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Sunday, December 19, 2010


Good Monday Morning Everyone!

I (Dean) love and enjoy the seasons here in KY, but have to confess that winter is my least favorite. I need lots and lots of daylight to be a happy camper, so I shall be celebrating the Winter Solstice -“Shortest Day of the Year”- not for beginning of winter and it’s short days, but for the fact that we have reached the shortest day and soon the light of day will start extending! Seriously, I watch each minute being added each day!!

Today we travel to Kansas to see what those people have to share with us for Autism.
This website made our list of favorites if for no other reason than their wonderful list of SOCIAL NARRATIVES! If you need a social narrative, I say check here first. You have approximately 150 narratives from which to choose!

From the home page simply click on the Social Narrative button to the left of the screen to be taken to their listing. The listings are compiled by skill to be taught; special interest; age range; whether it is a social story or a power card; and the format-Powerpoint, Word, PDF, or Boardmaker (TM).

Besides all those wonderful social stories, they also offer some very useful “Visual Supports” and “Visual Tasks” which can be found by clicking on the navigation buttons on the left of your screen.

We are taking a Christmas break from the blogging so this will be the last blog of 2010, but we’ll be back on January 3rd to share our next website on Autism!

Being Christians, Leah and I say “MERRY CHRISTMAS” and hope yours is filled with peace, joy, and love!

Leah and Dean

Monday, December 13, 2010


We wish we had really written about these in a more time considered manner because there are many wonderful seasonal activities for fall to be found in these sites. Oh well, at least you have them for next year!

Today we will be looking at HYPERLINK "" She is from Pennsylvania, so those of you from PA may already know about her site.

On her homepage the first thing you will see is that she offers us a monthly link from which you can access her monthly thematic page. As an example for November she offered activities from her classroom: A Turkey Poem, a Thanksgiving Poem and a Pumpkin; M&M Candy Math Worksheets (which she put up as pdfs so we can print and use them) as well as, recommended books, and links to all things Thanksgiving from other websites. You also find a few things for Veteran's Day!

Going back to the home page you’ll find approximately 33 links in boxes that will take you to her shared information. These are support and information pages and websites.
Tons of good information here. I’d like to bring to your attention the “printables from my classroom” box. (1st column 3rd row) This will take you to a page that lists all her worksheets. She has worksheets for spelling, writing, math, and counting. These worksheets are labeled by grade appropriateness, too!

Her site offers fantastic links for Autism Awareness, Classroom Management and Behavior, Communication and Speech links, Seasonal Pages, and Parent Resources.
Good information to have available as one of your resources!

We highly suggest your bookmark this site.

See you next week!
Leah and Dean

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Hello Everyone! We hope you had a good Thanksgiving and are looking forward to Christmas.

Today we begin our next series on Autism. Even though all of us are at different levels in our skills, we all work with kids on our caseloads within the Autism Spectrum. All of us can use more information in this area and we all have different questions regarding “How do I do that?” It is our hope that as we introduce you to various sites in the next six weeks you’ll find one that will become indispensable to you.

Today’s visit is to This site is geared for the teacher and touches on so many, many topics related to working with the child. It contains information from setting up the room, to instructional ideas and materials, to behavioral considerations, to functional data sheets and so much more! We love this site and are thankful to the gals who are responsible for it’s development.

About those four gals: (in their own words)
“In 2004, the four of us found ourselves working together at Thornebrooke Elementary School. We each had a self-contained classroom for students with autism and worked together to support our students and each other. After working together for only a short period of time, we realized that each one of us had unique and effective teaching styles/strategies that we could share with one another. Although we have gone our separate ways and work at different schools, we still share ideas and support each other professionally. We continue to work together by partnering with CARD (Center for Autism and Related Disabilities) and meeting to share new ideas and techniques.”

Leah and I have found from our years of work together that two heads are always better than one, so having four heads has to produce a tremendous wealth of knowledge. Don’t you think?

It will be well worth your time to take a look at this site. If we started talking about all the wonderful things at your fingertips on this website this would quickly become a very long blog! Knowing your time is valuable we won’t go through it all but would like to urge you to take time to go look for yourselves. Here’s a link to the page that lists all the topics: You will find information on communication, social skills, behavior support, parent support, visual supports, and thematic units just to name a few.
Be extra patient with your kids this week as their excitement builds for Christmas!
Leah and Dean

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Our last entry on the topic of AAC Resources Online looks at

This is their site description:
Visual Aids for learning is a company that develops images to streamline and support learning; empowering people to participate and achieve success and independence.

