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Early Intervention Speech Therapy

Preventing EI Burnout
April 22, 2014 9:16 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
Do YOU have spring fever?? We made it through a long cold winter but summer is still two months away and there is much to be done! Complete annual reviews, write new goals for several IFSPs and IEPs, complete quarterly progress reports, finish monthly billing, plan next week's lessons, return parent phone calls, meet the new family, email the consult and finish 3 speech and language preschool assessments. I may even be forgetting something!! Trying to get it all done, as well as provide daily therapy lessons that are both relevant and efficient can be challenging. Add the normal (and sometimes out of the ordinary!) stressors of everyday life to your daily duties and it's easy to see why people lose perspective and motivation. Today's post was written to help give SLPs some inspiration to push through those difficult days!
  • Try a Change of Scenery - Take your home care kids outside for a session or two! Now that nice weather is arriving, suggest a trip to the park or a walk around the block. Getting some fresh air and a novel perspective is a great way to encourage new vocabulary and help prepare your students for the summer days that lie ahead.
  • Focus on the Growth - Make reflective conversation a part of your sessions. Review the past year with families and focus on the progress their child has made each month. For example, "Joey wasn't talking at all 4 months ago. Now he has 10 words." Even though your student may still be delayed, focusing on their accomplishments can help add a positive air to your sessions. It helps to give hope to both you and the family, knowing that their child has made gains and is capable of making many more.
  • Co-treat - Ask another therapist or the special instructor to treat a therapy session with you, especially when you have a challenging kiddo. Sometimes 4 hands are better than 2 and we can learn so much from our counterparts. Working closely with a professional colleague you respect can help to shift your thinking and inspire wonderful ideas for your future sessions!

Are YOU experiencing therapist burn-out??

Write in and share YOUR ideas for keeping the therapy flame burning!

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Recipe: Pesto Parmesan Meatballs
April 18, 2014 9:30 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling

This is a dish I created completely on a whim in my kitchen earlier this week and it worked! The kids loved these tasty morsels and so did my husband! I had a hankering for meatballs, but I didn't have the time to put into a traditional meatball (the way my mama makes), so I a created a meal using the ingredients I had handy and the flavors I was craving. This recipe is too good to keep to myself! Enjoy!

You will need:

2 pounds of ground chicken meat

2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons of pesto (please refer to post http://community.advanceweb.com/blogs/sp_1/archive/2013/06/14/recipe-pasta-pennine-and-homemade-pesto.aspx for homemade pesto recipe OR you may purchase pesto at your local grocery store - Trader Joe's sells an excellent pesto, which I used for this dish)

1/2 cup dry bread crumbs

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

¼ teaspoon of garlic powder

2 eggs


For the sauté:

Extra virgin olive oil

White Wine (will add to the flavor of the meatballs and will prevent them from burning or becoming too greasy when cooking


For the Sauce:

*I prefer these meatballs with a pink sauce. For an easy, on the go sauce combine your favorite jars of alfredo sauce with a chunky red marinara sauce and bellissimo!

Recipe Steps:

1. Combine all the ingredients together and stir very well in a bowl. Wash hands and use them to thoroughly mix all of the ingredients together.

2. In a pan, combine about a quarter cup of white wine and a tablespoon or so of olive oil. Heat this mixture but be sure to not burn or boil.

3. Take a handful of the meatball mixture and roll into little round shapes.

4. Place them in the hot pan and cook, flipping every few minutes to ensure they cook evenly.

5. Sprinkle lightly with a little extra parmesan cheese and seer lightly in the pan giving the meatball a light cheesy, crispy exterior.

6. Remove from the heat and drizzle on your favorite pink sauce.

7. Add these meatballs to your little one's favorite pasta or risotto dish and watch them enjoy!

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Spectacular Spring Books for Young Children
April 15, 2014 9:21 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
Now that Passover and Easter are upon us and April has arrived, it finally feels like spring has sprung. The cherry blossoms and daffodils are blooming, days are getting longer and the breeze outside is starting to warm. Spring is a wonderful time to take your students outside. Walk the neighborhood, pick flowers, collect rocks and count the different bugs you see. There is an abundance of vocabulary outside the walls of the classrooms and childcare facilities. Take time to change the scenery and help your little ones develop functional language for the world around them! Here are some book ideas to help you along the way:

1. Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit: A Book of Changing Seasons (Board book) - written by Il Sung Na

  • Appropriate for children ages 1 and up
  • Summary from Amazon: "What do the animals do when the snow falls to the ground and all the trees are bare? Some fly long distances, while some swim to warmer waters. Some take a long, warm sleep where they live, while others have a thick, cozy coat and can stay in the snow! Filled with rich illustrations, charming animals, and a simple, lyrical text, Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit is now available in a board edition for the smallest hands and youngest readers. It's a gentle introduction to the ideas of adaptation, hibernation, and migration, and an exuberant celebration of changing seasons."
  • Earned 4 and ½ stars on Amazon

2. Mouse's First Spring (Board book) - by Lauren Thompson (Author), Buket Erdogan (Illustrator)

  • Appropriate for children ages 2 and up
  • Summary from Amazon: "One bright day, Mouse and Momma head outside to play. The wind blows in something feathery and plump (a bird), something wiggly and pink (a worm), and something green that hops and leaps (a frog). But before it's time to go back inside, Mouse finds something with petals that's soft and new...the prettiest flower he's ever seen! Could it mean spring is finally here?" Many of the reviews also report that the book is full of beautiful colors and rhymes with a "wonderful" ending.
  • Earned 5 stars on Amazon

3. Everything Spring (Picture the Seasons) - by Jill Esbaum (Author)

  • Appropriate for preschoolers
  • Summary: This is a National Geographic bestseller, that is a "beautifully photographed picture book, young children can see, hear, and feel the warmth of springtime by reading and learning all about chicks, bunnies, and the other baby animals that come out to play in springtime." The reviews rave of the gorgeous pictures and stunning word choices.
  • Earned 5 stars on Amazon

4. Spring is Here! - by Heidi Pross Gray (Author, Illustrator)

  • Appropriate for children ages 2 and up
  • Summary: Reviews include that this book is "upbeat" and "fun to read." All the reviews are very positive and brag how the book welcomes "spring with familiar pictures of weather, activities, foods, objects, sights and sounds." There are additional books to this series: Autumn is Here, Winter in Here, etc. which are all highly regarded.
  • Earned 5 stars on Amazon

Enjoy the warmer weather and use it to bring the world to life for your speech students! Welcome Spring!

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Recipe: Legumes
April 11, 2014 8:58 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
As a working mom with limited time to food shop and cook as well as I would sometimes like, I have been making a concerted effort lately to buy more vegetables. I find that if I buy them and they are sitting in my refrigerator I am much more likely to prepare, serve and also consume them. Recently I heard an advertisement specifically about the importance of eating legumes. The spokesperson stressed the importance of eating foods such as peas and green beans to help boost nutrition and provide a healthy source of fiber for your family's diet.

Roasted Sugar Snap Peas

You will need:

  • Fresh/Raw sugar snap peas
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Diced onion and/or fresh garlic (optional)

Recipe Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Rinse and thoroughly dry the fresh sugar snap peas.
  3. Place sugar snap peas in a bowl and season with olive oil and sea salt. Toss everything together.
  4. (Optional - dice onion and/or fresh garlic, add to peas and toss everything together.)
  5. Lay the peas out evenly on a roasting pan (I prefer using flat stoneware) and roast for approximately 15-20 minutes, flipping at least once.
  6. Peas should be crispy and slightly browned around the edges. Enjoy!

This is a really easy recipe that combines the soft, sweetness of peas with the crisp, salty taste of bacon. A dash of butter, salt and pepper helps to bring it all together. One suggestion: be conservative with the salt, as the bacon will be salty so you don't want to over-salt the dish.

Piggy Peas

You will need:

  • Bacon
  • Frozen peas
  • Butter
  • Pepper
  • Salt

Recipe Steps:

  • Boil 2 cups of frozen peas in a small pan of water. Add salt and a pad of butter to the boiling peas for flavor. Boil about 5 min or until soft.
  • Cut uncooked bacon into small pieces and cook in a pan until crispy
  • Strain peas and mix with crispy cooked bacon
  • Add pepper and extra salt and/or butter for seasoning and mix. Enjoy as a delicious side dish!

