Today’s informative guest post on effective voice therapy tools for school-based SLPs comes from Jessica Chase of the the Consonantly Speaking blog. So without further ado, here’s what Jessica has to say on the subject.
In graduate school, I was lucky enough to spend a semester in the on-campus voice clinic. It was equipped with a Visi-Pitch, nasometer, and video laryngeal stroboscopy system. I was able to assess and treat vocal disorders ranging from vocal nodules to hypernasality due to a cleft palate with ease. Fast-forward 4 years and you now can find me at a public school with no Visi-Pitch, nasometer, or video laryngeal stroboscopy system. Of course, I have used and continue to use many therapy techniques to work with my students with voice disorders, but I do miss the quality of the visual feedback the trio of hardware/software provided. Without the funding to purchase and host my own voice clinic within the school, as well as the minimal amount of voice clients on my caseload, I had to find other resources to provide visual feedback at a lower cost. In this post, I will talk about some of the cost-effective resources I have found to use with students on my caseload that provide visual and auditory feedback for my voice clients.
A spirometer is a visual tool which can be used to show airflow through the mouth from exhalation or inhalation via a floating ball in a tube. This tool can be found on various medical websites for approximately $15-30.
The See-Scape is a more expensive visual tool that focuses on nasal airflow. It looks similar to the spirometer, but instead of offering visual feedback for airflow through the mouth, it is used by placing the tip of tubing into a person’s nares to show nasal emission/air-flow pressure via a float rising in a tube. You can purchase a See-Scape from various medical websites for around $130.
Oral and Nasal Listener
This product provides auditory feedback rather than visual feedback for both the client and the speech-language pathologist. A tube piece is inserted partially into the client’s nares which connects to two stethoscope headsets to use to listen for nasal emission/hypernasality. It also comes with clip on photo cues to elicit appropriate sound production. The Oral and Nasal Listener is only $89.95 from Super Duper Publications’ website.
If you are looking for a great way for a client to get auditory feedback of his or her speech, the Toobaloo is the way to go! The way in which the Toobaloo is designed causes the client’s voice to be amplified through the device from the speaking end to the listening end. It looks just like a phone and comes in many different colors; plus, they are only $4.95 a piece! Personally, each time I visit an ASHA convention, I end up with 1-2 free Toobaloos, so that is incentive enough to walk through the exhibitor’s hall! You can also find similar items called “whisper phones” or tutorials on Pinterest for how to create one out of PVC pipe for cheap!
A small mirror or spoon
Before I was able to get ahold of an Oral and Nasal Listener, See-Scape, or Spirometer, I needed something else to use for visual feedback. I used a small mirror, which I got for free at a health expo, to hold underneath a students’ nose to show whether or not sounds were being produced through the nose on oral-only sentences. If the mirror fogged up, that was an indicator of hypernasality. You can pick up a small make-up mirror at any grocery store or use a spoon instead.
The Source for Voice Disorders (Children or Adolescent/Adult)
To learn more information about assessment and treatment of clients with voice disorders, Linguisystems offers two different source books for voice disorders based on the age of the client. You can order each book for $43.95 or each book as a digital download for less ($34.95).
Computer software/apps to view and/or analyze spectrograms
There are many different open-source softwares on the internet to download and use to view spectrograms and/or spectrums for clients to visualize pitch, volume, and/or rate of speech. A couple free, open-source programs that you can download online are Wavesurfer and Praat. Some inexpensive applications that you can use on the iPad are Speech4Good and Speech Prompts.
One of my favorite therapy resources is YouTube. There are tons of videos out there that show the vocal folds at work in regular and distorted speech. You can show clients what vocal folds look and sound like with nodules. Just make sure that you watch through the entire video prior to showing it to a student at school. Google Images is another great way to find images related to the vocal folds, however, once again you must screen the photos and may want to save the ones you want to use to your computer.
Visuals to use with students who have voice disorders
I always start out the year reviewing anatomy related to speech and language production, especially with my voice students. I have a really great visual that came with one of my kits, but it is geared more towards younger students. Erik X. Raj shared a male and female version of speech helper worksheets to introduce clients to the anatomy of speech on his blog, available to download for free – http://erikxraj.com/blog/are-you-talking-about-speech-helpers-in-speech-therapy-free-download.
In regards to prosody, pitch, and loudness, there are many flashcard resources out there that prompt students to try reading or stating phrases aloud using different voices. Let’s Talk Speech-Language Pathology has some free ones here from a Materials Monday post – http://letstalkslp.blogspot.com/2012/03/materials-monday.html.
My teachers often use a voice chart in their classrooms to discuss the level of loudness at which students should be speaking. Here’s a neat one that corresponds to the 5-Point Scale that I have passed out to teachers from The Kinder Kid’s blog – http://thekinderkid.blogspot.com/2011/09/yakety-yak.html
Finally, there are many checklists available for free online to assess the quality of a student’s voice, including this one on vocal abuse from Maria Del Duca at Speechie Freebies – http://www.speechiefreebies.com/2013/09/vocal-abuse-behavior-checklist.html and the CAPE-V available online.
Handouts for teachers
Teachers often need reminders about vocal hygiene just as much as students and parents do. Often, around Better Hearing and Speech Month, I will pass out vocal hygiene pamphlets attached to a water bottle or mint. You can find many of these handouts for free from bloggers around Better Hearing and Speech Month to download on various websites.
Speech Room News created a great one for vocal hygiene – http://www.speechroomnews.blogspot.com/2012/04/better-speech-hearing-month.html.
Activity Tailor took it a step further and attached vocal hygiene sheets to water bottles – http://www.activitytailor.com/blog/?p=1951.
Finally, I created a handout for my teachers to remind them to use their sound field systems/microphones in the classroom, which you can download for free on my blog – http://consonantlyspeaking.com/posts/2012/05/giving-back-to-our-teachers-for-teacher-appreciation-week
So when you feel completely frantic about the resources you don’t have voice-wise, just remember that the majority of us do not have the financial access to the more expensive tools. Do not fret! You can still provide effective, evidence-based therapy using some of these cost-effective tools!
Jessica Chase, M.A. CCC-SLP is the author of Consonantly Speaking where she shares information, materials, therapy ideas, and thoughts on the field of speech-language pathology in her writing. She is also the founder and site manager of Speechie Freebies, a collaborative speech-language therapy materials blog where free, printable materials are shared from speech-language pathologist authors. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
So how else can kids conserve their voice? Why, text of course! Well maybe not text but work on interpreting text messages. This where Mia’s of Putting Words in Your Mouth blog, fabulous giveaway, Text Message Inferencing, comes in quite handy.
Many students on our caseloads struggle with making inferences and drawing conclusions when it comes to both academic and social functioning. However, if your upper elementary and middle school students are anything like mine then you know that a significant portion of their time is spent on iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches. Mia’s activity takes perfect advantage of that by bridging their interests with our therapy goals in order to motivate them to participate in therapy sessions.
Mia’s packet includes 30 text message cards which can be used individually and in group settings to play a game that targets making inferences. As a follow up activity, students can also compose their own text messages on the blank cards and have others draw conclusions about their texts! You can find it in her TPT store or enter my giveaway below for a chance at winning your very own free copy!