Sunday, November 27, 2016

5 Awesome Motivators for Children with Autism (and no, they're not all food!)

Hi everyone!

I hope everybody had a wonderful and peaceful Thanksgiving.  Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and the upcoming Cyber Monday, have had me thinking about what the best purchases would be for an SLP on a budget. Since I recently changed student populations, I have had to begin building a toolbox of common motivators that appeal to children with autism, that help me get in a lot of trials of whatever it is we're targeting that day. Here are five that I have found a lot of success with.  I hope that you do as well!  I am also including links to where to find items that I have recently purchased.

1. Battery Operated Car & Track - Have you seen these?! I had never, until a coworker offered to give me one of hers for free.  Mine is taxi and NYC themed, but you can find a ton of different themes on Amazon.  It is made up of puzzle pieces, designed to look like a road.  Once the student earns each puzzle piece and puts them together, he now has a really cool road that is always different from the last time he built it, since the puzzle piece roads can be put together in a multitude of directions. Then, the motorized car is another way to motivate your student to accomplish your targets! First, I have my student earn the car (by requesting, commenting, or a multitude of other goals we work on). Then, the child gets a turn watching the car drive on the track!  Depending on how much time is left in a session, I may stop the car every so often and prompt the child to request to see the car drive once again.  I found this adorable one on amazon that I wanted to share with you.  It's school bus themed and may just be a Christmas gift to myself!
--> Battery Operated Car & Track

2. Bubbles - They are a motivator especially for my sensory seeking children.  I'm talking about our kids who may like to smear mucus or saliva on desks. Bubbles are a great way to decrease undesired behaviors, while our students have fun popping them.  Plus, they disappear quickly which requires the student to get a lot trials in of whatever your target is.  I just bought these ones off of Amazon because of the No Spill label and am very happy with them  --> No Spill Bubbles

3. Goldfish Crackers- I like these because most of my students do. As a disappearing motivator, they are eaten quickly with little mess, allowing for multiple trials like the bubbles.  You can pick up Goldfish Crackers at your local grocery store, or even the dollar store! Nothing better than cheap motivators that last a long time.  Of course, be sure to check with the teacher about food allergies, and the parent/guardian about their feelings on edible motivators, prior to feeding your student.

4. Stacking Blocks - I'm partial to Melissa and Doug because of how pretty the colorful wooden blocks are, but really any stacker that is color coordinated should work well.  A lot of my students with autism love stacking, and enjoy keeping things orderly.  I like this particular Melissa and Doug stacker
--> Block Stacker because it comes with FIFTY FIVE blocks.  I mean comeon - any session where you manage to fit in 55 trials of a target is pretty phenomenal.  I like to use this block to teach a very specific skill in an isolated environment, before carrying it over to other environments.  For example,  teaching a skill such as saying "want" while looking at the blocks, or saying "thank you" after receiving one.  This is a nice activity for a group of two as well, as you can have your students pass blocks to one another while targeting turn taking.  There's just SO much you can do, besides the obvious of learning colors and counting.

5. Button Art - I discovered these a few years ago while creating a Donors Choose project.   It kind of reminds me of when I was a child and had a Lite Brite, except these don't light up.  These button art activities come with a bunch of boards with kid-friendly pictures printed on them (think cat, house, boat, etc).  They are color coordinated, with color peg holes, so children know which color peg to use, to create the picture.  My students LOVE them.  These are nice because there is a clear ending to the task, so students have an idea of how long the activity will go on for.  They are also simple in that a student does not need to follow along and match colors to still have fun with the peg art!
--> Button Art

Have you guys found other motivators that your students with autism love?
 Let me know if your students love these activities as much as mine do!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Things an SLP Learned when Starting at a New School

In August I made one of the biggest decisions of my life, in a period of 24 hours.  I decided to leave my job where I had been working the past four years, and begin working in the public school system of NYC.  Let's be clear.  I loved my job.  I worked at the school I would have described as my dream job ten years prior.  So, making the decision to leave was incredibly difficult, but I was excited and anxious to start a new journey. I knew that changing schools would be a large adjustment, however, besides the obvious change of populations, I really didn't think of the many other differences that I would be facing.

Here are a few things you should be aware of if planning on changing jobs.

