tricks of the trade

16 Sep

I just had my 2 year workiversary! (At the end of July.) As such I thought I’d celebrate two months late by sharing some of my early intervention tips!

1. Put it on your head. I don’t know why, but kids think hats are hilarious. Whenever a kid is not looking at me, is about to cry, is crying, is about to bail on a toy, is distracted – whatever – I just put something on my head. 60% of the time this works every time.

2. Bubbles freeze in the winter and crayons melt in the summer. Plan accordingly.

3. Also on bubbles: blow UP not out. When you blow up, you have time to draw attention to the bubbles, talk about the bubbles, sing about the bubbles, and generally enjoy the bubbles. When you blow out they just fall down and suck.

4. Get yourself pants with a strong knee. I’ve gone through three pairs of pants in less than two years. Double duty knees. Support knees. Worker knees.  Utility knees. Or maybe buy one of those gardening squishy rectangles.

5. In addition, get yourself a poker face. You can’t buy this but I highly recommend obtaining one. Poker face has been something I’ve been working on for years, but now that I’ve sort of got my face under control I find my life is a lot easier. When a kid does something that grosses me out, annoys me, makes me mad, makes me laugh (when I shouldn’t), makes me sad, or shocks me – you would never know. I’m like Mona Lisa MS, CCC-SLP over here. You don’t want parents or children feeding into your emotions during therapy sessions so lock it up!

6. Patience is a virtue.  Learn to wait. I always tell the kids, “I know, waiting is so hard!” and I make them wait for everything…but it took me a long time to learn to wait for them. Waiting waiting waiting. I do it all day. Wait for them to reach, wait for them to vocalize, wait for them to calm down, wait for them to notice. Quit anticipating, quit assuming, quit rushing, quit pushing. COOL YOUR JETS.

7.  Embrace the germs. I mean, Clorox wipe everything and wear gloves when needed. Embrace that you are going to get sick a lot when you first start. Like, a LOT. Way more than you can possibly anticipate. Start stocking up now on all your favorite cold and cough meds, you’re gonna need them. I’m here to tell you that there is a light at the end of the tunnel…after two years I have the immune system of a feral mutt. I can withstand anything (A kid sneezed into my open mouth the other day and I lived to tell the tale.) And you will too. But you have to live through the first six months.

8. Get a mentor (or three). I have a lot of mentors. I have my mentor for picture exchange, I have my mentor for feeding, I have my mentor for behavior, I have my mentor for apraxia…the list goes on. I don’t harangue these people endlessly for lunch dates so we can discuss me and my progress in becoming a grown SLP like them. But I do say, “Hey can I pick your brain about this little guy?” when I need back up. Know when you need backup, and find strong resources. It’s okay to ask for help, and it’s okay to have lots of mentors. (I recommend reading Lean In’s chapter “Are You My Mentor?” if you’re looking to develop mentor-mentee relationships…it’s really very enlightening.)

9. Learn about the other disciplines as much as you can. In early intervention it is SO important to look at the whole child. And until you work with OT/PT/ECE regularly you’re going to have a harder time looking at the whole child (because what are you looking for!?) You’ll see so much improvement when you make adjustments based on those other disciplines. You’ll know when to make referrals, and when to just make a suggestion. It’s hard to help the whole child make major improvements when you’re just looking at his mouth. Cotreat. Observe. Ask. 

10. Be flexible. No two kids are alike. Seriously. None. What worked with one, will work again with none. It’s insane. You will see new things every single day. I always say, “Never a dull moment” with EI. It will keep you on your toes and keep you moving and thinking constantly.  As an early interventionist you’ve got to be open to new ideas – whatever you’ve got planned probably isn’t going to go as you imagined :)

 

If you’re just starting out in EI I hope some of these help you on your path. If you’re a seasoned EI Vet – share some of your tips and tricks, I’m always looking for new ideas!

NP: Ingrid Michaelson – Home

I was having a thought

14 Jul

I have decided, after talking to my mother, that I am going to start offering senior citizen communication classes. (Not really, but I think someone should. Let’s be business partners.) (Also, sorry Mom this makes it seem like YOU’RE the senior citizen but you aren’t.)

What am I even going on about right now?

Okay so my grandparents are, as grandparents do, getting a little older. And when they interact with each other, there is a LOT of miscommunication going on. From what I can tell, it sounds a lot like this:

 

Dee: Don’t forget we’re going to dinner tomorrow night.

