Sharing the Love! Unintelligibility Week Daily Tips!

Tips for Unintelligible Students- Looks-Like-Language
Welcome back to my daily tips to share the love! This past week I was posting tips for treating unintelligible students on IG. Here's my round-up with a little more information! 

Tips for Unintelligible Students- Looks-Like-Language
Often students who are highly unintelligible have patterns of speech errors going on, so working on one sound at a time is a drop in the bucket! *Analyze the errors for problems with phonological processes or errors in sound movement patterns based on place or manner.
*Work on these error patterns using multiple sound targets and a variety of words. If the students are making progress, keep it up! If they aren't, move on to another error pattern and see if it is more stimulable.
*Continue to check back on previous sounds to see if there have been any changes in the students' stimulability.

Tips for treating unintelligible students from Looks-Like-Language
There are no clearcut guidelines from research for how to proceed with this, although the ASHA website has a good overview. Clinically speaking, I've found a few tips to be useful.
*Error patterns that have more visible sounds are often easier to elicit.
*Complete omissions of sounds, unusual phonological patterns and unusual prosody make students very difficult to understand.
*Close substitutions, such as 's' for 'sh', impact intelligibility less than a pattern of substitutions that have very little in common with the error sound.

Tips for treating unintelligible students from Looks-Like-Language
It is not possible to practice all of the words! Especially with more impaired students who have multiple issues and need more repetition to make improvements, we really need to focus on the most vital and functional skills to have an impact in daily life.
*Have conversations when walking to the therapy room and pay attention to words and phrases the students use the most often.
*These become the target list to practice every session as a warm-up activity.
*When they can say the words correctly, have them practice in the conversational phrases they use.
The rest of the session can include practice with words that tie in to the language activities for the day, but the frequently used word list gets lots of practice!

Tips for treating unintelligible students from Looks-Like-Language
Be sure to watch your students as they attempt new sounds or new words! Moving their head when attempting to move their tongue, smiling all the time (even when not happy) and adding additional vowel sounds are a few signals that they could be having problems with jaw stability or grading and moving their articulators independently.

Practicing speech production with some extra stability support is sometimes all that a student needs to get better sound production.

Tips for treating unintelligible students from Looks-Like-Language
I learned so much working jointly with my students' OTs and PTs. Together, we make a terrific team! If you suspect problems with motor planning or stability issues, these are the people you need to speak to first!

If you are interested in reading more about the development of disassociated jaw, lip and tongue movements for speech production, you can get free access to this article that was published in the Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research.

Tips for treating unintelligible students from Looks-Like-Language
Simple books with repetitive refrains that include your students' target sounds are a wonderful way to get lots of practice! Most of my students who were unintelligible also had language needs, so this is a great way to target multiple skills.

Tips for treating unintelligible students from Looks-Like-Language
If your student has to practice many times to gain the skill, be sure to start with some word or phrases that are functional!
*Choose target words to serve a communicative function, like getting a need met, be easy to elicit multiple times by all staff during a typical day. *Include words that have easy to produce sounds along with the the more difficult ones. Build in some success!
*It's best of all when the words can be combined to produce functional phrases after the child can say the words!

Simple artic errors? No problem! But when a child is unintelligible and has multiple needs, it can be overwhelming trying to decide the best way to start therapy. I hope these tips help you make your plan!

We Can Match a Snowman Freebie 4

Free worksheets that are a file folder activity, too! Looks-Like-Language
I hope you have been visiting me for the complete Snowman Matching Game set! These sets, altogether, are too long to offer as freebies in my store, so aren't you the lucky ones to find them here!

This week's free worksheets can also be made into a file folder activity! Just laminate the page tops on a file folder, with the snowflakes on the bottom as separate pieces, and you have an interactive file folder activity!

Catch this week's freebie here! Happy winter!

Sharing the Love! Autism Week Daily Tips!

Tips for Autism

Did you see my autism tips on Instagram? In case you didn't,  I thought I would share a little more information about each tip here with you! If you don't yet follow me on IG, just search @lookslikelanguage. Easy! See you there!
A week of autism tips from Looks-Like-Language

This week's tips have information I learned while working with low functioning students with autism at an ABA school. I don't really know how much background you get in college now regarding autism, but there was nothing back in the day when I went to school. NADA. 

So, everything I know has come from a combination of watching wonderful special education teachers, reading, taking many inservice courses and practical experience.  

