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The 3:1 Model

By now, you’ve probably heard of the 3:1 service delivery model or you may know someone who currently implements it. The 3:1 model for school SLPs calls for three weeks of direct services followed by one week of indirect services.  I’ve always wanted to try this model but had a hard time believing I could “sell it” to administrators even though I feel that my therapy and caseload management would be so much better! ASHA has a lot of great information on this model and the efficacy of it, of which I completely agree with! It’s hard to argue with evidence-based research. At my current placement, I am implementing a modified 3:1 model and it is working fabulously.  If you’re interested in trying it out, let me tell you how I do it!

My modified version of the 3:1 model consist of direct therapy Monday-Thursday and indirect services on Fridays. I cannot express how big of a blessing it is to have an entire day of the week to complete paperwork, conduct comprehensive evaluations, have make-up sessions (yes, make-up sessions), write reports, provide consultative services to general education students, meet with my special education team, schedule IEP meetings, and so much more. In fact, Friday’s are probably my busiest day. I do not stop working for a moment because I know I only have one day to complete my to-do list or else it has to wait until next week. This model also allows me to focus on therapy Monday-Thursday. I am not trying to test kids in between groups or completing classroom evaluations at a moments notice because I know I have FRIDAY. 

There are a few exceptions for this modified 3:1 model. I continue to see students with severe apraxia or phonological disorders that require a more consistent treatment. I also continue to see my RTI kiddos because of the consistency factor as well.

Have you tried a version of the 3:1 model that ASHA recommends for school-based SLPs? Let me know what you loved or didn’t love! If you're interested in reading more about this model, check out this link.
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Articulation Centers

I have to share with you something that I have found to be amazing this year. It is called Articulation Centers. I was hesitant at first to implement this new idea, as all new things are scary. But, if you’re anything like me, traditional articulation therapy can be a little monotonous for myself AND even the students at times. You know, the type where 3-4 students come in, we pick a game, each person says their sound at the word/phrase/sentence level then they take a turn at a game, THEN they have to wait for three other people to say their sound and take a turn. I was over it and it was the second week of school. :)

At my new placement, 70% of my caseload is working on articulation. That is A LOT. I needed a creative way to spice up articulation sessions and this is just the ticket. My gal pal, Shannon from Speechy Musings, is full of great ideas and I just happen to come across her Articulation Centers resource on Teachers Pay Teachers. I modified it a bit to fit my style and what works in my speech room but here is the gist...

Set Up:
Get a visual timer. Set it for 5-7 minutes at the beginning of each rotation.
Set clear expectations.
Explain each session in detail the first session.

Center 1 - Race to 100
This center is where the student will work with the SLP one-on-one and try to say their sound 100 times. My students LOVE getting to 100 and surprisingly, within 5 minutes, most of them do!

Center 2 - iPad
Articulation Station- This app is AMAZING and the kids really enjoy getting some iPad time in! I like this app because the students can grade themselves and it saves all the data from each session. It is really cool to see how they think they sound vs. how I think they sound. Don’t forget to set clear iPad expectations at this center.

Center 3- Sort the Cards
Students are responsible for knowing what sounds their working on in speech. This increases independence and self-monitoring outside the speech room. Students choose which seat to sit in and sort the articulation pictures.

Center 4- Exit Cards
I use tongue twisters or Nicole Allison’s Tier 2 Vocabulary cards at this station. The students read the sentence and that is their exit ticket out the door.

-I have all decks of all the phonemes at my desk and at center 3 so that I can quickly grab and go.
-My sessions are 20 minutes long. I set a timer for 5 minutes for centers 1,2, and 3 and Center 4 takes about 2-3 minutes before they’re out the door.
-If I have a group of 4, I group two students together that are working on the same sounds. That way, they can use the iPad together.

I totally can't take credit for articulation centers. I originally got the idea from Speech Musings on Teachers Pay Teachers. She has written a post on how she sets up her sessions, too. Check it out here!
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The First Week in Speech

You’ve completed your schedule. You’ve met all the teachers. You’ve reviewed all the goals. You are ready to start seeing your students for the first week of speech. But, what do you do?? Do you play a game? Do you take baseline data? There are no right answers, but maybe a couple rapport-building activities will set you up for a successful year.

