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While I was in graduate school, we had to do a project in my fluency (stuttering) class that compared stuttering to a common object.  We were put into groups for this challenge.  A challenge it was!  The object had to be able to be compared to the theory that you chose for stuttering and represent the features of stuttering.  Whew!  That was hard to do.  Please keep in mind that no one KNOWS why people stutter.  There are only THEORIES of stuttering.  We know more about how to treat stuttering than we do about the cause of stuttering.

My team chose snowflakes.  We had each person in the "audience" (our class) create a paper snowflake to demonstrate that, just like every snowflake is different, every person who stutters in different.  The way the stutters appear (blocks, part word reps, whole word reps, etc) are different, sometimes secondary behaviors are exhibited, the onset can vary, some people stutter more when they read, some stutter less when they read, etc.

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Snow is created when moisture in the atmosphere condenses into droplets and freezes due to the air temperature.  The shape of the snowflake/crystal is secondary to the air temperature and make-up of the water droplet.  If the snow melts slightly and refreezes, then it becomes sleet or hail.  It can also become slightly warmer and bond to other snow flakes to make larger flakes (if you have ever lived in a snowy climate, you know just how big they can get)!!  

In the demands-capacity theory of stuttering, it is believed that a child can be predisposed to stuttering by having the right precipitating factors (gender, age, familial link, etc).  Just like a snowflake is predisposed to becoming a snowflake by being a water droplet in the atmosphere.  In the demands-capacity theory, a child who stutters (CWS) exhibits dysfluencies when the demand on his/her speech outweighs his/her capacity.  For instance, a child who is quite young (age 2-3) who is learning language at a rapid pace and can think faster than he/she can talk may begin to show dysfluencies when his/her demand for language is greater than his/her capacity of motor planning.  The atmosphere must be at the right temperature to make a snowflake, which shows that the environment played a role, but did not cause the snowflake.  Parents DO NOT cause stuttering.  It's simply environmental factors (both internally within the child and externally when natural language learning is occurring) coupled with predisposition.

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Some children "spontaneously recover" meaning that they simply stop stuttering.  Some snowflakes melt and fall to the earth as rain.

Some children may stop stuttering for a while and then begin again.  Typically when they begin again, it is more severe and will require speech therapy.  These kids would be more like sleet (when the snowflake melted and then re-froze).

Some children continue to stutter.  The theory that we chose to explain those who perpetuate their stutters is called the multifactorial theory.  The multifactorial theory suggests that heredity, brain development, personality, learned behavior, and environmental factors all converge to cause and perpetuate stuttering. The elements of temperament and environmental influences fit well with ideas of how stuttering is maintained once it begins. Many times parents report that children who persist in stuttering are often sensitive.  A child who is sensitive about his/her pattern of speech being dysfluent may tense up creating more dysfluencies and more stress about the dysfluencies and then it "snowballs".  The environment can also play a role.  If the child is in an environment where speech is used at a slower rate or there isn't quite as much demand on his/her speech then he/she may be able to relax enough to allow his/her brain to recognize the speech pattern and speak at a more fluent rate.  If the environment is a more stressful situation where people are finishing your sentences or you have a large audience or you are being timed (speech), then you may feel more stress and more stutters will come out.  Now, if that type of environment perpetuates itself and the child is in that type of environment long term, then his/her stutters may persist.

This comparison and these theories are on the tip of the iceburg (pun intended) when talking about fluency or stuttering.  If you have more questions about fluency or stuttering, please feel free to message me or speak with your speech therapist!


 
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This is a game that I posted about a year ago.  However, I wanted to re-highlight it for those of you who haven't seen it.  It's a great print and play folder game!  Plus, it has a football theme, which is perfect since the Super Bowl is Sunday!!  

This game is blank and so it's completely customizable to each client.  You can either laminate it so you can write on it with a dry erase marker and erase.  Or you can print a copy for each student and let him/her take it home after the end of the session.

Articulation:  Write in the articulation words that he/she needs to work on.

Language:  Write in language tasks that correspond with your students' goals

Pragmatics:  Write in different social situations that a student might need to practice role playing.

