Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Good Byes and Hellos

I recently have released a few students from speech services. Often times I have mixed feelings about this. On one side, it’s good for the student to move on, they don’t need you anymore. Yet, we tend to grow rather fond of our students. Those of us working in elementary schools, we get to watch our students grow up. I work preschool through 6th grade. I’ve only started the preschool part last year, but I have 3 of my preschoolers in kindergarten now. They’re already a little taller and a little more mature. It’s incredible just how quickly it all happens. And every year, a new batch of our kids are getting ready to enter Jr. High School. I hope and pray that they’ll be able to make it, that they’ll do okay.

The speech language pathologist has to have a big heart to do what we do with so many that we work with. We have to be flexible to let new kids enter our heart at a moments whim; yet, we have to be understanding when our students move with little notice.

I use to have a real hard time with good-byes. I’ve never much really liked them, but there have been so many in my life, not many were permanent though, just moving on from one stage of my life to another. This school year seems to be riddle with them. My school has a high turn over rate mostly due to our status as a title one school. I always have a stack of files that are ready and waiting for a file request, and I’m constantly adding kids to my schedule. My schedule has been all over the place this year. As if it wasn’t bad enough due to the fact that we’re also a year round school. At least some of the kids come and go so quickly that I don’t get time to get attached.

There are those who manage to sneak into your heart quicker than others. One that I released recently reminds me of my daughter, same spirit, same obsession with princesses, same smile. I had to let her go, and I was happy to hear from the mom that the student was very sad to have to end speech.

Luckily, we still have several years where she can say hello in the halls.

Monday, October 25, 2010

That nasty /r/ phoneme

Calling all pediatric SLPs!  This post is in regards to the bain of many SLPs' existences.  /R/.

My neighbors/friends asked if I would help them out. Their son is not saying his /r/'s correctly.  As you know, I work in the hospital with adults.  I am wanting to help them, but feeling like I might not be the best person for the job.  They are willing to try me anyway.

Their 12 year old has been in speech therapy for years.  He can produce /r/ correctly in structured tasks some/most of the time.  They do their speech homework. 

My questions to you are:
What are the cues you SLPs use to elicit the /r/?  (I know several of us use different cues.)
Do any of you take private clients at home, just informally?  Do I need to do any official paperwork??

Thanks guys!


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Therapy Dashing

Yeah, I’ve dropped the ball, haven’t written anything on the blog for 1 ½ weeks now. I am a world class slacker. Truthfully, things have just been busy, and I’ve been lazy on Tuesday mornings (when I usually write my new posts). So, I’m try to be better in the future.

Now I do have to admit, that even though I use my iPod touch a lot in speech therapy, I also play a lot of games on it. I recently bought a game called Mystic Emporium. I doubt you’ve heard of it, doesn’t matter, it’s basically a “Diner Dash” style game (don’t worry, I’m really getting somewhere with this). In the game Dinner Dash, you are a waitress trying to take care of a diner. You have to seat people, get their order, put the order in to the cooks, clean up their tables, etc. Seems simple, right? Well, once you get going to gets a little crazy, you have like 3 families waiting to be seated, you’re trying to get an elderly couples food out to them, while cleaning up several tables so more people can be seated. Basically it’s a time management game. You have to try to multi-task as much as possible, try to kill two birds with one stone whenever you can, basically try to survive while you have a million things to do.
It then hit me, are these kind of games so different than my life as a speech language pathologist? Working with teachers with classroom interventions, sending home this consent to evaluate, planning for that therapy session, finding time to evaluate a student, sped meetings, progress reports, IEPs, etc, etc, etc.
Suddenly the game seemed a little less interesting. It was starting to hit too close to home. 

Time management is something I’m still working on. Keeping on top of IEPs can be tricky when you are working year round. You have to pay attention to who is going off track soon so you can get their meetings done before they leave. Sometimes they sneak up on you. I’m trying to keep on top of the many referrals that I have coming through the wood works. I’m getting better about documenting everything so I don’t let any kids slip through the cracks.

First Things FirstNow I’m not going to even claim to be an expert in this area, I’m still trying to learn how to do this myself, but I have a book that’s been helping me keep everything in focus. First Things First by Stephen R. Covey, A. Rodger Merrill, and Rebecca R.Merrill has been a great asset. Now I don’t do everything in the book, actually, I need to do a whole lot more so I can stay on top of things. But the book doesn’t focus on staying on top of things so much as focusing on the most important things. 