If your students are meeting you for the first time, this is a vital point in your relationship. They have memories of the previous SLP and the routines they had last year. So, you don’t want to make it seem like you won’t be working hard in speech, but you also want to establish yourself as a safe, fun, engaging teacher, too. These are a couple of strategies I use when I begin speech sessions for the year.

1) Meet them with a smile. It’s amazing how far a smile and good attitude can take you.
2) Give them a tour of your room. Where they will put their folders, the materials you will use, and the seats they will be at. I always like to make them feel as comfortable in my room as I do.
3) Use this FREE RESOURCE to play break the ice games and get to know your students.
4) Complete a speech book so that your students will know their goals and understand why and when they will be coming to speech.
5) Set expectations. You’ll want to let them know the expected behavior in speech and reward that behavior when you see it.

I hope this gives you a good amount of material to complete for the first week in speech. Let me know your ideas for the first week in the comments!
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10 Tips For Surviving Your First Year At A New School

How to survive your first year at a NEW school

1. Schedule a tour at the school prior to your start date to meet the administrative staff, secretaries, maintenance staff, and teachers if available. This is a great time to pick up your keys and introduce yourself to some important people. In my experience, the school secretaries and maintenance staff are some of the most helpful people on campus, especially when you’re the newbie!
2. Get a map of the school and learn the layout. You’ll want to know where the gymnasium, lunchroom, ELL class, computer lab, and library all are. Most likely, your kids will be in these places when you go to pick them up for speech.
3. If you are at multiple schools, get to know the procedures for signing in and signing out of your school. The principal is a great resource when it comes to questions like this. Some schools have a strict policy in case of fire alarms or emergencies, they will need to know to account for you or not.
4. Check out your therapy room and determine what furniture you need or don’t need. Do you have enough tables and chairs? Do you have a locked filed cabinet for your speech files?
5. Go through the speech materials left over (if any) and determine what you don’t need AND what you may want to order. Think about your caseload and find out if you have any sort of budget to spend on new materials. (Fingers crossed!)
6. Review your caseload and IEP system. Meet with the school psychologist to find out if you had any new transfers over the summer or any new students that need attention. The school psychologist can be a wonderful resource when it comes to the special education system. Usually, they are super helpful when it comes to paperwork and IEP meetings.
7. Set up email, phone, and voicemail with the IT department. Keep their number handy in case you have any technical issues. Find out which printer your computer prints to and test it out to make sure it works. You will be printing A LOT of paperwork!
8. Attend any back to school breakfasts, staff meetings, or school events and make yourself available to teachers and parents.
9. Bring coffee or treats at some point and invite everyone to come introduce themselves if they haven’t already. I keep a Kuerig in my room all year and it is the best relationship builder. I mean, what teacher doesn’t love coffee?
10. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!! Find a staff member that you click with and lean on them for advice and knowledge during this first year!

Good Luck!
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It's the SEVENTH of May!

Do you know what that means?? On the 7th of every month during the school year, hundreds of SLPs on TpT select one item and discount it 50% off for the day! All you have to do is log on to teacherspayteachers.com and search #may17slpmusthave in the search box. Then, shop until you drop! I wanted to share with you what I have selected this month. It is perfect for summer practice and a great way to impress the families you work with.

This product is a resource that I give to parents, teachers, and other professionals right before school gets out for the summer. Included are ten, free – low cost activities that parents can do to elicit speech and language skills over the summer. Specific examples along with activities are provided to bring awareness and knowledge to parents that have kiddos with language disorders. Target audiences for this product would from PreK-5th grade.

Activities are all in black and white and there is no prepping needed except for stapling and handing them out!

Page 3- Zoo Activity
Page 4- Camping Trip
Page 5- Lemonade Stand
Page 6- Ice Cream in a Bag Activity
Page 7- Picnic
Page 8- Beach/Pool Day
Page 9- Take a Drive
Page 10- Gardening
Page 11- Sports
Page 12- Read

You can find this resource HERE!

Happy shopping!!
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What Keeps You Up At Night?