Fluency/Stuttering:  Have a student practice his/her techniques for getting out of a stuttered moment or write different topics that your student has to talk about it order to practice "smooth speech"



Click here to download the pdf version

 
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Last week I went to a fabulous presentation on selective mutism.  What is selective mutism?  It occurs when a child will not speak in a certain situation (most typically school), but will speak in other situations freely.  A child can exhibit selective mutism with a change in person (a child is talking freely at a restaurant, but sees someone from school and immediately shuts down) or a change in location (talks freely at home, but not at school).  These children are not just shy, but have NO COMMUNICATION - that means no verbal communication, no non-verbal communication (pointing, gestures, writing, etc), and no facial expressions.  These kids don't make any sounds at all.

The presentation was using the S-CAT method (Social Communication Anxiety Treatment).  One of the neatest things that I saw at the conference and had never thought of was to have the kids let you know how scary an activity is.  Now, this chart would be used with a kid who has begun to use some verbal communication and is slowly overcoming selective mutism.  After each activity, you have the child point to the scary chart and let him/her tell you how scary an activity is.  This allows the child to realize that a communication activity (whether is verbal or nonverbal communication) is not as scary as they thought.  It also gives the therapist feedback to know if the child is ready for that activity or not. 

This chart could also be adapted and used with kids who are dysfluent.  The pictures could depict how the child feels about a particular speaking task and their stutters. 

This is just a quick chart that I made up.  Feel free to print off the pdf version here or make your own!

 
Let's continue with idea of what to do if you have too many toys that are just lying around and don't have a home.  These toys CAN be useful!  Click here to see the previous blog post about activities for older kids.

First off, I suggest that you begin by going around your house and collecting up stray toys that seem to get lost in the shuffle and just don't have a spot to reside.  Put them all in a big box.  It doesn't matter what you collect since there are so many different things you can do with the toys.  You don't really have to have a "mental checklist" of "must haves" for your box. In my box I have:  3 cars, 2 trains, 2 small balls, 3 plastic animals, 2 puzzle pieces (the puzzle no longer has all the pieces and was going to be tossed), 1 whistle, and 1 noisemaker.  I could've collected more, but I have a young child and didn't want to overwhelm him.

Pre-Talkers:
  1. Name the items as you pull them out of the box.  Try to make your face look excited to see what is coming out next.  That will help get your child to engage in the activity.  Let him/her hold the objects.
  2. You can tell your child about the objects.  Describing things will give them a great model for language!
  3. Simply take an object out of the box and say "out" and hand him/her the object.  When they are all out, then put them all back in saying "in" with each one.  You can do this same thing with any preposition set (on/off using a table or the tray on their high chair, up/down and move the objects up and down in the air, etc)

Early Language:
  1. Have your child name the objects.
  2. Have your child to try to name one aspect of the objects - i.e. color.  This will start to get them to begin to learn how to describe.
  3. Teach them prepositions using the objects.
  4. Have your child receptively locate items (if naming them is too hard).  You can make it easier/harder depending on the number of options you let them choose from.

Listening Comprehension:  Depending on your child's level of sophistication with listening comprehension, you can:
  1. Have your child find a specific item when named (remember, don't let your child see your mouth moving because he/she should be learning to listen.  Position yourself directly behind your child and have your mouth close to his/her head).
  2. Describe an object using two or three descriptors and see if your child can find the object that you are requesting.
  3. Tell your child a sentence about the object and see if he/she can find the target object.


Pragmatics:
  1. You can have your child work on requesting in an appropriate manner.  Have your child look at you and then request in an appropriate manner (i.e. "May I have a toy" or "May I have the car" or "May I have the blue car").  You will know what the appropriate level is for your child's language capabilities.
  2. If you have two children playing, then teach them about sharing by having them share one of the toys from your bin.  You could also have them swap toys after they have had a few minutes to play with them.  A timer could really help with this activity so that they have equal time with the preferred object(s).


Fluency:
  1. Have your child practice his/her "smooth" speech by naming, describing, or requesting the items in the box.


