Articulation, Resources, Therapy Tools

Oldie but Goodie! Resources for Tricky Sounds

One of my most popular posts dating wayyyy back to 2012 is a post I created in response to multiple requests — people asking for HELP with tricky sounds s, z, sh, and ch for people with a non-developmental lisp or lateralized airflow distortions. I thought I would repost for those of you newer to the blog! Here you go!!

https://livespeaklove.com/2012/03/19/tricky-sounds-correcting-for-lateralized-airflow/
Articulation, Holiday Theme, Language, Resources, Therapy Tools

Thanksgiving Craft Activity Set!

ONE LAST THANKSGIVING RESOURCE FOR YOU! I decided to create one last Thanksgiving resource for this season…and I really love this one! If you are looking for some Thanksgiving FUN that also targets speech, language, and literacy skills, here you go! This set includes multiple craft activities centered on a thankfulness theme. With these activities, you can target:

articulation – use thankfulness words as stimuli for target productions at word and connected speech levels

receptive and expressive language – target a variety of language skills using the included activities to address following directions, sequencing, answering wh questions, sentence formulation, and more!

literacy – reading and writing – review of everyone’s thankful items after crafts are completed

social-pragmatic language – theme of thankfulness promotes awareness of others’ feelings and can be used to promote conversation among peers

What you get:

1 thankfulness turkey craft activity with picture supports/AAC symbols (picture supports can be printed again for memory game or vocabulary review!)

1 thankfulness feather headband

3 additional Thanksgiving coloring pages

I definitely plan on using this resource in my therapy room this week!!

Announcements

SLP and Teacher Merch!

Yorktown Therapy Services now has apparel! I actually designed some shirts just for me to wear (see image below) but I got so many requests from people asking if they were for sale.

So….I decided to create an apparel store and offer some designs for others to purchase. Because I wanted to keep this effort not-for-profit and because I already had a cause near and dear to my heart, I decided that all proceeds from the sale of these shirts will be donated to Waters Edge Church Heart for the House. This money will help position Waters Edge Church (WEC) for new opportunities in 2022 so that they can advance their mission to change the way people think about church. You can learn more about WEC here and see what missions they’ve supported in the past here. One of my favorite missions they embrace is that of supporting vulnerable children.

So check out the Yorktown Therapy Services Merch Store and purchase a shirt for yourself and/or someone that you love! New clothes for you = help support a wonderful cause! In addition to the Yorktown Therapy Services shirt I created (above), I also designed a Kindess Matters shirt and an Everyone Needs a Voice shirt. All come in a variety of shirt styles and colors. And if there is something else you would like to see, let me know!

Articulation, Holiday Theme, Language, Therapy Tools

WOULD YOU RATHER?

Thanksgiving fun continues in my therapy room! We’ve been busy at play, utilizing lots of my favorite toys that elicit language and can easily be paired with stimulus cards for any goal (spoiler alert: stay tuned for a blog post in the near future on that very topic!). I’ve also been using my seasonal favorites like my Articulation & Phonology Thanksgiving Bingo Bundle and my Open-ended Thanksgiving Game Board and my Thanksgiving Dinner Core Vocabulary Set. My clients all love these resources, but I’ve found myself needing something that tapped into some additional skills like descriptive concepts, inferential thinking, stating opinions, and formulating sentences to support an opinion. So I’ve just created the perfect tool to target those particular skills as well as many, many others! Here it is, my WOULD YOU RATHER – THANKSGIVING EDITION!!

This Would You Rather Activity Set provides the perfect seasonal tool to target a variety of academic, speech-language, and literacy goals including vocabulary, receptive & expressive language, articulation, choice making, inferential thinking, phrase & sentence formulation, organizational language, written language, and more! This minimal prep (just print, cut, and go!) activity will be a hit with your students, and gives you the flexibility to use with differentiated groups and in multiple sessions.

WHAT YOU GET:

  • 4 pages of Would You Rather text cards with 16 total Would You Rather Questions
  • 4 pages of Would You Rather picture cards – for students not yet able to read and/or to use as visual support for students using text cards.
  • 1 page of three model sentence starters for students to use when formulating verbal responses and when writing.
  • 1 graphic organizer to organize thoughts for written explanation/rationale.
  • 1 paragraph page for students to write their rationale for a choice they made on a select question (can be printed multiple times).

I hope you enjoy this therapy resource! I know I will, and I have a hunch my clients/students will too! Let me know how it works for you.

