Sunday, May 29, 2016

10 Tips To Get You Organized at The End of The School Year- You'll Thank Yourself Later!

Summer is coming. Get organized now.

 Whether you are an SLP or a teacher, just a few organizational tweaks now can make your life easier in the fall. You might even want to kiss your brain for being so forward thinking!

10 Great Tips for SLPs to Organize at the End of The School Year That Will Make Your Life Easier in The Fall!

May and June is crunch time for school-based SLPs. 

This is the time of year when school-based speech language pathologists are rushing to complete end of the year tasks. It seems like there are a thousand things to do, IEPS, last minute assessments, reports, COSFs, Medicaid Billing, progress reports and meetings. Oh, the meetings. Many, maaaany meetings.

You may not be thinking about back to school right now. But you should be.

Do a few things now to get organized, and back to school will be easier and smoother for you! Beginning the school year is also a challenging, hectic time. When we get back, it is always a transition to get up and going again. So what can you do to prepare?

I asked some school-based slpeeps for their best ideas, and got some great tips to share with you.

10 Things You Can do Now to Make Your Life Easier When You Get Back to School

  1. Inventory- We have to do inventory at the end of each year. Before you sign it and turn it in, make yourself a copy and file it. I also keep a check-out list for materials I share with others. Check items back in when returned. It will make it much easier next year to know what is still in your room, and what others have. 
  2. To Do List- Make a to do list for the first week back to school. You may be surprised what you can forget after a long relaxing summer! I include priority tasks such as IEPs and assessments due soon, who needs accommodations distributed to teachers, parents to contact about scheduling, AT to distribute or set up, consults to complete. Keep this list in the very front of your file cabinet.
  3. Passwords- Make a list of passwords, because if you are like me, you WILL forget these over the summer! Sarah says it may be a tech no-no, but you may need it! Keep your password list in a secure location.
  4. Student folders- Sue keeps a folder for each student to grab for their session. At year's end she stocks these with fresh attendance calendars, logs and an intro letter. Then she is ready to go in the fall.
  5. Students moving- When Lynda knows a student will not be returning, but is still in her district, she puts a post-it note on her working file with next year's school so she knows where to send the file. Those moving out of district go to the "moved" drawer. 
  6. Bulletin Boards- Kathy puts her fall bulletin boards up now, then covers them with paper or trashbags. 
  7. Prep Forms- Jenn preps her beginning of the year release of information forms she will need, so they are ready to go and current. She preps a referrals list too.
  8. Location of Items- Tracy uses Google Keep to record her notes to self about locations of keys, files and tasks. She loves this because she can add to her notes from her phone, no matter where she is, when the thought strikes her!
  9. Computer Cables- At my school, we have to unplug everything, and it can be a jumbled mess in the fall. Joan labels her computer cables because everything gets disassembled. 
  10. Room furniture and equipment- Teachers often get back and are setting up their rooms very early, before I am there, especially new teachers. Sometimes they scout for "spare" equipment and things can go umm... awol. I put away surge protectors, headphones, cables and remotes in a file cabinet.  I label my teacher rolling chairs, table, trashcans, bookcase and anything that is not nailed down with my name. Helps prevent confusion and items growing legs!
10 Great Tips for SLPs to Get You Organized at the End of The School Year That Will Make Your Life Easier in The Fall! #speechtherapy #slp
Graphics by Kinka Art and Creative Clips

Hope you found some helpful tips! If you have a favorite tip to share, leave me a comment. I would love to hear from you.

Happy summer everyone!

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Sunday, May 15, 2016

4 Essential Steps in Assessing Childhood Apraxia of Speech

You have an evaluation scheduled. This child is highly unintelligible, and you suspect childhood apraxia of speech, or CAS.  But just how do you design your assessment?

4 Essential Steps in Assessing Childhood Apraxia of Speech

How many phonological assessments have you done? Probably hundreds for me, and I bet you can practically assess for a  phonological disorder in your sleep! But we don't see that many children with childhood apraxia of speech, unless we specialize in that area. So it may be a little less clear as to how to design the most effective assessment and how it may look different from what we usually do for our phonological children.

This is Part 3 in my series on Childhood Apraxia of Speech, Let's Talk! 

To start at the first post, head to Childhood Apraxia of Speech. What SLPs Need to Know.