Let’s face it. Our jobs are hard. Emotionally hard. Most of us work with students with low-socioeconomic status, broken families, and problems we have never experienced. Thinking about what our students do after they leave the safe walls of our school is troubling. Do they have a hot meal? Are they getting proper hygiene? What if they don’t even have a bed to sleep on? Ugh. These thoughts always cross my mind. This keeps me up at night.
Constantly thinking that I’m not good enough. I don’t have enough experience or expertise in a certain area. I didn’t take that stack of paperwork home so now I am overwhelmed and frazzled. My day is crazy busy, as I’m sure yours is too. This keeps me up at night.
Am I doing enough? Am I enough? Am I really trying my best? This keeps me up at night.

I am reminded by these bible verses that I Am Enough.

Psalm 138:8 The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.

Philippians 4:6-7
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Have a wonderful and peaceful week!!
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Parts of Speech Wall Decor

This is the perfect addition to any speech room! What is better than having cute, functional decor hanging in your speech room? Use this parts of speech wall to complete a bulletin board or fill up a blank space in your therapy room. Included is three different color options: Pink and blue, pink/teal stripes and teal, and rainbow! 

This wall is perfect for incorporating speech and language concepts into any activity. Have your students choose a verb, antonym, or adjective and use it in a sentence. Ask them to give you the past tense form of the verb or answer a WH question about a noun! The possibilities are endless!

You can grab it HERE!
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How To Push Through The Mid-Year Slump

If you’re anything like me, the Springtime is the hardest part of the school year. The newness of the year as worn off, and frankly, so has my enthusiasm. I think the months of February-April are super tough to get through. But, this year I have taken a new perspective in hopes to try to make the best of it. In case you’re in the same boat, I wanted to share some tips that have helped me this year.

Tip #1: Self-care. It is easy for us as caregivers to want to please or help everyone around us. This means we rarely put ourselves first. My advice to you is to be selfish at least once a day. Go grab that Starbucks you have been itching for or leave for lunch to grab the smoothie bowl you’ve been eyeing. Take time to really connect and unplug with the world. For me, I’ve been sitting out side with my dogs and leaving my phone inside. You will be surprised on how much you hear and see when you aren’t glued to your phone. This weekend, I had my husband drop me off at my favorite clothing store and I bought a dress that wasn’t on sale and I didn’t feel guilty about it. Every now and then, I deserve a pricey dress.

Tip #2: Make a list of things you are looking forward to. We are going to Europe this summer (Yay!) and I haven’t had time to plan our itinerary. I finally set down and listed things on my bucket list to do while we're there and suddenly, June doesn’t seem so far away!

Tip #3: Re-energize, even if it means taking a personal day. This may be unreasonable for some, but trust me, if you take an entire day to do as you please (which for me is loads of unstructured, unplanned time) you will feel ready to seize the day tomorrow.

Tip #4: Find new activities to do with your students. Try out a new sensory bin, or a fun craft to get them excited about therapy. If you are having fun, they will be too!

I hope these tips help you navigate through these long months of the school year. Thanks for reading!!
P.S. Here is the t-shirt dress I bought. It is from Madewell and I am obsessed. :)

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Working with Students with Autism...What I've Learned

So you’ve transitioned to a new setting or your caseload this year has a heavy autism population. What do you do? Don’t freak out and think about all the things that you are insecure about, or all the things that can (and probably will) go wrong. You are smarter than you think. You know more than you think. This population can be extremely rewarding to work with. Do not fret. You can do this.

When I think of what I’ve learned in the small but valuable time I’ve primarily worked with this population…I think of three things. I'll call them the Three P's.

Pairing. Patience. Perseverance.

You may be thinking, what does this lady mean? Pairing is a common term used by ABA therapists. In laymen terms, pairing is basically establishing and maintaining positive rapport with your child. You want them to see you as a positive reinforcement, someone they can trust, and someone who plays and rewards them. In the beginning, this may feel like wasted time, as much of your pairing will be child led, unstructured time where you are simply building a relationship. During the pairing process, you will find out valuable things such as, what the child is interested in and how to establish yourself as a reinforcement. This way, you can gain instructional control and create an environment where social engagement can happen! There is no set time for how long or how often you do this. From personal experience, I never stop pairing. I had a recent experience with a new client that was super hard to reach. I honestly felt like I was getting nowhere. We spent our sessions spinning in a chair, drinking chocolate milk, and playing games on the iPad. BUT, something amazing happened. Our last session, he immediately ran towards me upon arrival, greeted me with a hug, and I was able to increase my demands of requesting, “Spin Me” and “I want chocolate milk.” on his AAC device. I may or may not have cried. I try to pair at the beginning of every session, if the opportunity is there. It really is nothing more than having some FUN with your kiddos. This leads me to my next tip…

