One Challenge for “Melissa’s Goodwill Tour” Met!

Today Chelsea Graham shares her process for reinforcing “I can…” statements:

EVERYone of the students on my caseload has different goals (that’s why it’s called an INDIVIDUAL Education Plan).  As a result, it is not possible to post generic “I can” statements in order to inform students what their targets are in speech. One of my goals as an SLP, is to ensure each one of my speech students understands WHY they come to speech.  Knowledge is power! The photos below are how I accomplish this goal.


I’ve established an ‘Arrival Routine’ for each speech session. In general, I pick up each group of students for their speech therapy time. I used the walk back to the room to review their goals with them, and give them each a “Speech Challenge” that targets one of their goals.  Most of the time I come up with the challenges on the fly – but when my brain is strained, I use this resource I purchased on TPT.

While standing outside the door, we review the entry routine. “First we get our name card, then we put it in the basket and last we sit down quietly.” This is a great opportunity to observe a student’s ability to recall multi-step directions, use sequence words, syntax, pragmatic skills and use target speech sounds. Upon entry to my room (and I use that term loosely, as it’s more of a closet J), each student follows the routine.

At the end of the session, by participating and working hard, each student has earned a sticker for their name card (I use the stickers as a behavior management tool, although I RARELY withhold stickers. Instead, for students with behavior issues, I give them the opportunity to earn an extra sticker). Ten stickers earn the student a trip to the treasure chest (over the year, on average, each students earns 3 trips to treasure chest).

BEFORE I give a student their sticker, they must tell me what their speech goals are. Their speech goals are written in student friendly terms on the back of their name card. For the first few sessions each school year, we simply read them together. We talk about how reaching their goals will help them in the classroom. Ownership of their goals give them a feeling of empowerment to make progress!

Fellow SLP’s – share how you are ensuring your students know their goals, I love learning from my peers!

Thanks, Chelsea!!

Chapter 2: ‘What Should We Do?’

The author opens the chapter with describing a trip to a French ice cream shop; she was looking so forward to it, but her stuttering ruined the ice cream. She wanted it in a sugar cone or a waffle cone, but ordered it in a cup because she knew she would likely stutter on the word ‘sugar’ and on ‘waffle’ as well. “The plastic spoon ruins it.” The scene is described so well and I felt such a pang of sorrow for her when I read it.  As she and her parents walk home, she can sense that something is on their minds.  They ask about her day and she answers using as little speech as possible, a coping technique she is using.  “I have taken to starring in my own silent movie…..Having silenced myself, I’m becoming visibly depressed.” As they continue to walk and are nearing home, Katherine asks her parents what they were talking about the other night. They tell her they would like for her to attend speech therapy… a 2-week group session over the summer holiday.  This startles Katherine and makes her feel she has ‘failed’ at growing out of something; she screams and cries and upon doing so, learns that when she is angry her speech is fluent.  She eventually calms down and discusses the situation with her mother.  Her mother says, “But, darling, we really want you to try out this speech therapy course.  Your stammer, I mean your speech…..” The author discusses the negative connotations that the word ‘therapy’ held for her at that time….e.g. “It implies a level of madness, something uncontrollable that needs to be tamed. In my mind it is an accusation, something to be kept secret.”  She also goes on to say the while she is angry, she is also relieved that her mother has put a name to her speech difficulty; “Deep down I am glad that someone has acknowledged that something is happening, that it has a name, that it might have a treatment. Because the silence is the most oppressive thing of all……I am strangling myself to talk… and no one is saying anything about it.” The author then describes her 2-week group therapy experience. She quickly saw the she was the only girl in the group. She describes how very nice the therapist was J. She describes trying hard during therapy but then venting at night by way of screaming at her mother. “The truth is that I don’t want to be part of the freak show.  That is how I see it.”  She and the other students start to progress. “In truth we are all improving in the strange confines of the therapy course. It is easy to improve in the safety of those four walls.” She has developed a bond with her peers; “As the end of the course approaches, that moment we have all longed for, we start to dread going back into the real word.” Katherine is fluent when she finishes the 2-week session. She is proud and so are her parents; “I am completely and utterly fluent…. My parents can’t shut me up.” She felt certain that her stutter was forever gone. Her joy and new-found confidence is short-lived, however.  Two weeks following the course, she feels the stutter returning; “My stutter is more powerful that a few weeks with a kind speech therapist. It is stronger than she is, as stubborn as I am.” She describes what horrible feelings this brings; “My sense of self has been altered. I am an underachiever, a loser, and a disappointment.” She tells how she rebuilds the walls that she had created around her stutter and refuses to let anyone broach the subject; “I can handle my own guilt, but I