At my last job, I had one insurance card.  This was the insurance card that I would use for anything and everything.  Hospital visits, walk-in doctors, prescriptions, trips to the dermatologist- I'd whip that insurance card out of my wallet and hand it over.  This is not the case for all employers.  I had to learn and figure out that I now have a couple of insurance cards.  One is for doctors' appointments or going to the hospital.  I actually have two different, separate prescription cards now.  One is used if I were to need injectable drugs or chemotherapy, and the other is used for common medications like antibiotics.  It's important to look into how your health insurance will work prior to dropping your old insurance, to make sure you don't get behind on filling/ordering prescriptions because you tried to use the wrong insurance card.

Short and sweet - don't make assumptions about parking at your new school, based on parking at your old school.  You may need to walk farther.  Or parallel park.  Or rent the driveway of someone's house for you to park in during school hours (this is not a joke - NYers will understand).  Make sure you leave yourself plenty of time those first few days to find parking, if there is no parking lot for your school.  If there is a parking lot, make sure that A. You are allowed to park in it, and B. That you don't need a parking sticker to park there.

I'm not trying to be funny, but when I left my last school, which only had one glorious floor, I never thought about how many floors my next school would have.  Invest in a good pair of walking shoes that also look professional, because you cannot assume your new school will have an elevator, and you should assume that your speech room will be on the highest floor and all the students you need to transition will be on the lowest.  I just found a few pairs of really comfortable, but semi-professional looking shoes from Sketchers.  I highly recommend them.  If your feet aren't happy, then your not happy, and then your students won't be happy.  It's a dangerous cycle.

Every school has it's own culture.  My last school had an exceptional and strongly defined culture.  One where all members spoke a second language, frequently code-switching throughout the day in a way that made you feel like you were part of the same tight-knit family.  If you are coming from a school with a similar environment, you may feel a little bit isolated when you start at your new job.  Everybody at your new school will probably be very friendly and welcoming, and you may absolutely love your new students, but when you want to whisper something funny to a friend that just doesn't translate correctly in English, you may feel a little lonely as you laugh to yourself.  It's good to prepare yourself in advance and realize that every school has it's own culture, and it may take some time for you to feel like you belong in this new one.

Everyone at your last job knew how awesome you were, right?!  You rocked those IEP meetings!  You totally integrated your student's AAC device into every part of their school day!  You helped that student initiate conversation with a peer for the first time ever!  So, now that you're at a new school, make sure you don't forget what everyone at your last job knew.  You are awesome! You are competent! You treat your students with respect and help them achieve their communication potential!  Walk into your new school with this knowledge, so that you don't forget how great you are.  At the same time, though, be sure to enter your new school with the humility to know that you are in a new place, and you need to learn the ways of that school.  Ask questions.  Shadow other staff members.  Push-in to classrooms to observe and see your new caseload in action.  Find a compromise between showing that you are excellent at your job while also being respectful of the fact that you are new and have much to learn.

In conclusion, it's okay to be scared, excited, eager, nervous, stressed, and confused all at the same time.  Take a deep breath, close your eyes, count to ten, and then open your eyes and start making a difference in the lives of all these new children who you are blessed to now work with.

PS. Here's some hints about surviving September, even if you're staying in the same school as last year! -> How to Survive September - SLP Style

Monday, October 3, 2016

Communication & Cupcakes - A Delicious Combination!

Last June, as I was running out of novel games and activities to pull from my shelves, and my students had stopped trying to hide their yawns, I decided to make something brand new.  Before I put time into creating something, I try to make sure that it can be used with as many kiddos on my caseload as possible.  I wanted it to be something I could use individually or with a group for articulation, language (requesting, describing, communicative exchanges, answering and asking WH questions), and I wanted to make sure it was a topic that would be exciting for my english speaking students or signers.  So, after thinking for awhile, I decided on ....


Everyone loves cupcakes!  Regardless of age, language, or background, cupcakes are a big hit.  So, this is what I came up with.  

