AAC Teaching Principles

AAC (Alternative and Augmentative Communication) devices are becoming more and more prevalent in the lives of students with complex communication needs. Students who in the past would have had no way to communicate now have a device full of words that they can use to express themselves. The problem is that too often students are given these devices and not taught how to use them, leading to them getting left in backpacks, in desks and at home.  

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Sensory Bins in Speech Therapy

Now presenting a fabulous and engaging speech tool at a very ill-timed spot in history. Sensory bins have been the one resource I find I can pull for any child working on any goal at any age. They are extremely open ended and adaptable, giving the much-needed flexibility to the variety of students seen in the schools. Sensory bins are also my most requested activity from my speech students. Because the kids are hands deep in the bins, though, hygiene is of the utmost importance*.

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Prepping for a Sub: A Therapist's Point of View

Subbing is my favorite. I’ve subbed more times than I can count, filling in short term assignments of every variety and length across my state and across diverse settings. I made my living covering 60+ hours a week in up to 5 buildings a day for about three years.  I even subbed for an SLP who was covering for another SLP on her maternity leave, when the sub had her baby on MY due date! It was nuts in the best way. 

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Mental Health Awareness Month

Prioritizing Mental Wellness During Mental Health Month

While it is commonly known by those in our profession that May is Better Speech and Hearing Month, May is also dedicated to increasing awareness of an equally important issue: mental health awareness.  

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Managing End of the School Year Stress

When I first signed up to write this post, I never imagined that end of the school year stress would begin as early as March for many of us, so I was a little uneasy about what to write. After much thought and consideration, I finally said to myself, regardless of the type of stress or when it began, we still must implement the same mindset and behaviors to close out the end of the year. Whether you or finishing this year in May or June, in the actual building or at home; all you can do is your professional best. 

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AAC Activity Ideas

I remember when I began working in classrooms for students with moderate-severe disabilities who had AAC devices and feeling completely overwhelmed. I didn’t know exactly how to model words for the students, nor was I confident about having whole group lessons in the classroom. Looking back, the more motivating the activity is that you bring with you, the easier it is to model communication for students and to get support staff (i.e., teachers, aides) involved to assist in promoting the communication skills of the students. So here are some of the activities I’ve done over the years that have been the most successful and engaging for staff and students!

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Delivering for School District Customers during COVID-19: The Quick Pivot to Teletherapy for Special Education Services

Executive Summary:  Across the country, in mid-March, the Federal, state, and local governments began grasping the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Federal government began passing legislation to buffer the coming economic calamity, governors issued stay-at-home advisories and local governments shuttered public schools.  The Stepping Stones Group (SSG), a provider of special education solutions to over 450 school districts in more 30 states, experienced the initial shock of its students no longer receiving services in the traditional school setting.  In response, SSG developed an immediate action plan to help its school district partners continue to deliver legally mandated special education services to its students.    A key part of its approach was the rapid introduction of a teletherapy solution for many therapeutic and behavioral services to ensure that students had the best opportunities to stay on track during this period of disruption. Now one month into the school closures, approximately 80% of SSG's services are now being provided through some type of virtual therapy platform. 

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Carryover For Speech Sounds

Every morning I begin with a neatly ordered to-do lists of goals for the day. But when the students arrived in my therapy room, those expectations for the day must apply to meaningful interactions with my students. Helping a child to generalize their speech production feels the same. We start with goals and hierarchies. Then we have to show the child that the structured practice they’ve received is integral to their phone call to a friend, the letter sounds they learn, the part they play in the school musical. How do we help children apply goals into their everyday life? 

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Autism Awareness - Therapy “Magic” Tricks

As of 2018, approximately 1 in 59 children will be diagnosed with autism as early as age 2 (although most aren’t diagnosed until after age 4). With the rising prevalence in Autism, it feels like most of our caseloads are being dominated by this high-need population. Fortunately, I have found some “magic” tricks to help me with my low-verbal kiddos. 

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The Benefits of SLP and Psychologist Collaboration in the School Setting

I absolutely enjoy with working with my School Psychologist (SP). I say “my” in the most endearing way because I have taken ownership of the collaborative partnership we share. The symbiosis is mutually beneficial for both of us. Kind of like Thelma and Louise. I remember years ago when the psychos (as we affectionately call them) and SLPs in my district didn’t do a lot of collaboration with each other. There was so much we didn’t understand about their discipline, and there was much that they didn’t understand about ours. We tended to only come together and share information when it was time to report testing results in meetings. But, those days of separation are long gone. Hooray!

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