Monday, October 28, 2013

Speech Graduate

I don't know about you, but the Fall is crammed with IEPs. I have just as many on my schedule for enrollment as dismissal. With every speech graduate, there is another eager speech student waiting in the wings. I maintain about 58 students on my caseload at a time. This equals about 80 IEPs per school year between initials, annuals, requested reviews, triennials, etc. For some reason, the first month and the last month are my busiest times. I have already had 25 meetings resulting in goals, FAPE, services and BSPs coming out of my ears. 

With all this shift in my caseload, how do I celebrate these speech grads? And welcome the newbies?

For those that are exited from services, they are given an award. I have a set of these awards in my TpT store. I also have a freebie for you to get now! For free! It is perfect for that Super Boy who is graduating from speech.

 Speech Graduate: Super Boy

The Speech Therapy Awards set includes 10 adorable awards to give again and again.  

 Speech Graduate Award Set

The award is presented during a little party with popcorn and juice. The rest of their speech group gets to join them. If they came alone to speech, they can invite a friend from class or just have their party with me! And, before they leave, they get to visit the treasure chest for one last time! I try to make sure it is well stocked.

When a new student is enrolled in therapy, they come to their first day of speech excited and ready to see what this place called "speech" is all about. I do my best to live up to their expectations! I begin the introduction by explaining the speech rules, describing a typical day in therapy, demonstrating speech homework and adding their name to various places around the room. I have student names on a variety of decorations, the hope is to make them feel part of my class.

Next, we usually do the planned activity for day to target their goals. We wrap things up with putting their very first sticker on the sticker chart. I explain how they will earn prizes and that if they do their homework, they get to put stickers on the chart as well. That means more prizes! Here is a picture of this year's sticker chart:

What else do you do to make your students feel welcome?  

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Other Side of the Table

Our little Della, nearly 16-months.

She had her one-year checkup a few months ago, and the doctor expressed some concern about her mobility, or lack there of. At that time, she wasn't really rolling much. She could sit very well, but was unable to get into a seated position. In addition, she was not crawling, scooting, standing, pulling herself up or preforming any of the other prerequisites for walking. Her ability level was probably less than the 6-month range. He made a referral for an assessment for physical therapy through the Tri Counties Regional Center: TCRC. This is a local organization that provides a variety of early intervention services for infants.

Of course, soon after our pediatrician made the referral, Della began rolling. I think she heard the doctor talking about her. With the development of rolling, she was able to get herself into a seated position. Of course. I wasn't sure what TCRC would think, but the caseworker felt like we should go ahead with the assessment. We made arrangements for the assessment team to come to our home. The team consisted of a case worker, physical therapist and developmental specialist.

Working in the field of special education, this was very interesting to me. Very rarely do I get the opportunity to observe other specialists conducting an assessment. And of course, this is the first time I have seen Della assessed. In addition, they have so much knowledge about developmental milestones for infants, something that I have long forgotten since college. Finn and Della are my current models for development!

They looked at all areas of development: gross motor, fine motor, language, social, self help. It was fascinating seeing what she is able to do. Plus, she was grinning and being her adorable self the whole time. As far as her gross motor development, the team did express concerns and felt that she would likely qualify for services. But, the TCRC team would meet and determine eligibility within the next few weeks. I received a call the following week indicating that she does qualify for physical therapy and developmental services.

That very same day, she began crawling.


We had the meeting the next week and I explained to the therapists and case manager that she had started to crawl! The explained that during the assessment the previous week she was one third delayed in gross motor development, which is the score needed to be eligible for services. With the added skill of crawling, she technically would not have the scores to be eligible. However, even with this new skill, she could still receive services.

What happened next was very different from what I expected: They asked me what I wanted to do.

In that moment a lot of things went through my mind. 

First: What!?! I get to choose, even if she isn't really eligible!

Second: Do I want unnecessary services? Does she really need them? Should I be using government money unnecessarily?

Third: That I have never said that to a parent. That although IEPS and their  implementation are a "team" decision, I would never allow a parent to enroll their child anyway if that child did not qualify. 

After discussing a variety of options with the therapists, I decided to accept services to ensure that she continues to meet milestones and walk by the time she turns 18months.  Our services are minimal, but it is nice to have someone guide us in developing Della's motor skills.

The next step was to create her Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP), which is very different from an IEP. It is family centered and the ultimate goal is to help families in all areas of caring for their child. Goals are written to help the child improve skills in the home.

Her goals are:
  • to crawl to furniture and pull herself up to standing (met)
  • from standing, be able to sit independently (met)
  • to cruise around furniture (met)
  • to walk around her home holding one hand (almost met)
  • to walk to the car independently over uneven surfaces without falling
  • to walk through the grass during ball play with her brother with age appropriate falling
During our meeting, I also learned the results of the rest of her assessment. I am not surprised to find out that she is basically a genius in her social and language skills.  She scored well above her age range. The even gave us the paperwork to enroll her in Mensa. 