First, decide whether you would like each of your students to have their own cupcake pan, or if you want them to work together to fill one pan that they share.  Next, set up your spinner. You can go simple, like I did in the picture, with a pencil and a paper clip, or you can use a fastener and the arrow that I included in the resource.  As you can see, the students will spin the spinner to determine if they need to select a cupcake liner, frosting, topping, or decoration.  Here's a quick photo of all the choices spread out on a table.  For students who will be overwhelmed with this large of a selection, narrow the field in advance with the pictures you would like them to choose from.  If working on colors, base your decision on that.  One critical element? Remove all of the pictures that have frosting AND sprinkles, etc.  

 MMM just looking at that picture makes my stomach start growling!  Depending on my students and their goals, I will at times turn this into a barrier game.  So, each student has an identical set of cupcake pieces, and a pan.  They take turns spinning the spinner and then choosing what they want.  Then, they need to describe the piece to their peer, so that the peer selects the same exact cupcake piece.  This continues until each student has an identical pan of cupcakes! Let the students make mistakes - it makes for a wonderful language experience at the end of the game when you lift the barrier and the students realize they are not the same after all! They can then discuss the differences that they have.  

For students who are working on following the directions and turn taking, I included these game cards.  

Your students will need to take turns selecting a card and then either reading the directions aloud, or following the direction that you read aloud, to chose the described cupcake piece!  

By the end of the game, your students will have a tray that will look something like this!

One of the great things about this activity is, if your students fill up their tray and you still have some time left to your therapy session, you can then have a cupcake party!  Sooo many ways to pull language out of a cupcake party! How does it taste? Which one do you want? Do you need a plate? A napkin? Ooooh you have some frosting on your chin! It goes on and on :)

You can find my cupcake resource by clicking on the link here -> Build Cupcakes - Build Language!

I hope that if nothing else, I motivated you all to go out and eat a cupcake!  Wishing you all a great month of October :)

Also, the beautiful stock photo up top was purchased from: Dollar Stock Photos

Sunday, July 31, 2016

It's Back To School Sale Time!!

It's that time of year everybody!! TeachersPayTeachers is holding their annual Back to School site-wide sale on Monday, August 1st and Tuesday August 2nd.  With the promo code: BestYear you can save up to 28% on your entire purchase!  

I'm joining Jenna Rayburn over at Speech Room News to share with you what I think you should put in your cart, and what is currently in mine.

First, this is a brand new item in my store perfect for targeting WH questions, descriptive language, categories, and vocabulary.  Best yet- it is in the form of a super fun game!  The packet includes picture cards for categories: Items in a House, Animals, Food and Drinks, Fun Things, Vehicles, School Items, and Holiday Items.  Guess Who Loves Identifying Vocabulary by Descriptions

For all of your back to school social skills needs, check out: Back to School Social Skills $$ Saving Bundle!

Support your students' teachers by helping them learn the daily classroom routine with my Classroom Helpers Interactive Vocabulary Book!

Now, here are a few items in my cart!!

Sparklle SLP's Speech Therapy Organizational Materials!

Road to Speech's The Ultimate SLP Planner

Beautiful Speech Life's The Under Book!

Speech Path's Peaceful Communication!

Be sure back to link back up with Jenna to see what other SLPs have in their carts!
TpT Back to School What's In Your Cart Blog Linky

Monday, July 18, 2016

Hearing Aids, Cochlear Implants, and Bahas, Oh My!

A few months ago I was a guest blogger for Hallie over at Speech Time Fun as part of her series on Tips & Tricks for SLPs.  I had so much fun, and realized that it would also be a great idea to share the post with my followers as well!  If you're anything like I am, you had one Aural Rehabilitation class in grad school and survived it by reassuring yourself that you would probably never work with this population once you were in the real world.  Most likely, that proved to be true for you.  I, however, ended up scoring a CFY at a school for the Deaf and have been there ever since. Initially I assumed that all of my kiddos would be using ASL.


So many students are now listening and spoken language users, rather than signers, or using both languages to communicate.  Auditory-verbal therapy has exploded on the scene ever since cochlear implants became popular, and now younger and younger children are receiving cochlear implant surgery.  To be successful at becoming a listening and spoken language user, these students need to have working equipment during all waking hours, which means speech perception checks are imperative.

