Attention SLP Shoppers

Attention SLP Shoppers

Attention SLP shoppers!
The Teachers Pay Teachers big Back To School sale is August 1 and 2nd. With 20% off, you don’t want to miss this! Plus you get an additional 8% off when you use the promo code BESTYEAREVER.
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It’s time to get strategic about your TPT therapy materials.  What’s really going to help you this year and for the years to come? Let me help you find  must have items for your SLP bag of tricks. Here are some great materials to get you started from my store.  I have no doubt you’ll find yourself reaching for these year after year.
Super Hero Vocab
” I love the organization/layout of this product. I know it will benefit many of my students! Thanks for including the Reading Comprehension stories – my teachers love that I integrate reading in speech all the time!” Buyer
The Under Book
“I am so excited about this book! I have several students who are working on positional concepts and it just takes so many repetitions to learn the concepts. I love that this book is full of repetitions. I am looking forward to more in the future!” Buyer
SLP Planner Square Cover
“While I haven’t started my job yet (countdown to my CF position!), I love this planner so far! It looks great, even with my black and white only printer. I love the extra documents (such as the Parent Communication Log).” Buyer
Super Stack a Burger
” This is such a fun and engaging activity! I appreciate you including the different levels of difficulty. Thanks!” Buyer
DragonsLove TacosSpeechLanguageActivityPacket
” So many of my younger students love anything that has do to with dinosaurs…and who doesn’t love tacos? 🙂 I love this book, but am even happier that such a thorough, applicable and fun speech therapy product was created for it! Thank you so much” Buyer
And here’s what’s in my cart, I personally know all of these sellers and am really excited to add more of their wonderful materials to my collection.
From Sparklle SLP Interactive Notebook Companions for Picture Books, I love using books in therapy!
Interactive Book Companion
From Lauren Dibiase : House Vocabulary Bundle
From Pam at Small Talk SLP:  Find My Sound: R and R blends
Find My Sound
From Jennifer at SpeechTherapyFun : No Prep Articulation Scenes
Articulation Scenes
Happy shopping my friends and here’s to THE BEST YEAR EVER!
School SLP
How I Used Core Vocabulary to Get Results: A True Story

How I Used Core Vocabulary to Get Results: A True Story

Last week I shared 3 tips on how to AAC Like a Boss.  They were: 
  1. You don’t have to know everything
  2. Be Resourceful
  3. You don’t have to start high-tech.
Good stuff, right?!
To continue along this line, today I want to talk a little bit about how I used all three of these tips to make a breakthrough for one of my students.
I’ve been doing group therapy with students who are working on functional communication for the past nine years. I don’t know about you, but I get really discouraged when my students don’t make progress. However, I think I was setting the bar too high too soon.  Of course I want them to be able to communicate their wants and needs. There are just so many little steps to getting there; it can take a really long time! 
This year I started using The Dynamic Learning Map Core Vocabulary; a list of 40 words that have been proven to be most effective socially and academically for students with significant cognitive disabilities. Developed at the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, these 40 words are based on AAC research. 
My Core Vocabulary Board

My Core Vocabulary Board

This is both low tech and resourceful. Plus I really didn’t know everything about  it, but I did do my research and know that it’s backed by evidence. I made a core vocabulary board for my room and decided to see what happened.
Let me tell you a little story to illustrate my point.  I’ve been working with a little guy, let’s say his name is Benjamin (it’s not) for the last four years. Benjamin came to our school as a kindergartener with a diagnosis of Autism.  He was nonverbal.  His IEP from preschool had a following one step directions goal and an expressive language goal to “communicate his wants and needs using total communication”.
For the first two years, Benjamin had to learn to follow classroom routines and follow directions. His sensory integration needs were high and we were trying to figure out how to meet them.  I felt like a total failure as an SLP. He didn’t say words, he didn’t use signs, and he didn’t have joint attention. He stayed in his own little world. But, he did learn to follow simple directions with visual and verbal prompts.
We have a little farm at our school and Benjamin was really interested in the animals. It was motivating and calming to him to be able to watch them. Soon he started labeling them. His parents bought him little plastic animals and taught him the names of over 100 animals. Progress, sort of. He still didn’t greet, comment, request or command. There was no joint engagement or joint attention. No pointing. He was just naming the animals for his own benefit. Not looking to see if we were listening, not wanting to share his discovery. If he couldn’t physically go get what he wanted, he would guide an adult’s hand to the item. Benjamin demonstrated echolalia and a lot of screaming.
Then we he was in second grade we taught him to request by labeling. We used beads, which he loves to roll and toy animals, which he loved to line up. I was able to get some eye contact by holding the item he wanted by my eyes. He had to look at me and say what he wanted. After a while, we (me, the paraprofessionals, the teacher and his parents) got him to add “I want” but he needed a verbal prompt each time.
Benjamin got an iPad with TouchChat that he was able to use but he hasn’t been too interested in it.
This past school year, he changed classrooms and it took a good four months for him to settle into the new routine.  His communication progress was at a standstill.  Actually, he even regressed.
I was so sad. I had just told his mom that I wasn’t making any progress with him in group therapy sessions. He was falling asleep, or hanging off of his chair or screaming; sometimes all three in one session.  The other kids were so distracted.  I made arrangements to see him for individual therapy for a while.
The next day, Benjamin’s teacher forget to tell the aides about the new schedule and they brought him to my room with the group. I said, okay let’s just try one more time.
I was introducing the new core vocabulary board I made and planned to teach the command “go’ through the use of  the picture symbol.  I set up a little miniature bowling game on the table. I noticed I had Benjamin’s attention, so I let him go first. Big Therapy Win!  He participated with minimal prompts for the first time ever. He loved the Core Vocabulary Board with the bowling. In this picture, he’s waiting, holding the ball until we (his classmates and I) say “go”.  We had joint attention, joint engagement with PEERS, and smiling. I wish I would’ve filmed it.
Therapy Win!