If you have been following, you know I recently had the wonderful opportunity to learn from Dr. Edythe Strand, a leading expert in CAS. Me? I am not an expert. Dr. Strand generously gave permission and asked us to share what we learned, because she knows that many SLP's have not had the opportunity for in-depth training in CAS, and often feel unsure about how to approach assessment and treatment.

Do you have questions? Grab a cup of coffee, and let's talk!


You've gone over the child's history, and made some initial observations. 

You have noted some of the characteristics we talked about in my last post: Is it CAS? Navigating Differential Diagnosis. You suspect CAS. What's next?

Planning Your Assessment

A carefully planned assessment can help you make a differential diagnosis between childhood apraxia of speech, a phonological disorder, dysarthria or ataxic dysarthria. Let's take a look at what Dr. Strand recommends. 

4 Essential Steps in Assessing Childhood Apraxia of Speech

1. Spontaneous Speech: Take a Language Sample
This is a great place to start, especially if the child is not a talker, or very limited in verbalization. Be sure you include both free play and structured play. 
  • Do you note any differences in communication between the two? 
  • How does the child communicate: verbal, gesture, pointing? 
  • Does he imitate you? 
  • Make some initial observations about his phonemic and phonetic inventories. Does he use sounds meaningfully (in at least two contexts), or is it vocal play?  
  • How would you rate his intelligibility? 
  • Do you see groping or awkward movements of the articulators?

4 Essential Steps in Assessing Childhood Apraxia of Speech

2. Elicited Speech: 
If you recall from my last post, breakdown in CAS often occurs in elicited speech more than spontaneous speech. Note if there are differences.
  • Articulation or Phonology Test:  Do a standardized test if the child is capable. He is non-verbal or very limited, you may not get much here.  
  • Imitation Tasks. 

4 Essential Steps in Assessing Childhood Apraxia of Speech

3. Structural/ Functional Exam- a good oral motor exam can help you determine or rule out whether dysarthria or oral apraxia is present. You don't always have to do each task because you can often observe informally when function is normal, but if you notice abnormal function, test further. Here's what you are looking for:
  • Signs of dysarthria: Check jaw, lips, tongue and velum for weakness, reduced range of motion, strength, speed, and drooling.
  • Signs of oral apraxia: You will want to rule this out if you suspect weakness or dysarthria.  Have the child blow, pucker, smack lips, cough and do sequential imitation (diadokokinesis tasks).  Can the child do it? Does he grope? Is it uncoordinated? 
  • Signs of ataxic dysarthria:  This can often look similar to CAS with inaccurate/ inconsistent movements. We can also see voicing errors. Watch as the child says one syllable (puh) and compare to 3 syllables (puh-puh-puh).  
    • In severe CAS: the errors are more inconsistent and they will do better with a single syllable than three. 
    • In ataxic dysarthria (which is caused by damage to the cerebellum) errors are more consistent across tasks, there will be uncoordinated movements, regardless of number of syllables, and you may see a wide-based gait or intention tremor. 

NOTE! We often hear "the child has low tone." Tone is how much muscle contraction there is at rest. A child can have low tone, but normal strength in action. Low tone is usually not weakness and is not a problem for speech!

4 Essential Steps in Assessing Childhood Apraxia of Speech

4. Motor Speech Exam: This type exam has traditionally been used with adults to assess for acquired apraxia of speech, but has not been widely used for CAS.  A motor speech exam allows us observe how a child's speech varies across contexts, and watch for signs of praxis. Start at the level the child is capable of. You can look at:
  • Vowels
  • CV, VC, CVC words
  • one, two and three syllable words
  • phrases
  • sentences of increasing length

Dynamic Assessment

Dr. Strand advocates for a dynamic assessment approach to the motor speech exam. 

What do we mean by "dynamic?" 

We are cuing the child, and watching to see how performance changes with different levels of cuing. This in in contrast to a "static" assessment, which measures a child's performance after a single response with no cuing or assistance. Most standardized tests are "static."  

Why do a dynamic assessment?  It helps us:

1. Determine level of severity. Lots of cuing needed means a more severe presentation of CAS. Less cuing would be mild or moderate. Great information to help us recommend frequency and intensity of services, and level of cuing support needed.
2. Find out which cues are most effective for this child.
3. Reveal emerging skills- very helpful for planning initial therapy targets. We may see movements a child is able to make with cuing that we may not see in a "static" assessment.
4. Helps with differential diagnosis by allowing us to see:
  • groping we may not see in spontaneous speech
  • inconsistency across trials with and without cuing.
  • whether the child is segmenting syllables (ba-na-na). We usually see this with unfamiliar or multisyllabic words. 