Articulation, Assistive Technology, Free Downloads, Holiday Theme, Language, Resources, Therapy Tools

Pick up the PACE! FREE Pacing Boards

Anyone else love FREE therapy tools?! Here’s a new one just for you this Thanksgiving season. I’ve got three, FREE pacing boards you can download for your therapy room, classroom, or home! Pacing Boards are an excellent visual support you can use for so many purposes. Use these Thanksgiving-themed pacing boards to give students visual/tactile/kinesthetic feedback for reducing rate of speech, sequencing sounds/syllables in multisyllabic words, increasing mean length of utterance, formulating sentences, increasing conversational reciprocity and more!! These pacing boards can be essential tools to increase student’s independence as they practice skills; perfect for students to use at home, too! Just print onto cardstock or durable paper and/or laminate. Can also be used as game score cards, token reinforcement cards, pattern sets or sorting cards. I LOVE pacing boards because they are super versatile and students really benefit from these low-tech visual supports. Here you go! Free from me to you.

Articulation, Holiday Theme, Language, Resources, Therapy Tools

Sweet November

It’s finally November! Early Fall/Halloween season was such a fun, festive time, and now I am ready for MORE! I am of course looking forward to the winter holidays, but I am not the type of person who immediately starts singing carols on November 1st. NOOOOO. First we need to savor this special time of year when we count our blessings and offer thanks — and also look forward to a delicious feast! Thanksgiving season in my therapy room over the years has fostered some special memories. And I have created a LOT of Thanksgiving themed resources! Here are just a few I thought I would share:

  • Thanksgiving Descriptive Vocabulary Set – Target descriptive vocabulary in a variety of receptive and expressive language tasks with this bundled activity set. Skills addressed include: Thanksgiving Food identification and labeling, comprehension/use of color words in phrases and sentences, identification/use of adjectives to describe object attributes, categories and word classes, identification and description of similarities and differences…and MORE!

This Thanksgiving Articulation & Phonology BINGO Bundle is the PERFECT resource for your therapy room Target a variety of articulation and phonology skills with Thanksgiving-themed Bingo Bundle. This 84-page set can also be used to target object identification/labeling, visual discrimination, auditory processing at the word/phrase/sentence levels, comprehension of WH questions, seasonal vocabulary, language formulation, use of vocabulary and related descriptive concepts, and additional articulation/phonological skills. These open-ended boards are perfect for differentiated instruction of students in your small groups or larger classes. What you get…84 Pages in 6 different Bingo Sets:

  • Thanksgiving /k/ and /g/ Bingo
  • Thanksgiving /f/ and /v/ Bingo
  • Thanksgiving /l/ Bingo
  • Thanksgiving /r/ Bingo
  • Thanksgiving /s/ Clusters Bingo
  • Thanksgiving Consonant Clusters Bingo

Each Bingo Set includes:

  • 6 unique color bingo game boards, each containing the same vocabulary words but in different positions on the boards.
  • 6 unique black and white game boards for students to color
  • 1 page calling cards (color).
  • Thanksgiving Receptive and Expressive Language Bingo – Super popular resource that I love to use year after year. And…NO PREP!! Target receptive and expressive language skills with this Thanksgiving Bingo Game. This 14-page set has been newly UPDATED and EXPANDED! Use the Bingo game to target object identification/labeling, visual discrimination, auditory processing at the word/phrase/sentence levels, comprehension of WH questions, seasonal vocabulary, language formulation, and use of vocabulary and related descriptive concepts. These open-ended boards are perfect for differentiated instruction of students in your small groups or larger classes.

What you get:

  • 6 unique color bingo game boards, each containing the same vocabulary words but in different positions on the boards.
  • 6 unique black and white game boards for students to color
  • 1 page calling cards (color).
  • Thanksgiving Dinner Core Vocabulary Activity Set This set is one of my personal favorites. Target functional communication, vocabulary, and a variety of language skills with this Thanksgiving-themed activity set! These activities are designed to provide students practice with making comments, expressing opinions, and formulating phrases and sentences using core words and Thanksgiving vocabulary.

WHAT YOU GET:

  • Sorting Activity Page – students can sort Thanksgiving foods into categories to express their opinion and show what foods they like.
  • Thanksgiving Food Picture Cards – Use for sorting activity; you can also print extras for a matching/memory game, or to use in literacy centers, on word walls, or additional crafts/activities.
  • Thanksgiving Foods Coloring Page – students can color the pictures to show what foods they like; you can also use this page for practice following verbal directions (e.g., “place a red X on all the foods you do NOT like”). You can print extras copies for use in literacy centers, task boxes, and more.
  • Sentence Strips with Carrier Phrases – these visual supports provide support for students formulating sentences to express opinions, make comments, and answer questions. The Thanksgiving Food Picture Cards can be used here to complete the carrier phrases.
  • Thanksgiving Dinner Core Board – this low-tech communication board utilizes practical core vocabulary words that are flexible enough to use with ANY activity. Students can also engage in structured practice for Thanksgiving dinner celebrations using this core board along with Thanksgiving Food Picture Cards or other visuals. Make extra copies for your classroom or therapy room!
  • Things We Can Say Practice Pages – these visual supports utilize a variety of messages for students to practice with foods they like and foods they do not like. These phrase-based messages are perfect for social interaction with family and friends and support students as they make comments, express opinions, ask questions, and answer questions.

