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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Celebrating Dr. Seuss

As a child, I remember that the first children’s book I read was by Dr. Seuss. Many children, including myself, first learned to read books by Dr. Seuss. His illustrations were eye-catching, and the titles of his stories were creative and memorable. Dr. Seuss’s full name was Theodore “Ted” Seuss Geisel. 

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OT Month 2020

So here I am, a Licensed Speech and Language Pathologist discussing Occupational Therapy month. Maybe you are thinking, “what does she know?”. Well I have over 35 years of experience working primarily in the field of Early Intervention and private clinics in a trans-disciplinary setting. I have worked alongside some truly knowledgeable and talented O.T.s and learned how to incorporate both disciplines to address goals using multiple strategies. Occupational therapy targets several areas including feeding, self care skills, sensory integration, self regulation, perceptual motor and fine motor skills. Naturally they all overlap speech and language skills and can be incorporated into both sets of goals.

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Timely Identification of Intellectual Disability and Why It Is Important

It’s a typical morning.  I’m prepared for the High School freshman who is about to receive his third formal Psycho-educational Assessment.  He has been classified as having a specific learning disability, and yet the previous evaluation doesn’t seem to fit the minimum criteria. Reports from the parents and teachers state that he has failed to make progress, he frequently sleeps during class, and requires constant prompting to stay on task.  His grades are barely passing and he has not been successful on any of the district or State assessments since elementary school.

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St. Patrick's Day Activities

It’s March. Trees are growing their leaves back, flowers are starting to poke out from the ground, and the wind no longer whips the breath out of your lungs as you walk from your trailer to the main school building. The most important part of March, though, is not making sure all your IEPs are finished, but making sure your St. Patrick’s Day activities are fresh and ready to go for therapy.

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Teacher Awareness of the Link Between Problem Classroom and Language Impairment

“He doesn’t follow directions”, “She prefers to play by herself ”, or “He constantly hits other children.” Have you ever heard these comments from teachers? I have. Per the teachers’ comments, these students show obvious behavior concerns. It has been my experience that if I was to ask the teachers to describe the students’ communication skills, they might say “They’re good.” But, during targeted questioning to gather additional information about the students’ communication skills, teachers’ responses often reveal issues that point to possible language problems. Unfortunately, they do not link the behaviors to an underlying language impairment. This is an indication that training to identify language problems in students, particularly those with behavior problems, continues to be an area of need for some teachers. According to Cross (2004), language impairments in students with behavior problems often go undetected. When language problems are not properly identified, appropriate referrals for evaluations and necessary supports cannot be implemented.

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Being a Mother and a Therapist

Does my training as a therapist or School Psychologist make me a better parent? I feel that I might be more educated on child and adolescent development and have read many more parenting and self-help books then the average parent. I feel that I really have a lot of tools in my toolbox, and can deal with any situation that can arise when at work, but when at home it is a different story, especially when dealing with my own children. For my own children, I have to be their mother – I am the one who tucks them in at night with a kiss, the one who cares for them when they’re sick, and the one who loves them on a daily basis when they need my love. I wear two hats, mother and therapist, separate, but informing each other. 

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Using Social Stories at School

Most people in education have heard the term “social story”.  It seems to be another one of those catch phrases particularly among the special education population.  However, have you really considered how beneficial these stories are for certain students in your schools?  Among children with identified Autism or other developmental delays, having an individualized social story can be the difference between a successful school day or a dreadful one.  These stories empower students to envision themselves doing the right thing or managing a stressful situation with greater poise. 

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Diets: Teaching Children to Love What They Are Eating

I have two children and it is hard for them to try different foods, especially if it is “weird” looking to them or if the texture is different. My sister in law has three children and they love to eat their vegetables and don’t give their parents a hard time about eating what is given to them on their plate. I questioned the way I was handling my kid’s food choices and why my sister in laws children were eating so healthy and why my children were not eating vegetables like their cousins.

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