I think sometimes we can get caught up so much into the paperwork and the logistics of everything that we end up sacrificing the child. I have to admit, at times when I have a lot of IEPs to write, and several other paperwork related items to get to, I’ve felt the “therapy” was getting in the way of me doing my job. Woah! What was that? Yeah, the things they teach in this book is helping me keep the right focus. The students come first; their progress is the most important. Of course everything else has to get done as well. That’s just the nature of our jobs. We have to be able to do everything. However, again, our priority has to be the people we’re serving weather it is students at a school or patients in a hospital.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Boardmaker Giveaway Winner

Hey all!  It's Kristin.  Thanks to those who participated in our first giveaway!  It's way fun to see the new followers and get new comments.  And the random (via winner is:

Entry # 22 - Jeremy Brown!  Jeremy - email me (see the side bar for my email) your address and I'll send you the goods.  Congrats!  I hope these Boardmaker discs come in handy. 

We'll do a new giveaway soon!

Friday, October 15, 2010

SLP Burnout

It's Kristin here!

FYI our giveaway ends tomorrow so hurray and enter (HERE).

Well, this was a long work week for me for some reason!  I think our job is heavy- all that face to face intense talking.  Coaxing phonemes, words, and memories out of people.  Managing behaviors, family members, doctors (or principals :)), and documenting it all.  And there's just no rest for the weary.  You'll be doing it all again tomorrow.

So what do you guys do to avoid burnout?  I haven't really been in the field that long yet, and already there are certain tasks that have become drudgery at times.  Some of the things we do are so repetitious.  Some of the patients are so tough!  Some of the politics get so old.

Not to be Negative Nelly today, but sometimes you just need a boost!  Sometimes I find that boost in a patient I love, or a conference, or a great patient breakthrough.  Sometimes just a long weekend or a vacation.  Sometimes there are little things in the workplace that help me- going to lunch instead of eating at my desk, taking a walk, hiding out on the hospital chapel or meditation room if I'm stressed, or getting some fresh air outside.  I even workout at lunch once in a while.  It's nice to have the PT gym right there!

Well, what do you guys do?  Any fresh ideas?


Wednesday, October 6, 2010


...are expensive!!
I just want to complain a bit.  I wish I could go to ASHA every year.  I also wish I could get that "PROMPT method" training for apraxia I've been wanting for years, take one of Joe Murray's dysphagia courses, and take an sEMG course by Michael Groher.  A girl can dream.  The CEUs I actually end up getting are the free ones, or the local courses.  They don't tend to be what I really need.  Do you SLPs have the same tough time I do?

I will tell you some of my favorites.  I think the Passy-Muir company has great online courses.  They each take an hour and give you /1 CEU and they are packed with good info!  I also liked a Cross Country seminar I took on apraxia if you ever go to those.  I liked the Linguisystems CEU in the back of their dysarthria book. 

If you live in Utah we are actually hosting a training seminar this month by Dynavox.  It's 10/23 and is free!  You can get .6 CEUs.  If you are interested in coming you can email me (see my address on the side bar) and I'll save you a spot.  There are about 40 left.  It's going to be at the University of Utah (more details if you email).

Any other great CEU ideas?  I know we're always looking.

PS:  Don't miss our Giveaway.  This is the final week!


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My iPod Touch in Therapy

I recently purchased the new iPod touch 4 (as I have mentioned in yesterdays post), which I had been saving up for for several months. In the last couple of weeks I've started using the iPod touch at work. I even purchased a few SLP apps for it. Its been great and it has helped immensely. I wanted to review some of the benefits to having an iPod touch or an iPhone as an SLP.

First off, there are many speech therapy apps that I'd rather go over in separate posts. Nonetheless the ones that I got are great. I got Pocket SLP, Artikpix, Percentally, and a ton of the free kindergarten vocabulary apps from I'm only started to get a feel for these different apps. I'm still trying to figure out how they fit in with my therapy. When I have had a little more time to get a feel for them I'll give reviews later on.