Again, FREE STUFF!! You know how we love free stuff :-)

Here you will find free downloadable visuals to help learn everyday activities.

Topics include:
Early Childhood
Toilet Training
All these topics come as complete packs. Each pack is in Printable Document Format (PDF) and must be read by Adobe PDF Reader (Version 6.0 or later)..

A big plus is that materials from this site maybe shared/distributed via print or email. YAY!

Would you like to see a sample before you go to their site? Here is the visual for "assembly"

All the images can be downloaded in a high resolution jpg format, which make them resizable to fit whatever project you are doing! I’m sure you’ll find many uses for these, especially if you don’t have Boardmaker.

We hope you have found the sites in this series helpful and that you will add them to your storehouse of resources.

Please share with us any site(s) that you find helpful in your work.

There is nothing as delightful as a giggle from a child.....make your kids giggle this week!

Leah and Dean

Sunday, November 21, 2010


The first piece of “speech therapy” software I think I ever owned was Picture It.
So I can honestly, truthfully and with first hand experience say Slater Software is a reliable company who produces a good product.

Our focus on this site today can best be summed up with these two words:


Not only can you purchase a quality product from them but they generously offer several worthwhile activities, papers and presentations for FREE.

Leah and I Especially like:
• Papers and Presentations
• Free Stuff-presented by Month
• Picture It Tutorials

Since this is NOVEMBER Iʼll just show you the list of things they have available for this month:
November Samples

Bullying 3 pages, 775 KB, PDF
Thanksgiving Table Setting 1 page, 568 KB, PDF
Bats 4 pages, 628 KB, PDF
Holiday Salad 2 pages, 209 KB, PDF
Holiday Salad Wordbank PixWriter v3 Mac setup, 3.8 MB, Zip archive
Say Hello Day 2 pages, 217 KB, PDF
PixWriter with emergent writers 6 pages, 3.7 MB, PDF
Veterans Day Lesson 4 pages, 452 KB, PDF
Patriotic Wreath 3 pages, 204 KB, PDF
Election 2008 7 pages, 800 KB, PDF
Thanksgiving Day - Poem by Lidia Maria Child 6 pages, 296 KB, PDF
Video Store Social Story 3 pages, 208 KB, PDF
Veterans' Day 4 pages, 252 KB, PDF
Mom Soldier Social Story 5 pages, 312 KB, PDF
Dad Soldier Social Story 5 pages, 316 KB, PDF
Handwriting Animals 2 pages, 84 KB, PDF
Animal Sounds Questions 1 page, 124 KB, PDF
Match Animal Sounds 1 page, 92 KB, PDF
Thanksgiving Social Story 6 pages, 532 KB, PDF
Checklist-Your Backyard (from Simply Science Animals vol.1) 5 pages, 336 KB, PDF
Experiment Hot air balloon (from Simply Science Energy vol.1) 3 pages, 200 KB, PDF
T-turkey for the table 3 pages, 172 KB, PDF
Pizza Hut, Cleaners PixWriter Macintosh, 3 setups, 4 KB, Stuffit archive

See! And they do that for every month. The months are archived, too!

Here’s what the Papers and Presentations List looks like:
Papers and Presentations

No Problem! Just Give me a minute! I'll Make that with Picture It!
25 pages 5.4MB
Becoming a Conventional Writer 10 pages 856KB
PixWriter -Working with Standards by Jean Slater, 10 pages 760 KB
Retelling - the Overlooked Skill 4 page 248K
Write today, write tomorrow, write to learn! by Jean Slater, pub. by Closing the Gap,
5 pages 708 KB
Picture Assisted Literacy - FAQs 4 pages 304K
Principles for Picture Assisted Literacy 1 page 220 KB
Symbols - Literacy vs. Communication 10 pages 516 KB
Research on Pictures and Text Effectiveness 5 pages 140 KB
The Write Way to Learn 8 pages PDF 112 KB

Well, I think this is enough to help you decide if you want to take a look at this site or not ;-)

Next week will be the last of these AAC Resources. Then we’ll begin our series on online Autism resources!

Don’t get so bogged down with your work that you forget to just have fun with your kids!
Until next week,
Leah and Dean

Monday, November 15, 2010


Good Morning!
The third Online AAC Resource we want to bring to your attention is Prior Woods Middlesbrough School in theUK

When you get to their home page click on “Resources.”

Quoting from that page: “.... From here you can download a wide variety of material including worksheets, curriculum documents, lesson plans and simple programs, which you are free to adapt and use in your school, college or home.”