Therapy Win!

That was in January.  Ever since then, he’s been participating.  I keep the sessions really active with pop-up toys, wind-up toys and balls.  So far he’s learned “go”, “stop”, “want”, “more”, and “I”.  In April, he was able to put together this sentence “I want more go” using the picture cards and verbalizing.  So exciting!
Core Vocabulary

Core Vocabulary

What is it that worked? I believe it was a combination of timing, high interest activity and the Core Vocabulary visuals.
I am really looking forward to seeing what is the next step for my friend Benjamin.
So my point is…Patience Grasshopper.
We have to keep trying new approaches. I knew Benjamin was really visual and had tried some pictures before with little success. The Core Vocabulary words are immediately applicable and they can be used for fun, functional communication. 
I really encourage you to try using DLM Core Vocabulary Words. As I learn more about this, I will definitely share the information with you all. I made a little cheat sheet and resource guide for you to help you get started. I know it can be a little overwhelming when you start out, so I streamlined it for you.
Until next time…SLP Like a Boss,
Click on the green box to get your FREE copy. 

Three Tips to AAC Like a Boss for Beginners

Three Tips to AAC Like a Boss for Beginners

Last day of school…ah! Such a great feeling.

That was a week and a half ago. I was end-of-the-year-marathon tired. But now I’m feeling refreshed and re-energized. I want to look back on the school year while it’s still fresh in my mind. 

Year End Review Calendar Page

Year End Review Calendar Page

One thing that was really new for me was being the lead for the newly formed  Assistive Technology Team for our district.  I learned a lot from that and had to push myself to try some things I really wasn’t sure about. Today, I’m sharing three tips for how to AAC Like a Boss, even when you’re a beginner

TIP #1 You don’t need to know EVERYTHING at first

I learned very quickly just because I’m the lead, it doesn’t mean I have to know everything. I think I had “Imposter Syndrome” for a little while. Have you heard of that? It’s when you think you’ll be exposed as a fraud because you’re just not good enough.  Harsh right? Sometimes I’m my own worst critic.

What I figured out is that I don’t have to know everything there is to know about AAC and assistive technology.  I don’t have to have all the answers right away, I just need to be willing to find them. Within the online SLP community there are some amazing resources. Dr. Carole Zangari’s award winning blog Praactical AAC is a gold mine of information. Susan Berkowitz at Kidz Learn Language is really helpful with her blog as well. Both of these SLPs truly AAC-like-a-boss and are so forthcoming in helping their fellow SLPs. Another great resource where you can ask specific questions is the Facebook group AAC for the SLP

TIP #2 Be Resourceful

Working at a Title I district with very limited materials, I have to be extremely resourceful.  This year I learned how to adapt toys to be switch activated. These are toys that move and/or sing when you squeeze their paw or hand. Some of our students don’t have the fine motor skills to be able to do this. It was really empowering to make such a fun item accessible  for them.  I even got to solder. The workshop was put on by our wonderful Arizona Technology Access Program. (You can google to see what programs your state might have.)

I was so happy with the dancing monkey I adapted.  Until I got to school the next day and realized we didn’t have any switches that fit him.  I figured I’d just buy one. But then I saw the price; $50 for one little switch! Back to the drawing board.

Adapted Switch Toy

Adapted Switch Toy

Sooooo I signed up for a Make Your Own Switch Workshop. There I was able to make two switches for just $10. We adapted answer buzzers ( 4 for $16.00 at Walmart). The time I spent to adapt two switches was about 90 minutes, the first one took the longest. 

Adapt a Switch

Adapt a Switch

The bonus was sitting next to two parents of children with autism.  They were making the switches for their kids. How cool is that? Talking to them in a casual setting about their experiences and expectations was so enlightening. I really got some insight into what they struggle with.

TIP #3 You Don’t Have to Start High Tech

The other thing I learned, in a really fundamental way, is that assistive technology does not need to be high tech at first.  It seems that many parents, teachers and staff immediately think “voice activated device” or “get them an iPad”. AND that this technology will magically and immediately give the student language skills the second they receive it. If only! Students need to learn to label, request, comment, command and greet. A machine can’t teach them these skills, but we can.  A voice generating device may be exactly what they need eventually. But sometimes we can’t get one right away. We can still teach them that using symbols(voice activated or pictures) gives them the power to express what they want, when they want.

