Inspirations for therapists & parents 

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Using speech tools to faciliate correct articulation placement: A review of ARK Therapeutics speech tools!

Today I am here to review and share how I used some products from ARK Therapeutic!  They provided me with a couple of tools to try out with my students.  I am excited to share what happened with you all.  No other compensation was provided for this review.

y-chews are a great tool for kids who need something to chew on for sensory input. This year I don’t have any students needing to chew on something, so I had these tucked away for when I would need them.

ARK therapyI do have a few students on my caseload that have distorted /r/’s and are not stimuable for a correct production in different words, so I decided to use the y-chew as a tool to help show the students the correct placement for where their tongue should go for the /r/ sound.  The y-chew has a bumpy edging that I thought would be a good tool to help the kids feel where the tongue needs to touch the back molars.  You could also use the y-chew to help elevate the tongue for /r/ or to help keep the tongue down for /k/.  I brushed the inside of the back molars and then brushed the sides of the tongue with the y-chew.  Then, I had the student try to get their tongue in the correct placement for /r/.  It took a few times and magically, I got an /r/!  I was super excited because I was dreading months of oral strengthening exercises and placement cues.  This was a great tool to use with this student.  I am not sure if it would work for all students, but it is worth a try!  This chew tool is also great for working on jaw stabilization for certain speech sounds, practice biting and chewing skills and/or for improving mouth muscle strength.

z-vibeI also go the z-vibe with a helpful book to give strategies on how to use.  I decided to try the z-vibe with another /r/ student.  Those darn /r/’s can just frustrate an SLP!!  The cool thing about the z-vibe is that when you turn it, the device turns on and starts to vibrate.  This is a great tool for giving sensory information about where to place your tongue for the /r/.  Prior to using the z-vibe, I was using tongue depressors, dental floss, placement cues with visuals, and trying to find a context in which the student could say the /r/.  This kid wasn’t successful, but he TRIED his very best!  I was able to show him where his tongue should be placed with the z-vibe and again I was able to get an accurate /r/ after using the tool.  It took a couple of sessions, but we made it!  These tools have been pretty helpful for me when I have a student that is not stimuable for /r/ in any places.  Of course every child and oral mechanisms are different, so this may not always be the best tool for facilitating correct speech sounds, but it is worth having in your tool bag!

Here are some videos of the tools in motion!

Instructional videos of how to use the z-vibe

Another z-vibe video

Follow ARK  Therapeutic on Facebook and head over to their website to get these goodies for your speech room!

The lovely folks over at ARK Therapeutic want to give my followers there own pack of oral motor tools! Enter below to win!!

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AAC Starter Kit: Tools for working on functional communication & GIVEAWAY!

AAC starter kit updated 1

Grab my AAC Starter Kit over on my TPT store here!

Last year, I worked with mod-severe elementary students on the autism spectrum.  I had a WIDE range of skills going on in my K/1st grade and 2nd/3rd grade classes and needed some support with how to serve them all.  I was making communication boards as I could, but was still struggling to have visuals for everything!  My district sent me to a year long course (6 full day sessions) on AAC assessment and the training introduced me to CORE BOARDS.

AAC previewI made a visual schedule for a parent that was reporting that her son was struggling with transitions.  Above are my CORE boards with fringe vocabulary that I used for bubbles.  I printed a CORE board and glued to a file folder.  Then I laminated it and added velcro, so I could interchange the fringe vocabulary for whatever toy or activity I was using.  I used the CORE boards with my non-verbal kids AND with my kids who were talking, but NOT generalizing their speech in different contexts or were not using different functions such as yes/no questions, greetings, opinions, sharing information, commenting and asking questions.  I personally had great success using low tech communication tools with these students.  Many of them started to greet me by name (melted my heart) and I had a little guy say “speech time” any time I showed up to their class.

AAC visuals for behaviorMy visual necklace was a great resource to have because I always knew that wherever I was on campus, I always had visuals commands that I could use with students.  No joke, the teacher told a student “go wash your hands” and the kid just sat there.  I walked over and said the EXACT SAME THING and showed him the wash hands symbol, the kid got up and washed his hands.  Of course, there are those little ones that heard the teacher just fine and are choosing to say put.  In those cases, a behavioral incentive may be the ticket to getting those hands washed!