Apple iPod touch 32 GB (4th Generation) NEWEST MODELOkay, so first of all, having my schedule at my finger tips has been so helpful. Many of you know that I work at a year round school. You don't know what scheduling is like at a year round school until you've been there. You see, the kids still get there summer time off, but its dispersed through the year. There are 4 tracks of students with one track being off at all times. That means that you always have a different group of kids at school. I have students on all four tracks; and yes, my schedule changes every three to four weeks. I never know for certain who I'm going to see for therapy any given week. Now I have my schedule with me via google calendar that I can check at any time, with the students name, grade, track, teacher, room number, etc. I love it. I have a different google calendar assigned to each track of students. And I can decide which calendars I view. So, now when there's a track change, I simply turn off one track and turn on the other.

The new iPod touch also has a built in microphone (which they haven't had before) which any speech therapist would fine useful. You can also keep the mic on while running other apps. So, you could do artic probes on the device and record it at the same time. Next time you sync your device your speech sample will be backed up on your computer you can then  take that recording and burn it to a CD and put that in the student's file.

The new iPod touch also comes with a camera on the front and back that can take pictures and be used to create videos. There are lots of different things you can do with these resources. Not that we haven’t ever used a camera before, but now it’s just a tad bit more accessible. I like the idea of being able to make a PECS card out of anything in my room in a quick hurry. Also, the video (along with the digital recorder) is a great way to give the child feedback. I’m sure there are more things you can do with this, but I can’t think of anything else at the moment.

I’ll talk about specific apps, as I mentioned above, sometime in the near future. With that in mind, most of the therapy apps have some kind of data tracking mechanism. That is reason enough in my mind to run out and buy one of these things. I’ve sometimes said that I feel like can do one thing very very well, but my brain doesn’t always do too well with multi-tasking. The nice thing about letting the little device to assist in data tracking is that you can pay more attention to the therapy, helping the child, expanding language, have more in-depth discussion, etc. When it comes to artic you just press a button if they got the sound right or not, then at the end it’ll give you a percentage, which some apps will let you email, copy/paste, or even put into a spreadsheet. Can I tell you how much cleaner my therapy notes are going to be? Yeah, I’m pretty excited about that too.

Did I mention that this thing plays music? Yes, so you can pop that in while you’re doing progress reports late into the night to help maintain your sanity (something I did last night actually). I suppose you already know about that feature, considering the fact that it is an iPod after all.

And if you didn’t know, the sky is the limit as apps are concerned. There is an app for just about anything. I tried to keep this post to stick with the speech therapy related stuff, but I also have apps to help keep track of my exercising (which is easy to track at the moment because it’s not happening). I have a nifty budget app. I can keep my guitar tuned with an app. You can read ebooks, browse the web, watch TV shows, etc etc. I haven’t even mentioned the games that I’ve purchased for the app. Way too much fun is packed into this little device.

Now, just to note, I can’t connect to the internet while I’m at work, which is just as well because my therapy stuff I can do offline. The iPod Touch can only connect to the web when you have an available wi-fi network to connect to, but iPhones would still be able to connect. I just wasn’t willing to pay the extra money for the 3G network, and I don’t have my cell phone with AT&T anyway. If you must be connected to the web at all times, you might want to spend the extra money for the iPhone. However, its been fine doing therapy without it.

Kristin has recently posted a list of potential apps for the iPad (I started to write this before I knew what Kristin was up to, funny how that works). Most of your iPod touch / iPhone apps will work on the iPad as well, but there are a few greedy programmers that have separate versions which would require you to pay twice if you want it on both devices. Apple iPad Tablet (32GB, Wi-Fi)Maybe its not greedy. I don't know, but I do love the fact that many apps are for the iPhone and the iPad, meaning you only have to buy it once. I wanted the iPod touch first because I wanted to use it as a personal organizer, something you can keep in your pocket. My pant pockets aren't quite big enough for the iPad. With that being said, I really really really want the iPad now, especially for therapy. It would be much better for those little preschoolers to share (kids tend to gather around, pushing others aside - at least that's what my kids at home do). If you plan on buying on iPad, I suggest that you wait just a little bit.   In about three months they are going to release the 2nd generation iPad. It's rumored that it's going to have a camera, retinal scanning, and be overall a better device. At least that's the going rumor.