With many of our students, we started with low tech Core Vocabulary Boards and Go Talk Pages. We could get started right away with these because they’re inexpensive to create and so accessible.  It was easier to get “buy-in” from  support staff because they saw it working.

Core Vocabulary

Core Vocabulary

We used The Dynamic Learning Map Core Vocabulary; a list of 40 words that have been proven to be most effective socially and academically for students with significant cognitive disabilities. Developed at the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, these 40 words are based on AAC research. I’ll provide a link  to more information below. Next week, I’ll talk more about core vocabulary boards and how I used them in group therapy with great success!

In summary,  you CAN AAC-Like-a-Boss.  Just remember these three tips:

1. You don’t need to know everything.

2. You can be resourceful.

3.  It doesn’t have to start out high tech.

I know it can seem scary but we SLPs know language. Remember AAC is just another way to facilitate language.

Whether you are reviewing your year or you’ll be working this summer, I hope you found something helpful here. If you would like a FREE Summer SLP Like a Boss planner to help you with your reflection and planning, click here.


If you are interested in a FREE video tutorial on how to make a switch, let me know in the comments below.




Links:  Praactical AAC


Dynamic Learning Map Core Vocabulary

How Facebook Can Make You a Better SLP




SLP Like A Boss with Sarah Wu from Speech is Beautiful

SLP Like A Boss with Sarah Wu from Speech is Beautiful

What’s SLP Like a Boss? An SLP boss is professional, compassionate, organized and Inspirational with a capital “I”. An SLP boss gets things done! In this series I’m interviewing SLP boss women who work by day as SLPs , but at night (and on weekends) they are business builders, advocates, huggers, tear-wipers, encouragers and creators. These are strong, amazing women that I admire and am happy to call Friend.
Today our SLP Boss Lady is my friend Sara Wu.  I met Sarah in Las Vegas last summer at the Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT) Seller’s Conference. (I met so many great people there.) We also share the blog Speech Spotlight, along with seven other fabulous speech language pathologists.
Sarah is a powerhouse bilingual SLP. Not only is she bilingual (speaking fluent Spanish), but she has a Chinese last name (Wu), and is a dual citizen(she was born in Australia). Sarah is mother to two young boys and still finds the time to create bilingual therapy materials for her TPT store AND to blog weekly. I love her thought provoking, helpful and insightful blog posts. She writes “evergreen” content that you’ll want to bookmark and share with your friends. I’ll put a link to her blog and TPT store at the end of this post for you.
I write this series because I feel we can all make our practice as SLPs better and stronger by connecting with other SLPs.  It’s also really interesting to see what other SLPs are using in therapy and what advice they have to share.
So let’s dive in and see what we can learn about Sarah.
 SLP Like a Boss
Tell me about yourself in seven words: Joyful, fun, silly, smart, mischievious, mother, and writer.
Where did you go to grad school?: Northwestern University.
What are your top three SLP must haves (other than your own amazing materials)?: My clipboard, my laptop, and big foam dice.
What do you love most about what you do?: Helping my students reach their potential.  I think the students I work with have so much potential that’s hard to see.  So many of them speak Spanish only and they’re learning English. I work with them exclusively in Spanish until they are ready to move on to English.
Tell me your advice for the newly minted SLP: It’s important to take risks.  I don’t think it’s something women are encouraged to do.  Don’t just take the safe path, not just the easiest or the closest.  Don’t settle. Do what you have to do to go for it.  I’ve always made sure I feel one hundred percent about where I work. If you don’t, it’s worth it to take a leap.
Tell me about your blog: I like to make sure that it’s useful and important to SLPs. I blog about being bi-lingual. I talk about topics instead of products. 
Tell me about your TPT store: I’m creating the Spanish products I can’t find anywhere else.  Sometimes I don’t care for the word choices of commercially produced items.  It’s not just Spanish, I have English products too, and bilingual. They’re so much fun to create.
What SLP-boss inspires you? Natalie Snyders.  Her products are very evidence based and well researched. And she has the gift of connecting other SLPs through facebook.  My hat is off to her.
What is your favorite children’s book? Charlotte’s Web
What about picture books? La Oruga May Hambrienta (The Very Hungry Caterpillar)
So now you know a little more about one of our fellow SLPeeps and SLP Like a Boss Sara Wu. I hope you feel inspired and connected, I know I do.
Who inspires you to SLP Like a Boss? Would you like to suggest an SLP for me to interview? Let me know in the comments OR email me at
Until next time,
To learn more about Sarah and her store: Speech is Beautiful Blog and Speech is Beautiful TPT. She and I both blog for Speech Spotlight. Read other SLP Like a Boss interviews: Felice Clark, the Dabbling SpeechieKim Lewis from Activity Tailor .
Sample Post 1

Sample Post 1

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Sample Post 2

Sample Post 2

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