Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Value of Scrapbooking in Therapy

I've always loved scrapbooks.
As a child I always enjoyed looking through magazines, cutting out pictures I found interesting, and sticking them in scrapbooks. Even now I have one for dress styles I find in magazines. I've also applied this concept to my work with children. Every parent who comes to see me in clinic, at some point has to buy a scrapbook. It doesn't have to be anything too fancy, just a simple construction paper pad that is durable and has enough space to stick pictures. Most tend to look like this:

We work together in session to stick worksheets, pictures related to the theme, reward stickers, and anything of interest in the scrapbook, then parents get to do it at home with the children as well. It's great for vocab building, artic/phonology, exp and receptive language, AVT, a bit of everything. For example we may work on:

/s/ in therapy, sticking pictures of /s/ words into the scrapbook after saying them, then the next mission would be to go home and search through magazines and newspapers for other things which may begin with /s/ and sticking them in. Having a page for each sound.

SVO constructions- looking for and sticking in pictures of people doing actions- simple

Feelings (ASD)- Finding pictures of people for a happy, sad, angry, etc. page, talking about why the person might feel that way, then the next page would be a picture of the child with I feel happy, sad, angry when......

Vocab around themes: farm, things around the home etc. (that's another post soon to come)

Phonological Awareness: cutting out pictures and sticking them on their various 'syllable pages'
e.g monkey would be stuck on the "2 syllable page."

Prepositions; pictures depicting on, under, behind, etc.

These are fun and exciting and really works well in eliciting speech and language, both in sessions and at home. The good thing is that you can look through the scrapbook and see what has been covered and what progress has been made. '

I have a patient who travels to the US to see another speech therapist every few months and instead of sending a long report on what he has done they carry up the scrapbook, and that gives an even better idea of that is happening in therapy. I've also got many preschool teachers on board, and they incorporate the scrapbook into some of their activities.

I took some pictures of one of my favourite scrapbooks today to share with my readers. This little one has a cochlear implant and this is his 'listening scrapbook'.

Working on the "learning to listen" sounds for transportation.

Learning to listen sounds for animals. Also saying "open" to lift the flap, and 'bye bye' to close.

hop with plastic frogs (/p/ input)

Incy Wincy Spider Visuals

Finding family members. His favourite character is Ben 10 so I used this as a motivator. I ask him "where's mummy" and he lifts the flap to find then says word.

working on parts of the body

Sounds for listening (Ahhh vs brrrrrrm)

I'd encourage any speech therapist/pathologist, EI specialist, teacher, parent to try it, and let me know how it goes :)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Speech & Language Twittology

I remember deciding a few years ago that I wanted to be a Speech & Language Therapist.That decision fuelled an obsessive search for all things related to speech & language therapy. I wanted to know everything, what it was like, what it involved, the types of patients (and of course the salary scale). When I did my search back then I got quite a few results explaining the role, patients, pay etc. However I was dissatisfied, something was missing. There was no personal aspect to it. Most pages started “A speech therapist/pathologist is someone who…..” Somewhat informative but even more impersonal. I started searching for terms like “A day in the life of a speech therapist”, “Speech therapy blogs” “Speech therapy communities.” What I really wanted was a personal perspective: Do they feel fulfilled in their jobs, what is a typical day like, what area do they prefer to work in? How did they survive grad school?....I found nothing.

Over the years the field has evolved and become more technologically driven. Blogs and communities have popped up all over the web and there has been an increased awareness of not only the role and importance of SLT(P)s but also a detailed outlook on what therapy is really like. A simple google search opens up a whole new world of resources, shared experiences and life stories. This is even more evident from the posting of hundreds of youtube videos showing therapy sessions, and more recently with the use of social networking to create a speech therapy community.