am ill-prepared to carry everyone else’s disappointment.”  Katherine then has negative feelings about the therapy course, as she feels it has tricked her, letting her see “… what life would be like if I were normal.”


Thoughts on the Chapter:

This chapter covered so much in the way of emotions and coping mechanisms.  During the time when her parents thought Katherine would likely grow out of the stuttering, they dealt with it appropriately, in a manner that was recommended by their pediatrician. The author talks about how many children who stutter do not have this same experience and are at times made to feel guilty about their stuttering.

Parent education is so important. I think that as SLPs we know more about this topic than we give ourselves credit for and what we know seems like common sense. It isn’t. Some parents will self-educate via Googling, etc. but we need to always take advantage of any opportunity to make sure they have correct information and that they feel confident in their knowledge of how to respond when a stuttering episode occurs.

What have your experiences been with parent education regarding fluency disorder?

When I read that Katherine was so relieved when her mother talked about Katherine’s speech problem.. .her ‘stammer’, a question that came to mind was:

When is the right time to directly discuss a child’s ‘bumpy speech’ with them?

Lastly, the author’s description of her first experience with speech therapy was interesting! I am looking forward to reading about her therapy journey and gaining her perspective.

Happy Reading,

Carrie Kaelin, MS-CCC

Brown School

Ahrens Work Transition Program

Early Childhood Diagnostic Center

Chapter 1 Creation Myth

The author, Katherine Preston, begins Chapter 1 of Out With It: How Stuttering Helped Me Find My Voice by telling her memory of the “day she lost her voice.” She was 7 years old and dressed in a beautiful ballerina birthday costume. It first happened in an interaction with her godmother, Joey. Even though she doesn’t say anything and still showers hugs and praise on her, Katherine cannot help but notice the hesitancy on Joey’s face. Katherine shares in this chapter a few stories of “how I began to stutter” from people she interviewed for this book-falling from a tree, a tonsillectomy resulting in a high fever. I really began to wonder about reasons my clients have told me over the years. Have you heard any really weird “reasons” people began to stutter? She realizes hers did not suddenly appear, but was always there, lurking just under the surface. She tells of an SLP’s report when she was 5 years old that indicates she was having difficulty with certain letters and her mother’s reports of always speaking fast. Seven years old, was also the year Katherine’s ailing grandmother came to live with them and died four months later. The connection was made between grandmother’s traumatic death as the cause for Katherine’s stuttering (repressed emotion). Hearing the long laundry list of secondary behaviors Katherine employed over the years was kind of heartbreaking (pinching her leg, tracing the outline of a letter, swallow before speaking, stamping foot, flicking head, squeezing eyes). Even though I’ve seen or heard many of them before, hearing her account was truly sad. I’m sure you have all seen them, too. Has anyone had a really unusual secondary behavior? There were a few sentences in this chapter that helped me to look at stuttering in a more empathetic manner: “…stuttering is a motor control glitch. The glitch sets off a major fear response because our breathing system, our body’s mechanism to keep us alive, is being attacked. So the fear escalates and feeds the stutter.”

