Showing posts with label *. Show all posts
Showing posts with label *. Show all posts

5 Tips for Sensory Issues and Summer Fireworks

Going to a fireworks display in the summer can be a great family outing! 

That is unless a member of the family has sensory processing issues and sensitivity to noises. While commonly found in children with autism spectrum disorders, other kids may have this problem, too. 


If your child covers their ears when a fire alarm goes off, or a loud vehicle drives by, going to see fireworks may not be the happy event you were hoping for.


July free download from Looks Like Language
There's a new social rules story, quick to print, staple and read, that I've made to help you out. Just click here.

No guarantee that this will make your fireworks event problem free, but knowing what to expect, having a coping method ready, and having the language to discuss any issues that arise are strategies that help over time.


If you are intrigued by the craft and games that are not part of this free download, be sure to sign up for my special 2019 free growing games bundle offer here!





July free download from Looks Like Language
Having back up plans as parents can be helpful, too. Some ideas that could be helpful include:

* watching your child with sensory issues for the beginning signs of sensory overload. Intervening early is often more successful than waiting for full-blown overload.


* having a signal your child can give you to tell you that they have had enough.

* getting seating that is toward the back of the crowd. This may not only somewhat decrease the noise level from the fireworks, but can also reduce the overcrowdedness that can also be a problem for some children.

* having a larger blanket than you need so that your child has a place to sit with boundaries that keep crowds further away.

* coming with 2 cars so one parent can leave earlier if needed, or having a plan for one parent to remove the sensory child before overload occurs to the car. Have calming toys, blankets, headphones, or whatever works for your child to use during the wait.

If your child regularly has problems with sensory processing issues, get an appointment for an evaluation with an occupational therapist who is knowledgeable about the problem. That is where most of my knowledge comes from!

I also found this book to be extremely helpful when I read it many years ago. It is written in a way that is helpful to parents and educators.

I hope that some of these ideas help to make your 4th of July fun and calm!

9 Reasons to Consider Working in a School Setting

Where to work? You are a lucky SLP if you have your choice of settings, but how to decide? I can weigh in on what I’ve learned from working in a school setting, although that was not my first choice.

I had always thought that I would work in a hospital setting since in the 80’s school SLPs were looked on as people who corrected lisps and /r/. After my clinical placement at Johns Hopkins Kennedy Krieger Institute, it was my dream to work there. But jobs weren’t available there and a school system wanted to hire me. Nothing like student loans and a need to eat to get you taking any job offered!

So, I started in the schools. Time for a disclaimer: An offer to write a blog post came to me from Therapy Travelers to receive money for writing about why to work in the school system. I usually don’t accept these offers, but the thought kept going through my mind- why did I stay in school systems all those years?

So, here are my reasons. 

Why work in a school setting? 9 reasons to consider it!

Why work in a school setting?


1. After working in 13 different schools, I can tell you that each school has their own culture.  If one building is not a good fit for you, that doesn’t mean that you won’t love working in a different one!

2. You get to work with a wide variety of problem areas and severity levels in a school system. It’s not just /l/, /s/and/r/ anymore!

3. It is a great way to solidify your skills at treating various speech/language disorders in children as a new clinician and possibly using pre-existing IEP paperwork.

4. You can learn a lot over the years by observing special educators and having a chance to talk over problem behaviors with the other members of your student’s related service team even if you are the only SLP in the school.

5. While people mistakenly think that working in a school is a 9 to 3 job, you often have the flexibility of putting in the extra hours for planning and paperwork from home, which is great if you have a family.

6. If you have children, it is very helpful to often have overlapping school day hours and vacations to help reduce the need for childcare.

7. Having a steady income and benefits from a school system is a plus, although changes in student population can affect your job even after working in a school for many years.

8. Working in a school broadens your horizons and increases your flexibility. You can make many decisions about your treatment plans, but a variety of factors are out of your control, so you learn to cope. You get exposed to a wider variety of cultures and socioeconomic levels than you would if you only work with private clients whose parents can afford therapy. It helps you learn what a diversified country we live in!


9. While working in 3 different school systems over the years was often hectic, it was never boring!


And if you try it and don’t like it, you can always change your mind later and step out into the world of private therapy, keeping your income steady as you build a client base. For me, working in school systems provided a much more interesting career than I ever imagined as a newly graduated therapist. 

What is your reason for working in the school setting?

3 Tips for Making Sense of IEP Goals that You Didn't Write!

A new student enters your caseload with an IEP and goals already set up for the year. Your first thought may be, “FANTASTIC! One less IEP to do!”  But as you dig in deeper, you begin to wonder what in the world is going on here.
The goals are all done, but they aren’t the kind you write.