Working with this population has made speech perception checks secondhand, but I was thinking about how difficult and unfamiliar this must be for the majority of SLPs who come across only one or two deaf/hard of hearing children throughout their entire careers.  It is also difficult for the children, who become used to professionals as well as students who are unfamiliar with hearing loss.  I've discussed this in detail in El Deafo.  

Here is the bare minimum of what you need to know and do if a child comes through your speech door with some kind of amplification equipment.

1. Don't panic!  Look at the equipment.  Is it a cochlear implant? Hearing aid? Baha?  Whatever it is, you are going to complete your listening check exactly the same way.  You do not need to run out and purchase a stethoset or a wand.  (Although if you want to, go for it!)

2. Take note if the child is aided/implanted bilaterally or on just one side.  Write this info down in case they come to you one day with a hearing aid missing.

3. Become familiar with, or make a cheat sheet on your wall of, the LING 6 sounds.  These sounds are:

/ɑ/   as in the word Hot
/i/    as in the word Bee
/u/   as in the word Food
/m/  as in the word Mom
/s/    as in the word Sue
/ʃ/    as in the word She

These 6 sounds are important because they cover all of the speech frequencies.  The LING 6 sound check is meant to be fast, easy and to not take more than a few minutes at the beginning of your speech session.  When I say the beginning, I truly mean the beginning.  For a child with any kind of amplification equipment, the LING 6 sound check should be the first thing you do with them as soon as they sit down in your room.  Starting a speech or language activity with a child who is either having malfunctioning equipment, or something else going on (an ear infection perhaps) preventing them from hearing and having full access to all speech frequencies is not beneficial.  Additionally, be sure to cover your mouth entirely when doing the LING 6 check.  You can use your hand, a piece of paper, or a cute animal picture for young kiddos.  You do not want the child to lip-read these 6 sounds.  It needs to be auditory only -- no visual cues!

4. For children who have cognitive impairments, or children who are very young, you are going to ask for the child to detect these 6 sounds on each side if they wear bilateral equipment.  You will take off the right side equipment first, complete the following task, then place the right side back on, remove left side equipment and repeat the LING 6 check.  This can be through raising their hand if they are cognitively able to comprehend that task, or it can be through play: e.g. stacking rings, dropping blocks in a bucket, or pegboard use.  Hand a child whatever you choose to use and have them place it by their ear. When you say the LING 6 sound, let them complete the task (put peg in board, drop block in bucket) or anything that can be fun.  I even made a crocodile for this, which the kids love "feeding"!  Repeat for all 6 sounds.  You may need to begin by using hand-over-hand until your student is able to complete the detection task independently.

5. For older children, you can have them identify (repeat) the sounds.  If they are able to repeat all 6 sounds, you know that they were able to accurately perceive them as well as produce them.  If they do not produce any sound, make a note of this because it may mean they were unable to perceive that LING 6 sound.  It may also mean that, motorically, they are unable to produce the sound that they heard.  You will need to know your student well to be able to determine if it is a perception or articulation problem.

6. Make a chart or download one off of the internet, where you can keep data on your student's ability to perceive these 6 sounds every day.  This will help you note if any changes occur.  If a student is typically able to perceive /s/ but then all of a sudden is not hearing it, this is good information to have.  A sudden loss in high frequency sounds could be due to an ear infection or there may be a problem with their amplification equipment.  This would be information you want to write down and send home to their parent, who can then share it with their private audiologist.

Note: Change up the order of LING 6 sounds that you present or your student may just memorize it, and your speech perception test will not be an accurate assessment of their speech perception!

My student is detecting/identifying none of the sounds, Lauren!
Okay -- this may mean that their equipment is dead.  Try changing the batteries and check again.  You should always asks the parents to leave you a pack of batteries just in case.  

I changed the batteries and they still aren't doing anything when I say the 6 sounds! 
This could mean that there is a different problem with their equipment.  Are their ear molds or tubes clogged with wax?  If so, this would prevent sound from entering your students' ear canals.  Are your students having behavioral challenges?  They may be purposefully remaining quiet.  There may also be a larger problem with the equipment that an audiologist will need to troubleshoot.  Be sure to let the parent know!