These are just a few of the Thanksgiving materials I’ve created; I also have other activities (with more to come!) Is there anything you’d like to see? Let me know! And in the meantime, enjoy this Sweet November!

Announcements, Articulation, Holiday Theme, Language, Resources, Therapy Tools

SPOOK-TACULAR SALE

Did you hear?? I am throwing a SALE on all of my Halloween resources! Thank you to those who inquired and inspired me to do this. Get an extra 15% off any of my Halloween-themed speech-language therapy activities! Sale runs until 11:59 PM on Halloween night! Check out everything here; just click the image below!

Thoughts and Inspirations

Trick or Treat – For ALL You Meet!

The countdown is on! It will soon be Halloween…a seasonal favorite for me, in case you can’t tell by all of the Halloween activities I’ve been creating and sharing! But I just wanted to pause a minute and share some advice for those of you out there answering doors and offering treats on Halloween. PLEASE be inclusive. Please don’t require ANYTHING in exchange for treats. It is okay if a child doesn’t say trick-or-treat — many do not have the communication skills to do so. And it is okay if a child doesn’t say thank you upon receiving a treat. Children who come to your door will come with varying levels of communication skills, social skills, and physical abilities. PLEASE be kind and do not single out children if they don’t appear to “comply” at your doorstep. Also keep in mind that children will have varying levels of sensory abilities as well, and their coping skills may not be aligned with your expectations. Children may also come from homes with varying levels of income, and they may not even (GASP!) be wearing a costume. They may seem “too old” to you, and you may feel like they don’t “deserve” the candy and goodies that you are giving to other children. I am here to say PLEASE be considerate of these points and PLEASE be inclusive. We have no way of knowing the factors at hand, and very little harm, if any, occurs when you offer kindness and inclusivity at your door. I created this visual as a reminder and a way to spread the word if you choose. Please feel free to share! And a Happy Halloweeen….Trick or Treat for ALL you meet this year!

Trick or Treat for ALL you Meet!
Holiday Theme, Language, Resources, Therapy Tools

NO PREP! Halloween Receptive and Expressive Language Activity Set

I’ve been having SO much fun creating more seasonal resources! With time to create, I’ve been dreaming up big and little ideas, which I am always happy to share. Here is a quick, little idea I had that I have actually been using in my own therapy room. I work with children of all ages and ranges of ability, so the variety keeps me thinking. I am seeing more children now who present with subtle language difficulties — they are verbal, articulate, and at first glance seem to be on track with their peers. But when you get to know them, you quickly realize that they need organizational language support and practice with both comprehension and expression. So I created this Halloween-themed activity set to provide scaffolded supports and practice with understanding and describing seasonal vocabulary. In this 7-page NO PREP set, I’ve included:

  • Formulating Descriptions Visual/Graphic Organizer
  • 24 unique picture stimulus cards to:
    • elicit verbal descriptions of attributes
    • elicit formulated sentences
    • target wh question comprehension and formulation of responses
    • you can also print doubles of the cards to use as a matching/memory game! Always fun practice and extension opportunities.
  • 10 WH question prompts to support verbal descriptions
  • 24 WH questions to be used as stimuli for targeting of wh question comprehension and formulation of responses.

I’ve been having very good success with this set and with variations I’ve created over the years. The visual stimuli, graphic organizer, and structured wh questions appear to be a magic combo! Feel free to check it out if you want:

Articulation, Holiday Theme, Resources, Therapy Tools

Nifty Fifty Motivation!

With Halloween just around the corner, I thought I’d share another fun resource I created – these Halloween-themed motivation sheets! Use these motivation sheets to elicit repeated trials in your therapy session — perfect for articulation and phonology goals or for building momentum in any given skill. My students are always more motivated to complete lots and lots and LOTS of trials when I pair the task with a fun visual and make it a game. These visual incentive sheets will keep your students on track and help to build metacognitive awareness of their progress as they strive to mark off all 50 items on the page (hence the name NIFTY 50!). These motivation sheets can be used with dot markers, highlighters, crayons, colored pencils, or whatever tool you choose! You can also color these yourself and laminate, and then use the pages as visual token boards with bingo markers or magnetic coins. Side note: My students all love using a magnetic wand to pick up the coins after their trials! I got mine from Super Duper Inc but you can find them other places as well.

Anyway, hope you enjoy this resource. More Nifty Fifty sets to come in the not-so-distant future!

Thoughts and Inspirations

Fall – Halloween- Thanksgiving!

Who else LOVES therapy and classroom activities with a seasonal flair?! Seasonal themes add such a fun, celebratory element to speech-language therapy. Festive games and activities appear to be my “specialty” — or so I have been told. Looking back, I have created a LOT of seasonal resources! And because I feel like celebrating, I decided to bundle some of my top Fall, Halloween, and Thanksgiving resources into a discounted mega-bundle! This mega-bundle of activities will last through the ENTIRE Fall Season. Fall, Halloween, and Thanksgiving activities galore to target receptive language, expressive language, pragmatics, articulation, and phonology as well as vocabulary and literacy!  In this bundle you get 137 pages of printable games, lessons, stimulus cards, crafts, recipes, and more. Tried and true fun for your students, from my therapy room to yours. Check it out if you love minimal prep, easy to differentiate, printable activities with a seasonal flair!

