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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

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Measuring vocabulary development in bilingual children

10 Feb

The topic of my first Research Tuesday Blog is (drumroll please): “Total and Conceptual Vocabulary in Spanish–English Bilinguals From 22 to 30 Months: Implications for Assessment.”

This is all there is to see folks

This is all there is to see, folks

To understand the purpose and findings of this article it is beneficial to know the difference between total and conceptual vocabulary.

Total vocabulary is the sum of the words a child knows across two languages.

Conceptual vocabulary gives the child credit for knowing concepts rather than words, and concepts that are represented in both languages are counted only once.

So basically, when looking at a bilingual child’s total vocabulary you would count both the word perro and the word dog. If you were looking at conceptual vocabulary you would only give the child credit for knowing one concept: the furry, four-legged creature in my house which barks and eats kibble is a dog/perro.

The bottom line about this article? The researchers found that when assessing bilingual children, it is most appropriate and beneficial to look at total vocabulary (total vocab FTW!) A clinician is able to look at total vocabulary in a bilingual child by providing the MacArthur Bates Communicative Development Inventory (CDI; Fenson et al.,1993) in English as well as in the family’s home language.

What happened in this research project? Cynthia Core, Erika Hoff, Rosario Rumiche, and Melissa Señor provided families of 47 bilingual families with the CDI and the Inventario del Desarrollo de Habilidades Comunicativas (IDHC; Jackson-Maldonado et al., 2003.) This was a longitudinal study; the children were assessed at 22, 25, and 30 months-of-age.  The children were age and socioeconomically matched with 56 monolingual (English-speaking) children who were assessed with only the CDI.

At the initial 22 month trial, all parents completed the Ages and Stages Questionaire (Squires et al., 1999). The parents of monolingual children completed the CDI, and the parents of bilingual children completed both the CDI and IDHC, at the 22, 25, and 30 month session. The CDI and IDHC provide parents with a checklist of words they have heard their child produce and yields raw vocabulary scores based on this checklist. Both tests provide a percentile based on monolingual norms.

Then the researchers ran all sorts of crazy ANOVAs and t-tests and z-ratios which were totally over my head so I skipped ahead to the conclusion.

Researchers found:

The Spanish-English bilingual children showed a mean conceptual vocabulary which was significantly lower than their total vocabulary.

Total vocabulary in the bilingual children was not different from the monolingual children at any of the three sessions.

Conceptual vocabulary in the bilingWual children was considerably lower than the monolingual children at the 30 month visit.

Total vocabulary assessment did not identify any more/less at-risk bilingual children than bilingual children. Conceptual vocabulary assessment identified a higher number of bilingual children who appeared to have vocab development in the low-average range.

When one compares a bilingual child’s vocabulary to monolingual norms it underestimates the child’s expressive language and over-identifies at-risk children.

Using the CDI (and the home-language counterpart) clinicians can get a clear picture of a bilingual child’s total vocabulary without being responsible for considering the child’s language experiences, and language dominance, and language overlap, and the “balance” in their bilingualism. Clinicians are able to see clear change using these protocols (which we all love).

The authors caution us to remember to take socioeconomic status and receptive language into account. They also suggest that monolingual testing may be appropriate in the event that a clinician wants to know about English proficiency (or the proficiency of the home language.) They also pointed out that similar studies have been done previously with mixed results. ALSO the researchers did a really nice literature review to give you more background on bilingualism, total and conceptual vocab etc., so please read that if you desire.

Direct Link (you will need your ASHA login): http://jslhr.pubs.asha.org/article.aspx?articleid=1797298&resultClick=1

Citations:

Cynthia Core, Erika Hoff, Rosario Rumiche, Melissa Señor; Total and Conceptual Vocabulary in Spanish–English Bilinguals From 22 to 30 Months: Implications for Assessment. J Speech Lang Hear Res 2013;56(5):1637-1649. doi: 10.1044/1092-4388(2013/11-0044).

