It’s early August, and that means that the start of a new school year is just around the corner. It also means that many newly graduated clinical fellows (as well as SLPs switching their settings) will begin their exciting yet slightly terrifying new jobs working for various school systems around the country. Since I was recently interviewing clinical fellows myself in my setting (an outpatient school located in a psychiatric hospital, run by a university), I decided to write this post in order to assist new graduates, and setting-switching professionals by describing what knowledge and skills are desirable to possess when working in the schools. Continue reading Clinical Fellow (and Setting-Switching SLPs) Survival Guide in the Schools
Those of you familiar with my blog, know that a number of my posts take on a form of extended responses to posts and comments on social media which deal with certain questionable speech pathology trends and ongoing issues (e.g., controversial diagnostic labels, questionable recommendations, non-evidence based practices, etc.). So, today, I’d like to talk about sweeping general recommendations as pertaining to literacy interventions. Continue reading But is this the Best Practice Recommendation?
On a daily basis I receive emails and messages from concerned parents and professionals, which read along these lines: “My child/student has been diagnosed with: dyslexia, ADHD, APD etc., s/he has been receiving speech, OT, vision, biofeedback, music therapies, etc. but nothing seems to be working.”
Up until now, I have been providing individualized responses to such queries, however, given the unnerving similarity of all the received messages, today I decided to write this post, so other individuals with similar concerns can see my response. Continue reading Help, My Child is Receiving All These Therapies But It’s NOT Helping
In my previous posts, I’ve shared my thoughts about picture books being an excellent source of materials for assessment and treatment purposes. They can serve as narrative elicitation aids for children of various ages and intellectual abilities, ranging from pre-K through fourth grade. They are also incredibly effective treatment aids for addressing a variety of speech, language, and literacy goals that extend far beyond narrative production. Continue reading Speech, Language, and Literacy Fun with Karma Wilson’s “Bear” Books
In my last post, I described how I use obscurely worded newspaper headlines to improve my students’ interpretation of ambiguous and figurative language. Today, I wanted to further delve into this topic by describing the utility of interpreting music lyrics for language therapy purposes. I really like using music lyrics for language treatment purposes. Not only do my students and I get to listen to really cool music, but we also get an opportunity to define a variety of literary devices (e.g., hyperboles, similes, metaphors, etc.) as well as identify them and interpret their meaning in music lyrics. Continue reading What are They Trying To Say? Interpreting Music Lyrics for Figurative Language Acquisition Purposes
Many of my students with Developmental Language Disorders (DLD) lack insight and have poorly developed metalinguistic (the ability to think about and discuss language) and metacognitive (think about and reflect upon own thinking) skills. This, of course, creates a significant challenge for them in both social and academic settings. Not only do they have a poorly developed inner dialogue for critical thinking purposes but they also because they present with significant self-monitoring and self-correcting challenges during speaking and reading tasks. Continue reading Have I Got This Right? Developing Self-Questioning to Improve Metacognitive and Metalinguistic Skills
Because the children I assess, often require supplementary reading instruction services, many parents frequently ask me how they can best determine if a reading specialist has the right experience to help their child learn how to read. So today’s blog post describes what type of knowledge reading specialists ought to possess and what type of questions parents (and other professionals) can ask them in order to determine their approaches to treating literacy-related difficulties of struggling learners. Continue reading Dear Reading Specialist, May I Ask You a Few Questions?
The end of the school year is almost near. Soon many of our clients with language and literacy difficulties will be going on summer vacation and enjoying their time outside of school. However, summer is not all fun and games. For children with learning needs, this is also a time of “learning loss”, or the loss of academic skills and knowledge over the course of the summer break. Students diagnosed with language and learning disabilities are at a particularly significant risk of greater learning loss than typically developing students. Continue reading Tips on Reducing ‘Summer Learning Loss’ in Children with Language/Literacy Disorders
In the past, I have written about why narrative assessments should be an integral part of all language evaluations. Today, I’d like to share how I conduct my narrative assessments for comprehensive language testing purposes.
As mentioned previously, for elicitation purposes, I frequently use the books recommended by the SALT Software website, which include: ‘Frog Where Are You?’ by Mercer Mayer, ‘Pookins Gets Her Way‘ and ‘A Porcupine Named Fluffy‘ by Helen Lester, as well as ‘Dr. DeSoto‘ by William Steig. Continue reading Analyzing Narratives of School-Aged Children
So you’ve completed a thorough evaluation of your student’s speech and language abilities and are in the process of creating goals and objectives to target in sessions. The problem is that many of the students on our caseloads present with pervasive deficits in many areas of language.
