Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Vintage Speech Therapy

We've come a long way!!!!!  I'm not actually sure the lady in the film was a speech therapist, but decided to show it anyway.  I love the reel to reel tape.  My husband still has his old one that he just can't part with.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Rudolph and Joint Action Routines

A long time ago, I went to ASHA (I think 1983?) and learned all about 'Joint Action Routines'.  The term stuck with me, and I often use that as one of my guiding principles when planning for my sessions with children who have limited language skills.  Basically, the adult in charge sets up an interaction---it could be a craft activity, a snack activity, or a story book.  The child is given several opportunities to interact in the same routine.  For example, the snack routine might be the same for a week---same language, same communication board, same items.  The child should improve in his or her interactions and language skills within the context of this routine because it is predictable, repetitive, and logical.  The following week, then, rather than tossing out the routine, the adult changes it a little,   maybe by adding a different snack item, or a drink.  Maybe the new snack needs a spoon to go with it.  The child can then build on pre-existing language skills and add in new language.

Rabbits, cats, turkeys, bears, and mice!
In my therapy sessions, the kids and I have our routines.  We develop a simple schedule together, and I usually do similar routines from day to day.  I do like crafts and so lately, our routine is centered around paper bag puppets.  I had no idea that there was such variety!   The concept of different paper bag puppets follows along with joint action routines, because some items in the craft remain constant.  You always use a bag.  The creature always has a face.  The differences are small--the name of the animal, the color of the nose, the shape of the ears, the sound it makes at the end.  During the process, the kids learn to request the tools needed (scissors, glue), follow directions, comment, answer questions, take turns, and ask for more.

Today, we started a new paper bag puppet craft to go along with the holidays---Rudolph!!!  Lessons learned----kids can't cut out complicated antlers, so do this in advance.     Another lesson---a fire drill in the middle of the craft hinders completion of the craft in one session. For a complete step-by-step for this project, click HERE
Boardmaker topic board
sample to show the kids
Right before the unexpected fire drill

For this activity, I went back to one of my favorite apps on the iPad---Pictello.  They have now upgraded this so that pdfs can be emailed---I emailed this to the teacher of these kids so they can make more reindeer!   (see Joint Action Routine)  Repetition is good! 

Below are some screenshots from Pictello.  Kids love it because they hear the 'text to speech', and can turn the pages on the iPad.  They chose different colored antlers, by the way, rather than the red ones pictured.  I thought that was cute! 

screenshot from Pictello

another screenshot from Pictello

final Pictello screenshot
I hope you all enjoy this blog.  I got the reindeer pattern from Enchanted Learning----20 dollar subscription but it has tons and tons of ideas (including a whole bunch of paper bag puppet ideas!!)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Crockpot Indian Butter Chicken---Gluten Free

This is not low calorie, and even the title sounds fattening!!   This is the latest in my efforts to cook one new dish a week that's gluten-free.  It turned out good, and my husband seemed to enjoy it.  He's not one for very spicy foods, and this was 'mild' in the hotness category, so he ate well tonight!

I found this recipe on my favorite Crockpot website---A Year of Slow Cooking.  Apparently the blogger from this website had been given this recipe from another website--Meal Planning 101.  Check them both out!   I cooked this in the slow cooker on high for about 4 hours.  A difference of mine from the recipe was that I used chicken thighs that still had the bones, and I used ground cardamom rather than cardamom pods (I was clueless about where to find pods!).  It all seemed to work!

I have enough left over for a couple of lunches for work, and for dinner with Alana tomorrow! 
Try this out---it was easy.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Tutorial (part 2) screen capture of Boardmaker icons to Proloquo2Go

In my previous post, I provided a super simple way to add Boardmaker icons to Proloquo2Go.  Some kids might need the symbols to be consistent between the two icon systems, so yesterday's post and today's are instructions on how to import Boardmaker icons for those children who need it.  Yesterday's post was for those who are lucky to have an iPad 2 with a camera feature.

What if you are one of millions of people who have the first generation iPad (no camera)?  The process for grabbing an icon has more steps, but is easy to learn.  For this blog, my computer is a MacBook Pro OS X.  The screen capture process is a bit different with a PC--that's a later blog.  I can only do one thing at a time!