Articulation:
  1. Try to find objects that have your child's target sound or past target sounds that have been mastered in order to change up your speech "homework" practice time!
 
Teach Speech has some exciting news!  We have recently become part of the Teachers Pay Teachers world.  This website is designed for teachers to be able to upload things they have created for FREE and for SALE!  Then, teachers (or homeschooling parents or parents who love to do activities with their kids, etc) can log on and look for pre-made activities and pay the TEACHERS who have created them rather than the CORPORATIONS who put them out!  How neat is that?  We will continue to be creating materials for FREE, but we have also been working on several BIG projects that we will now have a forum to sell on.  We are not quite ready to debut our thematic units (based on favorite children's books), but will start putting up some of our smaller projects - check it out as we hope to have new and exciting things up each day!

Click here to find the link directly to our store!
 
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What's a better way of playing a matching game around Easter than using plastic Easter eggs and an egg carton?  This is an easy Easter match game that can be adapted for whatever needs your child has.  Simply cut out the pictures (below), place one picture in each plastic egg and play a matching game.  Kids love to open things (like eggs) and see what's inside!  This is a great way to work on matching, teach Easter vocabulary, describe the pictures, work on articulation, correct use of voice while talking, work on fluent speech, etc.  If you want your child to work on reading, then simply cut some strips of paper and write the words and place those in the eggs.  The best part is - you probably have all the materials already!

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Click here to print the pdf version!

Other variations:  

If your child is working on listening comprehension, then allow the child to play the game and then lay the cards out and ask for a specific one.

If your kids need more movement, then you could hide the Easter eggs like the Easter bunny does and allow them to find them all first and then start playing the game.

 
Did I fall off the face of the Earth?  No.  Do I feel like it?  Yes!  

This week is our Spring Break and I'm definitely taking a break.  Last week a co-worker took time off and I picked up a lot of her patients and so I was working full time (something I have not done in a year).  It was just hard to find time to sit down and blog.  However, I have to tell you about an amazing deal that is going on until the end of the week. 

Slater Software was started by a speech language pathologist and her husband.  She needed a computer program that would show pictures and text.  Her husband (I forget what kind of computer guru he was) wrote the program for her.  Picture It was born.  This program is AMAZING!  I use it to make articulation boards with words that I want.  I use it to make stories for kids to read before they can read consistently (for language or articulation).  It can be used with pre-readers and struggling readers alike.  The possibilities are endless.  Slater Software is an AWESOME company with so many awesome computer programs and pre-made curriculum.  Right now Picture It is on sale for 50% off!!!  This is a program that parents and SLPs can use.  It's easy to use and the pictures are awesome.

Check out their website for more information.
 
I've blogged before about "choose games".  Today's "choose game" is an even simpler version, but is fun none-the-less.  Simply print off pictures of a shamrock (or any other St. Patrick's Day themed image:  pot of gold, leprechaun, rainbow, Ireland, etc).  Place a stick on some of the shamrocks and turn them all over.  Have the child do some work (with whatever goal you are targeting) and then let him/her choose a shamrock.  You choose a shamrock on your turn too.  Whoever has the most shamrocks with stickers on them, wins!  Isn't that easy?  I didn't have any stickers (I was at work when I made the game) and so I drew a star on each one. 

If your child needs a little more movement than simply putting the shamrocks on the table, then you could also tape the shamrocks (sticker side down) on the wall.  Have your child throw a bean bag at the wall.  Whichever shamrock he/she hits (or is close to hitting), let him/her pick that shamrock.  That can make the same game seem very different to a child.

If you have access to ellison cuts (dye-cuts) at a school, then cutting out shamrocks using the dye-cut would be a lot faster!  I laminated mine to help with durability.
 
When your kids are young, it's easy to stay involved in everything they are doing because you are usually bringing them and picking them up.  Therefore you can ask the daycare worker/babysitter how things are going, the speech therapist what they are working on, the play group supervisor about his/her behavior, etc.  However, sometimes it's hard to stay involved the more independent they become.  However, here are some great ways to stay involved in every stage of your child's development if they see a speech-language pathologist.