First, we have to apologize for the fact that a couple of their wonderful resources are no longer available. That aside, this is still a very user friendly site and we are so grateful to the good people of UK for sharing with us.

What will you find here? Letʼs see.....

INTERACTIVE TALKING BOOKS- They have shared eight books that they and their
students have made. They are available online or as a download for PC and MAC.
Plus, they give you a Big Book Template. How nice is that?

USEFUL EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS- Ian Bean, a former ICT teacher for them, is the creator of these programs. They can be used with a variety of switches and input devices; touch-screens and pointing devices. Most work with Intellikeys or Concept, and with interactive white boards such as Smart. You have a choice of 18 different educational activities.

They are currently updating their Lesson Plans and Teaching Ideas Section. I would certainly check back periodically to see if itʼs working because, if it is as good as the other sections of this website, then it will be fantastic.

Leah and I will see you next week. Remember have fun with your kids in therapy!

Leah and Dean

Monday, November 8, 2010


Good Morning Everyone! Are you ready for a new week and some more great info on AAC? Today we are going to take a look at what Polk County Public Schools in Florida have online that we can use. Copy and paste this url or use the link at the beginning of this blog: You will need Boardmaker to utilize this site.

I will also add that they do include some things as pdf as well as the bm in their offerings :)

Here you will find:

Weblinks to more boards--which is just that links to other sites that have boards you can use.

How To....resources such as: How to make an interactive board; Import photographs; Social Stories

Visual Strategies--a power point; examples of visual strategies; visual aids; structured teaching strategies for students with Autism; and so on.

Adapted Books--resources for and of adapted books

Picture Resources--self explanatory

Behavior Ideas-- a very good assortment of pictures and boards for learning school behaviors and procedures

Folder Fun, Sequencing & Cooking, Feelings, Pre K Ideas, Songs and Music Activites, Alphabet, Math, Middle School Access Science,

As you can see, you’ll find lots of good stuff here!

Leah and I can’t begin to thank all the people and SLPs who have contributed to this site for offering us this information. What a difference it makes in our work day. A big THANK YOU goes to Polk County Public Schools!

Make this a fun week for your kids in therapy!
Dean and Leah

Monday, November 1, 2010


Halloween is over, your kids are hyped up on sugar, and the holidays are just around the corner. It is a busy time of year for everyone, so maybe some information about websites that can be used in therapy is just what you need. In the coming months we are going to share with you some fabulous online websites that you can immediately put to use in your daily therapy. Rather than making this one huge blog, I wish to take it slow and introduce you to one website each week.

We begin today focusing on resources for AAC. This will be a five part series where we will tell you about five very practical and useful resources you can find online. Let’s begin with Jefferson Parish Public School System in Louisiana. The link to this website is found at the beginning of this blog or you can copy and paste the following url :


I want to give the SLPs in Louisiana a big “ATTA BOY” for all the information on this website. It is a GREAT resource for us!

Here is what you will find there:

Adapted Stories

Worksheet Activities

Basic Skills

Tip of the Month

Engineering the Classroom

Overlays for Devices

Games and Songs

Folder Activities

Is this not an amazing website? I’m sure you will find the next four weeks of resources just as informative.

Have a great week with your kids!
Dean and Leah

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Finally Leah and I got our picture made together at a conference. We spoke at OSSPEAC in Columbus on Monday. We have been trying to do this for the last 2 years. We wanted to have our pictures made while we were presenting one of our sessions but they never turn out very good because one of us always has our mouth open, haha! So here we are....Leah on the left and Dean on the right.

Leah and Dean

Saturday, October 23, 2010

ORGANIZATION-Part 6-Utility Bins

I had a choice. I could either send this blog post early or late. Leah and I are heading to Columbus, Ohio, in the morning for the OSSPEAC conference and will not be back until Tuesday. I guess, if you're reading this then, you know I chose to post early this week.

Utility Bins

Today’s little blog is the last in this series on organization. We sincerely hope that you’ve read something in this series that you could implement into your daily routine. Hopefully, it has made your workload a little lighter, saved you a little time, or just gotten you to thinking about making changes to your system that will work for you.

You’ll find items for organization in many different places. Today’s item, the utility bin, comes from the hardware section. They come in different sizes from small ones with a few drawers to larger one with numerous little drawers. We suggest you give thought to how you plan to use it before you purchase one, so that you won’t have to go buy another one.