You may find that you do not see a lot of progress at a fast pace when working with children with autism or children with related disorders. If you are used to working with students who have mild articulation or language disorders, this may come as a shock when you spend weeks teaching ONE preposition word. If I’ve learned anything from working with students with autism, I’ve learned how to be patient. You may trial and error multiple different interventions from Discrete Trial Training (DET) to Natural Environmental Teaching (NET). Find what works with your student. Patience has made me a better clinician. I feel that, the longer the time it takes to teach a child a skill, the better the reward when it finally clicks. And last but not least…

The official definition is, “The steadfast in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.” Do not give up. The best reward comes when you finally reach the child on their level and they become successful. It is no easy feat to do what we do every day. You are a rock star therapist!

I would love to hear about how you manage your difficult caseload population. Feel free to share your tips with me!

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Why and How I Use Interactive Notebooks for Social Groups

I started using interactive notebooks for a social group when I was given the opportunity to teach a social skills class in a whole group setting. Typically, I like to keep my social groups under 5 students, max, in order to address every student individually. So this was a change and I had to figure out how to adapt to this new setting. I was unsure and terrified about teaching social skills to a whole classroom of 10-15 students until I implemented interactive notebooks. Interactive notebooks are great for SO many reasons and I have had a lot of success over this year using them!

First a couple tips…
Tip #1: Cut and prep the materials as much as possible. I know this may seem like a lot of work on the front end, but trust me when I say you don’t want to lose 15 minutes of instruction because your students are cutting out the activity. My goal is to make this less of an art activity and more of an interactive activity.

Tip #2: Don’t present this as busy work. The idea of each activity/worksheet is to complete it together, as a group. If the students see this as busy work in any way, it will be tough to get “buy in.”

Tip #3: Create a curriculum but be flexible. I like to have my months planned with an overarching theme such as, Whole Body Listening with 3 or 4 activities that teach that skill.

Tip #4: Use relatable social scenarios. If you’re teaching a high-functioning group of students who are tough to motivate, give them options on what they want to focus on. For example, I started teaching Whole Body Listening to a group of students who were already demonstrating Whole Body Listening. Needless to say, I saw a couple eye rolls. Get them involved by using age-appropriate topics and let them choose what they want to work on!

Tip #5: Switch it up. If you do a worksheet activity every day, they may not be as excited as if you switch it up and show a video model or ask for a volunteer to role play. You can always wrap up the session by having them journal in their notebook or add to their self-tracking sheet.

Why I have loved using an interactive notebook for social groups…
1) Interactive notebooks allow for students to keep track of their own progress with their individual social skills. It becomes a resource for them to refer back to when reflecting on social scenarios that they struggle with.

2) It is something tangible and comprehensive for the student and SLP to have when looking back at the year. This is great for carryover with parents, teachers, and support staff to refer to when they are teaching social skills.

3) Students really respond to taking control of their self-monitoring skills and progress. They enjoy seeing the progress they’ve made and become proud when they look at what they’ve learned and discussed in social group.

Don't forget to check out this interactive notebook resource for your therapy room. Let me know how you run your social groups!! I always enjoy hearing how other SLPs do it!
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Why I Love Token Systems...

I have tried 12309 different ways to manage behavior and set clear visuals for my students over the past four years. I cannot express how much a simple token board has increased student participation and success in my therapy room. During my CF year, I remember a specific student whom I couldn't get to come into my room and sit down without rummaging through all the books on my bookshelf first. I had had enough so I requested that a para-professional from her classroom come and help me manage the impulsiveness and actually get some work done. It was like magic. As soon as the para-professional walked in and noticed the student demonstrating non-compliant behavior, she whipped out her favorite book "Frozen" and the student sat down. The customized blue token board was hers. She got to earn three Elsa tokens and then had 2 minutes to flip through her book. 
This might seem like a "DUH Mrs. Lacee" moment, but as a first year SLP, I hadn't yet realized how impactful a simple token board could be to a student. I truly believe customized token charts work wonders and the students enjoy having something "just for them." If you need a set of token boards or want to try them out, click here to see my bundle pack and click here for a FREE token board. 
I hope everyone has a great week!