Articulation, Holiday Theme, Language, Resources, Therapy Tools

New therapy resource! Halloween Articulation Set for /k/ and /g/

One of my favorite activities to use in therapy, especially group therapy, is BINGO! I love how such a fun, engaging, game that feels like a party can target so many skills – object identification/labeling, visual discrimination, auditory processing at the word/phrase/sentence levels, comprehension of wh questions, review of seasonal vocabulary, language formulation, use of vocabulary and related descriptive concepts, as well as speech sound production. These open-ended boards are perfect for differentiated instruction of students in small or large groups, as well as push-in lessons in the classroom. I’ve created a wide variety of theme-based Bingo boards over the years, and they are always a hit. I also use the calling cards from the Bingo sets to use as a memory games, vocabulary pages, card games, pictures for word walls, adapted books, and more. This particular activity set was created to target /k/ and /g/ velar sounds, but its versatility makes it also perfect for any student. I created color pages as well as black and white pages for the Bingo boards and the calling cards. Take a peek if you want!

P.S. I love using the PCS symbols from Boardmaker and Tobii Dynavox. I recently purchased a Maker License from the company (now required for copyright permissions) so I can create all sorts of visual materials and pass them on to other people! Anything you’d like to see? Just let me know!

Announcements, Thoughts and Inspirations

Live Speak Love is now Yorktown Therapy Services!

It’s been a long while since I’ve posted an update here! As many of you know, my career branched out into a Clinical Assistant Professor position at a university, a job I truly loved! After about seven years of university teaching and clinical supervision, I relocated to my hometown in Virginia and began working in the corporate world as an SLP/Learning Consultant. When the world shifted in our post-covid era, I started to really long for personal connection again and dreamed of re-opening my private practice and serving children and families in my community. At the same time, my wonderful, hard-working husband was working to expand his dental practice and purchase the entire building that houses Geary Family and Cosmetic Dentistry. This larger practice and bigger space meant that there would be room for me to share his space (and his love for helping people) and open my speech-language therapy practice right in the same building! I am so excited to have begun this next adventure, serving families in my very own hometown. So, introducing Yorktown Therapy Services! Don’t worry; I plan on continuing to blog here to serve devoted supporters of Live Speak Love! I have lots of information and therapy goodies to share! But feel free to head over to my new practice Facebook page and give Yorktown Therapy Services some love!

Thanks everyone for continuing to support me and my dreams! Check out pictures of my new practice:

Love and thanks,

Lisa

Articulation, Free Downloads, Holiday Theme, Resources

Santa Speech FREEBIE!!

Here is a resource I have for you to help put you in the LiveSpeakLove holiday spirit!  Target /s/ in all positions of words with this cute printable activity I created. Santa’s hat contains practice words with /s/ in the initial position of CV and CVCV words. His beard contains /s/ in the initial, medial and final positions of one and two syllable words. This worksheet is perfect for speech therapy homework, practice folders, data collection probes, RTI and more.

Enjoy this freebie from LiveSpeakLove!

~Lisa

Announcements, Technology

New Horizons

20120612-180527.jpg

Live Speak Love is beginning a new venture! In addition to seeing private clients, I am thrilled to announce that I have been offered the position of Clinical Assistant Professor at Towson University in their department of Audiology, Speech Language Pathology and Deaf Studies. I have been supervising Towson graduate students during their internships in the public school setting for several years now, and am so excited to be taking on this new challenge as Clinical Faculty member. I will be teaching some classes, and also supervising undergraduate and graduate students in the University Speech Language and Hearing clinic. I will also have the opportunity to collaborate with other faculty members in some research endeavors, and possibly collaborate with other department’s faculty as well. I plan on exploring options regarding the application of technology in the therapy and educational settings, and will collaborate with Baltimore County Public Schools to continue some of the technology projects that I began this year. This is an amazing opportunity for me, and I am thoroughly excited about prospects ahead of me. Thank you to all for the encouragement and support you have shown me, and for embracing the work I have completed as part of Live Speak Love, LLC. I am honored to be serving children, families, educators, students and clinicians with my thoughts, inspirations and creations. I plan to continue my work online and in my community, in addition to working in my new role. Thank you for your support and for visiting Live Speak Love, LLC!