Charlie: What? You’re not talking into my good ear.

Dee: Dinner tomorrow night.

Charlie: You didn’t tell me that.

Dee:  I told you last week.

Charlie: You just THINK you told me but you did not tell me.

Dee: You forgot.

Charlie: Did not.

And so on and so forth you get the picture. They’re driving each other nuts. There’s a mixture of declining hearing, declining memory, declining patience, and I really don’t think it is ONLY my grandparents doing this. There must be more grandparents in the world bickering because of decreased communication. And as we would do with say, the Parkinsons patient whose spouse thinks they are losing their hearing when really the patient is whispering all the time, maybe we could intervene somehow. A grandparents communication class. Where we develop strategies for improved communication in the home so one’s grandparents do not end up on an episode of Snapped or divorced at the age of 80. Maybe it could be a group counseling thing, or individually based. I could come to your grandparents’ house. It’ll be great.

( Is this already a thing that I don’t know about? )

 

NP: Birdy – Young Blood

 

forgot to tell anyone about this post

8 Jun

I wrote a blog post for PrAACtical AAC on motivating adult clients to utilize AAC systems. You may read it here if you so desire:

AACtual Therapy: On Motivation and AAC

 

Enjoy! Let me know if you have questions or comments or ideas or suggestions or if you just want to see more pictures of Simon (he is ultra-cute.)

early intervention evaluations HELP

8 Jun

Hey friends,

At my facility we are currently using the PLS-5 for early intervention language evaluations for both initial intake as well as transition to the school district. We’re finding that it is somewhat soft, and we’re having a hard time qualifying children based on the standard scores and age equivalencies (it would appear from FB that other SLPs nation-wide are experiencing the same.)

I’m wondering what other tests are out there? I’ve got a list going that includes:

Norm-referenced:
DAYC-2
CSBS
REEL-3 (only goes up to 3)
BDI-2
LAP-D – 30mos+
TELD-3
LUI – for children with suspected or confirmed ASD: http://knowledgeindevelopment.ca/ (I have never heard of this)
CELF-PS – 36 mos+
Criterion based:
Rosetti – only up to 3, questionnaire in Eng and Span
Early Functional Communication Profile Set
The MacArthur Bates and associated alternate language inventories
What are you early intervention clinicians using? Anything you prefer or passionately loathe? Are you having similar difficulties with the PLS-5? We typically have children up to 36 months, but if they were born after May, we can have them almost up to 40 mos so we’re really needing tests that are normed birth-40 mos. We have talked about using the PLS-5 plus one of the inventories like the Rosetti, we’re just kind of investigating what other SLPs are doing right now, before A PLAN is implemented. Suggestions welcome and appreciated!
(The Bayley was suggested but our ECEs use that.)
NP:  Ed Sheeran – Kiss Me

 

Did you guys know that this is a thing?

28 Apr

I have not been doing the “AAC” thing long, and I don’t deal with tech-AAC frequently. I make a lot of communication books, gesture dictionaries, and just general working with families on implementing strategies to increase communicative attempts in the natural environment. I have recommended an actual communication device only 3 times so the funding piece of things tends to be a bit over my head. Most companies have someone that will work with you on getting devices to trial, completing the appropriate paperwork, and procuring the device and I worship the ground said person walks on.

I recently recommended a device for a client, contacted the company to find out about funding and was told that they don’t do it. AACK. WHAT? Mind blown. I just assumed that every speech generating device for every client would be funded in some capacity, one way or another (I also live in magical fairy AAC land, did I not mention that?)  But the device doesn’t qualify as “durable medical equipment” so the company doesn’t bill insurance.

So now what? The company told me to contact a durable medical equipment company in my area and have them “give them a call.” ABOUT WHAT? GIVE YOU A CALL? I swear some days I feel like I’m losing my mind with these hoops.

Luckily I have my very own AT guru (you may all express your jealousy) who explained that the client’s primary insurance company likely has a DME company they work with for AAC. So the trick is to contact that specific DME company, and work with THEM on funding the device. It’s just more red tape than usual but seriously who knew? In case you didn’t know – now you do!

Learn something new every day I suppose.

(On the AAC-upside, I’m working with a client right now who is actually having success and demonstrating progress with the Tobii I-15 eye-gaze system and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I’ve only ever seen typical adults use eye-gaze systems so it’s a beautiful thing to watch it happen before your very eyes with someone who has disabilities.)