I thought I'd share some of the important take-aways and aha moments I had. Maybe they will be new to you and help you with a student you have. Maybe they will just remind you of what you already knew. But either way, I hope they help!

Tips for autism from Looks-Like-Language

Communicative Functions

In functional behavior analysis terms, what happened just prior is called the antecedent. We look at the antecedent behavior for a variety of reasons, including for figuring out what triggered the inappropriate behavior and how to eliminate it. 

We need to work together as a team in the best interests of our students to reduce or eliminate inappropriate behaviors, but SLPs do have something to add from our specialty in communication. 

While the incorrect behavior needs to be stopped, if there is a communicative intent that the behavior serves, we need to replace that behavior with an appropriate way to get those needs met. Looking carefully at what was going on prior to the behavior can possibly provide us with clues as to what the communicative intent may be.

Tips for autism from Looks-Like-Language
We also must consider what happened immediately after the behavior, called the consequence in functional behavioral analysis. If our student gets something desirable after an inappropriate behavior, that behavior may actually become the way to request the desired item. Again, the behavior needs to be corrected and we need to help the student learn an appropriate way to communicate.
Tips for autism from Looks-Like-Language

Improve Communication

By the way, this always sounds easier on paper and in examples than it hardly ever is in real life, so I'm not even going to bother with an example here. Just keep working at it, readjusting your plan, until there is progress! It is the most important thing you can do!
Tips for autism from Looks-Like-Language

Practice While Calm

Students never learn while they are upset! After you have a hypothesis about the communicative function, work on setting up situations to give the student as many trials as possible to practice the replacement communicative behavior while calm. Work with the team to follow the behavioral program while you are teaching the new communication skill. 

The inappropriate method of communicating did not develop overnight, and the new way won't be learned that quickly either. Careful data can help you tell if you are moving in a positive direction and keep your motivation levels up.

Tips for autism from Looks-Like-Language

Sensory Issues

In my experience, children who are cognitively low functioning with autism usually have some problems with sensory integration. They will have some sensory modalities that they crave- toys and activities that fall in this category can be great for reinforcers and for breaks.  

 week of autism tips from Looks-Like-Language
They also have sensory problems that inhibit them from being able to handle a variety of activities. The child who is sensitive to noises is a prime example. You might see him covering his ears when it doesn't seem particularly loud to you, and he may not even be able to function during a fire drill.  Getting an array of sensory toys will help you determine this pretty quickly, as well as giving you important information to use in planning therapy activities.

 week of autism tips from Looks-Like-Language

Play Skills

My students had a lot of self stimulatory behaviors and very few to no actual play skills. They lacked the knowledge of what to do with the objects around my room and tended to use them as an extension of their favorite stimulatory activity. I found that if my students engaged with objects or traditional toys in any way at all, from looking or touching briefly to actually picking it up and interacting (inappropriately) with it, it meant they were interested. 
a week of autism tips from Looks-Like-Language

I started with the toy that got the most interest and matched their preferred sensory modality to teach them how to play.  When skills are achieved with one type of toy, expand it to a similar toy!

Click here to read more about teaching play.

If you'd like a little more help, click here to check out my free Getting Started with Autism Guide!

Don't miss out on this helpful free guide!

We Can Match a Snowman Freebie 3

Snowman Matching Game Freebie Worksheets- Looks-Like-Language
How much fun have your students been having with my free snowman matching game? Now, there's a treat for you! 

This week, I'm providing worksheets that will make homework fun! Download it here.  See you next week for the last part of the set!

Come visit my other blog!

Looks Like Language is on Speech Spotlight!
Hi friends! Does this time of year get busy for you? I have tons of paperwork due, so I thought this was a good time to remind you that I am part of a collaborative blog! Have you ever visited Speech Spotlight?

I just wrote a post that published yesterday! It is on my theme of managing mixed groups in therapy, but with a twist on taking data. If you'd like a few more ideas on this topic, you can read about it here.

I've been sitting at my computer so long this week, I am starting to get a back ache! So, pop on over to Speech Spotlight for this week's post! I definitely have to start using one of the apps that will remind me to get up and move every so often! Do you have one that you have tried? Of course, an app that would do my paperwork for me instead would be sooooo wonderful!

Till next week- stay warm!

