February bulletin boards

Holly Porter shares:

Every once in awhile I have time to go to 701 S. Hancock, to the teacher work center.  I was obsessed with hanging conversational hearts outside the speech room here at Minors Lane.  If you have time, CHECK OUT THE TEACHER WORK CENTER!  They have diecuts galore, and they are super duper cheap.  I plan on having my students put hearts and the bottom of this bulletin board.  We will probably put target words with their sound related to February, or maybe alliteration with their target sound!

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Book Study Partners – Morgan Colyer, Jennifer Johnston & Holly Hamill



  1. Lack of engagement can lead to lack of opportunities for engagement provided by caregivers
  2. There are four components of engagement: self regulation, shared space, focus, and pleasure
    1. Interactions designed to support engagement can be facilitated by a skilled partner such as a teacher, therapist, or trained similar age peer.
    2. Self regulation: Calm + Alert= Ready
      1. The ability to gain control of one’s emotions and body to sustain attention for the task at hand
      2. Self regulation is the primary foundation for all other aspects of engagement and social interaction
      3. It is important to be mindful of what type of input helps individuals regulate


Reflections: Engagement is the foundation of social communication. I think we all know this, but sometimes have a hard time remembering or reminding others outside of the profession. I actually had this conversation when having AT screen one of my students this week. I think people outside of the profession are so quick to want to give a kid a device or other outlet when they are not communicating, however, they often overlook that any communication takes engagement and all its components to be successful and that we must work on that component before moving to the next step. When reading this section it occured to me that I have probably missed opportunities for engagement for the more complex kiddos on my caseload because my approach varied after not getting the expected response from the kid. I think the reminder that same age peers who are trained can be great facilitators of engagement was nice, also. It also reminded that I have to consider what it looks like for each of my kids to be engaged. I personally think of being regulated in a very typical way (i.e. body calm, looking at communication partner, etc.); however self regulation can look different for various kids. For some kids making noises or moving rhythmically is helping them self regulate and prepare for engagement.


Continuing the 4 components of Engagement

  1. Shared Space- Within a shared space, we can begin to be attentive together.”
  1. Being aware of the space between ourselves and the student we are hoping to engage is extremely important. The communicative partner should be aware of the comfort level, preference, expectations and organization of materials.


  1. Shared Focus- Two people paying attention to the same thing at the same time.
  1. To achieve shared focus, you must understand the interests of your student. Consider topics of interest, how the student gains your attention, variety of topics and length of the shared focus.
  1. Shared Pleasure – Sharing joy and pleasure with others through communication.
  1. It is essential to identify the nonverbal cues associated with enjoyment, to call upon others who know them best to help you understand the student and determine how and where you can observe happiness unique to your student.


Reflection: These steps to being social must be broken down into smaller sub-skills that are meaningful and measurable when working with students. Check out the chart on page 9 which has a check box for you to determine a child’s engagement. The goal is to have a YES on all the sub-skills in order to move into the LOWER 4. This information is very practical and applicable to our job as speech language pathologists. The strategies listed below may be things you are already doing, but so critical when working with children with ASD:

  1. Shrink the space
  2. Use motivating items or topics
  3. Limit the materials.
  4. Increase the duration and frequency of the engaged moments.
  5. Identify and teach others the importance of engagement.


