Monday, January 16, 2012

Making Sessions Functional!

You know those sessions that go really well, just as you planned them in your head? I know, I know we don't have them very often, but when you actually do isn't it magical.
I had one of those sessions today so I decided I had to write about it and share with you.

My patient is a 7yo, diagnosed with ASD. He is verbal and I'd say quite high functioning, but he has lots of difficulty coping within social situations and with higher language tasks. His play skills are also delayed for his age, particularly when it comes to symbolic/imaginative play. I've been trying to incorporate lots of his language tasks into many functional play activities that relate to his everyday routines. Today we worked on going grocery shopping.

We played a quick barrier game using the supermarket theme in the Magnetalk Match up adventures kit, to work on following directions and building vocab, amongst other goals.

We also talked about why we go to the supermarket, and the types of things we buy at the supermarket.

I found the perfect link for him, a video which actually shows a pretend play routine for going to the supermarket, so we were able to watch the video and model the steps. I loved that the video used pretend items for the activity, such as balls for fruits, and laundry baskets for shopping carts. We watched the video and made a visual timetable for each set.

It was then time for us to go pretend shopping. We drew our shopping list and looked around the office for items which we could use in our activity. A doll pram served as our shopping cart, balls were our fruits, and some empty jars for our milk, juice etc. Then it was time to go to the 'cashier' - a word modelled repeatedly to make sure he got the concept. We took turns being the cashier so that he could get an idea of both processes. Please remember to note "unload the groceries" as a step, since we tend to jump from putting the items in the shopping cart to going to pay. This is an essential step to note. I got a cool toy cash register that lights up and makes sounds for christmas so it was fun to use. We took turns scanning each item and deciding on suitable prices for them. Then we talked about how it mummy might pay with either cash or a credit/debit card, so we used a different method on each turn. After that we got the receipt and put the items into the bags to take home.

What I love about the adventures kit is that there are worksheets for extension activities that cover a range of language areas. Mum got the worksheets for the grocery shopping theme to carry home and work on. She also has the task now of taking him to the supermarket and talking him through the same visual schedule that we made.

It was a fun afternoon and I hope you can use it sometime in your therapy activities :)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

New Year's Top 5 Toys

Happy New Year!!!!
My how the time has flown. I can't believe it's 2012 already.
I've just returned from a lovely vacation with the family in Florida and started work this week with lots of new energy. It's only when I started this week's sessions that I realized how much I missed my patients. Also funny is something I realized on my way back home from my trip. You know you're a speech therapist when one suitcase is filled with all toys and therapy materials.
I went crazy this Christmas with all the pre and post christmas sales on toys. I also think I bought out the whole of superduper pub. That company is going to drive me to bankruptcy!!! My assessment to buy the year was the MAVA. which I used for the first time last week and loved. I also bought the Magnetalk match up adventures kit, which finally went on sale at 50% off! I've wanted that one for a while!

I thought that to begin the year I'd share with you my top 5 toy buys to kickstart the therapy year
and maybe some quick ideas on how to use them in therapy.

1. Zippy Mat Hit the Moles Play mat (can be found here )
I snapped this one up at Publix, on 75% sale and paid and ran before they changed their minds. This was a steal at $6. This is an interactive mole that lights up, and the goal is to hit the moles' noses as they light up to score points. I've been using it mostly as a reinforcer/break between activities. Children say 5 target words then try to hit 5 moles etc. This one is a hit with everyone. It's also very interesting to see those children with motor planning difficulties struggle to hit the moles.

2. Frog in a box
Another HUGE favorite for me. I saw this last year in a Hanen video while I was doing the ITTTT program and fell in love. I've been searching for it ever since and finally found it here on Amazon this Christmas. It is the perfect cause and effect toy! What I love is that the frog actually pops right out of the box and lands somewhere nearby which the children are not expecting. It's a bit pricey to be honest, but definitely worth the money. I've built a routine with the box singing:
What's in the box
What's in the box
Tell me Tell me
What's in the box

Then we 'oooooopen' and 'POP' goes the frog ("Uh-Oh, you naughty frog") then we say "bye bye frog" put it back in and say "shut". Lovely language building activity.

3. The honking pig
Another one that makes me giggle. This is a nice switch adapted toy for teaching children the cause and effect relationship for initial switch use. I've been using it with my big mack device and laughing every time it walks, grunts and wags its cute little tail. If you're hooking it up to a big mack or big talk device you will need a 1/4" to 1/8" adapter to fit it. Make sure the company sends it the same time. Don't learn the hard way like I did. It's so amazing to see the little ones making that connection and looking from the switch to the toy as they press.

4. Wind up toys
Every speech therapist should have a set of these in a ziplock bag in their therapy bags. I found mine on sale at walmart for $1 each on boxing day and bought about 6. My favorites are the caterpillar, train, dinosaur and butterfly. I found a great idea in the Teach me to Talk manual about putting them in see through ziplock bags and to open give a long exaggerated zzzzzzzzzzip, while slowly pulling it across, then give the child a chance to do the same. Great also for imitation and fine motor skills.

5. The laughing monkey
Another cause and effect toy that makes me laugh. I picked this up during a long layover at MIA (Yes I'd find a toy store anywhere). I love it for maintaining attention and for shared attention. It works a treat with a little toddler I have with TBI who has difficulty maintaining attention. It also keeps the parents laughing in therapy.

So there you have my top 5. What are your favourite toys to use this year in therapy?