Announcements

Summer Speech-Language Therapy with Live Speak Love, LLC

It’s that time of year! Time to start making plans for summer, if you have not done so already. Live Speak Love, LLC is happy to announce that we are now scheduling appointments for summer speech-language services in the Hampton Roads, Virginia area. Do you want your child to continue speech-language therapy, but they did not qualify for Extended School Year services? Or maybe you are concerned with your child’s speech-language skills and do not want to wait an additional 60-90 days for an assessment after school starts in September. Why not schedule a comprehensive speech-language assessment this summer? Are you looking for a second opinion or consultation? Whatever your speech-language needs, Live Speak Love, LLC is happy to work with you to create an arrangement that suits you, your child and your family. Call today for information and/or to schedule an appointment!

Free Downloads, Language, Thoughts and Inspirations

Making the Most of Summer Fun: Language-Based Activities for Children & Their Families

With summer just around the corner, many parents and teachers are already making plans for summer fun. Do you need ideas for speech-language activities during the summer break? Read on!  Here are my top suggestions for fun, language-based activities that target communication skills in memorable ways.

Take a walk – A walk that incorporates language skills can be as simple as a stroll around the block, or as complex as an afternoon hike to a scenic destination. As you walk, encourage conversation by asking open-ended questions or observations like, “I wonder what this is!”  Take note (out loud) of things that you see, hear, discover and enjoy, encouraging your child to do the same. You could also create a game or scavenger hunt for your walk, prompting your child to search for and label objects using a picture checklist:

Plan Day Trips – Take trips to local beaches, parks, museums or amusement parks. These excursions are not only fun, but they give your child the gift of developing background knowledge, or schema – an important database of personal experiences that become essential for reading comprehension. Providing your child with a variety of life experiences gives them a broader vocabulary base and fosters personal connections to text and stories. These connections will prepare children for higher level skills as they are introduced to new reading material and participate in group discussions. Day trips are also good practice for language formulation, planning and organization skills, and they offer many opportunities to reinforce conversational behaviors, language use and comprehension. Here are some select visuals that target these skills:

Take a Road Trip – If you are planning a vacation this summer, take advantage of the many built-in opportunities to develop communication skills. Trapped in the car for hours? Resist the urge to “autoplay” your ride with DVDs or handheld electronic devices. Why not target speech-language skills with games that kids love and will very likely remember for years? “I Spy,” license plate games or find-the-alphabet contests all target verbal skills and a variety of language concepts. You could also create a Seek-and-Find activity for your trip, like this downloadable version: 

 Make a Treat – What activity is more rewarding than one that ends in a fun treat to eat? Simple recipes can target a variety of language skills and are a favorite with kids. Practice following directions, using descriptive concepts, sequential vocabulary and more with real tools and materials.  Here is a super easy treat I’ve made with my own children and students, with visual directions that allow for review after you are done:Go to the Movies – ‘The movies’ are not exactly the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks about fostering communication skills. How can sitting passively in a dark theater target speech-language goals? But let’s face it – many parents can become desperate to find an enjoyable activity for the kids on those stifling hot, lazy days of summer. Enjoying an air-conditioned theater for a two hour respite can be just what you and your child need. (For children with sensory issues that make trips to movie theaters a challenge, look for sensory-friendly movie times, like those offered in AMC theaters.) In addition to creating motivating content for future discussions and activities, movies also generate opportunities for language before and after your excursion. Decide with your child what you will seewhere and when you will see it. After the show, review with your child the movie plot, characters and sequential events. Ask questions like, “What was your favorite part? Why?” to help your child formulate and support their opinions. Offer your own opinion, too! Encourage critical thinking skills by asking “why”  “how” and “what if” questions. Some families I know even keep a log of movies they see throughout the year, giving each movie a rating after a family movie discussion.

Schedule Playdates – Effective speech-language therapy often includes group sessions to promote socials skills and to create opportunities that reinforce generalization of skills. Foster peer interaction, interactive play, functional communication and other skills by arranging a short playdate. Around two hours is a good length of time for a get-together, allowing ample opportunities for play, exploration and a small snack. Offer a few summer activities (bubbles, balls, sand toys, etc) and encourage conversation/interaction, but do resist the urge to organize their activities. Children need time to develop play with each other and discover what is motivating or fun in the moment.

 Read, Read, Read – Reading with your child is one of the best activities you can do to promote language and literacy skills. Studies show that time spent reading with your child is the best predictor of overall academic success. The AmericanAssociation of School Librarians reported a study, (Wells, 1988) where researchers found that “the amount of experience that five-year-old children had with books was directly related to their reading comprehension at seven and eleven years old. Wells stated that of all the activities considered possibly helpful for the acquisition of literacy, only one—listening to stories—was significantly associated with later test scores.” Read more.

 Not sure how to incorporate language into reading? The U.S. Department of Education outlines things you can do to help your child develop language and literacy skills. Read more.

Whatever your plans this summer, do take time to engage with your child in real ways using everyday activities. For more ideas/activities that target communication skills, please visit my speech-language blog at LiveSpeakLove.