Maybe they are so long and in-depth that you wonder how anyone could think a superhero SLP would get that done in a year.
Tips for Prioritizing Needs and Using Goals You Didn't Write

Maybe they are so short and simplistic that you feel the student has nothing to gain from it.

Maybe you are just confused about why it was chosen at all.

One thing that I’ve learned over the years is that we should give each other the benefit of the doubt, since there are so many different factors that come into play, depending on where you work, what your experience level is, and what your therapy framework is. 


Most of the time, there is something in a goal that you can work with.

WHERE YOU WORK


Where you work can influence how you write goals.

Some school districts have IEPs scattered throughout the year. In the month before, you assess the students, whom you already know well after having them on your caseload for a while, and write new goals that continue from the current skill level. Lots of written work, but pretty straightforward.

Some school districts use IEP compendiums, purchased or self-made. The benefit to using computerized IEP goals is that it can cut back on the time you spend re-writing goals. 

Drawbacks can include:


• If the goals are detailed and specific, there may not be enough of them to cover all of your students’ varied needs.
• If the goals are broad, listing every skill needed to be able to do the functional skill in a year’s time, it can feel overwhelming. “I have to accomplish all of this! Are they out of their minds?”

Solutions can include:


• Finding out the way to add a goal that is not currently in the compendium so that your students’ specific need can be met.

• Figuring out which part of the lengthy set of skills shows where your students’ current needs are and addressing that specific section of the goal. Session notes document exactly what is being addressed and the data to document growth. Informal measures taken quarterly can look at the big picture to show that progress is being made toward the overall goal as well.

Students show different aspects of themselves in different settings- we all do! This means that therapists might observe some differences in skills and in the impact of difficulties, according to where they are seen. For example, in a clinic or hospital setting, where the student is more likely to be seen individually, it is more difficult to assess the impact of speech/language problems on interactions with peers, making input from parents and teachers vital.


Some school districts put pressure on providers of special services to provide fewer services, write more goals, have higher levels of success, you name it. This can come about because of administrative pushes, funding issues, audit results, and probably a variety of other causes. This is the reality of therapy in schools. Do your best for your students within the parameters you’ve been given, decide to fight against it or move on to another job.


OUR EXPERIENCE LEVEL


      With large caseloads, multiple schools, and varying degrees of practical experience, SLPS are doing the best they can. No one went into this field thinking it was a huge money-making career, so assume that we all have our students' interests at heart.

There's more than one way to meet student needs.

      As beginning therapists, we all work on building up our resources: materials, knowledge of strategies, 
     the variety of student management techniques, ability to handle the overabundance of paperwork, 
      and diversifying our therapy skill sets in general.

      Maybe that goal that has you perplexed stems from a subtest score that the participants in the IEP meeting were especially concerned about.

Maybe the new therapist chose similar areas of student need for much of their caseload because they felt secure about helping students make improvements in groups while they learned to handle more diversity.

Maybe that one goal has enough flexibility built in that the therapist was better able to meet diverse group needs!

So many language skills have a variety of components that are needed for functional application, it could be that the therapist who wrote the goals was aiming for the same outcome as you would like. Just a different path to that outcome was chosen!

THERAPY FRAMEWORK


Face it, speech/language therapy covers a multitude of disabilities and skills!  We all have some aspect of communication that we are especially interested in, and that helps to personalize the lens that we use to assess students.

Especially for students with bigger delays and multiple needs! One of the hardest parts of our job is prioritizing what to work on when a student has delays in many skills so that you can have the biggest positive impact in their lives.

TIPS FOR PRIORITIZING NEEDS


Use informal assessments and team input to help prioritize needs.

      LISTEN!


      Listen to everyone on the student’s team to hear what they are all saying about the student’s weaknesses. Parents, who know their child best of all. Teachers, who observe the student in many school contexts, have knowledge of both strengths and weakness, and other students for comparison. Specialists, who bring their specific area knowledge to combine with yours and help the child as a whole.

     OBSERVE!

      Informal assessment can occur at any time or any place during the school day. Build a relationship with your student’s teachers and find out what their concerns are. Watch the students in the room in between sessions when you are picking up and dropping off. Pay attention to their interactions with peers while you are on your way to the copying machine, or doing bus and lunchroom duties.

THINK!

Think about what you know about the child’s language system and how this could be impacting the ability to function in the school. What strengths and weaknesses are a common theme in the team discussion? What communication needs can a part of any behavioral concerns? Is there a pattern showing that improvement in a specific area of communication deficits could help the student at multiple times of the school day? There’s your answer!

BRINGING IN RELATED SKILLS


At some point in the year, you will have reached a point where you feel comfortable with your therapy routines and materials for the specific aspects of students’ goals that you are taking data on since you are seeing progress.