While it’s perfectly acceptable to target just a few goals per session in order to collect good data, both research and clinical experience indicate that addressing goals comprehensively and thematically (the whole system or multiple goals at once from the areas of content, form, and use) via contextual language intervention vs. in isolation (small parts such as prepositions, pronouns, etc.) will bring about the quickest change and more permanent results.
So how can that be done? Well, for significantly language impaired students it’s very important to integrate semantic language components as well as verbal reasoning tasks into sessions no matter what type of language activity you are working on (such as listening comprehension, auditory processing, social inferencing and so on). The important part is to make sure that the complexity of the task is commensurate with the student’s level of abilities.
Let’s say you are working on a fall themed lesson plans which include topics such as apples and pumpkins. As you are working on targeting different language goals, just throw in a few extra components to the session and ask the child to make, produce, explain, list, describe, identify, or interpret:
- Associations (“We just read a book about pumpkin: What goes with a pumpkin?”)
- Synonyms (“It said the leaves felt rough, what’s another word for rough?”)
- Antonyms (“what is the opposite of rough?”)
- Attributes 5+ (category, function, location, appearance, accessory/necessity, composition) (“Pretend I don’t know what a pumpkin is, tell me everything you can think of about a pumpkin”)
- Multiple Meaning Words (“The word felt has two meanings, it could mean _____ and it could also mean _______”)
- Definitions (“what is a pumpkin”)
- Compare and Contrast (“How are pumpkin and apple alike? How are they different?”)
- Idiomatic expressions (“Do you know what the phrase turn into a pumpkin means?” )
Ask ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions in order to start teaching the student how to justify, rationalize, evaluate, and make judgments regarding presented information (“Why do you think we plant pumpkins in the spring and not in the fall?”)
Don’t forget the inferencing and predicting questions in order to further develop the client’s verbal reasoning abilities (“What do you think will happen if no one picks up the apples from the ground?)
If possible attempt to integrate components of social language into the session such as ask client to relate to a character in a story, interpret the character’s feelings (“How do you think the girl felt when her sisters made fun of her pumpkin?”), ideas and thoughts, or just read nonverbal social cues such as body language or facial expressions of characters in pictures.
Select materials which are both multipurpose and reusable as well as applicable to a variety of therapy goals. For example, let’s take a simple seasonal word wall such as the (free) Fall Word Wall from TPT by Pocketful of Centers. Print it out in color, cut out the word strips and note how many therapy activities you can target for articulation, language, fluency, literacy and phonological awareness, etc.
Practice Categorization skills via convergent and divergent naming activities: Name Fall words, Name Halloween/Thanksgiving Words, How many trees whose leaves change color can you name?, how many vegetables and fruits do we harvest in the fall? etc.
Practice naming Associations: what goes with a witch (broom), what goes with a squirrel (acorn), etc
Practice providing Attributes via naming category, function, location, parts, size, shape, color, composition, as well as accessory/necessity. For example, (I see a pumpkin. It’s a fruit/vegetable that you can plant, grow and eat. You find it on a farm. It’s round and orange and is the size of a ball. Inside the pumpkin are seeds. You can carve it and make a jack o lantern out of it).
Practice providing Definitions: Tell me what a skeleton is. Tell me what a scarecrow is.
Practice naming Similarities and Differences among semantically related items: How are pumpkin and apple alike? How are they different?
Practice explaining Multiple Meaning words: What are some meanings of the word bat, witch, clown, etc?
Practice Complex Sentence Formulation: what happens in the fall? Make up a sentence with the words scarecrow and unless, make up a sentence with the words skeleton and however, etc
Practice Rhyming words (you can do discrimination and production activities): cat/bat/ trick/leaf/ rake/moon
Practice Syllable and Phoneme Segmentation (I am going to say a word (e.g., leaf, corn, scarecrow, etc) and I want you to clap one time for each syllable or sound I say)
Practice Isolation of initial, medial, and final phonemes in words ( e.g., What is the beginning/final sound in apple, hay, pumpkin etc?) What is the middle sound in rake etc?
Practice Initial and Final Syllable and Phoneme Deletion in Words (Say spider! Now say it without the der, what do you have left? Say witch, now say it without the /ch/ what is left; say corn, now say it without the /n/, what is left?)
Practice production of select sounds/consonant clusters that you are working on or just production at word or sentence levels with those clients who just need a little bit more work in therapy increasing their intelligibility or sentence fluency.
So next time you are targeting your goals, see how you can integrate some of these suggestions into your data collection and let me know whether or not you’ve felt that it has enhanced your therapy sessions.
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