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Home Care Dangers and Risks
April 8, 2014 8:39 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
I have been a homecare therapist off and on for almost 9 years. During those years I have experienced a wide variety of interactions with people from varied communities. I've treated children in homes and childcare facilities in affluent, middle class and impoverished areas. Recently, there has been an increase in gun violence during daytime hours in one of the areas where my co-workers and I treat on a daily basis. Concern is rising not only at work but within our surrounding communities. At our last staff meeting our supervisor and the staff took time to problem-solve how to hopefully prevent being caught in the throes of a violent outbreak. 

Here are some of the ideas we came up with and discussed:

  • Be Aware of Your Surroundings - This is essential and can definitely help prevent dangerous situations from happening. Look around and take note of suspicious activity, people arguing or anything that looks like it could be a potentially treacherous scenario.
  • Trust Your Gut - If a situation feels unsafe or your instincts are kicking in and telling you to flee the scene or avoid it all together, it is important to listen. Although we are there to perform a service, we are not expected to risk our lives to complete this task.
  • Keep Your Phone Handy - Keep your phone on your person so that it is always with you in case an emergency situation should arise.
  • Co-Treat with Other Therapists/Special Instructor - As my mother used to say, there is often safety in numbers. The challenge here is to make sure the therapeutic model remains intact and therapy is still beneficial to both the child and the family.
  • Add Social Work to the Team - This is appropriate if the family desires the added service and is concerned about their own safety as well. A social worker can help provide a wide variety of resources for a family, including helping them look for a safer place to live.
  • Attend Additional Trainings - Knowing  how to handle a dangerous work environment will be instrumental if faced with a hazardous and even deadly situation. Attending trainings and seminars that educate service providers about such issues can really make all the difference.

Would love to hear from readers about this issue and  if you are faced with this challenge in the workplace.

Please write in and share your experiences and advice!

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Recipe: Wake-You-Up Morning Muffins
April 4, 2014 9:11 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
I love the taste of something a little sweet in the morning. It really helps to wake me up and goes perfect with my daily cup of home brewed coffee. My girls love this as well which is evidenced by the must-have syrup on their pancakes and begging for marshmallows in their bowl of Rice Krispies and milk. Although I can appreciate the desire for sweetness, as a mom, I want to keep our first meal of the day healthy. These "Wake-You-UP" Morning Muffins offer a touch of sweet with lots of fruity nutrition and fiber to keep you and your little ones full and satisfied!

You will need:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup flax seed
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 1 apple - peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup apple butter or applesauce
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts (optional)


  • 2 tablespoons oats
  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon/brown sugar mixed

Recipe Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil a muffin tin or use paper muffin cups.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, apple butter (or applesauce), oil and vanilla.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together flours, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. Stir in carrots, apples and raisins. Stir in egg mixture until just moistened.
  5. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling them about 3/4 full.
  6. In a small bowl mix together the oats and cinnamon/brown sugar mixture and sprinkle on top of the muffins.
  7. Place in the oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the muffin tops are golden.

Here are some yummy food substitutes for YOUR morning muffins, just in case you don't have all the above ingredients handy!

  • Substitute fruits with mashed banana, fresh blueberries or finely chopped mango.
  • Substitute applesauce with pumpkin butter.
  • Substitute raisins with dried berries or cranberries.
  • Substitute brown sugar with honey.

*Also, try using a mini-muffin pan, which makes your muffins the perfect size for little hands!

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Easter Reads for Little Ones!
April 1, 2014 7:12 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
Easter is just 3 weeks away, so if you are looking for ways to incorporate the holiday into your therapy or your home, here is a detailed list of books written for children 5 and under - each comes with great reviews and all the info you need to either rent or purchase the books on your own.

1. The Easter Egg - written and illustrated by Jan Brett

  • Appropriate for children ages 3-5
  • Summary: I personally love Jan Brett's illustrations on all the books I have read by her. This book will definitely not disappoint. Brett presents lovable Hoppi as the main bunny character who wants to make the best Easter egg so he can help the Easter Rabbit deliver the eggs on Easter morning. Come along on his journey!
  • Earned 5 stars on Amazon

2. Biscuit's Pet & Play Easter - written by Alyssa Satin Capucilli and illustrated by Pat Schories

  • Appropriate for toddlers and children under 5
  • Summary from Amazon: "Pet the fuzzy yellow chick and hunt for shiny Easter eggs as you join Biscuit in this Easter touch-and-feel adventure!" Biscuit books are a favorite in our home. Both my girls love the books and the mischief and fun of this sweet little pup!
  • Earned 4 stars on Amazon

