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Early Intervention Speech Therapy

Spooky Books for Preschoolers
October 10, 2014 7:41 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
Autumn is here and the Halloween holiday is just 3 weeks away! Although Halloween can sometimes be scary for little ones, there are many adorable books available to add to your speech and language lessons in the classroom. Today's post highlights several age-appropriate books that can be used with toddlers and preschoolers learning about pumpkins, costumes and all that happens with this often zany holiday!   
  • Duck & Goose, Find a Pumpkin (Board book) - by Tad Hills (author, illustrator)
    • Appropriate for children ages 2-3, toddlers - preschool
    • We have this book at home and I use it in therapy all the time. Duck and Goose see their buddy Thistle with a really great pumpkin and then spend their time searching for one they can be proud of. A great book to help practice yes/no questions and other basic language skills, such as picture/item identification. Cute and funny!
    • Earned 4 and ½ stars on Amazon
  • Where Is Baby's Pumpkin? (Karen Katz Lift-the-Flap Books) - by Karen Katz (author, illustrator)
    • Appropriate for children ages 1-4, toddlers - preschool
    • We also have this book, and it is always a favorite as most "lift the flap" books are! Each page offers another possible hiding spot for baby's pumpkin and in its place children will find an array of colorful and sparkly substitutes, such as candy apples, a friendly ghost and happy bats!
    • Earned 5 stars on Amazon
  • Who's There on Halloween? (Board book) - by Susan Hagen Nipp (author), Pamela Conn Beall (author), and Charles Reasoner (illustrator)
    • Appropriate for children ages 3-7
    • Summary: This happy Halloween read encourages little ones to play along and use the clues to name the holiday characters hidden inside!
    • Earned 5 stars on Amazon
  • Five Little Pumpkins (Board book) - by Dan Yaccarino (illustrator)
    • Appropriate for children ages 1-5, toddlers - preschool
    • Summary: This fun little book is an illustrated version of the popular nursery rhyme: Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate. The first one said, "Oh my, it's getting late," and so on. Toddlers will want to chant along with this popular rhyme again and again. The vibrant and bold illustrations bring these pumpkins to life with personality and style. Toddlers are sure to laugh out loud as these pumpkins roll out of sight!
    • Earned 5 stars on Amazon

Please share your Halloween and pumpkin book favorites!

 

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Tips for Families Relocating
October 7, 2014 8:33 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
Today I visited one of my homecare families for their weekly speech therapy appointment. Early in our session, mom shared that they have been making plans to move to a neighboring state by the end of this month. Afraid of losing services for her daughter, she then asked if our therapists would be able to travel to their new home which will now be counties away from where they currently live. Of course, I then explained to her that we only provide services for children living in our county and that she would have a new homecare team once they moved. We then began to talk about steps she could take to help make the transition for her daughter as smooth as possible.

The following are my suggested steps in the event a family is relocating and has a child receiving special education services:

  • Contact your current service coordinator and therapists and let them know of your plans to move. Ask what procedures they have in place for this situation.
  • Have a copy of your child's most recent IFSP/IEP and Evaluation Report on hand.
  • Contact the county where are you moving to - call them at least one month prior to your move, let them know you are coming and find out what their procedures are for new residents and students. Be proactive and set up an initial meeting to begin the process.
  • Gather session notes and recent progress report s to share with your child's new therapy team in the event they would like to continue with the current therapists' treatment plan.

In my experience and to my knowledge, how service delivery is implemented when a child moves to a new state depends upon the individual county and state. For this specific case, annual testing was conducted less than a month ago and a new IFSP was written and signed directly following the results. My hope for this family is that the state where they are moving to will be able to receive and implement all this newly drafted and signed information. The goal is that there will be little to no lull in services and the transition to a new state with new therapists will be as easy and as smooth as possible.  

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Managing Behaviors in the Classroom: A Personal Reflection
October 3, 2014 8:57 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
This week at our preschool it is evident that the "honeymoon phase" of the beginning of a new school year is officially over. We have several students who are now exhibiting aggressive and non-compliant behaviors on a daily basis throughout the week. Some behaviors are fairly benign, such as walking away from circle time, not wanting to participate in music class or getting a little rough during free play and on the playground. Other behaviors present as much more aggressive and even dangerous, such as turning over a table, trying to leave the classroom (eloping) and throwing chairs/toys/etc.