To summarize, when working with a child who is wearing amplification, the most essential rule to remember is to ensure that the equipment is functioning appropriately and granting them full access to the speech frequencies.  By utilizing the LING 6 speech perception sound check, you not only are verifying that this equipment is working correctly, but you are also confirming that your student is not suffering from any kind of underlying condition such as an ear infection.  Make sure to remember the importance of collaboration.  If you note any changes in the student's ability to detect or identify the LING 6 sounds, relay this information to the rest of his or her team members: e.g. parental unit, teacher, audiologist, teacher of the Deaf, or social worker. 


Lauren DiBiase, MA CCC-SLP is a Speech-Language Pathologist who has worked in a school for the Deaf for four years, in addition to providing home-care services for the past two years. She is PROMPT Certified and currently preparing to sit for her Auditory-Verbal Therapist Certification exam.  In her spare time she enjoys petting dogs, crocheting, and garage sale shopping. You can visit her BlogShop her store, or follow her on Instagram.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Speechie Appreciation Sale!

I am SO excited for the annual site-wide TeachersPayTeachers sale that is schedule for May 3rd - May 4th.  It is such an awesome opportunity to scoop up products with a 28% discount, to help your students make the most of the last few weeks of school.  Make sure to use the code: Celebrate to get your discount!

To help you get the most out of the sale, I wanted to share with you a few of my newer store items that you may not have seen yet, as well as let you have a sneak peek of what's inside my shopping cart!

Sooo, what should you not miss out in my store?  

One of my newer products is a bundle focusing on the theme of house vocabulary.  These three products cover everything related to homes and are perfect for working on both expressive and receptive language:  House Vocabulary Bundle

Another new product that I highly recommend to target expressive and receptive language, is my Build Cupcakes - Build Language. What better way to work on language than with cupcakes??

So, what's in my cart? Well....

The end of the year is near, and students are starting to grow tired of the toys on my shelves!  To fix this problem, I'm planning on purchasing these great go-to activities for the last few weeks of school: The Last Week of Speech by Speech is Sweet

Speech to the Core has this awesome packet of activities that can be sent home with parents to decrease regression over the summer.  So many of my parents ask for these kinds of things when their children don't qualify for extended summer services->  Road Trip to Success

Please be sure to go back to SLP Runner's blog to check out what other SLPs have in their shopping carts! Happy shopping!!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

How to take care of yourself during CPSE/CSE season

I'm currently on spring break, which couldn't have come at a better time.  Working four jobs while balancing the demands of CPSE/CSE season is challenging.  We all have to remember to complete our IEPs, write our reports, RSVP to meetings, while also actually doing the day-to-day responsibilities of our jobs!  So, I have been trying to think of how to best utilize this week, to make sure that come Monday, I am refreshed and ready to complete the next 8 weeks of school.

Here are a few of the things I am making sure to do, to take care of myself:

Sleep in!  Now, I don't mean until noon.  But, let yourself sleep an hour or two later than you normally would.  This lets your body catch up on some Zs, while still getting yourself up early enough to be productive.  I know for me, sleeping in can be a slippery slope.  If I snooze past 8, there's a good chance I won't actually get up until 10:00.  That's why, for the past few days I have stuck to a 7:30 rule (normally I wake up at 5:45).  I find that I am totally refreshed when I get up, and I get so much done.

Vitamins, people!  Ward off any illnesses you may have brought home with you from work.  Make sure that a cold doesn't ruin your long-deserved week off!  Since I'm a baby and don't like swallowing pills, I go with the adult gummy vitamins :)

Take a day to get some spring cleaning in.  Breathing in all of the dust that my apartment has acquired the last few weeks is not healthy.  I wake up feeling stuffy.  For SLPs who work 10 hour days, we need to wake up feeling our best.  I promise, giving your home a dusting/vacuuming will go a long ways.

Have fun!  It can be hard to fit in fun things during this busy time of year.  Pick one day and plan something that can happen rain or shine!  I have my sights on the planetarium :)

Please comment and tell me how you refresh and make it through CPSE/CSE season, and make sure to care for yourself first - you can't pour from an empty cup.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Tricks to Make Your "Real Life" Run Smoother

As an SLP who juggles a full-time school position, home-care, and clinic-based work, in addition to running my TeachersPayTeachers store, keeping up with daily chores can be difficult.  I have started to find a few shortcuts that help me make my week more manageable and give me a few spare minutes to stop, breathe, and smell the roses.  I thought I would share them with you.