We Can Match A Snowman Freebie 2

FREE open ended snowman matching game from Looks-Like-Language
I hope you are staying warm inside and having fun with my free snowman matching game! This week, I'm giving you more cards for the open ended game. Newsletter members, be sure to check your email for the link to the complete set and extra pages!

You can get the second set of game cards here. I hope you'll stop by next week for matching worksheets!

Books Make Mixed Group Therapy Easy! Tips and a Freebie!

One of the common problems that SLPs have is in figuring out how to best manage the needs of mixed groups in therapy. If you are just joining me in this series, you will want to check out this post about using games as the cohesive element for mixed groups since it has a freebie download for taking group data. The second post in this series gives tips for figuring out ways to pair up goals in activities for a smoother flow.

My favorite way to make mixed groups work is by centering therapy around a great book! When I worked in preschool, it was easy to find a book that coordinated with the theme (usually seasonal) that the teacher was using in the classroom.

Books for Mixed Group Therapy- Looks-Like-Language
Now that I am in middle school, with lower functioning kids, it is not quite as easy. I’ve tried using classroom books, but there’s too much my students don’t understand and the pace is too fast for therapy twice a week to keep up.  

This year, I’ve been using books by Chris Van Allsburg and my students have loved them! The plot is in depth enough to address multiple goals, the books are short enough to do in a few sessions, and the pictures are fantastic! They are beautifully drawn and not babyish, so the books work great for older kids.

To get started with a new book, this is how I organize myself.
  • Read through the book and figure out where I can take breaks. With simple sequential narratives and younger attention spans, that is the beginning, middle and end of the story plot.
  • With longer books, like the ones I am using this year, I divide them up into complete episodes, if it is possible.  
  • Starting with my most mixed group, or my most behaviorally difficult group, I fill in my organizer with the group goals and think about how I can elicit the speech/language targets from each student.
  • I write a set of questions I can ask at various points in the story section to get each student participating at short intervals of the story. This is a helpful strategy to keep students with short attention spans, poor working memory, or processing problems engaged. It is also helpful for tired SLP overload!

Story Planning for Mixed Groups- with a freebie! Looks-Like-Language
Articulation goals are the easiest: Just identify the words, phrases or sentences in the section that you want your student to read. If there aren’t enough, make a question list that will elicit those words again.

Question goals: I have had great success with pairing questions with story grammar element symbols. The visual cue really helps my students spend less time processing the question, so they have a chance to look back in the text to find the answer. 

Grammar goals: Figure out sentences that these students can retell with their target structures, pictures that they can describe in a sentence with their targets, or questions they can ask/answer to work on their goal.

Sequence/story retell goals: Pause at sections for students to recap the story.

When there are goals that I can’t fit into the actual story telling, I save some time to have an activity related to the book and that goal at the end of the session.

To make it even easier, fill out this information on sticky notes! You can pull them off the  FREE organizer and stick them right in the book on the page they match!  Click here to download the freebie and get your mixed group book themes started now.

I promise, if you can figure out your most difficult group and your most common goals, the whole process will get so much easier as you continue to use the book throughout your week!

We Can Match A Snowman Freebie 1

Free Snowman Matching Game from Looks-Like-Language
In the winter, we can have fun inside talking about the outside! Be sure to come back every week this month to catch the whole set! If you need even more freebies, be sure to check out ClassroomFreebiesToo.

I hope your new year is off to a good start! I'm doing my part to make it a good one with my free downloads. Remember, my newsletter members get additional pages all in one download! Get this week's game here.

A Quick Little Contest to Spark Up the New Year!

Wishing all of you a happy, healthy New Year full of wonderful times with your loved ones!

To get the new year started with a spark of fun, I decided to run a little contest here on my blog. Comment below with the answer to one of my questions to help me get my posts off to a great start in 2017. 

Up to five lucky readers will win a product of their choice ($5 or under) from my store if their comment is chosen!

So, here are my questions:
1- What is it about the blogs that you really like that keeps you reading?

2- What areas of working as an SLP or special educator would you love to see more blog posts about?

3-What is the biggest problem you face regularly as an SLP or special educator?

Comment below with an answer to one of these questions! Then check back in on Monday evening, January 2, 2017 to see if you are one of the lucky ones! If you want to be sure to be a lucky one, search #spednewyear today to get some great dollar deals on TpT!  Good luck and Happy New Year!
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