Thursday, March 31, 2016

Best time to get speech and language apps is coming soon!

April is almost here, which means it is the season to keep your eye out for discounts on speech and language therapy apps.  Why?  Because April is National Autism Awareness Month.  AND because May follows right after and is Better Hearing and Speech Month.  So for the next two months keep your eyes peeled for great apps at a discount!

Here are some tips to get your search started:

-visit  It is a Facebook page for autism apps that are generally great for most kids with language delays.

-Google Autism Awareness Month free apps or Better Hearing and Speech Month free apps to see current lists and blog posts about what is available

- Look for pretty much anything Toca Boca, if you watch you can get these apps for free and some of their best apps generally go on sale during April and May

​Enjoy your free or discounted apps!  

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Dr. Seuss's Birthday "Horton Hears a Who" Speech and Language Therapy Ideas

Today was Dr. Seuss's birthday!  I am a huge Dr. Seuss fan.  (for verification you can see the above picture of our front entry Christmas tree)

Usually my family celebrates Dr. Seuss's birthday with a party consisting of whatever food we can scrounge together that shouts Suess!  But as something special, I spent time today designing activities around the book "Horton Hears a Who" to use with my clients.

Activities for young children:

1)  "read" the book (look at pictures, read some of your favorite rhyming parts, talk about emotions), I rarely read all of the words in long Dr. Seuss books with young kids, but that doesn't mean we don't interact with the pages and learn about the story.

2) have your child point out different animals or actions they see on the pages, then act them out.

For example:
Horton is an elephant:  Stomp around the room like a big elephant.  Touch your ears and listen really hard like you have big elephant ears.
Kangaroos:  Jump...what are we going to do?  Jump!  what are we doing?  Jumping!
Monkeys: wave their arms, Eagles: fly,  Whos:  bang on drums, toot trumpets, etc.

*This is a great way to practice action words and verb tenses and complete sentences.  Also anything that gets little kids moving AND reading books is a win-win!

3) use the idea of the Whos talking so quietly and then making music to be loud and arttact attention to work on describer words and comparatives.  Make/use some kids instruments and practice loud/soft, fast/slow

For example:
I had some shakers and a little xylophone set, we practiced playing along with picture cue cards, I cued for "we are playing loud!"  let's play softer...ok, now you want to play...Louder!  This also extended into drumming on the table and walking around the house (slowly, quickly, softly, loudly)

4) visit for an awesome colorsheet of Horton

Activities for Older Children

1) read through the book together, point out the different emotions Horton feels (confused, surprised, overwhelmed, hopeless, worried, etc.).  There are tons of other great things you can point out as well, go with what your child seems interested in.

2) create Venn Diagrams for Horton vs. the Whos or Horton vs. Kangaroo (that is the map that has two big empty circles that overlap in the middle).  After the map is complete you can talk more about how the two are similar and how they are different.  Maybe follow-up with some what-if questions...what if Horton had ears like the kangaroo? etc.

3) visit for activity sheets about helping others and doing good deeds (they have a nice writing activity where you write a note to Horton telling him about a good deed you have done).

4) visit and check out the activity where your child thinks of animals in the Jungle of Nool (or any jungle) and then you ask questions trying to guess which one they are thinking of (ex. does it fly?  does it have a long trunk?  does it have fur?)

5) extend activity #4 into a simile and metaphor discussion:  what if I said someone was as "sour as a kangaroo?"  as "helpful as Horton", as brave as a lion, felt small as a Who...wolfed down their meal, a busy bee.

6) extend activity #5 into a Describe It game...I am thinking of an animal that sounds like...looks like...eats... practice guessing and giving clues to help build semantic connections.

There is SO MUCH you can do with this book.  These games have been a huge hit with my clients.  Give them a try!
I love Dr. Seuss because his books are a great jumping point for so many different language goals.   Enjoy Dr. Seuss Day :)

Thursday, January 28, 2016

SEEL: early literacy resource for SLPs, teachers, and parents

I have been spending a lot of time preparing speech and language sessions centered on reading and writing development.  The best part about combining speech and language with literacy...they are so dependent on one another!