As a supportive staff member, I see these severe behaviors pose many challenges in many ways. The behaviors affect everyone in the room, both adults and children, inevitably hindering the teaching as well as the learning. Here is list of some of the issues that face a school/classroom when significant behaviors emerge frequently: 

  • Maintaining the safety of the other children and staff in the room
  • Maintaining the safety of the child(ren) exhibiting the behavior(s)
  • How to continue teaching through/beyond the behaviors
  • Ensuring there is enough staff to manage all the children effectively
  • Keeping data on behaviors while they are happening

I am a licensed and certified speech therapist. I am not a behavior specialist. I have attended some trainings on how to manage behaviors in a classroom setting and now have several years of experience working with aggressive and challenging behaviors; however, many factors can affect an outcome and each child and situation is unique. Is the child on various medications that may be contributing to the behaviors? Are they being abused at home? Do they have a medical condition that is causing these behaviors? As we collect data, ask questions, try various strategies and attempt to build rapport with these students, concerns mount and spirits grow weary. I find that I am currently spending the majority of my time "putting out fires" rather than addressing the communication needs of my students.

In April of 2011 I wrote a post entitled "Behavior Modification During Speech Therapy" where I addressed this exact issue and shared techniques we were given then to manage and prevent behaviors. The expectations for our staff and the techniques we are mandated to implement have not changed in over 3 years, but with each new student, new challenges arise. In these early days of a new school year it is vital to shape behaviors, eliminating the bad and celebrating the good. There are days when this is easier said than done, but reminding myself of the lessons I've learned can offer the boost of encouragement I need to be an effective and caring educator each and every day.

Are you dealing with difficult behavior issues during therapy? How do you handle them?

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iPad Accessories for Young Children
September 30, 2014 7:39 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling

Last week I attended a review meeting for a little girl I work with weekly. After the meeting, her mom shared that she had purchased the "Laugh & Learn Apptivity Creation Center" by Fisher Price for her daughter to help her to use the iPad safely and asked that I incorporate it into my next session. Today when I saw her, I did just that and was pleasantly surprised by how well it worked and the numerous options provided by the device!

The following is a shortened version of the description from the website:

"A sturdy case with clear film helps to protect your iPad device from dribbles and drool as baby plays. With four smart shape stampers, baby can interact with two downloadable apps allowing baby to learn, create and discover shapes, sorting, colors and more. A colorful play panel snaps over the film for even more ways to play without your iPad. Use the Laugh & Learn Apptivity Creation Center flat or set up the easel on back for variety.

Features

• Download 2 FREE apps from the App Store(SM) to interact with 4 smart shape stampers

• Snap-on play panel for more hands-on fun, without your iPad

 • Locks securely inside durable, sturdy case

• Clear film protects from dribbles, drool, teething & unwanted pressing of home button

• Two ways to set up for play: Flat or easel base; Textured handle & rattle beads for on-the-go fun

• Introduces shapes, colors, sorting & more

• Durable case for all generations of iPad

....2 downloadable apps with sing-along songs, fun phrases and exciting animations let baby explore and discover shapes, sorting, colors & more!"

For the little one I work with who is functioning at around 12-15 months, this device serves as a fun, safe and dynamic way to use an iPad and learn a variety of skills, such as colors, shapes and following simple 1 step directions. This tool also provides plenty of room for growth and independent creativity; therefore it is absolutely appropriate for toddlers and children older as well. The family downloaded the 2 free apps and we had the opportunity to explore both today. The apps, the snap-on panel and the case itself are all user friendly for both adults and children!

Here is a direct link to the Fisher Price site including additional product information and pricing: http://www.fisher-price.com/fp.aspx?st=900004&e=storeProduct&pid=74898

Additional tools and protective cases offered for the iPad, iPhone and Kindle Fire by Fisher Price: http://www.fisher-price.com/fp.aspx?e=search&N=0&Ntk=Products&Ntx=mode%2Bmatchany&Nr=171&st=900000&Ntt=ipad

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Autumn Books for Young Children
September 26, 2014 9:35 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
Happy Autumn!

Now that summer is over and school is back in session, we have the opportunity to once again design creative and effective therapy lessons for our speech and language students. Here are some colorful and fun book ideas to support an early childhood curriculum that can easily be used to enhance language development both in the classroom and in your home. Take your students out for an autumn walk after reading one of these books and watch their observations and vocabulary come alive!