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Working with High Functioning Students with ASD

Have you ever had a student that just didn’t seem to qualify on any standardized measure you gave him/her? When I was a brand new SLP, I stuck to those standardized scores like they were the end all be all. Learn from my mistake. Standardized measures do not always grasp or show the whole picture of a student and sometimes, they don’t even come close. For those students with what some call, “high-functioning autism” we have to dig a little deeper and our assessment looks a little different than what we usually do. According to the new DSM-5, there are three levels of severity when we are looking at ASD.

Level 1: In a nutshell, these are our students with severe communication deficits whom are typically non-verbal.
Level 2: These are our students whom posses substantial deficits in the area of communication. They make speak in simple phrases or sentences and have difficulty with basic language concepts.
Level 3: These are our students who need social language supports. They have trouble making friends, understanding conversation rules, and many other social pragmatic concepts.

I want to talk about our students that fall in that Level 3 area. These students typically had Asperger’s Syndrome. Now, we call it, Social Communication Disorder (SCD). Personally, I think that is a better reflection of the struggles they may face.

These students may have difficulty with:
-Eye referencing (moving their eyes for communicative purposes, joint attention skills)
-Reading and interpreting those non-verbal social cues
-Predicting what other will do next in a situation (vital skill in the classroom setting)
-Identifying what others might think or feel
-Knowing whose turn it is to talk
-Talking to much or too little (interrupting, off-topic comments, one-sided conversations)
-Understanding when to respond
-Lack of empathy
-Failing to demonstrate salient emotions

Where do we go from here? There really isn’t an objective standardized measure to assess these specific areas out there although, there are a few that are a great supplement during assessments. Here are a few suggestions when you are going through an evaluation period.

1) Social Competency Interviews: These interviews should be with a VARIETY of people including: parents or family members, teachers, friends, and the student. Check out my social competency questionnaire HERE. 
2) Observation: I typically try to observe in 2-3 different settings with different people. Check out this great observation rating form, HERE. Some things to consider while completing an observation are:
a. Who are they with? (Familiar or unfamiliar people)
b. What is the context? (class, P.E., lunch, small group, large group)
c. Preferred or non-preferred activity?
3) Collect a language sample. Observe a VERBAL interaction and attempt to take a language sample. Language samples can tell us SO much information about the student. Look for those unwritten rules of conversation.
If you are looking for an Informal SCD Measure, check out this resource!

Social Communication Interventions
You’ve collected all your data, made your decision, and believe that this student may benefit from skilled speech and language services in the areas of pragmatics. Some things to think about before you begin treatment…

1) Individual or group setting?
2) Contrived or naturalistic learning opportunities?
3) Incidental or direct treatment?
4) Setting? In the home or school?
5) Peers? Same-age? Typical or atypical?
6) Amount of time?
*No matter what you choose, it should be individualized for each student.

There are a huge variety of social skills curricula out there and there is no right or wrong way to go about it. Some things that I have found effective when conducing social groups are…
1) Social Stories by Carol Grey
2) Counseling techniques
3) Social Behavior Mapping by Michelle Garcia-Winner
4) Video Modeling
5) Zones of Regulation by Leah Kuypers

An important item to consider when treating students with SCD is anxiety. It is not uncommon for our students to have co-existing anxiety disorders. These may decrease academic and social performance and if left untreated, we may never see their true potential.

I hope this post gives you some kind of idea on where to start when you are assessing and treating individuals with social communication disorders. Please comment below with some intervention techniques that have worked in your therapy room!
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7 Behavior Strategies You Should be Implementing

I wanted to share 7 general behavior strategies that are super helpful in my speech room. You are probably a rock star therapist and already implementing these on a daily basis BUT a good review never hurt anyone.

Tip #1 – Use a visual schedule.
Why you ask? It decreases anxiety about the unexpected. It shows what is expected of them. It shows when a preferred activity will occur.

Tip #2 – Give choices.
Why? If you choose two activities that will work towards the objective and let them chose, it gives them a sense of power. Share the power.

Tip #3 – Provide Assistance.
Why? Establish yourself as someone the student feels safe with and WANTS to be around.

Tip #4 – Take breaks.
Why? Multiple breaks are better than pushing until they break and not being able to return to the session.