In one activity focusing on phonemic awareness I can also target articulation goals (final consonant deletion, voicing errors, minimal pairs, etc.) as well as getting language goals (plural /s/, pronouns, 3rd person singular /s/, verb tenses) AND transfer the principles to comprehension strategies and prediction as I expose children to text!

And the best don't even have to plan for that kind of carryover!  It will just happen as you use books and target early literacy skills.

Here is my new favorite website for teaching early literacy skills:

The website is for the SEEL (Systematic and Engaging Early Literacy) program.  This website lists hundreds of activities for increasing literacy skills through phonemic awareness tasks like rhymes and alliteration.  Plus they add new activities frequently.

Best part:  It is totally free.  I am a huge fan of helping kids and not having to spend money for specialized programs.  Thank you BYU and thank you SEEL program.

My personal favorite page of the website is under the Lesson Plan Library: Scopes and Sequences tab.  Here you can find developmental sequences associated with early literacy.  The steps are broken down into very user friendly chunks.  Plus they have linked the steps with appropriate activities, you want to teach first developing letters?  Click on any of: M, BTSO and X

*notice that the letters are not sequenced alphabetically, that is not the easiest way for kids to learn their letters!  I LOVE that they don't take the "letter of the week" approach.  (which is ok, don't freak out if that is what your pre-school is using, your kids will still learn...but evidence suggests there are better ways)

One word of advice though:  even when I have taken extra time to make sure I am hitting multiple goals with one activity I still try to focus my cueing and prompting on my top priority goals.  It is easy for kids to get overwhelmed if you slam them with too much.  So be sensitive to what you want the child to work on and for everything else offer as much support as the child needs to be successful.

Check the program out.  You will love it.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

I added a new page! FAQs

I added a new page to my blog but I thought I would post the information here as well to keep everyone informed.

1.  I am concerned about my child's speech (or language) what should I do next?
I recommend that you look at some of my blog posts about developmental milestones and what is considered "within normal limits" for someone your child's age.  If you are still concerned after reading through some of the material give me a call or send me an e-mail.  I am happy to discuss normal development.  Part of my job is being able to tell you whether or not your child would benefit from speech/language therapy.

2.  Where would we meet for speech therapy sessions?
I would come to your home.  Most of my clients are children and I believe that they benefit most from receiving speech therapy in their own homes.  There is sound evidence behind this practice, particularly for very young children.  You will be able to complete homework assignments easier and have better generalization of acquired skills if we work at your house.

3.  What are the benefits of private speech therapy?
I have worked for school districts and I have worked privately.  There are benefits to each kind of therapy approach:

-School provided therapy:  The biggest pro is it's free!  Also, if your child needs to work on social skills with peers those goals are much easier to address.  However, I found that it was very difficult for me to have good communication with my student's parents when I worked in the schools.  Also, I was always crunched for time.  It takes time to give kids one-on-one speech therapy sessions, it takes time to prepare for each session and each child individually, it takes time to communicate with parents and teachers about a student's progress...I just never had enough time!

-Private therapy:  I feel like the biggest pro in the private sector has been being able to communicate with my client's parents before/during/after each session.  I see WAY more progress in my clients when parents are on board and know why we are working on certain things, how to approach goals, and how to move on to the next step.  Also in private therapy I devote time before each session to design activities specifically for each client to help meet their individual goals and I seek continuing education courses that help me provide better therapy approaches specifically for individual clients.  I feel like I am able to provide high quality speech and language sessions.

4.  How much do you charge for evaluations?  
I have no extra fees or charges for an evaluation.  Screenings and evaluations are included in your therapy session fees.  Also included in your fees are yearly service plans and 6 month progress reports, which will include a summary of therapy progress, goals, and recommendations.  In addition, I offer professional support through phone consults and e-mails.  I ask that you be considerate of my time when making these calls.

5.  Do you accept insurance?
No.  I currently only accept private pay clients.  I am happy to work with your family and design the therapy approach that works best for your child (and you wallet) if money is a concern.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Talk with your child's SLP

Ok, so this post is more of a soap box stand than anything else.  It will be short.