Here’s a list of possible items that can be stored in them. Since the little drawers are clear, it is easy see what each contain. If you happen to own a label maker you could label your drawers; a Sharpie would work too!

Store your game pieces: pawns, dice, spinners, etc., (Assign a drawer to each item)
Small erasers: seasonal or themed from the Dollar Store.
Colored chips; sort by color in individual drawers; when doing activities involving them each child takes the drawer out of the utility bin and uses the drawer to hold his chips.
Small office supplies: paper clips, push pins, rubber bands; paper fasteners,
Individual stickers; themed
PECS pictures/by alphabet letter or category/theme

Anything small can be stored in them.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I’ll share a picture of Leah’s utility bin.

If you've been bored with this series perhaps you'll find the next series more of an interest. Next week we begin sharing websites that can truly enhance you therapy. We will begin with a series of wonderful websites for AAC. These are truly awesome!

Have a great week with your kids!
Dean and Leah

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Good Morning Everyone! This is a new week and we have a new organizing tip to share. Today we going to talk about clipboards and how to use them to keep yourself organized.

If you were training as a Speech Therapist back in the 1970’s, you would have been easily identified by your little white lab coat and clipboard. That was standard issue when doing your clinical work. I was very glad to see that trend fade away, but clipboards are a handy little thing to possess.

I kept a clipboard on the side of my table with my weekly work schedule on it, so that I could keep up with which group comes next. I suppose this could have been due to my failing memory, but nonetheless it was especially handy, if I had been in a meeting, with keeping me on track. It was also useful when a new kid was placed on my caseload in remembering with which group they would be coming to therapy. As we all know kids come and go all year long. We never have a static caseload.

Leah also kept one on her therapy table with her weekly schedule. She would print a copy at the beginning of each week of her schedule and put it on top of the pages in her clipboard. With that she could quickly keep track of whether her students were present or absent, on a field trip, in an assembly, moved, etc. She would write in IEP meetings that were held and pencil-in the new students into therapy time slots. Then the following week, she would quickly update the schedule before printing it. This provided her with a quick and easy way to see when students transitioned in and out of her program.

You can use colored highlighters to denote the absences, which makes attendance tallying even quicker. Assemblies, field trips, IEP meetings, etc., could also be quickly noted by the use of different colors. You decide what color you want your system to be and make your color key.

Although this may not sound like there is much to this tip, you’ll be surprised how much time you can save in your day just by implementing this little system.

Here is a picture of Leah’s therapy table. Again, note her clipboard.

Now if you look at the overall picture (below) of Leah's personal work space you will see how she set it up to streamline her daily therapy. You will see her working folders are on her right (we're right handed) within easy reach, and her craft basket holding her most frequently used supplies and materials are at her left, with the clipboard at the ready conveniently on the corner of the table! You would not believe how much time you can save by not having to get up to get things. This a a very doable set up that anyone can do with little time or money.

Next week will be our final entry on organization. We will share with you how to utilize utility bins effectively in your space. Until then enjoy your therapy this week!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

ORGANIZATION-Part 4-Craft Baskets

Good Morning and Happy Columbus Day!

Here in Eastern Kentucky and Southern West Virginia the hills are beginning to blaze with color! It will soon be a feast for your eyes if you love the fall colors. It is also nearing time for BRIDGE DAY IN WV, which is held the third Saturday in October. “When Bridge Day arrives, more than 200,000 people converge over the course of the day to take part the day-long festival. BASE jumpers parachute off the New River Gorge Bridge diving 876-feet into the New River Gorge below. Rapellers descend on ropes like caterpillars beneath the mighty bridge. More than 200 vendors provide delicious foods and fantastic entertainment!” (Excerpt taken from HYPERLINK "" Just thought I’d share about a fun day in “wild and wonderful WV”.

Now for today's tip ......Craft Baskets

Craft baskets are essential to hold therapy supplies! The ends of my therapy table were always a mess of papers, books, pens, markers, hole-punches, scissors, etc. No matter how well intentioned I was, it always ended up disheveled. A simple craft basket was the solution to my perpetual mess.

Any of the major craft stores have a large selection from which you can choose. If you aren’t in a hurry, they will be on sale at some time in the year and you can get organized inexpensively. You could even use one of those gardening baskets that has the liner with all those outside pockets going around the perimeter.

The craft basket will have a larger center compartment and several compartments around the center. It is very room and you can store many more items than you would think. Leah has hers stocked with some of our Grab-N-Go games, stopwatch, clicker counters, homework slips, pencils, pens, markers, glue, paper clips, Post-it Notes, blank index cards, and a stapler. You can also include rubber bands, a hole punch, or anything else you use frequently. Imagine no mess. Everything stored neatly and not taking up much space on your therapy table. Such a simple solution for a big messy problem.