3. Happy Easter, Mouse! - written by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond

  • Appropriate for young children under 5
  • Summary: This is the same mouse from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. In this adorable tale he tries to figure out who's leaving Easter eggs all over his house! Great little book to review colors and counting with young children!
  • Earned 4 and ½ stars on Amazon

4. Where Are Baby's Easter Eggs?: A Lift-the-Flap Book (Karen Katz Lift-the-Flap Books)

  • Appropriate for babies and toddlers
  • Summary: Perfect for little ones who love lifting the flaps! Help your little one play seek and find to uncover baby's Easter eggs. Children will discover colorful springtime objects under each of the six sturdy flaps and eventually find Baby's Easter eggs in a fold-out finale!
  • Earned 4 and ½ stars on Amazon

Visit Amazon.com for more wonderful children's books at great prices for Easter and Passover.

There are also beautiful options if you want to focus on the true spiritual meaning of both holidays.

Embrace the season with your children and students!

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Recipe: Warm Fruit Crisps
March 28, 2014 8:20 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
In like a lion and out like a lamb??? Considering snow is falling and wind is howling, the weather STILL feels like a lion outside even though the 31st of March is just days away. I prefer to prepare foods that go along with the temperature. When it is warm outside, cool dishes and drinks are best and when it's chilly and cold, warm meals that fill the belly are my choice. So, during these wild weeks in March when one day is frigid and the next is temperate, deciding what to make and how to prepare various foods can be tricky. Today's recipe is perfect for those transitional days when you want something light and healthy, yet warm and satisfying for your family.

Berry, Berry Fruit Crisp

You will need:

  • Frozen blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries (using frozen fruits for this dish will help to give the necessary consistency)
  • 1 ½ cup oats
  • A dash cinnamon
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup butter
  • A pinch of salt

Recipe Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly butter an 8 x 8 dish.
  2. Remove fruit from its packaging, place in a colander and let it thaw. Drain water from the fruit.
  3. Place thawed and drained fruit into the dish and spread out evenly.
  4. In a separate bowl, melt the butter.
  5. Add in the oats, cinnamon, salt and brown sugar and mix everything together.
  6. Sprinkle the topping across the top of the fruit evenly.
  7. Bake in the oven for approximately 30 minutes or until the topping gets golden and bubbly.
  8. Serve warm with whipped cream or your favorite ice cream.

This recipe is perfect for all! Low in calories and sugar, yet high in flavor and nutrition.

Using frozen berries is a wonderful way to eat an abundance of one of nature's great gifts without needing to wash and chop.

The crispy topping is warm and satisfying, giving the fruit some extra texture and sweetness.


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Maintain Your CEU's - Resources!
March 25, 2014 8:00 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
Last week I wrote a post about the absolute necessity of maintaining your ASHA CEU's and how to do it. This week as promised I am providing a variety of updated resources that you can use to earn your credits as well as find trainings that both interest you and are pertinent to your current job position.
  • Look to YOUR State Speech Organization - In the state of Pennsylvania, our speech organization is PSHA (Pennsylvania Speech-Language and Hearing Association). They hold a conference every year and offer ASHA approved trainings and seminars. Find out what the local speech and language organization is in your area and see what they offer.
  • Look to YOUR Local County/State Education System - In the state of Pennsylvania, our educational training network is PATTAN (Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network) whose main mission "is to support the efforts and initiatives of the Bureau of Special Education and to build the capacity of local educational agencies to serve students who receive special education services." PATTAN offers trainings throughout the year and has served to be an excellent way to earn FREE ASHA credits. Find out what the educational training network in your state is and see what they offer.
  • Linguisystems - Through the linguisystems' website you can browse for FREE ASHA credits; however you do need to become a linguisystems member in order to enjoy this benefit.
  • The ASHA Website - Go right to the source and earn ASHA credits by browsing ASHA's website to find trainings and seminars that are perfect for the type of work you do.
  • Home CEU Connection - This is a website created by two PTs with the vision to "provide convenient and cost effective online continuing education opportunities for rehabilitation professionals." Check out the site and see for yourself. CEU's offered range in price and number of credit hours. 
  • Northern Speech Services (NSS) - "The mission of Northern Speech Services is to empower professionals with cutting-edge tools, information and support to provide the most effective therapy possible." I recently received their flyer in the mail and it caught my eye. The seminars offered were focused mainly on early intervention and addressed issues that were pertinent to my work and the population I serve. I found the information on both the flyer and website easy to read and navigate.