Yes, you will! And every year it gets a bit easier.  But, for me at least, the discomfort level at the beginning of the school year never stopped. Kudos to you if you have managed it! 


When you reach a point that you can look beyond the next week or month, or your student shows that the basics of the IEP goal have been learned, think about bringing in skills that were not a priority at the beginning of the year. Keep on listening, because the student may have another priority need by now.

Or maybe there are some other areas of need that just tie in well with the types of activities the student is experiencing progress with. Some ideas are:

* The student who answers basic WH questions can play teacher and ask you or peers the questions.
* The student with improved memory strategies can apply the skills socially to remember information about peers for better social skills.
* The student who follows directions now can try giving the directions in an activity.
* The student who understands narrative structure in simple stories can use it to expand personal narratives or make them more concise.
* The student who uses expanded sentences in structure can work on social skills and reinforce the expanded sentences in a social activity.

Don’t be too fast to move on to new skills when you can incorporate newly learned skills with other areas of weakness. Combine your therapy expertise and framework with the IEP goals the student came with to meet as many of the student’s communication needs as you can. Your students will benefit!

Enjoy!

9 Practical Tips to a Speech Room You will Love!


Ever feel that if you don’t have your speech room organized before students start school that the year will be a long, downhill slide? If you don't love your space, it affects your mood whenever you walk in the door.

And if you have multiple schools, the effect is just magnified!

9 Practical Tips to a Speech Room You will Love!
Since time is so precious at the beginning of the school year, here are some practical tips to think about before you even enter the building. Going in with a priority plan can help you get off to a good start more quickly!

Organizing Furniture


     1.  Seat students where they can see a bulletin board with posters of the strategies you will be teaching. It is great for helping them to use the strategies more independently over the year.

     2.  Place your chair in a position where you can reach the phone (for help if needed) or door (for students who are runners) before your students can leave your room.

3.  Have a low file drawer, or even better, a rolling cart, within arm’s reach of where you are sitting. This is the place to keep basic supplies, log notes, books and other therapy items that you are currently using.

4.  Have your desk/table with the computer in a position where the students can easily see from the table or pull their chairs over to it. This makes accessing online resources as part of your therapy easier.

5.  Consider individual student needs. Some students are better able to work in a defined area with boundaries.

-  If your room size allows, it is great to have a single desk for these kids who come individually. Place it where there is a wall at their back and/or side and they have an undistracted view, if possible. Windows tend to be more distracting than wall decorations because of the movements you can catch out of the corner of your eye.

- If your room is small, you have boundaries built-in! You just might need to give your table a push in one direction or another to make it work.

In a perfect world (LOL), there would be a rug symbolizing a quiet break area next to the work area, with a ‘BREAK’ symbol near it, allowing you to prompt your student to request a break when they get up from the table.


Organizing Materials



9 Practical Tips to a Speech Room You will Love!
1. There are so many ways to store materials! 
For my tips on how to store worksheets 
and TpT materials, check out this post.

2. Shelving is the best bet for games and toys. 
If you don’t have built-in classroom 
shelving, inexpensive plastic shelves that 
come apart easily for summer storage can work.

- For young or easily distracted kids, you might want to have something covering the shelves until work time is done. 
Felt (or a colorful sheet) work great since you 
can just pull them to make the toys visible 
when it is free request time.

3. Bins have many uses!

- If you do thematic therapy, try keeping bins of books, activities, and worksheets at varied levels within easy reach (on top of your short filing cabinet or in your rolling cart.)

- This makes it easier to quickly grab what you need and to adjust activities for mixed levels or add a quick activity to end the session.

9 Practical Tips to a Speech Room You will Love!
    4. Containers! I just love containers!

    - Keep a container of some sort in easy reach with school supplies you frequently use.

    - Use colorful seasonal boxes or containers to match your theme, to keep a review activity in to start the next session. You can even use felt shapes to match your theme!

9 Practical Tips to a Speech Room You will Love!
Even better, put some thematic toys for younger kids, or challenge activities 
      for older kids, in the box for unprompted language samples. 

Sooner or later, someone will get curious 
and ask about it!

The photos show some of the types of activities I'd have available for my 
      themes. 

Even if the levels and language skills are different, having a variety of fun activities on a theme helps pull mixed groups together!

The funny apple pictures and sorting board are from the Apple Activities set at my store. It includes describing puzzles, mazes and homework worksheets, too! 

The describing apples poster is a bonus freebie that comes with the Fall Language Skills Bundle. After you have taught the skills, it is great to hang on a bulletin board!

Next time, I’ll be sharing your suggestions and we will vote for the WORST EVER ROOM story!

Enjoy! 

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