Kathy McKenzie-Hensley

Norton Commons Elementary


The author has me hooked.  After reading the prologue, I’m vested with a certain interest to learn more about Katherine’s perspective on stuttering.  She expresses her feelings, fears, hopes, and priorities about her speech.  She lets readers in on what’s going through her mind in the moment just before the stutter.  And how aware she is of her speaking strengths and weaknesses.

When interacting with her peers, she “knows” she will be dysfluent on her name.  She knows that when she’s speaking alone or to an animal, specifically her puppy Holly, she will always be fluent.  Katherine expresses hope; stating if she just tries harder she can “fix” her speech.  Her goal is to make her speech “normal” just like “everyone else”.  She’s organized, more organized than I’ve known any of my students to be, making a list of tasks she plans to complete in order to increase her fluency.

Or maybe not.  It makes me wonder if maybe some of my students do make lists like these? Do they feel comfortable enough with me to discuss and share these things?  Am I giving my students enough tools they can take with them from the classroom to work on fluent speech on their own as they choose?  Are students at my schools being bullied?  Would teachers communicate that to me? so that I could intervene?  I would be more than happy to go into the classroom with any of my students as he/she would present information about stuttering to classmates. Should I be more proactive? interviewing teachers so that I might uncover this information on my own accord.

This section of the book, has also inspired me to look for role models – as Katherine says, from hermits to celebrities – that look like my students, whom they could relate to, and look to for motivation.

-Katie Cohen, Maupin and Roosevelt Perry Elementaries

Stellaluna Literacy Unit

Happy Friday! As promised- below is a compilation of the activities the Stellaluna book group produced during our meeting on 9/8. It seems appropriate to use for the month of October (bats), but could be used any time of year! (Here is a link to the story read aloud.)


  • Compare/contrast (i.e. birds/bats)
  • Categories/Sorting (i.e. Nocturnal animals, day animals)
  • Prediction
  • Inferencing
  • EET (i.e. bat, bird)
  • Vocabulary (i.e. swoop, nocturnal, habitat)
  • Core Vocabulary (i.e. basic concepts, verbs) – fringe at top of core board
  • Opposites (i.e. in/out, up/down, night/day, etc.)
  • Identifying emotions
  • Phonological Awareness
  • Sentence formulation with vocabulary
  • WH Questions


  • Bat craft for following directions
  • Mango Smoothie (i.e. sequencing, following directions)
  • Story Retell with popsicle stick puppets

There are also several FREE activities listed on TPT.

Have you used Stellaluna?

Story Time Communication Boards

Rebecca Sutton stumbled upon this great resource that relates to our goal of incorporating more books into therapy. One of the books we worked on is even included in the book!

Rebecca says:

I was motivated to incorporate books into some of my therapy groups after the meeting and ran into this little gem. This box of goodies is invaluable. It is all done for you. I had one of the books at home and started on it today. My students loved it! I even printed off boards from the cd rom and sent them home for extra practice for some of them. Thought I would pass this along while SLPs still have money to spend.

***EDITED– Here is the link to the product from Super Duper Inc.***

Heads up and Reminder

Hey all! I just wanted to give you a heads up as to when each “literacy unit” will be posted. (These are the units we developed during out work session at the back to school meeting.) As I said before, they will be posted about a week before the first of the month to give you time to get materials together if you wish. I wanted to let you know when each unit will be posted, in case you have additional materials that you would like to send. I would love to be able to compile all the great things you all are using or planning to use!


November-Puzzle Island

December- The Snowy Day

January- I Love My Hair

February- Martin’s Big Words

March-She Persisted and Shout!

April- The Great Kapok Tree

May- Harry Potter and Head to Toe

August (posted at the end of the school year)- The Kissing Hand

SO…….If you have any materials related to any of these books that you would like to share, please send them to me!!

I also wanted to remind everyone that the deadline to sign up for the Book Study is this afternoon! If you want to get in on it, let me know ASAP! Our first chapter post will be on 9/27!

Happy Wednesday!