NP: Dime Porque (One of my client’s parents was listening to this during a home visit today and I was like, “This is quite catchy even though I do not understand.)

Strategies for EI – Says WHO?

8 Apr

Research Tuesday Numero Tres!

When “Simon Says” Doesn’t Work: Alternatives to Imitation for Facilitating Early Speech Development

Citation: Laura S. DeThorne, Cynthia J. Johnson, Louise Walder, Jamie Mahurin-Smith; When “Simon Says” Doesn’t Work: Alternatives to Imitation for Facilitating Early Speech Development. Am J Speech Lang Pathol 2009;18(2):133-145. doi: 10.1044/1058-0360(2008/07-0090).

 

As you know, I work with children 0-3 (I’d say the average age I get referrals is probably 26 months) in group center-based, individual center-based, and home-based therapy. I often make suggestions to parents on the very first day I see a child, maybe even in the evaluation – but I’ve often wondered …where do I get this stuff? Says who?

I saw this article while I was trying to find an article that supports the notion of putting an object near the face when you label it to gain attention and encourage imitation. I found a variety of sources that make the same suggestion but I have not seen any studies (if you know of one throw it my way). I seriously make this suggestion like three times a week but WHY? Who says it actually does anything? Somebody out there has to know.

ANYWAY, this literature review focused on six strategies that SLPs recommend and utilize for early speech imitation and language development. The review’s goal is to provide SLPs with evidence based strategies (rather than strategies that are anecdotal and maybe outdated and things that we just do because we see other therapists do it.) I have this dream that one day I’ll have a citation for every strategy I suggest to families. Which sounds alarming but really, I wouldn’t want a medication that hasn’t been proven to work.

What are these six strategies that SLPs frequently utilize to elicit speech imitation?

  1. Provide AAC access
  2. Minimize the pressure to speak
  3. Imitate the child
  4. Utilize exaggerated intonation and decrease rate
  5. Augment auditory, visual, tactile, and proprioceptive feedback
  6. Avoid emphasis on nonspeech-like articulator movements: focus on function

How did researchers pick these strategies?

First, they created a list of strategies that already had some theoretical framework which were supported by the big wigs of speech pathology. Then they used a variety of search methods to track down associated intervention studies. Then they narrowed down the list to these strategies with Level Two empirical evidence (supported by at least one experimental or quasi-experimental study on a relevant population).

You guys remember about empirical evidence right? Let’s review friends:

ebp

What is something cool that this literature review told me about each of these strategies?

  1. Provide AAC: The authors identified SIX studies which support providing AAC to children who do not easily imitate. Within those six studies, 89% of the children showed an increase in verbal output, and 11% showed no change. AAC had no detrimental impact on speech production in any of the children.
  2. Minimize pressure: In a study with 29 late-talking preschoolers, using mands and prompted imitation increased imitation within a speech session, however showed no carryover to the natural environment. The study indicated that directly prompting an imitation does not increase word-learning any more than low-pressure imitation.
  3. Imitate the child: Recent studies have shown that when you see someone perform a familiar action, neurons fire in YOUR brain too as though you’re doing the action. So when a child sees a clinician perform an action it may incite neurons in their brain which acts as an involuntary rehearsal. How neat is that? Super neat.
  4. Exaggerated intonation and slowed rate: This one is kind of weird because they call it exaggerated intonation and slow rate but they talk about singing – which I think are two separate things but nobody asked me. The research for singing and speech is extensive for adults. However, one study showed that melodic intonation therapy for children was more effective at increasing phoneme imitation versus oral motor therapy (which makes sense because we all know non-speech oral motor therapy does nothing for speech right? WE ALL KNOW THIS RIGHT?)
  5. Enhance sensory feedback: There’s a pretty small amount of literature on use of auditory and visual feedback for small children. However, tactile and proprioceptive information has shown promise for eliciting imitation in children via the PROMPT program. The idea of using enhanced sensory feedback is that we’re helping the child develop internal models for speech sound production (i.e. motor planning has a sensory result)
  6. Focus on function: Oral motor therapy is not effective based on a number of unpublished studies. If you feel the need to recommended non-speech oral motor exercises, do it only when a child is genuinely not imitating speech at all, and the activity should match as closely as possible in the areas of position, movement, and function of the target sounds.

