Monthly Archives

March 2016

Things SLPs Should ALWAYS Say {Frenzied SLPs Linky}

By | SLP Tips And Tools

For this week’s post I am linking up again with the fabulous Frenzied SLPs.  A couple of weeks ago, we shared things SLPs should NEVER say.  For part 2, we are sharing things SLPs should ALWAYS say.

Since we work with so many different students and staff members, there are not really any cookie cutter sayings that are always good all of the time.  For that reason, I am sharing two general ideas about what SLPs should always say.

1. Always share a student’s STRENGTHS.  When we are in IEP meetings, writing progress reports, or discussing students with their teachers/parents, it is so easy to get caught up in the child’s weaknesses or difficulties.  Often times, challenging behaviors, lack of progress, or just overall severity of their disability can dominate our discussions…especially during annual IEP meetings.  It can be discouraging for everyone, especially the parent.  To help these situations, we as SLPs can really lead by example and share our student’s strengths.  Yes, we are required to do so in our IEP documents, but I’m talking about really sharing some good info on what the child is doing well.  Don’t just rush over this part.  Providing good positive information to the team can impact the mood of the entire meeting.  It’s so important to have good information to share about what the student is doing well because there’s always something. 

2. Be specific.  This ties in with number 1.  Providing specific feedback is much more constructive and useful than general statements.  Instead of saying, “Little Bobby is making good progress in speech,” give specifics.  A statement such as, “Little Bobby is attentive during speech sessions and is now able to produce his /r/ sound 50% of the time,” provides much more specific information to the parent and teachers about how our student is doing. 
We also need to be specific when providing feedback to our students.  Saying things like, “Good job,” don’t let the student know what they did RIGHT.  “That was a great /s/ sound,” or “I didn’t hear your /s/ sound that time,” provides more specific feedback so they can replicate it or try to correct their error.  It’s easy to fall into the habit of giving general feedback statements (and I have to really fight it myself), but providing specific feedback is more helpful to our students. 

These are two areas that I always try to be conscious of in my own SLP life.   To read some other things SLPs should always say, be sure to click back to Doyle Speech Works and read the other blogs that have linked up. 

Things SLPs Should NEVER Say {Linky with The Frenzied SLPs}

By | SLP Tips And Tools

For this week’s post, I am linking up with The Frenzied SLPs to discuss things SLPs should NEVER say.  It’s a topic with a wide range of discussion, and I’m happy to link up and share my take on the matter.  

As school based SLPs, we encounter students with a wide range of abilities. We are constantly assessing students (formally and informally) both in and out of our speech rooms. We use our professional judgement and training to determine whether students have a need for our services and we help support their academics as much as possible. Through this process it is so important for us to NEVER say, “I think ______ (insert student’s name has _________ (insert diagnosis).  
Allow me to elaborate.  
The main problem I see with this statement is the uncertainty of using “I think…”  First, we are professionals with an abundance of training and knowledge.  If we are formally making a diagnosis related to speech-language (which many of us do not do in the school setting), we should not be using words such as “I think…” because they make it sound like we are not sure in our findings.  We spend hours collecting data and making determinations. We should present our findings with confidence and choose our wording carefully.  
It is also worth mentioning that in many districts, SLPs don’t make formal diagnoses.  In my district, I use my evaluation data to determine whether or not a student meets eligibility criteria as a student with a speech-language impairment, but I do not diagnose specific disorders myself.  
Another possible problem with this statement is that it is sometimes used out of the proper context. We have all had those situations when we are at the park, visiting with friends, etc. and meet a child who we really think could benefit from speech therapy.  Our ears are constantly listening and informally analyzing the speech-language of children we encounter.  It’s just hard to turn off.  In these situations, it is so important to make sure that we are not throwing out statements such as, “I think your child has autism/apraxia/etc.’ without a proper evaluation.  We need to be very careful using statements that sound like we are diagnosing or making recommendations when we don’t have data to support our statements.  
It is so important to be thoughtful in the words we use when talking to parents/teachers about their children.  To read some more on this topic, be sure to click over to the linkup and check out the other posts.  There are some great ones!  Thanks again to The Frenzied SLPs for a great topic of discussion and to Doyle Speech Works for hosting the linkup!

Accents, Dialects, and Speech Therapy – Part 4 {GIVEAWAY}

By | Giveaways

Welcome to the final installment of Accents, Dialects, and Speech Therapy. It’s taken me a little longer to get this last post finished because, well…life happens. The past two weeks have been a whirlwind! But it’s finally ready and I am excited to tell you we are ending with a GIVEAWAY! Details at the end of this post.

Be sure to click the following links to read the first three posts in the series:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

For this post, I want to run through the steps I go through if I get a referral for a student who speaks more than one language. First off, it is important that you follow your school district’s guidelines for initiating the referral and/or RTI process. In my district, I am not to test/screen students without parental consent. If a teacher has speech-language concerns with a particular student, I help them gather information and often guide them through the process, but I do not test/screen the student initially until consent has been granted.

For articulation concerns, I have a “teacher friendly” easy articulation screener that I give to my teachers so they can gather more info to guide the process. It allows them to document specific phoneme errors, which we can use to determine what the next step will be.

For language concerns, the teachers document specific areas of concern and track any interventions they have tried to help the student.

Once we determine that a student is ready for a full speech-language evaluation and parental consent has been obtained, then my work begins.

One of the very first pieces of information I look for in my referral packets is what language(s) the student speaks at home and school. This will guide the rest of my evaluation process.

For students who are bilingual, or in the ESL program, it is so very important to make sure they are tested in their primary language. If they have a true speech-language disorder, it will be present in their native language. It is important to learn everything you can about the student’s primary language to determine if they are presenting with a language difference or a language disorder. With articulation, there may be English phonemes that are not present in the child’s first language. With language, their primary language may follow a different structure than English. These differences will impact their use of English. This step takes some time and good resources. I generally turn to the ASHA website and Bilinguistics (which both have great information on different languages/dialects) as I gather my information.

Once I have completed my testing, I analyze the information and use my resources and data to determine whether the child has a speech-language disorder or not. The process takes some time, but the information gathered is so valuable. When we sit down to discuss the evaluation with the parents/teachers, I can feel confident in my findings knowing I used great resources to back up my determination and have a good plan for goal writing if needed.

Bilinguistics has a fantastic book, Difference or Disorder, in which they lay out the common speech-language characteristics of more than 10 different languages. The chapters include specific language/dialectal features including phonology, vocabulary, and syntax. They also include easy to read visuals, and information from native speakers of each language on cultural factors that are relevant to that language. (Amazon Affiliate link posted below)

I use the Bilinguistics website often, and I have recently added the Difference or Disorder book to my personal library. It’s an excellent resource, and I am sure you will love it, too. For this reason, I am excited that I get to give a FREE copy to one lucky reader! Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below. I will select the winner Tuesday morning (3/8/16).

***Please note: I am not affiliated with Bilinguistics in any way. They are providing the Difference or Disorder book for the giveaway, but I received no compensation in return. This post reflects my personal opinions/experiences.

I have had a great time exploring the world of accents, dialects and speech therapy with all of you. I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have and found some useful information/resources.  a Rafflecopter giveaway