Evidence-Based Practices to Support Engagement

  1.       Task Analysis—breaks down a skill (behavior, communication, social) into smaller steps in order to teach the skill. The book asks, “What smaller skills will allow an individual to be calm and alert and then share space, focus, and pleasure?”
  2.       Reinforcement—the relationship between a behavior and a consequence that follows the behavior. It’s important to make reinforcements more tangible and to reinforce desired behaviors more frequently. It’s essential to identify items/activities that are highly motivating in order to reinforce skills we’re teaching. (Sure, but sometimes figuring out what motivates a child is one of our biggest challenges, and of course, it can change quickly!)
  3.       Prompting—any assistance that helps the learner use a skill. It’s important to understand the levels of prompting and recognize that one can become reliant on prompts so we must make a conscious effort to fade prompts. Verbal prompts are the most difficult to fade.
  4.       Antecedent-based interventions—“a collection of strategies in which environmental modifications are used to change the conditions in the setting that prompt a learner with ASD to engage in an interfering behavior” (Neitzel, 2009). Two examples are working in a small space with purposeful placement of motivating objects and identifying/providing activities that support self-regulation.
  5.       Parent-implemented Intervention—this is self-explanatory but a structured parent training program is important; The book cites The Hanen More Than Words program as an example. Parents and family members are often frustrated by unsuccessful attempts to interact with their child and can benefit from learning new ways to share space, focus, and pleasure.
  6.       Visual Supports—Individuals with ASD often process information visually more effectively than any other modality. Visual aids are more concrete—you can see and touch them, something you can not do with spoken words, and they are another item that can be used to establish joint attention.

The book also provides sources of information about EBPs: The National Professional Development Center (NPDC) and the National Standards Project. It is clear that this book will serve as a great resource for us. It is full of useful information.


One Device or Two?

Cindy Simpson shares:
When possible for beginning AAC users, it is best practice to give a communication device one purpose: communication. If a student is watching videos or playing games on their device it loses its power as a communication tool.  This can potentially lead to behavior issues using the device for communication as the student may not want to turn off the video they are watching or the game they are playing to work on language development/communication (they may not want to stop “playing” to “work”).  Another issue with using one device for both communication and watching videos/playing games is that students are not able to communicate while they are watching videos/playing games. This is a concern because these are great opportunities for communication learning. We need students to be able to play and communicate at the same time. Having one device for communication and the other for entertainment helps make that happen.  Therefore, consider a separate device to be used for watching videos/playing games.  Also, consider other reinforcements/motivators that are not electronic such as sticker books, re-stickable stickers, magnet theme books, coloring books, Etch-A-Sketch, handheld water ring toss games, etc.  Below is a link that discusses this issue further.    

Spring 2020 Book Study

Welcome to JCPS SLP online book club. As requested, we will be reading Social Engagement and the Steps to Being Social by Taylor and Laurel. If you are interested in participating in the book club this go-around you should check it out! If you have already emailed me, I have you on the list, if you have not let me know but would like to participate, shoot me an email by noon on Friday (1/17).

Just like last time, this book club will operate a little differently than traditional, meet-once-per-week book club! We will check in once per week, but you will do it via the blog! The format will be slightly different than in the past, as you will work as teams of either 2 or 3 to create your post. It is up to you to decide how to divvy up the work.

Each week (the posts will publish on Wednesday mornings) we will cover 1 chapter from the book. Two to three of you will be responsible for putting together a reflective post for the chapter. It does not have to be extremely long or in depth, it just needs to be reflective of what you read. Get creative with this!! It should not be just a summary. In your post, you should include questions and statements that provoke discussion among your fellow book club members. Book club members will then post comments and or questions about their thoughts on the chapter and questions posed in the post.

Here are the requirements (to earn PD credit):

  • Each person must sign up to compile one post as part of a team. This post will need to be submitted (to Kinsey.chambers@jefferson.kyschools.us) by the Monday before at noon.
  • Each person must make at least 5 comments throughout the course of the study. This is done individually, not as part of your team.
  • You must log on and read the post each week, even if you choose not to comment on that particular post.
  • If you meet the minimum requirements, you will earn 3 hours of PD credit! And you can do it all at home in your bunny slippers! We will start with chapter 1 on 1/29/2020. This will allow you time to get the book and get started reading, but also allow us to complete the study before spring break!
  • This is a great opportunity to earn credit, connect with other SLPs and enrich your practice through learning about the perspectives of others! If you have questions or comments, please leave them below! If you are wondering, someone else probably is as well!
  • To sign up for a chapter follow this link:  Book Study Sign-up