1. Mouse's First Fall (A Board Book) -- by Lauren Thompson (author), Buket Erdogan (illustrator)

  • Appropriate for children ages 2-4
  • Summary: "It is autumn and Mouse, accompanied by Minka, a larger rodent wearing a pink jacket, go out to play. As they enjoy the day, Mouse learns about leaves, their colors and shapes, and the fun that comes from piling them up and jumping in them. When Minka hides in the heap, Mouse is confused, but readers will quickly see her tail curling above the fallen foliage. Bright hues evoke the season and realistically show the leaves ... Swirling brushstrokes and texture add interest to the paintings."
  • Earned 4 and ½ stars on Amazon

2. The Busy Little Squirrel (A Board Book) -- by Nancy Tafuri (author, illustrator)

  • Appropriate for children ages 1-4
  • Summary: "The leaves have started to fall. The air is cold. Squirrel needs to get ready for winter. He cannot nibble with the mice. He does not have time to hop with the frogs or run with the dogs. Focusing on all the charming features of the fall season, this sweetly illustrated story features country animals, pumpkins, leaves, apples and other signs of autumn."
  • Earned 5 stars on Amazon

3.  Apple Farmer Annie Board Book -- by Monica Wellington (author)

  • Appropriate for children ages 3 and up
  • Summary: "Filled with bright primary colors and pictures of America's favorite fruit, Wellington's enticing story follows Annie, a busy apple farmer. She picks, counts, sorts, bakes tasty treats, makes cider and applesauce and sells her best apples." This is a really fantastic book that provides kid-friendly recipes at the end! We have read this at school and the kids love it.
  • Earned 4 and ½ stars on Amazon

Here is a brief list of some additional books about the fall season and activities:

                4.  Fall Leaves (A Board book) -- by Liesbet Slegers (author)

                5.  Fletcher and the Falling Leaves -- by Julia Rawlinson (author), Tiphanie Beeke (illustrator)

                6.  Leaves -- by David Ezra Stein (author, illustrator)

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Peanut-Free Packable Preschool Snacks!
September 23, 2014 7:57 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
My daughter came home this week with the letter I have been dreading: "All Lunches and Snacks MUST be peanut-free." As a therapist working in a preschool that is also peanut-free and as a mom, I understand completely the importance and need for this rule. If my child was the one with the severe peanut allergy I would be relieved to know that the school and parents support the policy and are protecting my child.

BUT, as the mom of a picky eater, this can be a tough rule to follow. I paid extra-close attention to what the kids were eating this past Friday when I was lunch mom in my daughter's classroom. One of the biggest trends I noticed was that most students did not have a main lunch food, such as a sandwich, to eat. My guess is that at ages 3-5 most children prefer a peanut butter and jelly sandwich over anything else and without the peanut butter, you are left with plain old jelly.

At our school, additional snacks such as granola bars and hummus have also been added to the banned list. Peanut butter and chocolate chip granola bars are staple foods for my daughter. One of the other moms from her class recently posted on her Facebook status a plea for non-peanut food ideas that can be packed in her daughter's lunch and do not need to be heated or refrigerated by more than an ice pack. The response was incredible! Over 30 comments poured in with tons of ideas!

Today I would like to share some of those healthy ideas, as well as some of my own go-to snacks:

Main Foods:

  • Bagel with cream cheese (many varieties of bagels and cream cheese flavors exist!)
  • Thermos foods:
    • Macaroni and cheese
    • Soup
    • Dinner leftovers, such as raviolis, mixed vegetables
  • Tuna fish, egg salad, chicken salad
  • Lunch meat - on bread or rolled up, etc.

Snack Foods:

  • Yogurt and Go-gurts
  • Fresh fruit and vegetables (such as carrots, celery, sliced peppers)
  • Dried fruits, such as raisins, dried cranberries (Trader Joes sells an excellent assortment)
  • Applesauce (many varieties available)
  • Apple butter, pumpkin butter, various jellies and spreads
  • Carrots and ranch dressing dip
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Small cheese crackers
  • Cheese sticks
  • Fruit snacks and fruit "leather"
  • Sunflower butter (peanut butter-like spread made from sunflower seeds. Trader Joe's brand is delicious. Can be used just like peanut butter)
  • Rice cakes
  • Rice (non-granola) cereals
  • Corn chips and salsa
  • Homemade muffins and loaf breads

Looking for one last healthy snack idea?