If you use a device like this in your therapy, I would like to hear about it. I'm always looking for new and better ways to do therapy, and I'm a little bit of a tech-geek.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Versatile blogger award

If you haven't heard, we got a blog award from NDNspeechMom.

As a requirement to receiving this award, you have to tell 7 things about yourself. Kristin has already listed her seven. So, I guess it's my turn.

1.  My wife and I have three kids with one on the way (Sorry Kristin, we can't name this one after you because it's going to be a boy). My oldest daughter is in kindergarten and goes to work with me in the morning which has been great. We both have enjoyed the morning time we spend together. I have her count and work on her letters on the way to work and then she plays on my iPod Touch while I attempt to get some paperwork done before her class starts. I enjoy spending time with them, they are super cute, all my wife's genes I swear. And my wife is the most wonderful and patient person I know. I always tease her about having to raise the 4 kids (myself included).

2. This is the first year that I've been able bring in my guitar into therapy. During the functional skills groups I have tried to incorporate music, which is a great way to get their attention. I've been playing guitar since I was thirteen, but as of late I've neglected it. So, when I actually played guitar with our song in our large language group, all the kids were focused more than usual. It was great!

3. When I'm not being lazy I create some of my own language Tx material with my own artistic abilities, if you can believe that. I've made several poster board scenes with Velcro dots on them where kids can add little pictures of animals. I haven't created one in a little while. I end up getting obsessed with them and I neglect my family a little too much over them.

4. My job at my local church is to conduct the church choir. I’ve been singing in choirs since 3rd grade, so it’s right up my alley. At some point in college I stopped because I felt like I had to focus on my major (which is true, choir sometimes demands a lot of attention). Luckily before I started getting into my major in college I was able to meet Lindy, my wife. We met in a choir while in college. She has a beautiful alto voice and sometimes we sing solos in church. We’re also finding that our kids are picking up on our love for singing, particularly my five year old. Part of me wants to go back to school and get a second bachelors degree in music with an emphasis on voice and then become a speech language pathologist, voice therapist, for famous singers. /sigh.

5. I’m a geek. Anybody who has follows me at @aoirselvar as well as @speechbob on twitter knows that. I created two twitter accounts to separate my geekiness from my speechiness. I love sci-fi and fantasy. My favorite TV show is Firefly (a sci-fi) and my favorite author is Brandon Sanderson (a fantasy author – whom I’ve had the opportunity to meet twice). I’m just like Kristin in that I normally carry a book around with me everywhere and read a little bit when ever I get a chance. Most of the time those books are in the fantasy genre of course. I didn’t dress up as Gandalf when Lord of the Rings came out, but that’s mostly because I was in college and didn’t have time or money, but I would have. And yes, I have a gaming blog as well which you can see here. However, in the last couple of months I’ve greatly neglected my gaming blog (haven't written since August) do to a new project that I’m working on (this blog). But I mean to throw something up there soon so people don't think I died.

6. My current obsession is my new iPod Touch, which I was going to discuss in my next SLP blog post. I’ve only had it for 3 weeks, but I already have more than 100 apps on it. And I got this nifty skin for it. Just barely put it on last night. I think it makes it look sweet. You can find different artwork to put your your ipod or iphone at Tomorrow, I’ll discuss its usefulness as an educational speech therapist in more detail. But besides its usefulness, it’s heck-a-fun. I’ll admit that I purchased several games on there. And in my defense I’ve also purchased several educational apps for my kids. My kids are obsessed with this. They tend to crowd around, all three fighting for a space on my lap. It gets a little chaotic, but it’s a lot of fun.

7. Originally, I was going into Deaf Education. I have a lot of experience in sign language. I’ve taken more than 8 classes, and I toyed with the idea of becoming an ASL (American Sign Language) teacher for high school students or an interpreter for the Deaf. When I went to Utah State University I had a teacher sway me to becoming a speech therapist, but that’s another story for another day. I still like using sign language, but I don’t get opportunities to practice like I once did. Often times my wife and I will sign to each other when we want a private conversation, but I really should get back with it and practice more.

As for who we’ll pass this award over to, I’m not sure who. Kristin and I will have to figure that out and get back to y’all on that one.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Our first award!!