Wake up ten minutes earlier.  It doesn't sound like a lot, but it's surprising how much you can get done in just ten minutes.  I have found that I can:

-clean and prep chicken cutlets for dinner later
-put away dishes in the drainboard
-wash dishes in the sink
-swiff the bathroom floor
-lay out my outfit for the following day
-pack my lunch
-check my emails

It may not sound like a lot, but when you come home from a long day, those are the little annoying things that nobody feels like doing.  Having completed them in the morning just makes the evening a little less stressful.

I don't want to wake up ten minutes earlier, Lauren.  I'm barely getting six hours of sleep as it is.

Okay, okay, I hear you.  Sleep is valuable to me also.  Here are a few other tips I have found help, that don't require waking up earlier.

-Stay at work ten minutes longer and knock off those medicaid logs.  Nobody wants them hanging over their heads on the 30th of the month.  What you can accomplish in ten minutes a day, will save you hours in the long run.

-Make your own coffee rather than stopping at Dunkin or Starbucks.  I know the drive-thru seems like a no-brainer, but that line gets long and the longer you are on it, the more time you are wasting.  By making your coffee at home, you could be saving enough time to wipe down the kitchen counter or throw clothes in the washing machine.

-At night, instead of just watching TV, watch TV while you:
            Clean out your purse/therapy bag
            Put all the cards back in the Super Duper case that they fell out of
            Go on google translate and type up that letter you need to put in
            parent's backpack tomorrow
Balancing multiple jobs with the responsibilities of adult life is tricky. Has anyone found any other tips that are helpful?  If so, please share!


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

I feel like I should be doing something...

I'm not sure if all schools are closed this week for winter break, however I am off until Friday and continue to have a lurking feeling that I am forgetting to be productive.  In case anyone else is lounging on the couch with the sneaky suspicion you have work you should be doing, here are a few ideas of how to make sure you don't start back at work on Monday already behind :)

1. Catch up on your Medicaid log notes!  There's nothing worse then realizing on the 30th of the month that you abandoned this responsibility for the last four weeks.  Take an hour or two and get yourself caught up.  I like to motivate myself by making some hot chocolate, opening the blinds to get some sunshine inside, and hammering them out.  After I finish each student sometimes I reward myself with a hershey kiss!

2. Take note of any CPSE or CSE meetings that are coming up, as well as when those re-evals and annual reports are due!  Put the dates in your lesson plan book or agenda so that they don't creep up on you.

3. On the same thought, pull out any testing that you have completed and start scoring it!  Nothing worse then having to score, input test results, AND write a report in a single night.

4. Back up your computer!  I know that when that alert pops up on my computer, I am guilty of clicking "Remind me later." Well, now is later!  Take the time and back it up to avoid any hard drive crash emergencies during IEP season.

5. Go through and clean out your therapy purse/bag/suitcase.  Get rid of those scraps of paper and broken crayons.  Trash the dirty tissues and figure out what game that timer and pawn came from.  Be sure to shred any documents that have client personal information on them, that you no longer need and/or are not responsible for holding onto.

6.  Cut and laminate any of those materials you purchased off of TeachersPayTeachers that you have been meaning to get to! There's no better feeling then pulling out a brand new material to use with your students that first day back, plus the kids will be so motivated by something they haven't seen before.

7. Relax - Get together with friends - Spend time with family.  This vacation, I made plans to: have breakfast with my dad, have breakfast with my grandma, get lunch with two of my best girlfriends, go see The Late Show with Stephen Colbert filmed live with my husband, meet up and collaborate with some other Long Island TeachersPayTeacheres SLP sellers, and help my mom pick out a new bedspread.

Be productive but be sure to take time out for yourself, your loved ones, and maybe some Chipotle :)

Am I missing anything? Be sure to let me know!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Building my Travel SLP Game Collection

I recently have taken on an extra 6 clients, outside of my amazing full-time school SLP position.  I need the extra income because we are saving up for a house, and additionally I want to maintain my speech skill sets outside of working with children who are deaf or hard of hearing.