First, if you want the Boardmaker icons, you should have Boardmaker loaded on your computer.
laptop screen
Pull up a symbol that you would like to import.  For this purpose, I selected 'Want'.  You don't need to include the text---Proloquo2Go will have it.

Go to Finder, Click Go, Scroll to Utilities

 You will then want to go to the Utilities Folder in Finder.  Click on "Go" and scroll Down to find "Utilities". 

Click on 'Grab'

A window will pop up----click on 'Grab'

 After clicking "Grab", go to "Capture".  A scroll down list will appear.  Click "Selection".  Online instructions will tell you to select what you want and then click a little button that appears.  It's very easy. 
I had drawn a square around the icon, and then captured it following the onscreen instructions.  I actually didn't want the text 'want', but was able to edit it out with Proloquo2Go at the end point.

Your screen capture image will save as .tiff.  This is no problem.

The next steps are easy.  Email the image to yourself as an attachment. Or if you can, sync your images (I don't do that because my iPad is synced with different computer.) Open your email on your ipad and save the image to your camera roll.  Open Proloquo2Go and use the image as you want.

Here are side by side images of Boardmaker and Proloquo2Go.
Boardmaker is left; Proloquo2Go is right

  If you do not know how to import images into your Proloquo2Go, check out their online tutorials
If you have questions, feel free to ask.  This is not difficult!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

A Stop-Motion film from YouTube.

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone out there in internet-land!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Learning to play----Acrobats!

I like to encourage my speech kids to play games, explore new things, and improve communication skills through play.  My little guy who liked Cariboo and Funky Fingernails (previous posts), has now begun to explore Acrobats.  You won't find this new---I bought mine from a thrift store.  You can find used versions at Amazon here.
    This has been a popular game in my room for years.  The kids like the challenge of carefully hanging the different color bats, the rules are simple, and there is an element of suspense before all the bats crash down to the table.  Lots of laughter happens then!

Official rules from BoardGameGeek.com are : To start, place the magnetic bat on the top of the Bat Tower. Roll the bat die to see what color bat you have to add on your turn. You may be lucky and have to place a small one or not so lucky and have to place the biggest bat of all. As each player goes, the weight of all those bats begins to tug on the top bat so, be careful! If your bat is the one that makes them fall, you get a Bat Token. When a player has 3 Bat Tokens they're out of the game and the player who has the fewest Bat Tokens at that time wins!

Unofficially, in my room, the rules of the game vary depending on the student level.  In this case, my guy was hanging the bats carefully and making sure they didn't fall.  We took turns!  He requested the bats by color.  This was successful in that he was interacting with me, playing with a toy in the way it was intended to be used, imitating my actions, and staying engaged.
   Goals are obviously to add more functions to his communication and engagement, but first things first! This kid essentially can often unfortunately sit and show no interest in any toy, so during this activity I was excited!  I also plan on letting the teacher borrow this and other games of interest, so she can play them with him, and he can play them with other kids.

One final note:  Last summer, I worked with a graduate student who made simple communication boards for many of my games.  When we opened the game up, surprise!   The communication board was in the box.  It was like Christmas for both of us!

definitely requesting a particular color. 

Hanging Bats!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Air B&B---Try it out!

David and I travel occasionally, and have discovered AirBnb---Essentially, people with an extra room rent it out by the night through this website to travelers.  There are some security measures in place, such as a verified phone number, and references (you get more references the more you stay at B&Bs).

We've stayed at some really great places here and there.  I'll highlight my favorite--it was in Annapolis MD.  The couple who owned a house close to downtown rented out their bottom floor, so we had a bedroom, rec room, and bathroom all to ourselves.  They offered wine for the evening, and were great to talk to.  The wife turned out to be high up on the totem pole for CBS news and travels extensively with people like ....President Obama.  Just the conversation was priceless, but the room was great, the dog friendly, and location perfect. (Essentially we were on a 'geocaching vacation' last August, so new cities are perfect for us to explore.)

Our room in Annapolis and hosts
Chapel Hill also has some Air B&Bs in the offering.  See below for a sampling.
After surveying our 'competition' and realizing that we have three empty bedrooms (empty nests), David and I decided to take the plunge and set up our own little B&B through this website.  Our first guests come tomorrow evening!  Apparently, a med student from Georgia is interviewing for a residency position at UNC medical school. Her husband is tagging along, and we are about a mile from the medical school, so this is perfect for them---cheaper and cleaner than a hotel, and a hot breakfast at 6:00 am!  (Her interview is at 7:45.) 