Here’s an actual picture of Leah’s basket.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Launching 2 New Products

Hello! I know I said I would not use this as an advertising platform, but we just got our 2 new CDs in and I just had to share them with you! They won't even be on our website for sale for a few weeks yet, but I wanted to give you a sneak peek and special offer! Advertising our products will be an infrequent occurrence in this blog spot.

We are launching these at OSSPEAC in Columbus, Ohio, October 24 and 25th. If you're in the area come by and see the actual products!

The first CD is our FAME Preschool Workbook which targets those early developmental sounds. This is a delightful new workbook on CD chock-full of fun articulation activity pages. All activities are age appropriate. Targets: M-P-B-T-D-N-W-H-Y in words, phrases and sentences. For each sound there are 8 pages targeting initial-final words; 8 pages targeting phrases; and 10 pages of sentences. The exception being W-H-Y which do not occur in the final position. We also included several bonus pages for phonology! This CD contains 222 pages in pdf format so that you can print only the pages you need, when you need them. Print from home or work! Print in color or black and white! The CD is easy to transport from school so it won’t add extra weight your therapy-bag!

The other one is our FAME Articulation Cards. This is an amazing CD from which you can print your own artic card decks for therapy! There are 48 individual picture cards for each of the 10 most frequently misarticulated phonemes F-V-K-G-R-S-L-CH-SH and TH. A total of 480 original word pictures. NO CLIP ART! We use only our original copyrighted artwork. You print on card stock, laminate, and cut them apart and voila` you have a deck of cards. You can print as many decks as you wish, or print the pages to send home for practice! We've included printable card backs, sound card dividers, and game playing cards (wild, reverse, skip, Old Witch, etc) with game instructions, so you can create your own game cards. They are color coded by sound and initial-final positions and are further coded by a moon or star to make quick work of sorting!

Ordering information:
CDFPW-2002 FAME Preschool Workbook $24.99
CDFAC-3003 FAME Articulation Cards $49.99

New launch discount of 10% off your order.

FREE shipping on orders over $50.00 or flat shipping rate of $5.00

You can email me to purchase or for free sample pages of either CD:

Thanks for letting me share my excitement!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

ORGANIZATION-Part 3-Homework Slips

I want to begin my day by wishing everyone a Happy Fall Morning!

Today’s organizational tip has to do with homework. In the previous entry you read about how I try to stay ahead by keeping worksheets/homework copied in each child’s working folder. Today however, Leah will share a great idea on simplifying homework and getting it returned! She has had a tremendous rate of success with her system. It is unfortunate for me that she didn’t come up with this idea until after I retired!

In Leah’s school she has to schedule her kids by grade level to avoid pulling kids from “closed academic times”. This is why, as she explained last week, her working folders are color coded by grade. She uses this color coding system for her homework slips. She matches the color of the homework slip to the student’s folder. On the front of the door to her therapy room, Leah has attached a “homework” envelope. Her students return their completed homework slip to the envelope any time throughout the day. At the beginning of a group session, Leah, will have one of the students pick out the homework slips (of their color) and bring them to the table. She will then make note of which children returned them in the child’s working folder.

This is how they are used. Each page you print will have 6 slips. Print several pages of the various colors you have chosen for your grades. Then cut them apart. Keep them on or by your therapy table for easy access. (Leah keeps them in a “craft” basket along with other small, frequently used items. The homework slips can be used for artic/phonology/language, etc. Each slip has 5 lines for the homework targets. As you come across a target during therapy, write it on a slip for practice at home.

Here’s an example of the slips.

We are sharing Leah's homework slips as a pdf, so you are free to use them if you wish! Go to-

Enjoy your kids this week!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

ORGANIZATION-Part 2- Working Folders/Files

Good Morning Everyone! Of all the information that we will share, I think today’s tip is the greatest time saver and stress reliever EVER! Leah and I will share how we lay out our “working files” to streamline your documentation. This is a lengthy blog but well worth your time to read.

Once again, Leah and I do our files similarly, but slightly different. First though, I want to make sure everyone understands what I mean by “working folder” or “working file”. In public schools the student’s academic records are stored in a locked and secure location making access to them inconvenient for daily use. The real folders are usually only opened at meetings, annual updates, and for filing progress reports, etc. Our “working files” are those folders we keep in our possession in our therapy rooms -- those files in which we keep our information and daily documentation. I should also add that these folders/files are stored and locked in our therapy room at night also.