So, since I have a whole tribe of new kiddos (all who are pre-school age), I wanted to invest in some games and toys that I can keep at my apartment and then select from each day to throw in my trunk.  

I gave myself a few rules when it came to what purchases I would be making, and I would recommend you do the same!

1. Nothing over $10 (I am trying to save money after all!)

2. Games had to be open-ended, so I could use them during drill activities

3. Used games are A-OK so long as all pieces are included or could easily be replaced

4. Must have a box for ease of travel, or easily be carried in a ziplock bag

So, after I made my rules I had to decide where to look for my new assortment of games.

First, I started checking out Amazon's daily deals and found two games that I was super excited about! They were brand new, and with the use of Amazon Prime's free shipping, each was under $10 so they fit the bill.

The next place I looked was on Facebook! My town has a Mom's market group where people buy and sell items.  I scored these three games from the same mom!  She even gave me Don't Wake Daddy for FREE.  

The last place I looked was a store in my town called Once Upon a Child, that buys and sells all things related to children.  It was here that I scooped up these games for $4.50 each!

Where have you all found your best, cheap toys/activities for home care?


Monday, January 25, 2016

Quick & Easy Recipe

As a full-time SLP, plus after hours home-care provider, dinner time can be frantic.  I'm usually starving by the time I get home.  I try to decide on Sundays what I will make each day of the week, so I don't lose time being indecisive or figuring out what I can create from anything I find in the fridge that day.  An additional hiccup is having a gluten allergy, so most TV microwave dinners are out of the question.

Pot Roast has been a frequent go to dinner in recent weeks. I took it from my mom's recipe book. It's perfect because you can prep it the night before, or in the morning, and then just plug the crock pot in before you leave for work. It also has that cozy, home-made feel that's perfect for these cold winter nights.

What do you need?

A crockpot that will fit your meat
Beef Chuck Roast (size depends on how many you are feeding)
Salt to liking
Ground Black Pepper to liking
Mini carrots
Fingerling potatoes
Onion powder to liking
2 Cups water
2 Beef bouillon cubes

Lauren, what do I do with these ingredients?


1. Rinse and dry off potatoes -> place them in bottom of crockpot until bottom is covered
2. Rinse and dry off carrots -> layer carrots on top of potatoes in crock pot
3. Place beef chuck roast in crock pot
4. Pour in two cups of water
5. Place 2 beef bouillon cubes in crock pot *Make sure they are covered by the water or they won't dissolve*
6. Sprinkle in Pepper, Salt, and Onion Powder for taste. Make sure these end up both on meat as well as in the water
7. Cover crock pot and set to low if you are going to be at work all day, or high if you will only be gone for 4-5 hours

When you arrive back home, be sure to check to see if your pot roast is done. If it is, you can change the temperature to Warm so that it stays warm without continuing to cook!  Usually I then use the juice in the crock pot to make gravy. I take out two cups worth of liquid, and add it to brown gravy mix, and voila!  You have gravy. You have pot roast. You have carrots. You have potatoes.  Delish!

Looking for more quick & easy dinner ideas? Take a look at Speech 2U's blog post to check out other SLP dinner ideas! Speech 2U - Quick & Easy Dinner Ideas


Sunday, January 24, 2016

El Deafo

I mentioned to one of my friends and coworkers how long it had been since I had the time to sit down and dive into a great book.  In response, she gave me the gift of El Deafo, by CeCe Bell.  Since there was a blizzard this weekend, in between shoveling I sat down thinking I would knock off a few chapters.  I ended up reading the entire book.  Granted, the story is written in a style similar to a comic book...

but even if it wasn't, it was such a well-written book that I think I would have flown through it regardless.  The book is based on the real-life of CeCe Bell, who lost her hearing as a result of meningitis at the age of four.  The story follows her through pre-school up until elementary school.  She discusses how she went to a school for the deaf for just one year, before her family moved and she was then mainstreamed.  She did not learn sign language, and instead depended on lip-reading as well as the use of her hearing aids.  She discusses the implications of being the only child with a hearing loss in her class, the reactions of classmates, the emotional conflict of wanting to have friends while also not wanting others to know that she was deaf, while hiding a large and heavy body-worn hearing aid under her shirt each day.  Eventually CeCe did make true and life-long friends, but it was a journey to get to that point as well as to learn to self-advocate for herself. 
Although it is such a small portion of the book, being a Speech-Language Pathologist at a school for the Deaf, the pages of her story depicting her time at a school for the deaf was the most impactful for me. She felt included. She felt understood. She felt like she belonged. She appreciated her teacher who treated her so kindly.  When CeCe was first mainstreamed, she describes how she imagines herself along with her newly dispersed friends who have hearing loss, who were all sent to different schools.  She says:

