Friday, August 20, 2010

Link of the Week

I currently have 12 children on my caseload who are on the autistic spectrum, so I'm always looking for new fun resources to keep them engaged. While searching through a ton of pages trying to find some fun stuff to do with my 4 today I came across, and I must say was very impressed.

Zac Browser is highlighted as the "zone for autistic children" and is a web browser designed particularly for children and teens with autistic spectrum disorders. It makes the standard browsing experience a lot less complicated and is very aesthetically pleasing. It also works on all operating systems.

I downloaded the executable file to my usb and tried it out, which means I spent hours playing games, listening to songs, enjoying the interactive cause and effect activities, and listening to stories (research of course). Along with this there's a drawing pad which can also be quite entertaining. The browser links you directly to suggested sites for each category (music,games, stories etc) and gives a nice widescreen view (no explorer bars). It caters to a variety of ages and levels of functioning.

I used it with four of mine on the spectrum today and they loved it. The highlight was the "If you're happy and you know it" song with the actions. I encourage parents and professionals to try it out. I plan to use it with all of the children I see, not just those on the spectrum, as the activities would engage and provide a great learning experience for them all.

Here's a link to the youtube video giving some information on it:

and here is the official site:

Let me know your thoughts on it :)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Resource of the week: Mr. Potato Head

He may seem like just an ordinary guy but Mr. Potato Head has a secret. He is the life of the party in so many clinics, homes and schools around the world. He has proven to be extremely useful so far as a valuable resource for speech and language intervention. Therefore he gains the title of "Resource of the Week!" I thought I'd share with you readers 4 different ways in which I used good old Mr. PH today in my therapy sessions.

Case 1: child with autism, teaching imitation skills as well as building vocab for body parts and clothing.

It's good to have more than one Mr. Potato Head with matching items so you can do this type of activity. I put each part on while naming it, and he was required to choose the item from his pile and copy me. (saying the part on imitation was a bonus, which he achieved a few times). This also required lots of active looking to achieve. He required prompting by dad for the first 2 or so but he quickly caught on and the activity went well :)

Case 2: child with cochlear implant, in aural rehab session

I've used Mr. PH with him in earlier sessions for his conditioned response to Ling sounds, however this week was to listen for body parts. I got him to search for the body part when said, then when he found it match it to his own body part. I also provided lots of auditory input for "sh", saying pushhhhhhh whenever he was fitting an item.

Case 3: Child with language delay, working on following directions

I saw my supervisor do this once and fell in love with the activity. This was somewhat a test of all of the concepts we had learnt over the past few weeks in therapy. Activity involved:
  • Following 2 step directions: first put his eyes on, then one ear
  • Directions with before and after: after you put on an ear, put on his hat
  • Either....or constructions: put on either his teeth or his nose
  • Negation: which hand is not on?

I must say he worked so well on this task. I've had trouble before, finding ways to target these specific areas, so good job Potato dude!

Case 4: child with weak Phonological Awareness skills: Rhyming task

Now this was a fun way to end the day, trying to find all of Mr. PH's body parts, clothing items that rhymed. It went a bit like this :

  • Say hose, now find his........(nose)
  • Say pat, now find his.....(hat) etc.

Then I turned it around and let him tell me the rhyming word so I could find the body parts etc. This was a bit more difficult for him but with lots of prompting he got through it.

Great sessions all around.

And that my friends is how Mr. Potato Head saved the day!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Coping with Behavioural Challenges in children with Down Syndrome

I currently have four children on my caseload with Down Syndrome. The oldest is 8 years old and the youngest 18 months. Anyone who works with these children is well aware of the specific challenges which these children present, from delays in speech and language development, oromotor and feeding difficulties, to one which we all know too well- the behavioural challenges. The latter particularly tends to impact on progress in the former areas.

My 4 year old patient loves to throw tantrums in the middle of sessions. She hits, pushes things away and runs all over the clinic. Putting some behavioural strategies into place such as visual timetables and reinforcers into place these behaviours have improved significantly much to mum's and my relief. Our biggest goal now is the carry over outside of the clinic setting.

My 18 month old patient is my newest and from session one he decided that he runs the show. He bawled for the whole session and pushed away everything we gave him (at least he knows how to protest). I remember thinking at the end of the session "what am I going to do if he does this every week???" This week's session (number 2) was a lot better. I realised that he liked physical manipulation, being lifted, spun, swayed etc, so I followed his lead and incorporated this into the session. I started by doing this only, building language around the lifts and turns, building anticipation etc, then moved to giving it as a reinforcer. There was still some crying but definitely reduced from last time, and we had a pretty good session. I also got a pretty good workout, phew!

I was doing some research this weekend and came across this article on the "down syndrome online " website. The title "Strategies to address challenging behaviour in young children with Down syndrome" was enough for me to save the page to my favourites instantly, so I've decided to share it with my readers. Hope it's helpful. Here is the link:

Also I encourage you all to comment and share some ideas on how you manage challenging behaviour in the clinic setting, at home, in the school setting etc. Lets make this interactive and informative :)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Don't just think about it, Do it!

After lots and lots of contemplation I have made a decision to jump in and start a blog about my passion, which also forms my career. I'm a Speech and Language therapist (also known as a Speech Pathologist in some countries), working in private practice. I'm quite a newbie in the field, as this is my first year practising, but I've learnt a lot thus far. There aren't many speech therapists in my country, one working in government, and the remaining 4 or so in private practice catering to a population of approximately 275,000. Needless to say I have a pretty hectic caseload with a range of communicative needs. I work with both paediatric and adult populations with speech, language, social communication voice, fluency, and feeding disorders and my settings range from clinic, hospitals, and house/school visits. I'm also the in-house therapist at one primary school, so yes it gets quite busy.

Although I cover all areas of the field I've developed some favourite areas. These are :

  • Autistic Spectrum Disorder
  • Down Syndrome
  • Aural Rehabilitation for children with cochlear implants
  • Cleft Palate
  • Acquired Neurogenic Comminication Disorders (aphasia, dysarthria etc)

These will probably be the primary topics for my blog, along with other aspects of communication development. I hope to share information and resources which I have found, tips from other professionals, as well as my own experiences and ideas on this site.

Read, enjoy, and learn. I hope that readers can also share their experiences with me. So here we go.