Happy Break!

imagesd9rohj1vWe just wanted to take a moment to wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and relaxing and fun-filled winter break. We hope your time off is well spent and you return refreshed and ready to tackle the spring semester!

 

Throwback to Thanksgiving!

img_26091Hey all!! You made it to winter break! Today, Jenny Lockwood shares a fun Thanksgiving activity! I realize that you won’t be able to use this for another year, but it was too good not to share!! I will try to remember to link back to it next fall!

I precut turkey feathers in each of the colors of EET, then each student chose a Thanksgiving/fall themed picture vocabulary word. First, in their speech notebooks, they colored 7 dots to represent all of the EET attributes. Then, they drafted their descriptions next to the appropriate circle.  They used EET poster, Eetchy, or other prompts from me as needed, to describe the vocab. Once they were finished with the draft, they got to write their answers on the appropriate feather and make the turkey.img_26101

For lower levels, they just wrote a describing word of phrase. For higher levels, they had to form grammatically correct sentences with correct punctuation.

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For articulation, they chose 10 words containing their target sound and wrote them on the feathers. I chose 10 feathers to get 100 utterances.

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Epilogue

Today, Marie Fisher brings us the final entry for our book club!

The epilogue to Schuyler’s Monster was short and sweet; however, I felt that it was a nice cap to the book. In the Epilogue, Robert said that the hardest thing about being Schuyler’s father has been releasing himself from his secret narrative/plans for her. I thought that this was a very honest statement to make and something that I have heard other parents of students with disabilities state. I do not have kids of my own, but I can imagine that one of the most difficult aspects of having a child with a disability is coming to accept it as a “new normal” and being able to shift how you originally “planned” for things to play out. Robert goes on to explain how he is celebrating the fact that Schuyler has moved to the most advanced level of her speech device. She is utilizing a device with 84 buttons. I work a lot with dynamic device at Atherton, so I enjoyed hearing the specific of Schuyler’s device. Finally, the epilogue ends with Robert saying that he has thought about God more than ever before. He states that he has been dreaming of God watching his daughter play and looking down on her– I thought that this was a beautiful final paragraph.

Thanks, Marie!

Christmas Tree Decorating Activity using EET

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As the holiday season approaches, I knew I wanted to incorporate a fun craft into language therapy using my EET kit. For a particular group of second graders, I created a Christmas tree decorating craft using the EET framework and some of the materials that came in the EET kit provided from WHAS Crusade for Children grant. These students are familiar with the color-coding system for describing objects, as we have been working on this task for quite a while. During a therapy session, we used the color-coding system to decorate a Christmas tree using ornaments that are color-coded exactly to match the EET framework.

The activity is pretty simple and was super quick to pull together! Here is what you will need:

  1. Visual prompt for EET (I love the large cardboard stand that came in the kit, but any print out will do!)
  2. Dice from EET kit
  3. Cut out Christmas tree and ornaments (circles cut out of green, blue, black, brown, pink, white, orange to match EET)
  4. Glue
  5. Picture cards for students to describe (I found holiday related object/vocabulary cards at Teachers Pay Teachers for free here.)

Here is how I structured the lesson:

  1. Each student took turns rolling the two EET dice and drawing one of the vocabulary cards from a pile.
  2. The student then described the object on the card using the two attributes that match the colors on the dice (for example, if they rolled green and blue, they stated the group and function).
  3. Once the student correctly described the object using two attributes, they were able to put two ornaments on their tree that matched the colors they rolled (following the previous example, the student would put a green and blue ornament on the tree).
  4. Repeat this until all students have had multiple turns describing objects and decorating their Christmas tree.

Merry Christmas!!

Jamie Priddy, SLP at Audubon Traditional Elementary School and Highland Middle School

Chapter 21 – Box Class and Chapter 22- Howl

Chapter 21

In this chapter, Schuyler’s family decides to move to Plano, Texas, despite loving Austin as a city. They do so because the school system in Plano has an actual AAC department, while the school system in Austin has presented so many obstacles for Schuyler’s growth as an AAC user.

Growing up, Robert knew Plano as a rich and privileged school district. Apparently not much has changed, as he finds out that Plano has a 6 member Assistive Technology department, “devoted to nothing but high-tech solutions for their students with communication disorders like Schuyler’s” The meeting with the team and school principal exceeds his dreams, especially when he discovers that Schuyler is eligible for a class of students who all use AAC.