I’ll explain how I do mine, and then you will read how Leah does her system. I use a simple manila folder. By using actual manila folders it gives me the tab to write the student name and therapy time. I attach those 2 part paper fasteners to the inside at the top of the folder, on the left and right sides. The left hand side of the folder (when it is open), is where I put my Service Logs. I use the same service log whether the child is Medicaid or not. If the child is not Medicaid I simply hand write in the student name. If the child is Medicaid I will use a pre-made label with all the Medicaid required information.

Let me veer off topic slightly here and explain my system for using labels. When a child is first enrolled I will print 3 pages of 10 labels (2x4 inches) with their name & their Medicaid #, service provider & provider #, and the diagnostic area & codes, etc. Now all I have to do is peel and stick labels on the pages. Our school district provided us with 3 part NCR Medicaid approved printed Service Logs. That is why I needed so many labels. Each month I could tear out and replace all my students Medicaid service logs in less than an hour. I keep the back page for my records right in the folder for reference when reporting progress. Just put the new service log on top of the older copy.

On the right side on my folder I kept a copy of the child’s current IEP which contained all the info I would need regarding latest testing, current goals and objectives, annual and triennial review dates, DOB etc. And last, I keep those labels, worksheets/homework sheets, etc just loose within the folder. (I would stay after school periodically to copy large quantities of worksheets/homework so they would be available and ready for my therapy.)

At the end of each therapy session, I would quickly note the results of each session on the service log in the child’s folder that was in that particular group and put them back in the “milk” crate. Voila’! Documentation completed with little time or effort spent. Pull the next group’s folders and you are ready for your next session.

Leah uses different-colored 2-pocket prong folders for her daily working files. She uses the colors to indicate the grades for her students. For example, Kindergarten folders are orange, 1st grade folders are purple, 2nd grade are blue, etc. She keeps her folders turned on their sides in a milk crate so the spine of the folder is at the top. On the front of the spine she writes the students names with a Sharpie marker. If the student moves or is dismissed from services, it is easy to reuse the folders simply by using an art gum eraser to remove the writing, or sometimes she just cuts a piece of duck tape and places it over the names. (Duck tape comes in many colors now!) Since it does, she also uses it to help her know at a glance which students have Medicaid numbers by placing a piece of silver duck tape on the bottom across the spine of the folders. She also has placed a piece of turquoise tape on the top end of the folders to indicate which students are considered “duplicated.” This is a visual reminder that other special education personnel are involved with the child if any IEP meetings need to be scheduled during the year. A picture of her working folders is shown.

In the front pocket she keeps a year-at-a-glance attendance calendar that was created by Sue Sexton (5 Minute Kids). The calendar can be found at HYPERLINK "" Scroll down to the section titled 5 Minute Kids Data Forms and click on the Calendar 2006-2017.xls to find the form. You will need Microsoft Excel to be able to open the form. It is a quick and easy way to see if you are meeting your therapy minutes. Behind the calendar, Leah keeps data/tally sheets.

Inserted first in the 3-prong section is a piece of cardstock with the 2-part paper fasteners that I mentioned above. This is where Leah keeps her service records. She bends both prongs to the left so that she can easily slip her service records on and off the prongs without having to bend the prongs each time. This keeps the prongs from breaking, as they do after repeated bending. The most recent service record is always on top. At the end of the month, for those children who have Medicaid numbers, she slips off the service record, copies it using colored paper, sends the original in for billing, and places the colored copy back in her folder. She then places a blank copy of her service record on top and she is ready to document another months services. She uses the colored paper to help keep on track with submitting her Medicaid billing. If there is still a white copy on top, she hasn’t submitted it yet!

Her service record is a form that shows at a glance all the pertinent information regarding that child. The top of the paper has been completed with the child’s name, birth date, Medicaid number, service provider and number, annual review date, triennial date, etc. Also included are her states Medicaid codes and spaces to bill for the month. The child’s goals are listed next. Underneath that is a chart which has the headings: date, time in, time out, IEP objective, Procedure code, Care coordination, Units, Activity/Progress, SLP initial. When she sees her children, at the end of each session, she quickly completes one row in the chart with the daily info. At the end of the month, she tallies the Medicaid units, signs the bottom, copies it and her billing is complete.