This is looking to be loads of fun.  I love meeting new people!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Goodbye pencils!!! Hello iPad!

If you are a parent or teacher of a kid who is resistant to writing, you'll love to hear about a partial solution to handling writing homework. 

David and I don't have kids at home anymore, but we are both mentors.   Because some of our own kids were not writing geniuses, we knew about the potential torture of a writing assignment and this is certainly true at times with David's mentee.  The homework drama began when the classroom teacher emailed David saying that a written book report was a week late.  (As a parent, I used to cringe at emails, phone calls, or notes like this.)    I hated to watch an agonizing display of writing torture unfold in our dining room,  so I suggested Dragon Dictation on the iPad as an alternative to the physical act of writing.  David jumped on it!!!  (Although it would be nice if all children could finish assignments quickly, the reality here is that this boy works too slowly when traditional methods are used---it's not best practice in education for children to spend too much time on homework when they could be outside getting some exercise or engaged in more meaningful activities.)

The book itself (The Widow's Broom, by Chris Van Allsburg)  was great--interesting plot, lots of fantasy, great illustrations .  Raul, David's mentee, had lots and lots to say about it.  When he got to our house, though, he reportedly only had two words written (we didn't actually see the two words.) 

Dragon Dictation on the iPad is free.  Essentially, you open the app, press the red button, and speak clearly and slowly into the iPad microphone.  The app converts your speech to text.  It's not perfect--it doesn't use grammar to determine word choice and may just give you a string of unrelated interpretations of what it thinks you said.  The app doesn't know peoples names, and you really need to proofread it and fix everything. If someone doesn't speak clearly, this app may not work well.  For this purpose, though, Dragon Dictation did the job.   This report was a combination of dictating and some onscreen editing with the displayed keyboard.  It was then easy to email the final notes to a different computer (with Word), cut and paste, and then edit the final project.  No pencil needed!  Raul did his editing himself.

How did this program make things easier?   My thoughts:

1.  Instant feedback/gratification----the child said words or sentences producing immediate written results
2.  Attention holding---iPad screens are easier to attend to than a piece of paper.  I saw more 'on target' working at my dining room table.
3.  Spelling---This eliminated the questions kids often say when writing which is "How do you spell ____".  Our boy simply spoke the word into the iPad and the spelling appeared.
4.  On screen editing---after dictating, it was easy to go into the text and edit on the iPad with the keyboard display.

Did it solve all of this boy's writing problems?  NO --this homework process was still time consuming, and his final product was a bit sparse by 5th grade standards.
Did he get his work done independently?  YES
Did he have most of his day to have fun outside, to work on cub scout badges, and to play soccer and ping pong?  YES

We'll be doing this again for the next project, I'm sure!  Good-bye pencil!

This is the iPad recording speech.  A little hard to see here.

On screen editing.
Final Product!!!!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Turkey Counting

I'm still stuck on the turkey theme---I wonder why?    Maybe it's because it's my favorite holiday.  Good food, no gift shopping hassle, family, days off!   One very cute class of 6 boys is making a "Thankful Classroom" video.  The kids are taking turns posing around the school with favorite adults and in favorite places, saying very sincerely what they are thankful for.  I wish I could show it here!!!

Some completed turkeys.  We're going to make a book.
Instead of showing you my movie (worthy of an Oscar, by the way), I'll settle for showing off our turkey counting activity.  I lifted this craft off of a great website: No Time for Flashcards.
Hard at work. Note iPad front and center.
You can probably figure out that the number corresponds to the number of feathers.
 I used Pictello on my iPad 2 for sequencing the steps. Here are a few of the screenshots.  Pictello reads the steps one-by-one out loud.  I was amazed at how attentive the students were to the pictures and the directions.  After the craft was finished, I ran some simple questions by the boys--nearly 100% accurate!


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Funky Fingernails!

Here is a cool thrift shop find-----Funky Fingernails!

Normally, I try not to promote games that encourage little girls to aspire to fit the 'Barbie' image, but with my language kids, these fingernails have lent themselves in a motivating way to choice making, interacting, requesting, taking turns, comparing, and just having fun.  It's actually a board game, but we usually just take a little time at the end of a session to get our nails done.  Boys apparently like fancy nails too!