Fenson, L., Dale, P. S., Reznick, J. S., Thal, D., Bates, E., Hartung, J. P., … Reilly, J. S. (1993). The MacArthur Communicative Development Inventories: User’s guide and technical manual. San Diego, CA: Singular.

Jackson-Maldonado, D., Thal, D. J., Fenson, L., Marchman, V., Newton, T., Conboy, B. (2003). El Inventario del Desarrollo de Habilidades Comunicativas: User’s guide and technical manual. Baltimore, MD: Brookes.

Squires, J., Potter, L., Bricker, D. (1999). Ages and Stages Questionnaire: Parent-Completed Child Monitoring System (2nd ed.). Baltimore, MD: Brookes.

Don’t be alarmed, we’re taking over the ship.

17 Sep

Whoa! Speechie off the port bow!

This post is in dedication to Talk like a Pirate Day (September 19th…of course.) The fine folks over at LessonPix asked the #slpeeps for some pirate-y themed therapy and we obliged (because we’re da bomb dot com.)

First let’s start by saying: LessonPix is AWESOME. I’m not just saying that because they asked me nicely to write this post and be part of their blogging hearties. I’m saying it because I DO WHAT I WANT, YO. What is LessonPix you ask, Dear Reader?

Well, “LessonPix is an easy-to-use online resource that allows users to create various customized learning materials.”

For serious – you can make SO MANY THINGS. It’s $36 a year, and in comparison to something similar (think in the ballpark of $400) I think it is WELL worth it. Especially since I can login on any computer – I don’t need a disk. For $36/yr I’m getting what – 11 years to the $400 one time price. (Obviously prices change and products change and therapy changes so don’t come crying to me in eleven years, that’s just a way to think of it if you’re having trouble with the cost in your brain.)

 What sorts of things can you make? I’ll tell you. Picture cards such as THESE:

Seriously. Do Not Copy. Or I will hunt you down.

Or you can create about a zillion other things. You pick the PIX you want, and the website creates PDFs with your material.

Materials Frankenstein

You can search what you need, upload personal images – it pretty much does all of the things. Which is awesome because I’ve got things to do, I can’t be hanging out in Paint all day trying to draw with my arrow mouse. I couldn’t do that in fourth grade and I can’t do it today.

Self Portrait

Anyway back to the pirates. I’m working for the MOST part as an Early Intervention Therapist. My caseload is composed primarily of two year olds (Yeah I didn’t know I had patience either, you aren’t the only one who is surprised.)

When LessonPix asked if I’d use their pirate materials to do therapy I was all about it. Here are some things I made:

Shapes treasure map

These are GREAT, because obviously I can put anything I need to in there. For a lot of my kiddos we’re working on receptive language – specifically identification of familiar objects/toys and following directions. So in the case of the treasure map up there, I put in images that correspond to a puzzle I was using in therapy. Then I can provide not only a verbal cue, but I can point to an image. Many of my clients require an extra prompt or two so adding a visual component is a great way to supplement cues I’m already providing. And since it’s on a treasure map, I can use these little guys to hop along to the next piece:

Me crew

If I wanted to do a themed therapy session with pirates, I could use the game board and a corresponding toy for a scavenger hunt type of activity. I found this in our therapy cabinet and it worked great for such a task:

Tis me ship

You can see that this toy has many components, such as cannon, helm, mast, spyglass, ladder, etc. While playing we could go over these vocabulary terms and then use the gameboard to prompt “giving” specific items or identifying by pointing. In early childhood therapy themes are often used so even if there was an ocean or beach unit, this type of toy could fit in nicely. And having engaging, novel materials to use with little ones is pretty much key to your survival so LessonPix really helps out with that!

I will absolutely be using LessonPix materials again, I think their product is amazing! My brain can’t even understand how the picture gets to the TV Screen so I have no idea how they’re making customizable materials out of thin air that make my life so easy.  Now all I need is a real pirate to help me cotreat…

NP: The Little Mermaid – Part of your World