So, we are plugging along getting this girl moving. She is now pushing a walking toy independently. Her steps are stiff and small, but each day she improves. I bet she will be walking by December 6th, her 1 1/2 year birthday. Cross your fingers!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

My Super Speech Room

It is late October and since I have started seeing students this year, they have been so thrilled with my “Super” room. They love the theme. Plus, they chose it! At the end of each school year, I choose three themes for the students to vote between. The winning idea will be used the following year in our speech room. The choices were: Super heroes, Dr. Seuss or Eric Carl.  I was gunning for Eric Carl. He is a choice every year! Many of my ideas came from Pinterest. In the past, my themes have been frogs, dinosaurs, ocean, space, and owls.

I am really lucky to have such a big room. It allows for a lot of treatment space and the ability to decorate a variety of nooks and crannies.  This is just another way for me let my creative juices flow. I was even featured by Felice over at the Dabbling Speechie blog.

I created most of the decor, but did get some help from so friends. Another SLP in my district did a superhero theme last year, so she gave me the buildings and big superheroes. A DHH teacher friend made the pow/zing/zap signs and some of the puffs. I made the rest of the puffs for my daughter's birthday party and re-used them here. I got all of my clipart from Clipartopia  and Karolis Digital on Etsy. With these images, I made all the signs with the young super heroes, like my binder cover, rules, sticker chart, etc. I am hoping to make a set of Super Speech Themed items for my Tpt store. Follow my shop so you can see when a super pack arrives!


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sushi Mini-Book for Articulation

Sushi, the perfect word for targeting "SH." As well as the word sashimi. That is why I made this mini-book to address this phoneme! 

I have been trying to come up with a new and creative way to target speech and language goals. Something fun. Something colorful. Something different.  The result is Speech Mini Books. I have a variety of books in my TpT shop, with more in the works. The students are in love with the graphics as well as the silly sentences. 

During this particular "SH" activity, there was a lot of talk about eating raw fish, and just plain old cooked fish as well. Plus seaweed and wasabi. I heard the word "gross" and "disgusting" a lot during this speech session. Boy did we get a lot of articulation practice. The students also got to practice their target sound in a variety of different ways: 

  • Word level
  • Phrase Level
  • Sentence Level
  • Conversational Level

All while cutting and stapling. As you may know, working on articulation while doing other motor activities and at a variety of levels (ie: word/phrase/sentence/conversation) has been shown to speed-up carryover and generalization. 
Check it out in my TpT store: here


Step 1: Cut out each page. Take care not to cut off the "staple" column.

Step 2: Arrange the pages with the cover on top and the homework page as the last page (if you are using it). The rest of the pages can go in any order between these two pages. Staple the book together where it says "staple."

Your book is ready for therapy!

Aren't these graphics amazing? I got them here:

Dream Loft Clipart on Etsy

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Spooky Semantics

Need a fun activity for speech today? Try Spooky Semantics from my TpT shop. Trick or Treat. 

Expand These Words by Naming Their SYNONYM, ANTONYM, and RHYMING Match. 

The Spooks are Counting on You!

One of the Top Ten Characteristics of Vocabulary Instruction is to focus on synonyms and antonyms. This activity targets this skill. Additionally, Common Core Standard L.5 for fourth and fifth grade will be addressed in this activity. Your students will demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.

With these 44 stimulus cards and 14 ghost cards, students have the opportunity to practice and learn synonyms, antonyms wand rhyming words. This activity will help them to distinguish between these three concepts and work to build their semantic knowledge. Here are some of the cards you will get in this set. 

In addition, synonym, antonym and rhyme definition charts are provided and can be used for direct instruction before the game begins. They can also provide a visual reminder to students as to how they are supposed to answer on their turn.

A variety of games can be played with these cards:

1. Cards can be used for an open-ended task (where students draw one card at a time and provide a synonym, antonym, and/or rhyme).
2. Cards can be placed in the center of the table. Each player takes a turn drawing a card. They provide a synonym, antonym and/or rhyme and keep the card. If they pull a ghost card, they must put all of their cards back in the pile. Whoever has the most cards at the end of the game is the winner. 

These cards will look best in color, but are still fun when printed in grayscale. Print onto cardstock and laminate to use them again and again. Also, laminate the synonym, antonym and rhyme definition charts. 

An answer key has also been provided. I have listed some suggested answers. There may be even more! During therapy, I sometimes have trouble coming up with answers for some of the synonyms, antonyms or rhymes, so I thought this would help you feel confident during the activity!

I used a few of my favorite clip-art sources to make this set: 


Their stuff is super adorable! 

I hope you have fun with my latest creation. I know my students sure did!

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