Behind the service records, but also in the 3-prong section is where Leah keeps her pre- and post-test baseline forms. At the beginning of each year, she quickly administers a baseline probe for the items targeted for therapy. If the child has not mastered all their goals by the end of the year, the same probe is re-given to show progress. They are then re-administered the following Fall. Doing this can also be show regression or progress over summer breaks.

In the back pocket of the folder Leah keeps her blank service records. When an IEP is written, she creates the service record on her computer. She makes 10 or 11 copies and places them in the back pocket so she will have enough copies for one year of services. Behind the service records she will keep activity sheets for use with that student. At the end of each therapy session she quickly completes the service records, puts the folders in the milk crate and she’s ready to pull out the next set of folders for the next group!

Here's a close up of Leah's working files:

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

ORGANIZATION-Part 1- "Milk" Crates

“Milk” Crates

Hello Again! I am excited to write this next series on organization and making your space work for you. Who of us doesn’t appreciate a tip on making our day go just a little bit smoother? Leah (the other SLP of 2 Gals Speech Products) is the QUEEN OF ORGANIZATION, so much so, that what I share are basically all her ideas.

This entry is dedicated solely to the use of “milk” crates. These versatile bins are priceless when working with little to no budget for office supplies. I have used them straight up, on their side, and upside down! Today they are readily available at any major retail chain such as Wal-Mart, K-Mart, or Target, and are inexpensive. We love inexpensive!

Milk crates can be used in many ways, but here are a few suggestions:
Simple storage bins that can he kept in closets or closed cabinets.
As a step for a child (wouldn’t hold adult weight) to reach a sink or fountain.
As a seat for a child while doing small group activities.
As a riser to hold another crate at table height.
Turned on its side and placed on top of existing shelving it creates more shelving.
Stacked on its side it creates independent shelving.
Storage for frequently used therapy materials and data sheets by your table.
Can be a portable file cabinet.

Leah and I used them as file cabinets, which we kept by our therapy tables to hold our “working folders.” We kept our working folders within our reach so that we did not have to get up and go pull the folders from a file cabinet, which was great little time-saver. She and I organized our files within them slightly differently so I will share both ideas.

Leah kept her folders filed by grade level and I kept my by time slots. Leah’s school schedule is limiting in that she typically cannot have more than one grade level in her therapy groups. Since this is so, she uses colored 3-prong pocket-folders for her working files. Each color represents a different grade level. She writes the students name along the left-hand edge of the folder and then puts them in her milk crate with the names now showing at the top edge of the folder. When a group comes to therapy, she quickly grabs the student’s folders from the milk crate beside her chair. Putting them away is simple too! Just put them back with the same color folders.

For my system, I kept hanging folders in my crate labeled by my therapy time slots; 8;30, 9:00, 9:30 etc. Within those hanging files I kept the children’s working folders by their therapy group time. All the students who came at 8:30 were kept in the 8:30 hanging file folder. It was very convenient just to grab the “8:30” group of files and be ready to go! Returning them to the proper location back in the crate/file cabinet didn’t take 2 seconds. Simply put them back in the empty time slot.

Here's a visual example:

Next week I’ll go into detail about organizing your working files to streamline your documentation. Simple little ideas that have a big pay off in saving you TIME.

May you find joy in your work this week.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Back To School-Part 6- Scheduling Software

Good Monday Morning Everyone! Itʼs great to be alive and we are blessed to have a job!

This morning I want to talk about scheduling software. Even though I am no longer working in public schools, I was thrilled to see someone had created software that will make our schedules for us. WOOT! Scheduling our kids for therapy is the single most difficult task of our jobs. Donʼt you agree? Although there are a few other software systems other there, I will be talking specifically about Caselite Software only because that is the one Leah has been using.

The website for this software is if you would like to go there and read more about it.

Leah says it is very time intensive to set up the first year, but thereafter does not require so much work as the childʼs information transfers with the child as they change grades. Initially you have to input your school(s), teachers, and students. Then for each student you have to input student name, teacher, grade, school, therapy plan (impairment, sessions/week, minutes/session, pullout or inclusive). Finally you input your custom groups, student availability and rotations (if their schedules periodically change). As she said, it is very time intensive initially to set up.

The software will track whether the student is present or absent for therapy. You can note whether the absence was due to an educational activity, holiday, inclement weather, personal leave, unrelated duty, or other item. It also offers a notes section.