How are you doing? 

Is this coming together for you? I'll tell you, writing these posts is really helping me review and frame my thinking and approach. Re-visit and re-read, it really helps! 

4 Essential Steps in Assessing Childhood Apraxia of Speech

Dr. Strand has a YouTube series you need to check out.

 These videos were made to help explain CAS to parents, but they have terrific information and excellent video examples for SLPs too. I highly recommend you take a look, and share with parents.

This video is 52 minutes long, and contains all the segments. But you can also view her videos in shorter segments.

This video shows video examples of children with different severity levels of CAS:

This video shows video examples of children with a phonological disorder, and dysarthria.

Now we have the pieces of a thorough plan. 

You may be saying, "So exactly how do I conduct a dynamic assessment?  We'll talk about that in my next post in the series. You can find it here: How to Uncover Emerging Skills with a Dynamic Assessment for CAS.

If you are enjoying this series, please comment, share, pin and post to help spread the word!

 Until next time, friends!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Best Year-End Picks for SLPs: Speech and Language Activities that Will Help You Sail into Summer!

SLP's and Teachers have worked hard all year.

May and June means progress reports, finishing evaluations, End of year IEPs, COSF reporting, billing and more. I know, because I am there too.

Find the best resources to make your year-end planning a breeze!

Time to treat ourselves!

 The Frenzied SLPs know how hectic the end of the year can be. We know need some extra love and slam-dunk resources to make your year-end therapy planning a breeze.

To say thanks, we are joining Teachers Pay Teachers to show some extra appreciation for all you do with a Speechy & Teachers Appreciation Sale! Teachers Pay Teachers is celebrating their 10 amazing years with this year-end bonanza.

Woo hoo! You will find everything in Speech Sprouts store on sale for 28% off when you use the code: CELEBRATE. 

That's terrific, but...

 There are literally thousands of resources to choose from. Mind-boggling for sure. No worries, the Frenzied SLPs have you covered. We will help you de-frenzy (Is that even a word? OK, I just made it up :)

We have gathered up some of our best picks for you to save you time and make your shopping fun and easy.  

My year-end favorites from Speech Sprouts

Definately my Oceans of Fun Bundle. You get plenty of under-the-sea fun in this two-pack with  Smiley Shark Speech Therapy Book Companion and Diver, Diver Who Can it Be? A Reader Focusing on Where? Questions. Tons of ocean-themed language, phonological and articulation activities- you are sure to cover nearly everyone on your caseload with this one. 

Best Year-End Picks for SLPs:Speech Therapy Oceans of Fun Bundle

Best Year-End Picks for SLPs: Smiley Shark Book Companion         Best Year-End Picks for SLPs: Diver Diver Where Can You Be? Reader

Another favorite for year-end vocabulary fun is Antonym Picnic.

Pack your picnic, make a cootie catcher, make a fun sandwich-shaped mini-book to send home or play one of several included games as you teach those antonyms.

Best Year-End Picks for SLPs: Antonym Picnic           Best Year-End Picks for SLPs: Antonym Picnic

Best Year-End Picks for SLPs: Antonym Picnic              Best Year-End Picks for SLPs: Antonym Picnic

I'm packing my cart with this resource from Twin Speech Language and Literacy, LLC. This Summer-Themed Articulation Bundle will be perfect for my artic groups or a send-home summer packet.

Best Year-End Picks for SLPs: Speech and Language Activities that Will Help You Sail into Summer!
From Twin Speech Language and Literacy, LLC

This one will make my life easier this fall too, when all those referrals come pouring in! Grab these Speech and Language Checklists from All Y'all Need, and be ready.

Best Year-End Picks for SLPs: Speech and Language Checklists
From All Y'All Need

Hope you enjoy  these easy-breezy resources!

Be sure to hop through the link-up and see what else the frenzied SLPs have in store for you. Go ahead and pop your favorites in your cart ahead of time, and you will be ready with a fast and easy checkout. 

Stop by Speech Sprouts and see what else I have in store for you.

 Everything, including my bundles, will be and extra 28% off with the code CELEBRATE, so don't forget to use that code! (Easy to forget, I speak from experience, drat!)

Here's the Link-up from more of my Frenzied Friends:

Happy Shopping!