Tip #5 – Slowly increase demands.
Why? If you don’t pair with your student and establish that rapport, they will not want to work for you.

Tip #6 – Use visuals.
Why? Because providing the quickest most effective response form allows our students to be more successful. Visuals can be symbols for “outs” like ‘break’ or assistance like ‘help’. You can also use visual timers so they students knows how long he/she as to work.

Tip #7 – Gain their trust.
Why? Build rapport. Have a couple sessions where you do not place any demands on them. It will pay off in the long run!

I hope these tips are helpful for you in your speech sessions this week!
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Tips for Working with Students with Complex Communication Needs

Most of my caseload this year is made up of students with complex communication needs. Some students have multiple-disabilities that can make treatment planning and implementation difficult – but not impossible. I want to share some tips that I’ve found to be helpful when working with this population.

1) My first tip is probably the most important. A professor of mine from graduate school always stressed that we need to give these students POWER. Power with their communication devices as it is the only way for them to access the world.

2) In order to give them the most power, we must give them the tools to be an ACTIVE participant in the classroom. It makes me so sad to walk into a classroom and the student’s device is in his/her binder or desk. How are they expected to participate without a voice?

3) Adapt materials to best meet their needs. Do they need large visuals? Do they need an eye gaze system so they can make their own choices? Maybe they are at the object level or need textures to identify with familiar items?

4) Implement functional communication in the classroom. Place a single message device next to the door and prompt them to hit it if they need to leave to go the restroom or if they want to take a walk.

5) Use what you have. In this product you can see that I’ve use common battery operated toys, low tech, and high tech devices to meet each individuals needs.

6) Have fun with these students! The students that seem to present the biggest challenges always reveal the biggest rewards in therapy.

Check out this resource if you need specific lesson plans for students with multiple disabilities.

-Stay amazing!
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Managing Behavior in Speech Therapy

If you work in the world of special education, I’m sure you’ve heard of the ABC’s of behavior.
The ABC’s are important to remember when you are evaluating the behavior of your students. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t take a single behavior course in grad school. Not one. That is why I heavily rely on the BCBAs available to me. I also don’t know about you, but not every BCBA and SLP agree 100% of the time. With that said, I hope to bridge the gap a tiny bit and use evidence based practices from both fields!
First, we must remember that there are typically three functions of behavior…
1) Escape/Avoidance
2) Attention Seeking/Seeking access to tangibles
3) Sensory Stimulation
And when establishing the ABCs isn’t obvious, a BCBA can be a huge help when completing a functional behaviors analysis. Our main role as the speech expert of the team is to create a means of functional communication for our students. We can do this by going through a simple step-by-step process.
-Find out what their present level of communication is.
-Reflect on what the best functional and meaningful form of communication would be for that student.
-Build rapport.
-Errorless learning techniques (For Example: Discrete Trial Training)
With our more complex learners, a tool called the VB-MAPP (Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Program Placement) can give us great information on where to begin therapy. Are they requesting? Are they labeling? It can tell you their functional level of communication, provides a scoring guide so you can give multiple times to see the progression of treatment, and provides a developmental sequence of what to work on next in the therapy room.

Functional Communication Training (FCT) can help reduce behaviors by providing an alternative response form that results in the desired behavior. It basically helps them communicate in a more appropriate way. For example, when I have a student that swipes at me when we’ve been working for 30 minutes straight I can implement a visual break card and prompt him/her with, “It seems like you want a break. You can say, “Break, please.” Or touch the break card that is on the table. The steps to establishing a positive behavior support system include…
1) ID the function of the behavior
2) Match the function of behavior to the message of alternative communication that will be taught.
3) Prompt the use of the communication and reinforce the desired behavior with the desired outcome.
4) Ignore the problem behavior and prompt the appropriate communication.

Easier said than done, am I right? I’ve found that if I always have a way for the student to use their response form (PECS, choice board, AAC device, verbal, etc) and I give them some power, my sessions go over much smoothly compared to when I don’t give them some “out” if you will.