AAC social greetingsI had a couple of students who were 5 years old and had minimal verbal speech.  One of the students did a lot of singing and echolalia, but not a lot of functional speech.  As I was soon discovering about my therapy, all we were really working on was requesting.  This of course is not a bad place to start, but as I was taking the AAC class, I forgot about ALL the other functions of communication.  It is very functional and typical for toddlers ages 12-24 months to begin to understand greetings and use gestures/ single words “hi” and “bye” with familiar people.  My 5-6 year olds were not greeting me or responding to my greetings with words or a wave.  They usually came physically over to me or familiar staff to communicate that they saw me.  I tried to create some visuals to help them to work on responding and initiating greetings.

AAC core flip bookI made this for one of my who had multiple disabilities including being deaf.  She had cochlear implants, but would not keep them on consistently.  She could put 2-3 icons together and go to different pages on Proloquo 2 go, but she would often just use the communication app to do her own thing even if we locked her in to the one app.  The teacher also struggled to use the communication app with her because the other students would get mad if they saw her using an IPAD and they didn’t get one.  So, I came up with a low-tech communication board that would allow us to have visuals at all times to communicate with her.  I included a CORE board for frequently used commands the teacher used with the students such as “clean up”, “wash hands”, “great job”.

AAC communication fileI have been storing all of these AAC materials in file folders in a filing cabinet and shoving the little pieces in plastic bags and feeling a bit disorganized with all the visuals.  I went in search of an organization solution on amazon.  I took a chance with this Globe-Weis Poly Zip Files, 15 Letter Size, 5 Check Size, Assorted Colors (84200) (amazon affiliate links included for your convenience) and am SUPER satisfied with this purchase!!

It has 15 letter sized zipper pouches and 5 check sized pouches that fit in the plastic container.  I like having things all in one place and this allows me to store most of my AAC tools in this container.

AAC core board

The AAC training really emphasized that using visuals with my autism students whether they were verbal or not would help with generalization of communication beyond just requesting.  I grabbed those CORE boards and ran with it because I had NO time for prepping visuals (I had 80 kids on my caseload).  The CORE boards has the most frequently used words that toddlers use and you can get lots of communication functions with just 20 words.  I always used the CORE board and model what I am saying, so the child starts to do it too.  I slowly began creating fringe vocabulary for activities that I used often such as puppets, bubbles, and play dough.

If you want to see my starter kit in action, go check out my AAC Starter Kit tour on youtube!  I am hoping to get some small videos using the CORE boards with my 2 year old to help with demonstrating.  I have been learning A LOT about AAC and do not consider myself an expert by any means, but the visuals in this kit are aligned with evidence based practices for teaching functional communication.  If you think this is something that would be helpful for your caseload, you can grab the kit HERE!  Enter below for your chance to win this starter kit.  It is a great time saver and helpful tool.

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“S..Peachy” Feedback Linky Party

speechy feedback 2It’s always fun hanging over at Speech Peep’s website for a linky party!  Every month Allison holds a “S..Peachy Feedback” linky party where different TPT sellers recognize someone who left feedback on one of our products.  It’s always great to know what a buyer liked about a product and/or how they are using it in therapy.  When I am debating about buying a product, I always go see what feedback other buyers have written about the activity to see if it will meet the needs of my students.  Plus, it always makes my day when I know the KIDS really loved the activity too.

speechy feedback oct.I loved that this buyer bought additional licenses for her whole staff!  When I began using some of these tools with my students, I ultimately designed them, so that ALL teachers and staff could use them with the students.  There is a lot of research showing that students on the spectrum and students with intellectual disabilities learn best in a familiar environment, are provided visuals to help with communication and are working on communication and social skills daily in their natural classroom environment.  You rock Marla for incorporating your whole team!  Email me at thedabblingspeechie@gmail.com for your choice of a product!!

AAC starter kit updated 1I am still in the progress of creating a blog post about this product and how I used it last year with my students!  Hoping to have it up soon with a video, so you can see some of the tools in action.  Till then, you can snag this product by clicking the photo above. (212)

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How Would You Use It? October Monthly GIVEAWAY!!