"Most of the time we are lost, drifting along on our own planets. But we are together in the same universe, at least. "

These lines stand out to me.  At my school, the children bond with other children who also have hearing loss. We hope that these bonds are life lasting, even when some of the students do go off and are mainstreamed into their local schools. For students who stay at our school, who use sign language, they also feel included here. They look forward to coming to school where everyone speaks their language and they are not so different from other children.

Realizing that our students with hearing loss want to feel understood and not different, it is important that SLPs are familiar with basic types of hearing amplification and trouble-shooting.  It is comforting for a child to walk into a room where the adult is already familiar with their equipment.  Many SLPs may go years in between working with a student who is deaf.  For any of you who need a quick refresher or introduction, please take a look at my:

Monday, January 18, 2016

Dollar Store Speech Ideas

Ahhh, the dollar store.  I've never met an SLP who doesn't love going in one and leaving with arms full of bags.  When I first graduated from the masters program at Queens College, I stocked up on many of my first speech supplies from dollar stores and garage sales.  I couldn't wait to put them to use at my new real SLP job :)  Even though that was a few years ago, there are still a few dollar store finds that I use on a pretty regular basis in my speech room.  Here are a few of them that you can borrow for your own!

These fun hole-punchers were a great find!  I use them during drill articulation tasks.  Every time a student uses their good sound, they get to punch a piece of paper with the hole-puncher.  When they finish, I let them choose what to do with the "confetti." They can glue them into their speech book so mom or dad can see how many times they used their good sounds. They can toss them up into the air (over the garbage) to celebrate finishing the task.  Sometimes they just like to keep the paper that has these shapes punched out of them! These are also great for any students who need to exert extra energy during speech, as they really have to push down hard on these babies!

Okay, so this might look like any old bean bag (which it is), but kids never out grow these!  I love spreading any kind of picture card down on the floor, face down.  We take turns tossing the bean bag and having it land on a picture.  Then, we just turn the card over and do whatever it is we are doing! Sometimes it is describing a picture, working on pronouns, prepositions, articulation, plurals, LITERALLY ANYTHING can be done with a bean bag!

My cousin actually found this for me at the dollar store and thought I would love it.  I use it to teach communicative turn taking.  Whoever is holding the key is the one speaking or signing.  It helps keep little hands occupied, is fun to hold, and helps provide a visual for a sometimes difficult concept.

I hope you enjoyed reading about some of my Dollar Store speech finds! I would love to hear about your own :) If you want to find some more awesome dollar store ideas, be sure to check back to Talkin' With Twang's blog by clicking right here-> Talkin' With Twang


Sunday, January 10, 2016

We don't do/say that in Room 20

So, this week is the first time that the temperature has felt like winter this year.  11 degrees outside and for some reason my earmuffs fall a half inch below my ears.  On this chilly, wet, and sad afternoon I started thinking about what made me smile throughout my week, since obviously it wasn't the weather.  I realized that a lot of the joy in my week was given to me by my students, unbeknownst to them.  Every time one of them says or does something ridiculously funny I find myself saying my go to phrase of "We don't say/do that in Room 20."  Every now and then I switch it up to, " We don't do that in Speech."  This week I had to use these phrases a lot, so I thought I would share some of my little moments of joy with you.

Here are a few statements or actions from my students that resulted in hearing my catch phrase.

"I got new underwear! I'll show you!" - Starts to take pants off

"I like to smell my toes."

"Can I taste the play-doh?"

"This play-doh tastes like poop." (This one lead to a discussion on not eating poop anywhere, ever.)

-Licking the floor

-Child lifting Rifton chair over head "I AM THE HULK."

Hope you got a little bit of the joy from these! Please share with me some of the ridiculous comments you have heard from your own students :)