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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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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