My little guy who liked Cariboo (see earlier post) also developed a sudden interest in Funky Fingernails--- yesterday.   I couldn't quite get a communication device fixed for him at that instant, but am now ready for him.
I programmed Proloquo2Go with a Funky Fingernails page.  With the camera feature on the iPad, it was easy to take pictures of the different colors of nails; however, it's very possible that he doesn't care what colors his nails are (just the act of putting on nails might be what makes him happy), so requesting a particular color might not be reinforcing.  I put the options on there anyway, and will model the language for him.  I'll let you know how this goes!  I'm super excited that he now has two fun games he likes to play!  I'll keep working on getting more.

We haven't used the communication board yet!  Tomorrow, we'll see if he likes it!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Speech Therapy in the Spotlight

I just watched the recent 20/20 episode about Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.  It was amazing, and touching, to the point of tears a few times.  Speech therapy was spotlighted since she has been left with a huge expressive communication impairment.  If you haven't seen it, you should. A link is at the bottom of this page.

I absolutely loved this show and interview, and a few things that were said really spoke to me---

The power of forgiveness---When asked if she felt angry towards the shooter, the congresswoman answered "No......(that's) life".  Her husband elaborated that the Loughner was obviously in need of serious professional help for severe mental illness prior to the crime, and they wished he had gotten help earlier beforehand.  How many of us are capable of such forgiveness?  Personally, I can carry anger for trivial matters (e.g. kitchen left dirty.) within my thoughts for a while clouding my days, until I shake it off.  

Through sickness and in health  Mr Kelly brought this phrase up and stated that that's what marriage is all about.  Love permeated the entire episode.

Love for my speech therapy job  I don't think I'll ever be on national television working in an elementary school setting, thank heavens! I would definitely need to get a tad more stylish before allowing that to happen.
     After watching this though, I was so proud of my colleagues, who did put themselves in front of 13 million viewers!   I saw persistence, empathy, kindness, patience, skill, creativity, and joy in their work with the congresswoman.

I tell young people frequently to go to school and get a degree in speech therapy.  It's really the best job in the world! 

To watch the whole episode, click HERE.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sweet Mustard Pork Roast--Gluten Free

Yesterday, I had Alana over for dinner and then we went to a play at my church.  The play--"Into the Woods" --was great, entertaining, funny, and completely put on by church members (so professionally)!  Live orchestra, great sound system, creative set and costumes and fabulous singing.... We both loved it!  The cow was particularly cute!  I'm amazed at what dedicated people can do!

Dinner prior to the play was a new recipe for me---Sweet Mustard Pork Roast--taken from one of my favorite websites, A Year of Slow Cooking. 
This was very easy to make---simply put all of the ingredients in a slow cooker, and turn it on.   My crock pot was a 6 quart and the recipe did say 4 quart.  Take some time off of the cooking time, if you have a bigger one like mine.  I probably cooked mine too long.  It was still very tasty, and everyone ate well!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Cariboo + Proloquo2go + iPad 2 = instant communication!


I've been in speech therapy a long time!  I graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1984.  At that time, augmentative communication wasn't discussed, there was no AAC class, and personal computers were just beginning.  Forget Google images, forget Boardmaker, and the internet didn't exist.  Pictures?  You either drew them yourself, or you took a picture with your camera and waited to get the actual film developed (a week?). I spent quite a bit of time searching magazines for photos to cut out and glue.

Fast forward to 2011......Last week, I sat in a speech session with an adorable little boy--seriously autistic, pretty much nonverbal. He typically didn't seek out toys or anything except candy (he was able to use Proloquo2Go to request candy).   I have tried for about a year to interest him in something, anything! Occasionally, I would get a some sustained interest and we would use that for a while--adding a picture to his PECS, interacting, holding out for eye contact, reaching, requesting.   This week, I dragged out my Cariboo game.  For those of you who don't know Cariboo, it involves opening doors, retrieving balls, and eventually winning a treasure.  There are more complicated rules, but for kids who are not into such rules, just the act of using a key to open a door to find a ball makes the game fun.  My little boy loved the game!  We played it several times over two days!

Why am I writing about this?  Because, I was able to use my iPad 2 to instantly make a communication board with Proloquo2Go (with the kid sitting with me while I did this).  I made the board during the speech session and the boy used it to then ask for the various game pieces.  What a difference 25 years of technology development makes!!!!!  I made the board in about 3 minutes.