Have you entered our giveaway?  Click here for a chance to win Boardmaker software!

Kristin here.

I'm psyched.  I've never received a blog award before.  NDNspeechMom gave us this:


Now it is our job to write 7 things about ourselves (you wanna do your own, Bob?).  Here I go:

1.  I'm a total book worm.  I'm obsessive about it really.  I carry my book everywhere I go for the chance to squeeze it in if I have any alone time, or any waiting to do.

2.  I'm a certified aerobics instructor.  I'm just not teaching right now.  My favorite work-out in the world is step aerobics.  LOVE IT!  Please don't go out of style, Step.

3.  I'm training for a marathon right now.  It'll be my second!  It's the Las Vegas Rock and Roll marathon!  I even have a running blog.  Check it out (HERE).

4.  My favorite things to work on as an SLP are severe aphasia and apraxia.  What a blast!

5.  Pet peeves:  being awoken before my alarm sounds, passive aggression, and wasting time.  I always have to be multi-tasking.  My poor husband.

6.  I am addicted to the Food Network.  I love so many shows and FN stars.  My faves include:  Alex Guarnaschelli, Ina Garten, Ellie Krieger, Alton Brown and Jamie Oliver.  I love 30 Minute Meals, The Next Food Network Star, and Iron Chef too.  Ironically, I'm not a great cook.  But I'm growing.

7.  At my church, I'm "in charge" of the organization for the teenage girls.  It's a lot of work, but they are a blast.  Teenagers make me laugh.  As a result I am up in teen pop culture.  Just ask me about JB, Taylor Lautner, emo people, or High School Musical.  All things I learned about as a result of my church calling.  Ha ha!

Bob- think about who we want to award this to.  Somebody very versatile of course.  :)  I am just barely getting to know all of these SLP blogs, and I don't know them well.


Friday, October 1, 2010

iPad apps for medical SLPs

STOP!   I now consider this post out of date.  Some of these apps are no longer even in existence.  I am about to post a new app list that is far better.  Skip this one!  :) 

Hey, it's Kristin.

So we got some ipads at work to use as AAC devices.  They have some cool programs for patients who need speech-generating devices.  I am about to buy all the SLP-related apps I can find.  I want to know if any of you have any suggestions.  Here's what I found so far:

  • Proloquo2Go:  an AAC app
  • Memblock:  It's like that old memory game "Simon"
  • Locabulary Lite
  • Webster Picture Dictionary
  • Small Talk (by Lingraphica):  another AAC device
  • (a brain trainer)
  • Safe Swallowing in All Environments/Dysphagia Small Talk (only 99 cents!)  Did you see the article in Advance Magazine
  • Tap to Talk
  • Flash Cards (for naming!)
  • Brain Pop (trivia type stuff)
  • iApptitude (math)
  • UT Driver's license practice test (or pick your state!)
  • Arith fit (numerical game)
  • Smarty AAC apps
  • iZoo (animal sounds for responsive naming)
  • Pocket sounds (same thing but free!)
  • Dragon Dictation/Dragon Search (speech to text)
  • Herod's Lost Tomb (I spy-like)
  • Book Shelf (e-book reader)
  • Word Whirl (lets you put random letters together to spell words)
    • Others I found via SLPsharing
  • Picture Scheduler: schedules
  • ToDo: to do lists
  • Evernote: note taking
  • MindMeister: mind mapping
  • Counting Bills & Coins: counting money
  • Grocery IQ: shopping lists
  • Epicurious: recipes
  • iBooks: books
  • myhomework: managing school assignments
  • Speak it!: text-to-speech
  • Kid Klok: telling time
  • Flashcards Deluxe
  • LitCharts: study guides for books 
  • Percentally: data tracking

      Many of these could work in the schools too.  I know for you educational/pediatric SLPs there are also:

      • iPractice verbs
      • Word Magic
      • 3D Brain Education
      • SI Dysfluency Index Counter
      • Pocket SLP
      • I Take Turns
      • Math Magic
      • Grace (AAC)
      • 123 Color HD
      • ArtikPix
      • Mobile Articulation Probes
      • R Intensive SLP
      • Developmental Age Calculator
      • Sunny Articulation Test
      • Fluency tracker
       What a great new SLP tool!  Any others you guys like????