Early Intervention (0-3 years):  Typically early intervention therapy is conducted in the home.  This is the perfect way to stay involved because you are there!  However, don't stand back and think that only the therapist can do the work.  Make sure to observe the therapist.  Specifically watch how she interacts with your child, what he/she is saying, and what toys he/she uses.  You can (and should) replicate those same activities throughout the week.  If you observe the therapist and think that he/she is simply "playing", then ask the therapist what goals he/she is working on and specifically how to approach that work at home.  Chances are there is a method to his/her madness!  If your therapist brings in toys and you don't have the same ones at home, then ask your therapist what might be a good toy you have at home to replicate the same activity.  Then ask your therapist to show you using your toy.  Trust me, speech therapists like it when parents offer to work on the same things throughout the week!

Therapy Clinic:  If your child attends a therapy clinic and there is an observation room, please take the opportunity!  It is a great way to observe your child's therapy without being a distraction to the child.  However, you will see exactly how your clinician is working with your child and what to do at home.  If your child attends a clinic that does not have an observation window, then ask the therapist if you can observe in the room when she is beginning a new goal.  This way you will know how to work with your child.  If the therapist thinks you might be a distraction, then you can ask if you can come observe one activity where she can be teaching you what to do.  If you don't feel comfortable asking if you can observe, then simply ask the therapist if he/she can end 5-10 minutes early that day so that he/she can give you some pointers of how to work at home and you have time to ask questions.  Please don't try to cram it all in (especially if you have lots of questions) after an entire therapy session is done because he/she has a full schedule and will start to run late.  You can also ask for homework or photocopies of worksheets to work at home!

Walk-in Therapy in the schools:  If your child is over age 3 and qualifies for speech therapy, but not for early pre-school, then you may be the rare case of a child who "walks in" for speech therapy.  Your situation is much like the therapy clinic.  Read above for more information.

School-based SLP:  Interactions with your speech therapist really start to dwindle as your child reaches school-age and he/she is seeing his/her speech therapist during the school day.  However, take heart!  There are great ways to stay connected.  You can send in a note explaining that you like to know what your child is working on in speech therapy so that you can work on it at home.  Again, most SLPs will be OVERJOYED to hear that!  You could always call your speech therapist and leave him/her a message.  You could also try to get his/her email (for me, when I was working in the schools, that was a quicker form of communication) to ask questions.  If you really enjoy face-to-face contact then utilize the parent-teacher conference days that your school sets aside and set up a conference with your SLP!  I have worked in 4 public schools (remember, I'm an Army wife and I move around a lot) and I have NEVER had a parent-teacher conference with a parent.  However, I would have LOVED to have held one or ten or fifty!  I loved to try to keep my parents connected.  I typically saw the parents once a year at the IEP meetings and that's simply not enough.

If I missed a category, then PLEASE let me know and I'll add to my blog!
 
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I haven't posted a game on folder game Friday in a long time!  Here is one that is a week late, but football can be a fun game year round (even if the season is over for this year).

This is an easy game to print off, personalize, and use again and again.  The game is easy (but fun) and will get your child/client working hard. One of the greatest features is that it is BLANK and so you can fill in whatever you want to on the white blocks: articulation words, questions to answer, sentences with a grammatical error, etc.  Does your child/client need to simply work on playing a game (taking turns, waiting, doing work before taking a turn, learning to lose, learning to win graciously, etc)??  Well, then put something fun in each block and simply use the mechanics of the game as your work for the session.  Is your child/client working on correcting a voice disorder?  Have him/her read sentences that you write in the blocks in order to work on proper voicing while reading.  This can also be used the same way for kids who stutter.

You can do this one of two ways.  You can print multiple copies and make multiple game boards.  Or you could print one copy, laminate it, and then use a dry erase marker to use again and again.

The PDF version is FREE and contains the instructions on how to play the game.  Just print and play!  This also makes a great game to print off, fill out, and send home for homework!

click here to print the PDF version.