Create your own "trail mixes" minus the nuts and granola!

 Try using raisins, dried bananas and cranberries, rice Chex or other rice-based cereal

all mixed together into a happy medley. Delicious!

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Easy Resources to Share with Parents
September 19, 2014 9:09 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
My last two posts addressed the challenge of implementing items that families have in their home to support therapy and IFSP goals and strategies. In my posts I specifically addressed populations that may not have access to many books and toys for their children.  As a therapist working with very young children, it can be difficult when supplies are limited. Creativity and resourcefulness for the therapist and ideally for the parent as well must take over! To read more about my ideas for "using what you've got," visit my last two posts: Using Items in the Home and Using Items in the Home, Continued.

In our county, we are currently being told that any resources we bring in we must leave with the family unless it is a more high-tech communication device that we are piloting. Then we are allowed to bring it in for a session or two and if it is working, we must do our best to rent the same or a similar device for the family to use. Although this theory is very good and well appreciated, the reality of the situation can often be quite difficult.

Today's post offers a complete list along with brief descriptions of simple resources you can make and leave with a family. It is very important to remember that it is vital for therapists to model HOW to use the resources we provide so that parents understand what to do with them and how to prompt their child:

  • Flashcards - Photocopying flashcards or using programs such as Boardmaker to create pages of pictures are two ways to help families build their child's vocabulary. You can also print resources from the web.
  • Music Pictures - I have a set of about 8 nursery rhyme pictures that I use with many of my students. I will often make color copies of them for the family to use so that they can practice making choices and singing simple tunes.
  • Pacing Board - You can easily create a pacing board using construction paper and 3-4 post-it notes. Laminate it and share with families!
  • Articulation Handouts - Photocopy vocabulary words/pictures as well as artistic handouts if appropriate and leave for the family to use throughout the day.
  • Photo album - Ask the parents to provide pictures of family members and friends their child knows and sees on a regular basis. Have them help you create a simple album the family can use to identify and name the people closest to their child.

Have a wonderful weekend and Happy Fall!

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2 comments »     
Using Items in the Home, Continued
September 16, 2014 8:00 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
Last week I wrote a post about the task of only using items found in the various homes where you are doing therapy. This is the expectation we work under in the county where I practice speech therapy. When you work in impoverished areas, this can definitely be a challenge. Many children have very little access to toys and various resources. Families are often struggling just to put food on the table and pay their bills; therefore toys are often a luxury that does not exist. Working with children in this type of environment can be very difficult so learning how to improvise is vital!

Here are some additional ways to do so:

  • Magazines, catalogs, coupon flyers and circulars - If the home where you are working does not have any or very few children's books which could be used in your therapy session, ask if the family has any catalogs, flyers, coupon circulars, etc. Many times families will have basic mailings that are sent out by companies, local food stores, etc. Coupons will have pictures of food, school supplies, basic household items, etc. Use them to build receptive and expressive vocabulary skills. Cut them apart and flip through them like flash cards. Use toy catalogs to hold the child's interest. Look for favorite toys and familiar cartoon characters. These are all common items that can be found in most homes.
  • Basic household items - Ask the family for basic household items such as a spoon, bowl, fork, measuring cups, wooden spoon, pots and pans, toothpaste and brush, etc. Practice naming these items. Practice using these items appropriately through pretend play. Get the child involved by "cooking" the child's favorite food and using the real materials from their kitchen.
  • The child's clothing - Ask the family for some of the child's clothing and practice naming them as well as body parts. Items such as socks, shirts, pants, shoes and pajamas as well as cold weather items, such as hats, mittens and scarves are perfect. Practice identifying what each item is called and how the child wears them, such as "You wear a hat on your ____" and "You wear mittens on your ____." If the child has a doll or stuffed animal, you can dress them as well!

Join me Friday for simple supplies you can make/bring and leave with a family to help to improve carryover and parental involvement.

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Using Items in the Home
September 12, 2014 7:57 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
If you are a therapist working in homecare, then you know the challenges of trying to use what the family has in their home during therapy sessions. In our county, therapists are encouraged to only use items that the family possesses in our therapy sessions. Years ago when I first began working in homecare this was not the case. In those days we were able to bring in various tools and toys, whatever we felt would be helpful, all in the hopes of eliciting appropriate speech and language skills.