It’s time for my monthly GIVEAWAY:  How would you use it?  This is a chance for us as SLP’s to put our heads together and  brainstorm ways to use ONE therapy for lots of different functions.  To enter, all you have to do is comment below on my blog post with your idea for how you would use the toy or item to meet some of your students goals.

how would you use it foam pumpkinsIt’s pumpkin season, so I thought I would share how I used these foam pumpkins from the $1 store in therapy.  Check out the blog post HERE!  Basically, I glued different point values on the pumpkins and then my students got to take turns trying to knock the pumpkins off my table.  They got points for each pumpkin they knocked down.  Each child had to say their speech sound or answer a language question before getting a turn.

Alright!  Now it’s your turn!  How would you use these foam pumpkins in your therapy room?  Comment below to be entered into my giveaway!

Fall Into Speech and Language MEGA BUNDLE

The winner will be getting my Fall Into Speech & Language MEGA Bundle as their prize! (514)

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Monster’s Mash: No Prep, Print N’ Go FREEBIE Pack

Monster's Mash: No Prep, Print N' Go FREEBIE PACK

Before I share about my latest FREEBIE, I wanted to show you the inspiration behind this fun no prep pack that I created.

I am in the monster spirit because one of my sites started a monster decorating door party and the all the classrooms have different monsters on their doors!  How cool, huh!?

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Love the simple, yet clever ideas for décor!

monster doors 1The red one eyed monster door is my fav!  I am able to target adjectives while walking to the speech room as we pass all the fun monster doors.

monster jams

I even got some jamberry nails with monsters because it was so festive for my site.  You can grab your own set on my jamberry website and rock these cute creatures on your nails!

Now, we can talk about my freebie pack!  I wanted some easy activities I could do with my elementary students that had a monster theme to add to the ambiance of the school, so I created a game, print n’ go puppets and a couple of worksheets to use with your speech students!

 monster puppets 2

Print up the puppet template and use old toilet paper rolls or popsicle sticks to assemble.  My son and I colored them and then made up silly stories and practiced describing the monsters by attributes.

roll and color monstersI made a monster version of the roll and color open ended game that is great for keeping little ones focused and busy!  My freebie pack has a couple more goodies that you can use, so go grab it for your materials stash.

Grab this FREEBIE on my TPT store!

What is your favorite monster themed material? (2178)

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Apples for everyone: using apples with your middle school population

apples for everyoneWhen you look on pinterest and TPT, you will find TONS of materials for teaching with an apple theme.  It is a great teaching unit theme because apples are in season and are a strong part of what we associate with the autumn/fall season.  As I dabbled with all my online resources, I found that there wasn’t much out there that was appropriate for my middle school peeps.  My Independent Living Skills students are academically functioning between a 1st-3 rd grade level, so teaching about apples would be perfect for their language levels, but I needed to find materials that were not babyish while still covering functional vocabulary.

My ILS SDC teachers are doing agriculture this month for their community skills elective class that they are teaching, so I thought apple farming would work well for planning lessons.  Here’s what this dabbling speechie came up with!

I push into the students Community based elective class, so we started the class with watching two short videos about apples.  The first video is about the nutrition and the second is about apple farming.  After watching the videos, I had the teacher and the 4 teacher aids be in charge of different tables.  This class has both of the Independent Living Skills classrooms, so their are 22-24 students in there at one time.  All the students are verbal, but do best when there is a small group.

I showed Apple farming video that has really good visuals for vocabulary such as tractor, barrels of apples, orchard, and barn.

I found this book on amazon and decided to buy it because it was such a good price (amazon affiliate link included for your convenience).