Some quick tips about behavior management in the speech room.
1) Errorless learning increases confidence and decreases frustration
2) Reinforcement should be immediate and consistent
3) Use the prompt hierarchy when teaching a skill

I hope these tips help you out with those kiddos with tricky behavior! What are some things you do in your therapy room??
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Facilitating AAC Interactions

Sometimes we get to do really cool things with our jobs. At the time, I thought it was pretty neat that the governor was coming to our little school but I didn't realize HOW neat. This little guy was able to show the governor how he communicates. Sometimes we forget how important the work is that we do...and I definitely forget how lucky I am to do it every day. Just remember, you ARE making a difference!

-Stay Amazing!!

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Lesson Planning in Speech Therapy

I know a lot of SLPs. Most are Type-A, “plan all the things” type people. I am not. I pride myself on being flexible and flying by the seat of my pants when it comes to therapy. I think it is important to be present and look at a session by what the student brings in that very moment in time. However, with that said, there are some very good reasons why lesson plans are beneficial in therapy and sometimes even necessary. When I think of typical lesson plans, I think of 4 page documents that illustrate EXACTLY how things are going to go and what I am going to say. That does not have to be the case. When I say lesson plans, I’m even talking about a mental map of how you plan for things to go down.

Why Lesson Plans?

      1)   Lesson plans can be an outlet of how we communicate our services to others. By others I mean, the special education director, paraprofessionals, teachers, or parents. This is important for not only our jobs, but helps us stay on the same page as the rest of the team.
      2)   It keeps us organized and on track as we set goals for services. We can set what our objective will be for each session. I love doing this because it makes each session meaningful.
      3)   It validates that we are providing quality services with our treatment delivery model that matches our style as a clinician. Yes, we each have our own style!
      4)   They promote problem solving when dealing with a challenging case. By simply writing it out, it can allow you to really look at what is working or not working and reevaluate.
      5)   Creates a ‘road map’ so to speak of ‘if this à then this’. When creating a visual ‘road map’ it allows us to follow a system that is consistent with the rest of the team. For example, IF a student avoids a task, THEN prompt for one successful trial and take a break.
      6)   It allows us to take a PROACTIVE approach rather than REACTIVE approach. Obviously, we want to be as proactive as possible but we will inevitably have to react in some situations. Lesson maps can actually allow for more flexibility in this case.
      7)   Allows us to be more intentional. This can be a struggle when we’re seeing kids back to back for 5 hours a day. If you’ve taken the time to think through a session, you will automatically become more intentional.
      8)   Lastly, if you ever supervise a CF, grad student, or SLPA, it allows them to see how you structure your sessions. It creates teachable moments of how and why you do certain techniques in your therapy room.
      There are so many different lesson plan templates and research that backs their efficacy. However, I believe a good general plan of your sessions can be sufficient for the majority of your caseload. When I take the time to plan my sessions at the beginning of the week I included a few basic ideas…

     1)   Intro – This includes what activity we’ll be doing and the goals that each student is working on specifically. 
     2)   Instruction – This is when I TEACH the skill we will be learning or probing for.
     3)   Production/Practice – This is when I take data on how the student does on their objective.
     4)   Closure – Provide the students feedback and ideas on how they can work on this goal in class or at home. Sometimes I give them a “challenge activity” depending on the students level.
   A few tips to keep in mind…
*Too detailed of a lesson plan runs the risk of making therapy too rigid.
*Make sure you hold the goals, skills, and needs of the student in higher regard than the materials. 

*Lesson plans drive documentation.

Marisha from SLP Now Membership has some great tips and tricks as well!

When I started planning for therapy, my sessions were more productive. But I know what you're thinking!
• "I don't have time for that!" There are ways to do this without having to invest hours and hours of your time every week.
• "Won't planning make me less flexible in therapy?" I don't stick to my plans 100%. But--by having a plan--I'm better able to problem solve in the moment. Having a plan allows me to be more flexible and to better adapt to students' needs.
Lacee shared some great planning ideas in this blog post! Even if we have a great system, we might still struggle to come up with fun, engaging activity ideas week after week. We also need time to find and prep those activities. That's why I created the SLP Now Membership. It includes a database of therapy activities for easy planning. From the themed activities (e.g., book guides, crafts, and open-ended activities) to the skill packs (to help you teach and scaffold new skills), the majority of planning is taken care of. You just have to pick which resources you want to use on any given week. Better yet, the membership includes an awesome community of SLPs who are there to offer encouragement and help you problem solve on "those days." I also share tutorials on how to work smarter (not harder!) and make the most of the membership resources.

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