Now that I have worked in both settings, I think both models have advantages and disadvantages. Most likely the ideal therapy model lies somewhere in the middle. Bring in items when you really need them such as to demonstrate a skill for a parent or to try something new. There are times when, as a therapist, you may want or need a specific tool/toy/device.  A little bit of balance goes a long way.

Now when I enter a home that has limited resources on a weekly basis, I rely on my own creativity. Many of the homes I am in have very few toys, if any at all, and the ones they do have are often broken or not age appropriate. It can be very challenging to find toys and items that interest the child and are safe and fun to play with. This daily reality has challenged me to do two things: 1. Make tools and give them to the family to keep and 2. Look around the room for items I can morph into something fun and engaging.

The following two items can be found in most homes in some capacity, even if they are a low income household. I've also offered a description of how you can use these items in your sessions:

A Mirror - Ask if the family has a small hand-held mirror or a small one hanging up. Any type of mirror will do and can be used to practice speech. The child can watch their mouth and see their reflection, giving them ideal visual feedback about their own oral anatomy and what it is capable of. 

Cups - Ask the family for some plastic cups which can be used as a microphone. Talk into the plastic cup and it will amplify your voice a bit, creating an echo. I use a cup often when I don't have access to a microphone. They can also be used as toys: stack them, hide things under or in them or turn them over and tap them with a spoon or spatula making some unique music.

Join me Tuesday for additional ideas and items you can use in homecare!

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Fluency Goals for a Preschooler
September 9, 2014 7:49 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling

Now that the school year has begun, so have our IEP meetings. From time to time we receive Evaluation Reports on new students entering our preschool program. The reports are hot off the press and our job is to read them and design goals that are appropriate for that particular child. There are times when this is not an easy task, as information is often limited and we have not personally met or evaluated the child so we are dependent upon the information we are given.

Recently I received an evaluation for a child who is experiencing "dysfluencies" and "stuttering, including sound and word repetition when communicating." He is young, just turning 3 within a week from now. My challenge now is to write a goal that is appropriate and attainable, implementing strategies that are both pertinent and practical. Based upon the information I was provided as well as the child's age, awareness and cognitive level, my goal and strategies recommend the use of visual supports, such as a pacing board to help make fluent speech more tangible. My main focus during the early days of therapy will be to get to know the child and pay special attention to their speech patterns. How aware are they of their stutter? Are they embarrassed by their dysfluencies? How is or isn't it hindering their communication?

According to an article written by Craig Coleman, MA, CCC-SLP, Stuttering Center News, Volume 2, Issue 1, of February 2004:

"When writing an IEP for a child with a stuttering disorder, it is important to target all aspects of the child's disorder, not just the number of disfluencies he or she produces. It is important to address the "quality" of the fluency, not just the "quantity." This means goals could address secondary behaviors, physical tension, or avoidance. Also, the child may not have control over how fluent he is. He only has control over whether he uses techniques to help him speak more easily. Goals should focus on the child's effort in addition to the desired clinical outcome."

The article also reminds readers at the end that any objective "should be individualized to meet a child's specific needs. Writing IEPs in this way will help the child address the entire stuttering disorder."

Join me in a few weeks when I report back about how therapy is going!

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Summer Speech Miracles?
September 5, 2014 7:51 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
There are numerous research studies that give evidence that children often LOSE skills over the 2 to 3 summer months when they are not attending school. According to the RIF (Reading is Fundamental) website the "summer slide ... is what happens when young minds sit idle for three months." The site reports that the National Summer Learning Association has found that "a conservative estimate of lost instructional time is approximately two months or roughly 22 percent of the school year ... It's common for teachers to spend at least a month re-teaching material that students have forgotten over the summer. That month of re-teaching eliminates a month that could have been spent on teaching new information and skills." In addition, "Low-income students also lose more than two months in reading achievement, despite the fact that their middle-class peers make slight gains"(Cooper, 1996).

As a mom of two young girls and as a speech therapist who has worked in a school setting for many years, I can absolutely see how the "summer slide" is a slippery reality for many children. I'm sure this is especially true for children whose families have limited resources and opportunities for them to engage in learning experiences and activities over those summer months. If your child is attending various camps, doing their summer reading, visiting the library and local museums, etc. then hopefully skill loss would be kept to a minimum.