At one table station, I had a teacher aid read the book to the students and ask them questions about apples.

apples 3

The students really enjoyed the pictures and the book was short enough to keep their attention span.

apples 1We had a taste test of different apples.  This activity covered two objectives.  One was to learn about initiating conversation with peers and giving your opinion about something.  I made visuals for my students on the autism spectrum that needed a little nudge to share.  It worked!!  The other objective was to work on math concepts: more, less, and equal.

apples 4Apple Unit FREEBIE by Khrys Bosland  has an awesome graphing sheet to record which apple was each student’s favorite.  I think a few students added two favorites (I wasn’t manning that station).

apples 5With my 7th grade RSP language students, we tasted apples and oranges and then compared/contrasted them.  We also worked on describing the taste with adjectives.  I used the videos above to have them work on memory strategies to recall details from the videos and identifying the main idea from the videos.  I have been working on taking notes with just the KEY information with 2-3 words.  They had to share facts from the videos using that strategy.

apples 2Autumn Apples Speech & Language Pack from Queen’s Speech was a great resource for working on describing apples and the vocabulary words for parts of the apple.  The pack includes mini book companions for some other great popular apple books.  I just ordered Apples by Gail Gibbons which is a great book to learn facts about apples.  There are question/answer cards about the book in this pack as well.

This pack from Rebecca Bettis Apples Everywhere: Cross Curricular Activities was really wonderful to use with my students.  It had a variety of activities that I could use across skills and some fun science experiment type activities.

My students that need to work on making complex sentences got to use these pre-write graphs to create a paragraph about apples.  They could talk about what you can do with apples, describe an apple, share the nutritious information about apples or apple farming.  We are on our first draft and they liked it.  It was nice to bring in a healthy snack and watch my students be excited about eating the fruit.  This theme was adapted across many of my groups, so I hope you try some of these ideas during the apple harvest season! (575)

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Monday’s Motto: Get. Out. Of. Bed.

get out of bedIs it just me or does it feel like November vacation is a loooooonnnnngggggg ways away?  This girl has been struggling to get out of bed in the morning, let alone wake up early to make it to the gym.  Once I get to work, things have been fine, it’s just slow moving in the mornings.  My Monday’s Motto: get my booty out of bed ON TIME.  No more pressing snooze, snuggling under the warm blankets, rushing around the house, forgetting to eat breakfast, etc., etc., etc.

Jill Scott sings it best when she says “Gotta get up for another day”.  There are days when I wish I could be a kid again and just stay home and play.  But, somebody has to pay the bills.  To help my motto for the week, I am looking forward to my Friday Starbuck’s treat and have a little sweet treat for my lunch each day.  The hubby bought be some already made salads, so I don’t have to stress about making lunch in the morning.  How do you get through the weeks when your body and mind are laggin’?  Hope you got your game plan ready for how to survive another week in good spirits! (205)

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Monday’s Motto: Make Lemonade!

make lemonadeMy Monday’s motto is simple and to the point this week.  When life hands us not so great circumstances, we have to find a way to turn it into something sweet and positive.  Easier said than done, right!!??  There are parts of the SLP job that brings a sour, bitter taste to our mouths.  Most of you are probably screaming one of these fun words at the computer right now….PAPERWORK, HIGH CASELOADS, and MY CLOSET FOR A SPEECH ROOM!!

With most things in life, I have found that with all wonderful blessings, there is always an obstacle ready for me right around the corner.  Each year as I progress further as an SLP, I remember what my “lemon” was for the year and that turning point when I sucked up the sourness and decided to make something sweet out of the situation.  I wish I could go to happy hour with you all and swap stories because I have some of those “is this really happening to me” type of stories that can only be shared around a table with good drinks and snacks to share.

This year I have a caseload of 59 (it started at 55), a room that doesn’t have a bathroom next to it, materials to use with the ability to order more if need be, a great boss, supportive staff and of course, fun, amazing SLP’s to collaborate alongside.  My lemon this year, I hate to admit is working with middle school students.  Before you judge hear me out.  I love, love, love all of my Independent Living Skills students, my social-pragmatic students, my social-emotional students and my 7th grade girls that I get to teach language intervention.  My lemon is the 1/3 of my caseload that DOESN’T want to see me at all, no matter how nice, if the IPAD is dangled in front of them or if they get to pick the activity.  Even when I have brought in youtube videos there was still whining for the first 5 minutes of the session.  There have been a lot of moans and groans from some of my groups.  We are talking every single time I go to pick them up!  I even resorted to the mom lecture: “Sorry, but this is part of life.  We all have commitments that we need to fulfill that we don’t want to, so enough already!”  It worked enough to get them to my room and then the disgruntled looks and sighs continued the rest of the session. It’s not that I don’t want to work with middle school students, in fact I have some of my fondest memories working with this age group, but it is quite defeating when I have to battle them all session for compliance.