Good luck and I hope that you find these resources helpful and inspiring!

To see other training options, visit my post from January 11th, 2011.

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Recipe: Traditional Easter Breads
March 21, 2014 10:29 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
Last week I posted a delicious recipe for Irish Soda Bread in honor of Saint Patrick's Day and my dear 90 year old Irish born maternal grandmother. Today's recipe shifts the focus to our next holiday and a different kind of loaf:  Easter Bread! This traditional and decorative bread has been a part of my Italian family heritage for decades. My father was born in Calabria, Italy and for as long as I can remember his mother, my grandmother, would make her own Easter breads for all her family, friends and neighbors. Now that she is gone, my father's sisters honor her memory and their family tradition by making the bread. This year I plan on attempting my own!

To make this beautiful and unique bread, you will need:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 whole eggs, dyed if desired
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • (1 teaspoon of Anise - optional)


  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons multicolored sprinkles or candy dragée

*A dragée - (pronounced dra-zhay) is a small sugar ball used to decorate cookies, cakes, cupcakes and candy. It is a bite-sized, colorful form of confectionery with a hard outer shell - which is often used for another purpose (e.g. decorative, symbolic, medicinal, etc.) in addition to consumption purely for enjoyment.

Recipe Steps *Have your little ones help you measure, pour and stir*

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine 1 cup of flour, sugar, salt and yeast and stir well.
  3. Combine the milk and butter in a small saucepan; heat until milk is warm and butter is softened but not melted.
  4. Gradually add the milk and butter to the flour mixture; stirring constantly.
  5. Add two eggs and 1/2 cup flour and beat everything together well.
  6. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition.
  7. When the dough has pulled together, place it onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and workable, about 7-9 minutes.
  8. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth. Put in a warm place for about 1 hour so that dough can rise and expand to about double its size.
  9. Deflate the dough and place again onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into two equally sized rounds; cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
  10. Roll each round into a long roll about 36 inches long and 1 1/2 inches thick. Using the two long pieces of dough, form a loosely braided ring, leaving spaces for the three colored eggs. Seal the ends of the ring together and use your fingers to slide the eggs between the braids of dough.
  11. Place loaf on a buttered baking sheet and cover loosely with a damp towel. Place loaf in a warm place and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. Brush risen loaf with melted butter.
  12. Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 55 minutes, or until golden.
  13. To make icing: Mix together the confectioner's sugar, whole milk and vanilla extract.
  14. Once the bread is cool, drizzle the icing on top between the eggs and decorate with colored sprinkles/ dragée.

Enjoy this bread sliced with a warm coffee or tea and some good conversation with your little ones!

Happy Spring to ALL!

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Maintaining Your CEU's
March 19, 2014 8:33 AM by Pam Tarapchak

*If you are a recent speech language-pathology graduate, listen up because you need to know this!!! If you are a practicing therapist and feel a bit clueless about exactly how to keep and maintain your CEUs effectively, today's post will be vital for you as well! Remember, you can be audited by your state at any time and if you are out of compliance you are at risk of being fined thousands of dollars and even losing your license to practice.

About 3 years ago I wrote a post about the importance of keeping up to date with your CEUs. At that time I was returning from my first maternity leave and was struggling to keep current with my credits. I knew what I needed, but wasn't sure how to do it in the most time and cost effective way. Three years later there are even more resources available for therapists. Today's entry is an update to my 2011 post on the numerous ways YOU can earn the CEU's you need to maintain your ASHA, state and local certifications.

First, it is important to know EXACTLY what you need for where you live and work. In the state of Pennsylvania, speech therapists need to earn 20 ASHA CEUs every two years. My CEU cycle changes in July, so by July 30th of 2014 I need to have earned 20 CEUs since July 30th 2012. If you do not know what you need for your state, find out!! I was audited several years ago by the state of Pennsylvania. Although no one told me this when I moved back to my home state after being in Maryland for 9 years for college, graduate school and work, when I was audited none of that matter and I was expected to show the state documentation proving I had maintained my CEUs.  Which leads me to my next point....