With all that being said, I am so very happy to report that most if not all of the children who attended our summer school session this year are showing skill retention during this first week of school. I had the opportunity to work with and observe our students this week and those who were just beginning to imitate modeled speech in the classroom during the spring months are now using 1-2 words to initiate speech, answer questions and make simple inquiries. I also noted an expansion of vocabulary words as well as improvement with non-verbal body language, such as eye contact, smiles and overall social engagement.

Was it their 4 week summer school attendance at our preschool? Was it trips with family to the shore, the zoo and amusement parks? Was it longer days playing outside with siblings and friends? Or was it just natural human development that children experience during a 3 month timeframe? It's difficult to say. No formal research was conducted. Regardless, I am happy to report many of our students have arrived back at school looking excited and eager to play, learn and demonstrate what they know!

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Starting Off Right: A Personal Reflection and Reminder
September 2, 2014 8:07 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling

Has school started yet where you are? Are you READY for a brand-new school year?

Now that I am working in both homecare and preschool I had very little vacation time this summer. Our homecare program runs 51 weeks a year, so even when preschool is on a break, I continue to see my homecare caseload. Now that September has arrived and the school year has officially begun, I look back at summer and it seems to be a bit of a blur. I was able to schedule in a few long weekends but there was no extended break during the warm 2014 summer months.

That being said, I am now faced with preparing for the 2014-2015 school year and trying to muster up the energy to do so! As in the past, I have created a checklist to help me get ready for the upcoming year so that I am proactive and ready for all the work challenges that await! I have found that when I strive to get organized early and lay a strong foundation at the beginning of the school year, everything goes much smoother.

Here is the checklist I created for NOW:

  • Build a realistic schedule so that I can balance both my preschool and my homecare caseloads
  • Send home a "Welcome to Speech" note to all parents!
  • Introduce myself to all the new parents!
  • Read over all IEPs and speech goals!
  • Observe and informally assess all the new children!
  • Clean out and put away data sheets for all the children who graduated!
  • Create new data sheets for all my new students!
  • Consult with colleagues - talk with the teachers about their schedules, collaborate and coordinate with other therapists - OT and PT!
  • Stay on top of testing, report writing and drafting IEPs!
  • Put time aside each week to plan for upcoming therapy sessions!

The school year kicks off today, September 2nd, so I will begin NOW to implement my New School Year "To Do" List! Share how you like to start off your school year....What are some mandatory MUSTs on your to do list?

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Welcome to Preschool Books!
August 29, 2014 8:00 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
As we all know, the first day of school can be daunting and even scary, especially when children are just 3 and 4 years old and entering a classroom for maybe the first time. Reading fun, light-hearted stories about the experience can really put their mind at ease. Today's post highlights several age-appropriate books that can be used with children entering school for the first time and getting ready to begin preschool!

1. The Night Before Preschool - written by Natasha Wing, illustrated by Amy Wummer

  • Appropriate for children ages 3-5, preschoolers
  • We actually own this book and it is adorable! I purchased it last year when my daughter began preschool as a 3-year-old and was very nervous about her first day. This endearing tale helped to lessen her fears and encourage a sense of anticipation and excitement for the fun times that were waiting for her "big girl" school!
  • Earned 4 and ½ stars on Amazon

2. Maisy Goes to Preschool: A Maisy First Experiences Book - written and illustrated by Lucy Cousins

  • Appropriate for children ages 3-5, preschoolers
  • This book is part of the "Maisy" series and kids love them! We own "Maisy Cleans Up" and it is one of my younger daughter's favorite books. The summary on Amazon states that: "Preschool for Maisy means a day filled with friends and things to do, from the time she hangs her coat on a special peg to the time she says good-bye. There's painting and snack time, stories and nap time .... (this book is a) child-friendly look at a day in the life of a preschooler."
  • Earned 5 stars on Amazon

3. Curious George's First Day of School - written by H. A. Rey

  • Appropriate for children ages 3-8, preschooler - 3rd grade
  • Summary from Amazon: "Curious George has been invited to Mr. Apple's class to be a special helper! George is just the right monkey for the job - until he starts to wreak his usual havoc, that is. Red and yellow paint makes orange, yellow and blue makes green ... and a mixture of all the paint colors makes a big mess! ... A full-color twenty-four-page paperback with bonus activities inside, including an ‘Ants on a Log' recipe, a word search, and a ‘Color Your World' craft idea."
  • Earned 4 and ½ stars on Amazon