Just over a year ago “twitter” was a foreign concept to me. I was introduced by a friend and could not for the life of me figure out how it worked. I thought “why would I keep randomly posting ‘what’s happening’?” and in 140 characters too. It really wasn’t working out for me. Then a few months on, I saw a random post by a guy called @StutteringMe. I was quite intrigued and followed him promptly. This gave me the motivation to search for other persons related to the speech therapy field, and was the start of a beautiful relationship with twitter. I found persons tweeting about autism, down syndrome and many other areas I was interested in. Most importantly I started to meet speech therapists/pathologists from all over the world. They were only a few at first, but this number started to gradually, then quickly increase over the next months. We shared our experiences, talked about our lives, our practices, patients, offered ideas, asked questions, and it made the community more real, more like a family. Here were these people all over the world who had never met, only sharing the same profession (or passion I would call it), coming together to talk, while waiting for a patient to show up, waiting in traffic, cooking dinner for family, even while in labour! This was the new face of speech therapy. Then Bob Bateman (@speechbob) showed his creative genius and came up with the term #slpeeps. This was a perfect description of us. Now any SLT(P) who joined twitter could use this hashtag to find us all, and we could use it to speak directly to our community.

We have grown and progressed in leaps and bounds, with over one hundred slpeeps now present on twitter, from the newbies like myself to the veterans. The big organisations such as ASHA and CASLPA have taken notice and become involved, and so have many of the major companies such as Super Duper and Proed Inc. This has contributed significantly to our professional development. We’re able to discuss topics of interest, share info on new research and resources, and we have somewhere to turn and bounce ideas off of when we have absolutely no idea what to do with a patient. It is guaranteed that if you present a case to the #slpeeps you will get some feedback, sometimes within minutes. SLPs-to-be are also an active part of the community, something I wish I had while in grad school.

Most importantly the #slpeeps community provides a strong support network for therapists. On those days when you feel absolutely useless, they are there to say “I’ve been there, you can do it.” They are motivating, they are inspiring, they keep you going. We talk about real issues that affect us. Recently in a conversation about burnout, after hearing others experiences one member asked

“Where were you twitter #slpeeps telling me that years ago? I had such a rough patch I wanted to work as a cashier!”

Now we are here to provide support, and it looks like we’re here to stay.

We’ve recently taken it a step further than 140 characters, with the addition of a “Twitter SLP Goal Bank,” a “Shared Resource Links” page and a “Resource Share Folder,” via Google Docs. Here slpeeps can share and access goals, links and files all in one place. This is developing well and is already gaining worldwide recognition across SLT networks.

I am proud to be part of the #slpeeps community and I think that we can only keep moving forward from here. This is the start of something huge and I would encourage everyone who hears about it to become a part of it quickly, because they’re already missing out on greatness.

"Josh's Progress" - An Update

These past couple weeks I have been focusing on going into Josh's school and trying to make PECS as functional for him as possible, showing carers how to use it etc, so I didn't get to do as much imitation practice as I would have liked. However yesterday's session made up for it all. He was so amazing and really exceeded my expectations for how the session would run. I really need to stop tearing up whenever my patients accomplish great things or parents might think I'm a softie lol.

I started as usual with his 'warm up' actions (chap hands, touch head etc), again using Tic Tac Tony as a reinforcer. Interestingly he no longer gets enjoyment from flipping the chips off the tail into the slots; he is now fascinated by arranging them in patterns in front of the dog(Tony). I followed his lead with that because all I really need is a good reinforcer.

First sound was /m/. I rubbed my tummy and did a big exaggerated mmmmmmmm. He watched and just rubbed his tummy when it was his turn. I gave him a confused look and held back the reinforcer, then modelled again. This time an even louder MMMMMMMMM. He hesitated, cocked his head to the side like he was thinking about it then gave me this loud, absolutely perfect MMMMMMM. Success! He definitely got his reinforcer for that one. We did that exchange about 3 more times then I moved on. I went really close so he could see my sequencing and went mmmmmmeeeeeeeee, which he imitated like he was doing forever (teary eyes part 1). I did me a couple times then I went on and tried 'my' and 'ma'. 'Ma' he not only produced well, he also carried it on 'mamama.' I tried 'moo', but he definitely had some sequencing difficulty there. He watched me intently as I made it (his eye contact has come such a long way) and took his fingers and tried to squeeze his lips in to make the 'oo' /u:/ sound (bless him). I tried 'more', but he did the sign instead of imitating.

I moved on again a bit later in the session and tried 'bee', this time touching my chin with my fingers and moving them away as I said it (like signing thank you), and guess what! He did it, and said it the same time. I tried 'boo' as well but that also seems to give sequencing difficulty. He was so excited about this sound, even as he was leaving he was saying 'bebebebe'.

I am over the moon with the progress he is making. I recorded some of the session and can't help watching it over an over and smiling.

Our journey continues and I love where it is going :)