Articulation, Resources, Therapy Tools

Tricky Sounds: Correcting For Lateralized Airflow

I was recently asked to offer some advice about correcting for those tricky sound errors — lisps and lateralized productions of  the sibilants /s/, /z/, /sh/ and /ch/. If you are an SLP, you can probably detect a lisp or a lateralized /s/ on every affected public speaker, casual acquaintance or celebrity you have ever had the pleasure to encounter. My husband makes fun of me for the way my ears perk up and how the expression on my face clearly changes whenever we are listening to someone with an /s/ distortion. I suddenly have the urge to offer these speakers nonverbal feedback as we interact. Sadly, I can’t help it; it’s an affliction. Even if you are not an SLP and have no desire to cure the world of lateralized airflow patterns, you may be able to detect that something is not quite right in the way a person says their /s/ and /z/ sounds— the words come out sounding “slushy,” “sloppy” or even “garbled.” I once had a teacher tell me that their student with a lateralized /s/ sounded like he was “pretending to be a ventriloquist.”  This statement was actually not an off-target description. 

Lateralized airflow sound distortions are unfortunately some of the hardest to correct. While I am an SLP, and therefore, an “expert,” I do not profess to have any secret knowledge or special talent in correcting these tricky sounds. I have struggled along with the rest of you in finding ways to train for correct sound production.  I am happy, however, to share what has worked for me more often than not in the past fifteen years.

In my opinion, the issue of lateralized airflow distortions is two-fold, and requires training on both factors:

  1. Students do not have a correct tongue position for these sounds (and often the tongue position at rest is incorrect as well.) These sounds must be produced with the tongue elevated to meet at the alveolar ridge or surrounding area.
  2. Students do not have a correct frontal airflow stream (probably secondary to incorrect tongue position) . When the tongue is elevated at the alveolar ridge area, a slight groove is formed in which airflow is then directed in a stream out the front of the mouth. When the tongue remains low and flat, no slight groove in the center of the tongue is formed to direct the airflow out the front. The air escapes out the sides of the tongue and the distortion is produced.

Unfortunately, the tongue and airflow patterns are habitual and must be entirely retrained for correct sound production. Therapy on these sounds begins with ongoing student education for tongue position and airflow. I often begin with pure discussion and education using mouth diagrams, puppets, mirrors, and visuals. I then begin training with some oral motor tools or tricks like dots of icing on the alveolar ridge or other tactile feedback to elicit correct tongue placement. I have students practice in front of mirrors and watch me as well. My school  recently purchased these mirrors for my therapy room so that each student has their own for practice (great for preventing “downtime” while I give individualized feedback to other students in the group):

Once the initial training and tactile feedback has been provided, I quickly move into practicing target sounds in isolation and then in syllables or words. I use a variety of methods including verbal, visual and tactile strategies to help students train for correct placement and airflow. I have visuals for each target sound that offer descriptions so students can more easily remember the placement and manner of the sounds. I usually start by targeting /s/ in isolation, though I do not believe that this sound is scientifically proven easier to produce than any of the others. I just personally find it easiest to elicit, especially when introduced as “the sneaky snake sound” and paired with different snake games/activities. Every therapy session I conduct is structured to include education, discrimination, direct training, and then practice (often using  games or other motivating activities) to target sounds in isolation, syllables and words. These activities all include the following visuals (or similar.)

Below is a visual that introduces each sound and gives them all a “name” to represent sound attributes in some way. At the bottom of this visual is a three-step process chart that helps to elicit correct placement and airflow. I have had very good success using the cue “Teeth Together.”  This cue is something much more concrete and outwardly visible than the more elusive “tongue elevation to the ‘bumpy spot’ behind the teeth.” For some reason, tongue placement seems to greatly improve and inhibit lateral airflow when the upper and lower central incisors meet in front (not in a smile, though, which tends to drop the tongue and foster lateral airflow. Think “show your teeth” in a Lady Gaga kind of way.) Students can see their teeth together; they can replicate it easily, and for whatever reason, it often works when it is done correctly. Students are also trained to hold their hand or finger in front of their lips and feel the airflow as they speak. Sometimes this trick is enough to elicit the frontal airflow pattern and progress is made quickly as the student has built-in cues and biofeedback wherever they go!

Another visual I like to use is this discrimination tool that can be used both with the student listening to modeled productions or when producing on their own. The clinician can provide the feedback using the visual, or the student can self-evaluate their own productions:

 Students are encouraged to practice their sounds on their own using their hand as a self-cueing strategy for frontal airflow detection:

As we move into practice using syllables and words, I select the syllable or word targets to specifically shape and elicit correct tongue placement. I choose syllables and words using vowels that are produced higher in the mouth (usually /i/ and /u/) to move away from the low, flat tongue patterns used in /a/ or with a schwa. I also vary the position of the sound in the word or syllable:

Another way I elicit correct tongue position is to shape sounds across word boundaries using alveolar sounds that the student has already mastered. Here is a visual I use with students to shape the /s/ from /n/ across preceding and subsequent word boundaries:

As a student becomes more independent, the same pictures can be used to create sentences for practice at a higher level. My go-to games are often open-ended game boards, commercial games or interactive activities that can be paired with specific stimuli or picture cards using the currently targeted sound or sounds. I also use barrier games or student-led activities with a focus on peer feedback to encourage generalization to other settings. I often have peer partners that will develop their own nonverbal signal to prompt for correct placement or airflow.