Here are some additional books celebrating the first day of school, appropriate for preschoolers:

Franklin Goes to School (Classic Franklin Story)

Little Critter: First Day of School

Amelia Bedelia's First Day of School

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Back to School: Know Your Child's IEP Team
August 26, 2014 8:21 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
If you are sending your child off to preschool for the first time or maybe you are sending them to a new school this year, today's post is for you! Building a rapport with the professionals working with your child is vital to their progress and will be instrumental as you make decisions in the future. Now is the time! Read below to learn what to do:
  • Reach out to your child's therapists - Most therapists will send home a "welcome back to school" note, introducing themselves, letting you know the days and times your child will receive therapy, etc. They may send you their contact information and the best way(s) to get in touch with them. If they do, RESPOND! Acknowledge their note and let them know you are an involved parent who is concerned about your child's progress. IF you DON'T receive a note from your child's therapist(s), initiate communication. Send a note or call the school, maybe even stop by for a visit. Set up a line of communication and build a relationship with the individuals working with your child.
  • Find out HOW they will communicate with you - Ongoing communication with teachers and therapists throughout the school year is important. In the past, we used email to interact with parents; however we now use a communication book which travels back and forth between home and school with the child. All of the students' teachers and therapists, as well as their parents/caregivers write in this notebook. Homework and follow-up activities are attached to it as well. Find out the policy at your child's school so that you are aware of WHO is working with your child, WHAT they are working on and HOW things are going.
  • Ask them to send home activities to work on at home - I always love when parents ask how they can support their child's communication skills at home. The work we do at school is only improved when reinforced at home. Homework and follow-up activities are imperative for your child's success!
  • Review your child's IEP goals - Take out your child's IEP and review the goals. Look for work to come home that supports their goals and what they should be working on. If you don't have it, lost it or never received a copy, contact your child's school and ask for a copy of the IEP to be sent home.
  • Request a face-to-face meeting - Although this is not mandatory, as a parent you can request a meeting at any time, so if you feel like it is necessary, request to meet with your child's teachers and therapists to discuss all the topics listed above and any other concerns you may have.

Best of Luck for a Happy and Successful 2014-2015 School Year!

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The Free APP Every SLP Needs!
August 22, 2014 12:39 PM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
Today I met with an SLP who specializes in Assistive Technology and does consultative work for the Birth to 3 population in our county. She was a wealth of information, and I learned a ton of new techniques that I can use and expand with the young child and family we met with today, as well as other children I work with in both 0-3 and 3-5. One of the most remarkable new resources I learned about today was an app called: Choice Board Creator. 

Choice Board Creator is a free app perfect "for creating customizable choice boards for the unique needs of individuals with communication challenges. It reinforces correct choice by expanding the select image as well as playing the customized auditory rewards. It is an excellent tool to train and prepare users for more sophisticated communication devices via an easy, simple-to-use choice-making platform."

 Here is a list of just some of the valuable features of this app:

  • Large buttons
  • Black/white contrast to facilitate visual attention
  • Box sizes are adjustable
  • Customizable so that you can have 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 boxes per page. Below is an example of a 6 box screen as well as the pop-up directions box that can be accessed to customize your boards (insert picture).
  • Users can download their own pictures (from your iPad library) as well as snap camera pictures on the spot - both are simple and require few steps
  • Users can create blank boxes as distractors to suit users of all levels
  • Users can also type text into the choice box - use this feature to teach sight words, etc.
  • Users can download different sounds, their own music, as well as their own voice to accompany pictures

Below is an example of a three picture boards I created in about 2 minutes in my living room. I used the camera button and snapped pictures of three items and placed them into each box. If I were to use this in therapy I would record my voice naming each picture:  duck, pizza, glasses. When you touch the picture, my voice would be heard naming it.  A set-up like this can easily be used for picture/curriculum vocabulary identification, function, etc. (ie. "Find the duck." Or "Touch the object that helps you to see," etc.)

I am VERY excited about this app! A program like this will be very instrumental during the school year when conducting my language-based recipe lessons. I will now be able to snap pictures of the ingredients on site, as well as actions and steps taken to create the recipe. The possibilities are endless! As the app site description says "The possibilities are (ONLY) limited by your creativity." Good luck!

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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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