Keeping a record of your trainings is MANDATORY. ASHA has made this much easier for therapists in recent years by creating the online CE Registry. If you are an ASHA member I would recommend joining the registry. The fee is $25 dollars a year to have an account on the registry and honestly, it is a priceless peace of mind. When you attend ASHA accredited trainings in person or view them online, you will be given the option to have your credits submitted to your registry account. It is a stress-free way to know you have what you need.  In addition to the registry....

Keep your own hard copy documentation of your CEU's as well. At my current job, they want yearly documentation to prove that I have been attending trainings and maintaining my CEUs. IF the training provides a certificate at the end, I keep it and make a copy for my employer. I have a folder where I keep all my training certificates. In addition, you can also login into your ASHA CE registry and print out an unofficial copy of your credits, or submit a request for an official copy. You now have a hard copy documented list of all the trainings you have attended, including the date(s) they occurred and number of credits earned.

Join me next week for numerous links and resources where therapists can earn CEUs!



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Recipe: Irish Soda Bread
March 14, 2014 10:40 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
Saint Patrick's Day is this Monday March 17th and whether you have a touch of the Irish in you are not, it's a fun holiday to celebrate and enjoy as a family. Many of the foods associated with this day are both hearty and delicious and are especially perfect THIS year with the tail end of winter still hanging around!

Irish soda bread is a traditional Saint Patrick's Day favorite that was always present in our home. My grandmother, who just celebrated her 90th birthday on March 3rd is 100% Irish American and has taught me to appreciate not just my Irish heritage but the foods associated with it as well. For as long as I can remember we have shared a slice of warm bread and a cup tea with some good conversation!

Here is a simple Irish soda bread recipe that is easy to follow yet tastes fantastic and will fill your kitchen with the heavenly smell of baked bread and hopefully your home with a little luck o' the Irish!

You will need:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 pint sour cream
  • 1 cup raisins

Recipe Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease two 8x4 inch loaf pans.
  2. Mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Let your little one(s) help you measure and pour the ingredients and try not to worry if a little extra sugar gets in or flour spills on the floor. Enjoy the time as a family and create a new tradition in your kitchen!
  3. Add the eggs, sour cream and raisins one by one and mix until combined but do not over stir (Raisins are optional but I personally love them! I think they add sweetness and texture to the bread).
  4. Pour batter evenly between the two pans.
  5. Bake for 1 hour and let cool slightly before slicing, but enjoy warm!

Serving Tips: Try spreading a touch of butter or your favorite jelly/jam on the warm bread and enjoy the earthy goodness of this homemade loaf.

Happy St. Patty's Day!

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March 11, 2014 9:36 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
Looking for ways to design creative and effective therapy lessons all about Saint Patrick's Day for your speech and language students? Here are some wonderfully entertaining book ideas to support an early childhood curriculum and can easily be used to enhance language development both in the classroom and in your home.
  1. The Story of Saint Patrick's Day (board book) - written by Patricia A. Pingry and illustrated by Pamela R. Levy; written and water color illustrations by Heidi Pross Gray
    • Appropriate for children ages 2 and up
    • Summary: This book first discusses the traditional symbols of the holiday that are often found in schoolrooms, such as shamrocks, harps and leprechauns. Then the narrative moves to a short biography of Saint Patrick himself as a shepherd, a missionary and a teacher. This colorful board book ties together the life of St. Patrick with the traditional images of Ireland. Reviews of this book also share that there is a religious component to it as well.
    • Earned 4 stars on Amazon
  2. St. Patrick's Day Countdown (board book) - by Salina Yoon
    • Appropriate for babies and young children 0-3
    • Summary: The reviews are stellar for this adorable children's book. The pages include counting, bright, colorful pictures and a fun rhyming text making this a St. Patrick's Day treat any child would love.
    • Earned 5 stars on Amazon
  3. The Night Before St. Patrick's Day (paperback) - written by Natasha Wing and illustrated by Amy Wummer
    • Appropriate for preschool children ages 3-5
    • Summary: An Irish twist on a Christmas classic! This story is very imaginative and full of St. Patrick's Day themes (shamrocks, a pot of gold, etc.). The illustrations are beautifully done and very whimsical, all about two children setting traps to catch a leprechaun! When they wake the next morning to their dad playing the bagpipes and their mom cooking green eggs, they're shocked to find that they've actually caught one!
    • Earned 5 stars on Amazon

Remember, St. Patrick's Day is next Monday March 17th, so make sure you are prepared!