Above all, a student needs to “buy in” to the training and practice their skills in other settings. This is why all of my speech therapy sessions incorporate the pieces of education, discrimination, targeted training and practice. If students are reluctant  to practice or do not self-cue or self-monitor, then progress will likely be much slower. Systematic training in tongue placement, frontal airflow stream,  how to self-cue and monitor, and how to practice are essential components of a treatment program for lateralized airflow sounds. The treatment program may seem endless some days as you train and educate, but eventually, most students “get it.” I consider my work with these students just as important as my work with nonverbal or language-delayed students and I applaud those of you who work tirelessly to improve communication skills on any level. Good luck with using these techniques, and I’d love to hear if there is something else that has worked for you. Please share — it’s exactly what I love about the internet!

Articulation, Free Downloads, Language, Resources, Therapy Tools, Thoughts and Inspirations

The Power of Paint Chips

Most teachers, SLPs and parents know that the internet is packed with creative ideas for turning regular, ordinary items into useful tools and treasures. If you have spent any time on Pinterest, you may have a sense for just how crafty people can be in their DIY endeavors. Something I recently discovered. more than just clever or cute in its purpose–with aesthetically pleasing qualities, combining with elements of function and organization to create an invaluable visual aid– paint chips. The power of paint chips is pretty exciting to a visually programmed SLP like myself, with a love for all things crafty and colorful.

Using paint chips to create treasures is apparently as basic as scribing a single character with a magic marker, or as complex as combining mixed-media techniques to fashion an abstract expressionistic design. Etsy is filled with ideas for creating home decor, gifts and other designs using…yes, paint chips. Here are some of one crafter‘s clever projects:

PediaStaff explains the word family game that can be used in a variety of educational or therapeutic activities. Extending the idea they describe,articulation therapy tools could be created by changing the “word family” unit to target sounds in the initial or final positions of words (e.g., words that end in /k/ or words that start with /b/.)

Inspired by finds like these and others I’ve come across on the Internet, I decided to adapt helloliteracy‘s idea of using paint chips to increase vocabulary and word knowledge skills:

Teachers in my school have been reading and discussing a book, Donavan’s Word Jar, with students daily as part of a school-wide initiative to increase vocabulary use and comprehension. I have been working with many of the teachers by recommending developmentally appropriate words on which to focus, as they expose and incorporate higher-level synonyms into everyday classroom vocabulary. The paint chip idea clearly became the perfect tool to jump in on this initiative and reinforce word knowledge, word relationships, and synonym usage. I soon trekked eagerly to my nearest hardware store and made a slow, casual approach down their paint chip aisle. Seeing the spread before me, I wanted to grab handfuls of every luscious, vivid color. Unfortunately, frequent glances from the staff member at the paint counter, combined with the guilt I felt at the idea of taking items meant for customers actually buying paint…I chose only twelve strips and silently vowed to shop at that very store the next time I found myself in the market for paint.

Using the coveted, colorful strips and PECS symbols created with Boardmaker software, I created a visual display, a Synonym Word Wall which I titled, “Color Your Words With Shades of Meaning.” I hung the display outside my therapy room where students  frequently pass while traveling through the building. I’ve seen and heard many students already reading the word wall and commenting on how the colors and words “match” as they “change a little.” Students who come to me for therapy are excited to arrive and label the pictures they see, identify colors, or list synonyms for basic words.

Reflections on paint chips and their many applications randomly appear in my mind throughout the day and, admittedly, the night (isn’t that what all busy moms do — lie awake at night and make mental lists of everything that deserves more attention?) I envisioned paint chips used as pacing board activities, phoneme segmentation , multi-syllabic word production, formulation of 3-4 word utterances, topic boards, visual process charts, graphic organizers for sequencing and story retell….can you SEE why I am so excited about rows of gradient, colored squares??? I also wondered (possibly out loud) if there are ways to obtain paint chips without feeling like a shoplifter. Obviously, asking the stores for old paint chip samples could work, or possibly scouring yard sales and second-hand stores in hopes of finding old paint chip books. With neither option really fulfilling my desire to use these paint chips -RIGHT NOW- I decided to make my own. You could easily make your own too, in whatever shades you desire using one of the many graphic programs available. I quickly made a sample using Boardmaker software tools, and converted the file to a PDF.  You may download the sample for free and enjoy the technological advantage of digital paint chips. Add your own text, clipart, visual prompts, etc. to create the exact activity or tool you need:

Digital Paint Chips - FREE Download

 
Feel free to share your ideas for other ways to use this tool in your classroom, therapy room or home. I would love to hear how others are using re-purposed goods like paint chips. Thanks for checking out LiveSpeakLove!
 
