due? How to Gather Information Easily

New Transfer Student with IEP due? How to Gather Information Easily

Today I’m welcoming my colleagues (and friends) Sarah and Lisa from SLP Toolkit, to share with you how they quickly and efficiently gather data for a transfer student.  You know…the one that shows up with an IEP that expires in three days. It’s happened to all of us right?

 

Just for a little background info, SLP Toolkit is a web based software program that was created by two speech language pathologists. Lisa Kathman and Sarah Bevier. I’ll provide some links at the end of this post so you can learn more. Let’s jump right in and see what they suggest.

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The transfer student is the bane of every school-based SLP’s existence.  The student pops onto your caseload, often with an IEP that is expired or soon to expire, with about 12 goals that you have no idea how the previous SLP even measured.

So what if that is the case? The IEP is due immediately and you don’t know the student. The school year is in full swing and you are way beyond the start of the year “getting to know you” activities.  How do you get the data you need to write a new IEP for a student you just met?


Well, if you have  SLP Toolkit in your arsenal, there’s no need to panic! First, you add the student to your caseload and open up a Present Level Assessment (PLA).  As a new student, giving all components of the PLA will provide you with a really comprehensive communication profile. These assessments contain both descriptive language (e.g. language sample, narrative or expository retell) and specific skill based (e.g. vocabulary, answering questions, grammar, problem solving) measures. The software scores everything for you, noting areas of strength and need, as well as provides an auto-summary of results that can be copy and pasted into the present levels section of the student’s IEP.  

With a comprehensive present levels section, the rest of the IEP writes itself since your goals and service time are driven by this information.  You can probe areas of weakness further using criterion referenced tests in the ‘Progress Monitoring’ section of SLP Toolkit.  Criterion referenced tests measure the student’s performance against a fixed set of predetermined criteria.  You will use this information as baseline scores on your IEP goals and then re-test at each grading period using the same measures.  To ensure you are writing measurable goals that unfamiliar readers can understand, the SMART goal drop downs in the ‘Goals’ section of SLP Toolkit makes writing an objective, measurable goal a breeze.  If any of the students needs can be met through accommodations versus goals (or if these are needed in addition to specialized instruction), you can browse a wide variety of options in the ‘Teacher Strategies/Accommodations’ section of SLP Toolkit.

Once your goals are created inside of SLP Toolkit, you can hit the “print” button to access pre-populated data sheets (one less thing to create for this new student!)

Transfer students only cause panic if you don’t know what to do with them.  With SLP Toolkit on your side, you have a step by step guide to ensure you can develop and carry out a comprehensive treatment plan for any new student on your caseload.

 

Lisa & Sarah, SLP Toolkit

One of the most used tools in my bag of tricks! SLP Toolkit has saved me HOURS of work. Now I can easily assess present levels and give accurate, helpful progress reports. And the goal bank to die for.   I know and trust this awesome resource so much that I’ve teamed up with SLP Toolkit to provide you this code.Use my code BSL16 and you’ll receive:

$19 to apply to either one free month or towards an annual membership. Just click on the pink rectangle to learn more and sign up.  Remember the code is BSL16 for your special discount.

 

yes-i-want-to-try-it

 

This link is an affiliate link, which means, if you choose to purchase through this link, I’ll earn a commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you.. Please understand that I have experience with this company and I recommend it because it’s helpful and useful, not because of the small commission I make if you decide to purchase.

 

 

 

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