Those are the basic events that take place, but the substance of the chapter is found much more in Robert’s reflections on and perceptions of public school. During my entire reading of this book, I have often found myself at odds with Robert in a couple of ways:

  1. I find the way he constantly describes the women he meets in these educational and professional settings quite off putting. This chapter is no exception. He writes, “The principal was impossibly young and pretty…”  where earlier on the same page he describes meetings with 2 separate men and does not describe their physical appearances. While his description may seem harmless enough, it highlights the discrepancy between the ways women and men are judged.
  2. Throughout the book, Robert has not found reasons to trust the professionals who have worked with Schuyler. He has seen his daughter being judged and assessed by people whom have spent only a few hours with her. He has seen teachers take away and turn off his daughters voice, which is especially unforgivable. I sympathize with him quite deeply.

And yet when he writes, “We’d always felt the conflict with her teachers, the idea that we were the idiot parents and they knew what was going to work best for Schuyler” and when he says he knows of, “the disdain that many public school teachers feel toward parents who get deeply involved in their kids’ educations,” my defenses go up. In my 11 years as an SLP at JCPS, I have experienced nothing so harmful to a child as when members of the school team and the home team have an “us against them” attitude. And I don’t know how to solve it. But I do wish there were better and more open communication – the type of communication that we are often not able to have due to fear of lawsuits or fear of having to pay for something or some service that the district cannot afford to pay for. Poor communication and preconceived notions have definitely set back Schuyler on her journey.

Certainly though, this book has given me greater insight to parents’ perspectives and has helped me resolve to actually take time in my IEP meetings to make sure we are all clear. Too often, I worry about how many groups I will have to make up when I am spending time in an ARC meeting, thereby rushing through it. This book has helped me to remember to be present, to listen, and to clearly explain my perspective as much as possible.

Chapter 22- Howl

In this chapter, we finally discover a Schuyler who seems to be on the right track. She is thriving in her AAC class and has found a best friend. If you were like me, you immediately thought Schuyler was the perfect candidate for AAC as soon as you started reading about her. I love to read now about her multi-modal communication system – a combination of sign, verbal and high tech AAC – and how she uses it with her teacher and friends in her class and at the birthday party. At the mall she uses the high tech situation to communicate with Santa,  while she later uses her verbal and nonverbal non-symbolic communication with an adversary (both the punch in the face and the howl were pretty effective). We see Schuyler successfully communicating in a variety of settings using a variety of communication modes. And we can finally feel a little peace settle in with her dad. Reflecting upon the incident with the bully at the mall, he writes that he could see that Schuyler, “knew that monster or no, she still had a right to move through the world on her own terms.” And he could see that she would be okay.

Reading this and the previous chapter, I thought about how ideal Schuyler would be as a student. I also thought a lot about this model of the AAC class, wondering whether it would work in JCPS. I feel a constant struggle with giving my AAC users what they need – like I can never do enough for them or give enough guidance to the teachers and assistants. I am thankful that we have Cindy and Brian to help us in this pursuit, because they are invaluable. But I can’t help but wish we had more resources for these kiddos. Again though, this book has reignited my dedication to do all I can to help my non-verbal students communicate in any way possible.

American Girls

20161122_102144Happy Friday! Courtney Brock (SLP at Shelby, Barrett, and St. Joseph’s Children’s Home) has found a fun way to reuse a catalog that many of us receive in our mail boxes at home:

Hi!  My daughter still gets the American Girl Doll catalogs in the mail (even though she is 15) and I was going to cancel it when I had a great idea!!  The pictures are so perfect for therapy!  You can target vocabulary, antonyms, similarities and differences, qualitative and quantitative concepts.   Already when I laminated them here at school, every girl in the hallway was excited, “OOO!  She has American Girl Dolls!!”  Can’t wait to try it out today.  It also made me think of other ways to use toy catalogs for similar ideas.  I thought that they could make a wish list, cut out the pictures with prices then compare and contrast using more/less/least/most, etc!!

This got me thinking about something similar that I have used during the holiday season. I bought this on TPT several years ago and it does not disappoint!

On a side note, there are also several things on the American Girl website. One spot that I found particularly interesting is this page, which tackles some different social skills topics.

There is also a page filled with games that may be useful as reinforcers. If you have time and want to explore the website for any additional content that would be useful, share what you find in the comments!!

Have you used catalogs as therapy materials? Please share any additional ideas in the comments!