Lisa, SLP obsessed with colorful, pretty things 🙂
Assistive Technology, Free Downloads, Language, Resources, Technology, Therapy Tools

Communication Temptations

Here it is…the NUMBER ONE question I get asked as a speech-language pathologist….

What can I do at home to help my child learn to communicate?”

A perfect question to ask! Speech-language therapy is important, but often people underestimate the importance of what occurs after little ones have left my room, when the speech supplies are packed away and I am at home resting (righhhhtt!) What occurs outside of the speech room that can help kids learn to communicate?  TEMPTATION.

Temptation is a pretty incredible motivator. Have you ever been tempted by a piece of chocolate cake? Or another few minutes of snoozing after the alarm yanks you out of a perfect, deep sleep? Maybe a more-than-accidental look at that reality t.v. show that adds nothing to your intellect but is so mindlessly enjoyable? Ok, clearly I am bringing my own background experience into play to illustrate a point, but nonetheless…temptation causes you to think. To act…to react. Temptation is motivating and at times pretty powerful (I admit, visions of that chocolate cake are lurking in my brain as I highlight this concept.)

For a child, communication temptations often bridge the gap between “I’m getting by ok with things the way they are” and “I need to let someone know I really mean business here!” Parents are often surprised and a bit embarrassed when they realize how many opportunities they miss to “tempt” their language-delayed youngster to communicate. As a mom, I recognize how easy it is to let these opportunities slip by us. We know our children better than any other people on the planet. We are in tune to their every need, mood, curiosity and disappointment. It’s only natural to anticipate what our child wants or needs, and help them get it. But communication temptations can provide gentle motivators to express those wants and needs, and have a huge impact on a child’s functional communication.

As an SLP, I regularly build communication temptations into therapy sessions, starting right at the door to my therapy room. The door stays locked, and “opens the door,” if you will, to allow some natural communication to occur. Requests for “open” and “help” can be elicited, or for higher-level students, answers to questions like, “What do we need to unlock the door?” or “Look through the window, at the table…what do you see inside?”

Once inside, I often employ a few favorite “tools” to tempt students to communicate. I love presenting therapy activities encased in a closed bag or box (I’ve even been dubbed, “Bag Lady” before, due to the bags I often use in therapy…usually accompanied by piggy-backed tunes with lyrics I “write” as we discover items and reinforce language concepts. Music, by the way, is also a great therapy tool and does not need to be sung well to be effective…I will save that topic for a different blog entry!)

Anyway, hidden materials invite children to make guesses, to make requests, to watch closely as items are revealed. My favorite items to create further temptations include containers with tight lids, wind-up toys, building-block toys and cause-effect toys.

Wind up toys are a great way of getting students to direct action and make requests. More, stop, go, my turn, and help are functional words that go hand-in-hand with wind up toys (that can be difficult for a child to wind on their own.) I even have a broken wind-up toy that is great for eliciting language in developing communicators (Uh oh! What’s wrong??  Oh no! It’s broken. The toy is broken!  Need help!) If we get the toy working, we can excitedly shout things like, “Yay! Go, Go, Go! Here we go! The toy can go!”) Simple? Yes. Effective? Definitely.

Containers are another great therapy tool. Clear, acrylic containers filled with colorful objects are very motivating when presented to a curious child. They can’t wait to reach inside and…oh, wait — the lid is stuck. They need help. They want you to open. They want the lid off.  Containers are very motivating when students can see what is inside but they have a hard time accessing it. Here is a fun container I recently discovered. It’s a Michael Graves container from Target that opens by squeezing a butterfly clip on the top of the canister (read: difficult for kids to do on their own!):

Other favorite therapy tools are things like bubbles (with lids tightly closed,) toys that produce sound or light when activated, and toys that have pieces that build/go together (e.g., train tracks, housed in tightly-sealed containers!) Throughout a play session, students get repetitive practice making verbal requests (help, more, turn,etc.,) directing other people’s actions, labeling actions (stop, go, pop, open, etc.) and communicating their ideas as they explore and play. Language modeling, expansion and stimulation is built into the play, with instant reinforcers for any communication attempts.

To support verbal language or for use with nonverbal students, I often use communication boards (made with Boardmaker)  using core vocabulary words that convey a variety of language functions. These same words are a focus when used on a voice-output device. The word combinations that can be modeled using these few words are quite numerous:

Functional Communication Board - Download

Helping students acquire functional communication skills is very rewarding. Progress can be made quite quickly with the right set of motivators and expectations. I may be the “Bag Lady” who plays with toys for a large part of my day 🙂 but what is more tempting or motivating than a bag of fun? And what is more fulfilling than helping a child learn to communicate their basic wants, needs and desires? Not even a piece of chocolate cake can top that experience!