So now when you recommend a speech imitation strategy to a family or caregiver you can at least rest easy knowing these six strategies do have an evidence base. There are numerous other suggestions we make as clinicians that don’t have a Level 2 evidence rating – we should strive to increase our EBP for early language imitation and development. Don’t you think?

Classification Accuracy of Brief Parent Report Measures of Language Development in Spanish-Speaking Toddlers

11 Mar

Mark Guiberson, Barbara L. Rodríguez, Philip S. Dale; Classification Accuracy of Brief Parent Report Measures of Language Development in Spanish-Speaking Toddlers. Lang Speech Hear Serv Sch 2011;42(4):536-549. doi: 10.1044/0161-1461(2011/10-0076).

RT image

As a follow up to last month’s Research Tuesday article, I chose this research article as my second topic. Also in my workplace, we use the SPLS as our qualifying assessment for Spanish-speaking children, so I was curious to see what these researchers had to say.

The goal in this project was to evaluate the classification accuracy of three different parent report measures as they assess they language development of Spanish-speaking toddlers. The three parent report measures chosen were the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (Spanish ASQ; Squires, Potter, & Bricker, 1999), he short-form of the Inventarios del Desarrollo de Habilidades Comunicativas Palabras y Enunciados (INV–II; Jackson-Maldonado, Bates, & Thal, 1992; Jackson-Maldonado et al., 2003), and reported children’s 3 longest utterances (M3L–W). The children were also administered the Spanish Preschool Language Scale-4 (SPLS–4; Zimmerman, Steiner, & Pond, 2002) to assess concurrent validity of the parent report measures in comparison to the Expressive Language Subtest.

Who took part in this study? 45 Spanish-speaking families and their 2 year olds. 22 of the children had expressive language delays (ELD), and 23 of the children were typically developing in their language development (TD.)

What’s going on with these parent measures? Well, the Communication Subscale of the ASQ is six questions long. The short-form INV-II is a 100 word checklist with a question regarding combining words. The M3L-W is assessed by asking parents to write down the three longest utterances their child has produced (To calculate a score you add the number of words and then divide by three.)

And what did we learn? Tell me about the results!

  • All three parent measures were significantly correlated with the SPLS-4. They showed concurrent validity (a type of evidence that is demonstrated when a test elicits similar results to a test which has already been validated).
  • When researchers compared the test scores of the children with expressive language delays and those test scores of the children considered typically developing, children with ELD received significantly lower scores than the children considered TD. (…which makes perfect sense? I guess that’s good to know – probably wouldn’t be great if both groups scored similarly.) The biggest difference was noted on the M3L-W measure.
  •  The classification accuracy aspect of the project looked at sensitivity, specificity, negative predictive value, and positive predictive value. Sensitivity of the measures reveals how many of the children who had a dx of ELD, also tested as ELD. Specificity of the measures reveals the portion of children considered TD, who tested as TD. Negative predictive value (NPV) is the percentage of children with negative screening results who were accurately classified, and the positive predictive value (PPV) with positive screening results that were accurately classified. (This is all very confusing for me, I’m hoping as I read it becomes clearer.)
    • The ASQ showed low sensitivity and NPV, but strong specificity and PPV – the ASQ was determined to be inadequate at detecting children with ELD (Possibly due to the fact that the questions are direct translations from English, and the ASQ was developed specifically for parental styles typical for Europe and America.)
    • The INV-II had high sensitivity, specificity, NPV, and PPV – it “shows promise” for use as an expressive language screener
    • The M3L-W had high sensitivity, specificity, NPV, and PPV – promising in terms of “pass/fail” screenings to determine need for in-depth assessment
    • Since the INV-II and the M3L-W had similar results, the researchers performed another test called a “receiver operating characteristics” which revealed the M3L-W was “non-significantly” better and demonstrated stronger classification accuracy.

To sum it up, when screening toddler-age, Spanish-speaking children it is appropriate to use a vocabulary checklist as well as a parent report on MLU to gain clinical information prior to an in-depth evaluation. But don’t bother with the translated ASQ. 

Stay tuned kids, for Research Tuesday in April!