Middle school kids are really awesome when you can get them talking and participating.  So, after a couple of weeks of venting with my hubby, I decided it was time to bring in reinforcements.  A.K.A  hot cheetos, takis, sour patch candy, and Arizona ice tea.  I originally got these goodies for my students with social-emotional disorders as an incentive for expected behavior.  They have to have 4 sessions with more expected marks vs. unexpected marks to earn one of the above mentioned incentives.  I of course, called parents and checked with teachers before implementing this system.  It has been working awesome and my time with these students has been really “sweet” since starting this system.

Last week, when I had to go pick up my little cherubs because they wouldn’t come on down on their own, I couldn’t stand hearing the unpleasant comments, so in a moment of desperation I blurted out “will you work for hot cheetos?”  Well, I tell you ladies and gents, the little ones perked up, the complaining ended and we actually completed some work. Whew…..thank goodness I found something that worked!  The rest of the week went smoothly and the stress melted away.  I continue to remind myself that when faced with unhappy situations, it’s always best to find a solution rather than wallow in the muck wishing someone would just make it all go away because in most cases, no one is coming to rescue you!

Do I wish I didn’t have to provide snacks to students that really should be intrinsically motivated to come see me?  Yes, I do.  But I also recognize that this is a temporary solution to get buy in and I can fade this system with time.  So, I hope you are able to make something “sweet” this week and turn your trials into something positive to share.  I would love to hear your “making lemonade” story.  It always feels better knowing someone else has been there too. (364)

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You still have time to enter my GIVEAWAYS!

giveaway enterRight now I have 5 game giveaways going on and you have till Tuesday September 30th to enter for your chance to win!  Click on the pictures to take you to the game reviews and giveaways.

diggity dog 1Love this game and so did my speechies!

bubble talk baby in drawerBest game ever!!

pancake pile up 2Super fun game for your little ones!  I share some other fun tips on how to use the game pieces.

toss across 3Hands down, this game makes everyone happy even MOST of my middle school students (you can’t win them all over).

frozen spot it 2

All my kids love Frozen, so this is a great edition to your speech stash of materials!  Go enter and you may win!!

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Birthday Game Day #5: Spot It! Frozen GIVEAWAY

2nd game giveawayWe are on birthday bash game giveaway #5 and this next game is super cute!  All your peeps that love the movie FROZEN will be in heaven when you pull this game out in the therapy room.

frozen spot itBlue Orange Games has a new addition of Spot It! that is designed for children 3 and up.

frozen spot it 2It comes in a compact container, so it is easy to transport between your schools that you service.

frozen spot it 3

The game is played like the traditional Spot it! games.  There are different variations on how to play, but basically you have to find a match with one of the items on the cards.  There is always one card that has at least one item.  My son and I play where we each get one card and then put the rest of the deck face up.  Whoever spots an item on our card that matches something in the top pile, yells the word and gets to collect the cards.  Once all the cards are gone from the pile, whoever has the most cards wins.  This game is an amazing tool to work on executive functioning skills while having fun!  This helps with focus/attention, processing speed, impulse control and visual perception.  This also teaches letter identification and matching skills.

How I would use in therapy:

    • I would use this as a reinforcer for the end of therapy.  It is a quick game that can be played in 2-5 minutes.
    • The students needs to be able to identify their letters and know the items on the cards, so I would review these items in therapy and work on attributes for describing the words.  Then, we would play the game!
    • Before we played the game, I would use the characters from the movie Frozen and we would do a compare/contrast venn diagram.  The kids could explain who their favorite character was from the movie and why.  We could even do a little writing activity.  At the end of the activity, we would get to play the game!
    • For those little ones that aren’t there yet with knowing all their letters, I would use the cards to have them work on basic sentence structures such as “I see ____”.
    • I would target basic concepts above, below, next to, and beside having the students find items with the basic concept words.

Make sure you check out my other game giveaways that are going on this week! Pancake Pile-Up!, Bubble Talk, Toss Across and Diggity Dogs.

The people from Blue Orange want to share the love and give away this game to one of my followers!!  Woohoo!!  Enter below for a chance to win!

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