A few weeks ago I was at my kid's parent teacher conferences and as we were leaving, at the end of the night, we walked by the school SLP's room.  She was sitting at her desk ALL ALONE.  I asked her how many parents she had seen that night...four.  Out of a caseload of nearly 70 kids, she had only seen 4 parents!  I remembered having the exact same experiences and feeling SO frustrated!

Now that I provide private therapy I get totally spoiled because I get to talk with my client's parents every session.  I get to show them exactly what I am doing, why I am doing it, and teach them how to practice the same principles at home.  And I see tons of progress.  In the schools I did everything I could to include parents, but I was BUSY!  I saw so many kids, I couldn't possibly e-mail each one's parents at the end of every session with an update.  During parent teacher conferences I set aside hours for two days just to talk with parents...who would forget to stop by.

I know we are all busy, and I know that it can be hard to just get to parent teacher conferences and see each kid's main teacher, it is easy to overlook the SLP.  But if your child qualified to receive speech therapy at school that means your child has a disability or delay that impacts their academic success.  Your SLP is working hard to help your time GO SEE HER when you have the chance!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Using holidays to encourage Conversation Skills

This post is all about helping kids generalize their language skills using something that all kids love...holidays!  Talking about upcoming holidays is a great way to help kids solidify their newfound language skills because:
1. Holidays are super motivating for kids, they are fun!
2. Holidays are very high frequency topics in the weeks proceeding each major holiday.
3. Holiday conversations often are repetitive and predictive...talking about Halloween, well then expect to be asked what you will dress up as, talking about Christmas, expect to be asked what you have asked Santa for, etc.

So I take full advantage of the holidays when they roll around.  Having a private practice helps because then I don't have to worry about crossing some blurry school vs. church topic line.  I ask parents beforehand and go with what they generally talk about.  I LOVE working directly with parents.

These are some of the big goals that I work on in our conversations:
 topic maintenance if we are talking about Halloween let's stay there for a few minutes and not jump around to Star Wars or Cars II.
 conversational turns are we both sharing the talking time, is my client giving answers and asking questions, etc.
 ability to answer wh-questions and ask wh-questions this is a big one, in therapy it is easy to work on  answering wh-questions but harder to find spontaneous opportunities to ask them.  The basically scripted holiday conversation routines everyone uses are great for that.
eye-contact is the student engaging in appropriate eye-contact, especially when requesting information?
and other conversation level grammar and speech sound goals (using correct pronouns, correct helper verbs or conjunctions, verb tenses, /k/ sounds, etc.)

and the best part...these are conversations that have a huge likelihood of being taken outside of the therapy session time so the students can practice and apply the skills we have been working on to help them interact with peers.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Best Language Milestones References

Here are some of my favorite Speech and Language Milestone References.

LinguiSystems Communication Milestones FREE (has a ton of data, might have some terms that are confusing if you are not super familiar with SLP literature)

Zero to Three Developmental Milestones a great resource for kids ages birth to 3 years hits all major areas of development (not just speech and language)

ASHA Birth to age 5 Reference  contains information about language and speech development for ages birth to five, broken down by how old they are

ASHA Kindergarten to 5th Grade Reference contains information about language skill for school age kids broken down by what grade they are in

There are a lot of developmental checklists out there for tracking your child's speech.  You will notice that each checklist has a wide range of when kids are supposed to be picking up new skills.  That is because all kids progress differently and that is ok...but sometimes it is hard to know exactly when to worry.

Will your child figure it out if you just watch and see?  Does your child need specialized help?  It can be confusing and cause anxiety...if you feel worried I suggest that you first talk with your pediatrician and the child's preschool or school teacher.  These professionals know normal development and are very good at sensing if there is a bigger problem.  Then you can reach out to a Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP) if it is appropriate.  There are some milestones that are very important for kids to master, a SLP will be able to tell you exactly which skills your child is in the process of learning and which will come next and where to start working and how to target each goal and most importantly...why these skills are so important.

*tip - as you are researching I highly recommend checking out the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website:  ASHA's website. It will contain the most recent evidence-based research so you can be sure you are getting facts and not crazy internet information that will just freak you out.