Works Cited

Jackson-Maldonado, D., Bates, E., Thal, D. (1992). Fundación MacArthur: Inventario del desarrollo de habilidades comunicativas. San Diego, CA San Diego State University

Jackson-Maldonado, D., Thal, D. J., Fenson, L., Marchman, V. A., Newton, T., Conboy, B. (2003). MacArthur Inventarios del Desarrollo de Habilidades Comunicativas user’s guide and technical manual. Baltimore, MD Brooke

Squires, J., Potter, L., Bricker, D. (1999). Ages and Stages Questionnaire user’s guide. Baltimore, MD Brookes

Zimmerman, I. L., Steiner, V. G., Pond, R. E. (2002). Preschool Language Scale, Fourth Edition, Spanish Edition. San Antonio, TX Harcourt Assessment

Disconnect de comunicacion

3 Mar

Currently in my caseload, I am working with approximately 13 Spanish-speaking families. Communication at times can be very tricky – not between the child and I, but rather between parents and me! I have enough Spanish to interact with a toddler, and I can generally express myself to parents, but when they ask me a question or tell me a story – not a chance. My receptive Spanish skills are pretty limited (in classes when a Spanish professor asked me a question I was always a deer in the headlights.) Oftentimes I’m working with a child in a daycare, so I’ve never even met the parents, or spoken to them on the phone. In this case I leave a carryover note in Spanish, but I’m constantly using wordrerefence.com (they need an app) to look up phrases and words.

I don’t love the disconnect, and I never know what the parents have questions about or concerns until their service coordinator comes to me after months of therapy and says, “Oh Mom thinks they aren’t making progress” or “Dad is worried about XYZ” and then I have to do this crazy tango between the coordinator and the parents. Plus I have no idea about what suggestions or techniques are being carried over.

I do get an interpreter once a month, when I specifically request one, but that’s pretty useless when I’m in a daycare since I don’t need an interpreter to play. We have a receptionist at work who speaks Spanish, so I can potentially use her to call families though scheduling this with the receptionist and the working parents and my schedule isn’t necessarily going smoothly.  For one child I’m developing a communication notebook to stay in the daycare cubby so Mom can ask questions and let me know her concerns, or tell me what is working at home and what isn’t. But I have no idea if Mom will actually use it or if I’m just going to be writing note after note with no sign of life on the other side.

I’m wondering what other strategies clinicians are using for parents interaction. I’m sure this happens in the schools frequently. How do you find out what is going on at home? Have you learned any tricks for communicating when the parents aren’t sitting inches away from you every week?

Ayudeme!

OH and does anyone happen to know student-friendly Spanish musical artists? I have a client who is highly motivated by Latino tunes but I don’t wanna download the Latino equivalent of Lil Wayne by accident.

Okay now this is too funny

1 Mar

I had NO idea that this blog was being pinned on Pinterest (it’s all good, I’m glad not mad…I just didn’t think about it.)

So I was looking at the site stats and referral sites etc and I click on Pinterest. And this is what I see:

 

AHHHH oh my God. I cannot stop laughing. It's just too funny.

AHHHH oh my God. I cannot stop laughing. It’s just too funny.

 

Thank you all for reading and making me laugh. This is way awesome.

The Special Mother and Ginny

1 Mar

Erma Bombeck is absolutely one of my most favorite authors. I’m not a mom so it doesn’t make a whole ton of sense that I’m obsessed with her. But her writing is funny and honest, and one day I’ll probably reproduce so she’ll come in handy.

I was reading her book Motherhood: The Second Oldest Profession and she touched on the subject of mothers of children with special needs. I’ve read a lot of her books and I haven’t seen this topic before so I was surprised. The first of these stories was: The Special Mother.

The Special Mother

I think this was beautifully written and touching. But when put in the perspective of the second story, I came to love Erma even more. It’s a little darker, but also just as beautifully written and touching as the first. The chapter is entitled, Ginny. You’re able to read it here as a GoogleBook (if you can’t find it, it is Chapter 17 – you should be able to just search it.)

Sometimes at work we have to have the conversation – while we think that as therapists we’re fun, and we play, and the children are happy (sometimes) –  it isn’t necessarily “fun” for families to come to us. If a family is coming to us, there may be something “wrong.” The story of Ginny reminded me that our families love their children and want the best, but also life (and therapy) can be hard. A reminder that those of us who work predominantly with families need sometimes.

I think Ginny also serves as a nice reminder (copywrite 1983) that because of Early Intervention, families don’t necessarily have to feel as though their children will never accomplish things. We’ve come a long way, and we’ve still got a long way to go.

NP: Santigold – Riots gone

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