Here is a brief tutorial.  Go to the edit mode.  You want to create a category for your game.

 For this, you need a camera feature on your iPad or iTouch or you can't do this as quickly as I did.  I have an iPad 2.  You also need Proloquo2Go.  It's not a cheap app, and I've been very fortunate to work in a school system where this is provided for me.  If you have Proloquo2Go, and have never made a page, there are some very nice online tutorials which teach the basics.  I suggest you go there first.  For this boy, I wanted a separate Cariboo page, so I created a new category for this game. 
Edit mode, naming a category. I added 'Cariboo' to the first line.

Notice the word "cariboo" in the top line.  Then touch "add photo or symbol"
A pop up window will appear.  You want to choose 'Take a Picture'

To take a picture of the object, touch the camera icon.

Add the photo you just took.  It's simple. Touch "Add as New Category"

You now have a Cariboo page (or another activity page if you want).  Now you can make an instant communication board.  Here is mine----it literally took 3 minutes to take the pictures.  I added a few other icons too, and my boy used this during the session.  It was instant feedback, teaching, and reinforcement for my boy.  He knew instantly to touch the pictures to get the key and the ball, we took turns opening the doors, and he was additionally using a speech approximation for the key and saying ball while touching the ball picture.  I modeled the other language for him (All done! This is fun!).


Friday, November 11, 2011

Celebrating Falling Leaves

We have today off!   And today is beautiful!

Do you want a fall poem to ponder?  Read 'Gathering Leaves' by Robert Frost.

Lovely view of falling leaves from my kitchen window:

I then went outside, walking around the yard. The leaves were coming down after each puff of a breeze.   David needs to get started on the leaf gathering part:

  I love it down south in the fall, and I love days off!!!! All of the pictures and videos were taken with the iPad, by the way.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Holiday Cookies--iPad style

I like to cook with my speech kids.  In the past, we've made cookies, applesauce, hot chocolate, pancakes, homemade bread, and much more!  One class typically has a Thanksgiving feast for the students, teachers, and families.  We bake together, all morning!

These days, budget constraints limit this for therapy activities (although we are still planning on the Thanksgiving feast.) Salaries are frozen, and I have a couple of kids of my own in college, so I feel I can't personally feed the speech kids.  We also get very little instructional money.  I could ask parents to chip in, but they have their own money woes.
      I do have my iPad, though, so today, we cooked iPad style!   The app was Cookie Doodle.

This was a nice app for choice making, and sequencing.  There was also some simple vocabulary involved--rolling cookie dough, baking in an oven, frosting the cookies, cutting out shapes, sprinkles, and drawing.  We will need to repeat this, because the app was a bit of a novelty today, with the language involved only being an introduction (the boys didn't master it, in other words.)  We also did not do the more advanced features of making a recipe more from scratch.  I see many days of 'baking' ahead of us!

I love iPads, but I find that to get more communication interaction going, I need to create custom-made communication boards to go along with the apps.  Then I can model the language of the app--in this case, describing what they wanted using words and then pictures, using language rather than impulse to choose, and commenting.  The communication boards slowed the process down, and the kids were thoughtful in their choice-making.  We had a great time, and the three boys using this took turns and made an interesting group cookie.  They loved the virtual 'eating' part!  

Choosing the cookie shape  (the boy chose a 'Z')
I augmented the app by taking screen shots of some of the features---types of dough, flavors of frosting, the shape choices, and types of sprinkles.  I also took some screen shots of some of the actions--rolling, baking, and cutting out the shape.

To get the screen shot to a communication board, simply email the screenshot to yourself, then treat it as you would any other picture.  Download on another computer, alter or import to something like Boardmaker if you want, and print.  For this activity, I did not use Boardmaker---I simply printed, and in an old-fashioned way, I cut out the image with actual scissors, and glued them onto card stock.  There were lots of little images, and the kids will get more and more familiar with the choices over time.  In the future, I want to add some images and words for commenting.

Picking sprinkles
Screen shot of their cookie--the letter Z!

 This app was 99 cents---cheaper than buying a few cookies, and well worth the price.  There are many other uses for this in language therapy--comparing cookies, sequencing the steps, and using descriptive words.  I'm sure those of you out there in the speech world can think of many more.  Have fun!!!