For more book ideas, visit Amazon.com, your local bookstore or library and let your imagination go!

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Recipe: Applesauce Waffles
March 7, 2014 9:16 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
Today's recipe offers a healthy twist on a family breakfast favorite: WAFFLES! This recipe incorporates several key ingredients to help add earthy flavor AND cut unnecessary fat from a delicious morning meal that your whole family will love!


You will need:

  • Multigrain Pancake/Waffle Mix (Trader Joe's makes a delicious version, which calls for oil, milk and eggs. If you choose this brand, substitute the oil with apple sauce)
  • A waffle iron (If you don't have one, ask around, look at garage sales and check websites like craigslist for used ones. My mother gave me hers. It is over 30 years old and it works perfectly!)
  • Cinnamon
  • Vanilla extract
  • Applesauce
  • Butter (optional)
  • Warmed syrup
  • Butter spray to grease the iron
  • Whipped cream (optional)
  • Fruit for the top: blueberries, strawberries, bananas or sliced apples  

Recipe Steps:

  1. Plug in the waffle iron and let it get nice and hot while you make the waffle mix.
  2. Prepare waffle mix, adding in a half cup of apple sauce to help moisten the powdered batter and cinnamon to enhance the flavor (how much you add is up to you!). In addition, add in a teaspoon of vanilla extract and stir everything together.
  3. Let your children/students help you measure, pour and stir!
  4. Spray the waffle iron with spray butter to keep the waffles from sticking. *Spray each time before putting new batter onto the iron.
  5. Let the waffles cook until they are golden brown and then remove from iron using a fork to loosen them.
  6. If making these in a classroom, cut the waffles into quarters so that every child can sample a bite (you can always make more!)
  7. Once everyone has a waffle, pass around a bowl of whipped cream and a bowl of your favorite fruit.
  8. Let the child help scoop the whipped cream and gently add fresh fruit to the top.
  9. Serve with a yummy glass of cold milk or a cup of 100% fresh orange juice.

These waffles earn rave reviews in our home!

I made them last weekend for family members visiting from Florida and were hungry for a warm, hearty breakfast.

I served a tray of fresh fruits with our waffles and we all enjoyed a healthy twist to an American favorite!

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The Consultation Discussion
March 4, 2014 8:56 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
Last week I wrote a post about "The Consultation Format." However, in April 2013 I wrote the initial post entitled "Speech Consultations and Home Care." From that first post, a therapist from Indiana offered the following observations and questions:

"I really like this idea (of conducting consultations), especially that another therapist is present to help implement any ideas. In our area, we have a team of therapists who only conduct evaluations, then, if a child is determined as eligible for services after the evaluation, the team recommends the level of service, which is provided by therapists not on the evaluation team.

For this consult level of service, at what point in the process does a formal evaluation occur? I'm wondering if in our area, it would make more sense for the ST who does the evaluation to provide the consult or if it would make more sense for a therapist to provide a consult, then, if it is determined that the child still has a need after a couple of months, he/she be evaluated then to determine level of service.

Thoughts anyone?"

I would first like to answer the therapist's question: At what point in the process does a formal evaluation occur? My answer is that in our area a formal evaluation is not really part of the consultation process. A formal evaluation happens at the time of the initial evaluation/entry into the birth to 3 process. Formal testing then occurs yearly until the child transitions to the 3-5 program. In addition, we have a separate evaluation team who conducts the evaluations both during the initial visit and at the annual testing. These teams may be composed of different therapists and therefore are not the same evaluation team.

To answer the question regarding if a formal evaluation would be needed to determine the level of services after the consultation is complete, I would have to say "no." The child has already gone through the testing within the past year so to do more is not really necessary. In addition, they will be re-tested within the next year as long as they remain in the program. Adding additional testing is really not necessary and could compromise testing validity to have it done more than once within the same year. Our services our recommended by the team and is a group decision based on what the child's main needs are at that time. If speech has now become a more crucial need than the other therapies, the team may also decide to reduce PT, OT and/or Education to help support the focus on speech (or vice versa depending on the needs of the child). 

Please write in to share your thoughts, questions and experiences!

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About this Blog

    Stephanie Bruno Dowling, M.S. CCC-SLP
    Occupation: Speech-Language Pathologist
    Setting: Early Intervention in Delaware County, PA
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