1.Makes a schedule almost instantly!
2.Allows for custom grouping
3.Easily tracks attendance
4.Breaks down why service was not provided (weather, holiday, absent, etc)
5.Gives percentage for attendance either by caseload or by individual

1.Doesnʼt show student progress over time
2.Time intensive initially
3.You are tethered to the internet

Since we have not actually used any of the other software out there we cannot tell you about them. We can only share with you that, YAY, such a thing does exist! If you use a different software that works for you, please share your comments with us!

Next week we begin a new series on Organizational Tips and Tricks! You'll want to read those entries as the tips are very practical and will make your therapy day go smoother!

Until next week, enjoy your therapy with your kids!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Back to School-Mastery Guidelines-Part 5

Youʼll be glad to know this morningʼs topic has nothing to do with oral exams! Today I want to refresh you on mastery guidelines for speech acquisition. Once again this is geared more for the “dinosuar SLP” who is still working.

If you work in public schools, then you have state and federal guidelines you must follow. You cannot always do that which you professionally know to be developmentally appropriate for the child. A major frustration for all of us, but one each of us deals with in every state. You cannot place a child in Speech Therapy unless they meet your stateʼs stringent guidelines. In my workplace, I noticed that we, SLPs, were interpreting the articulation data differently in making decisions regarding whether the child qualified or not. The difference was due to our interpretation of age of acquisition for speech sounds. Having graduated from college a hundred years ago, I was still relying on my antiquated knowledge of sound acquisition to make my placement decisions and did not realize things have changed! So for you older SLPs, Iʼd like to bring you up to the 21st century!

The following information is from the research of Linda Mawhinney and Mary Scott McTeague,
Mastery Guidelines-2004.
2 Years of age- 90% of children have mastered: /p,d,m,w,h,n/
3 Years of age- 90% of children have mastered: /t,b,k,g/
4-5 Years of age- 90% of children have mastered: /f,v,y/ (typically at 4)
5-7 Years of age- 90% of children have mastered: /s,z,j,l,r,sh,ch,th/, blends (typically at 6)

WOW! My previous knowledge had no mastery of any sound until age 3 and all the sounds as developing later, so you can see how this would make a huge difference in my decisions on placement. So if youʼre out there, old as me, and are unaware of these changes please TAKE NOTE things have changed!

TIPS: When to be concerned....(Dr. Lonnie Harris)
1.When family and friends have a hard time understanding the child.
2.When the child exhibits frustration when you do not understand their speech.
3.When you, the SLP, do not understand the childʼs speech even if there is no frustration.
4.1st Grade Rule- a 1st grade child should sound adult-like.

Hopes this helps you. Unfortunately, if youʼre like I was, it will increase your caseload, but I was a better Speech Therapist for it.

Next Monday Iʼll be talking about some of the new scheduling software that is now on the market. Enjoy your time with your kids this week!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Back To School Screenings and Evaluations -Part 4

Itʼs Monday again! Todayʼs entry will be short and sweet. Iʼll be talking about S/Z ratios. I am not an expert on voice nor would I ever pretend to be. Infact, I inwardly donʼt even feel competent to work with that impairment, although Iʼve attended training sessions from the best in our field. When Iʼm screening a child, if I hear a suspected voice disorder I will literally cringe. That is my least favorite disorder, but we all have to deal with what comes our way.

Voice disorders make up a very small percentage of our case loads therefore we donʼt encounter them frequently. Sometimes we cannot readily recall the information we need in making our initial screening judgements. Remembering how to do obtain the S/Z rations may have slipped out minds, as well as what is acceptable, and when to refer, so here is a quick refresher on S/Z rations.

You will need a stopwatch to time the sound durations.
1.Ask the child to take a deep breath and produce the /s/ for as long as they can. (I demonstrate this) Record the number of seconds he was able to sustain the /s/.
2.Now ask the child to do the same thing but saying the /z/ sound and record that time.
3.Repeat the above steps until you have 3 samples of /s/ and of /z/.
4.Calculate the S/Z ration by dividing the longest /s/ that was produced by the longest /z/ that was produced.

Now that you have your calculation what does that tell you? In a nutshell, A NORMAL RATIO IS BETWEEN 0.6-1.4 If the child has a ratio greater than 1.4 refer to an ENT.

TIP: The length of time a person can sustain a sound varies according to their age:

7-10 years old should be able to sustain a sound for 8 seconds;
11-15 years old should be able to go 12 seconds;
16 - adult female about 15 seconds;
16 - adult males about 20 seconds.

NOTE: If the child canʼt sustain the sound for the appropriate length of time after several trials Iʼd want to rule out issues affecting breath support such as dysarthria.

The factual information in this blog came from this website:

Next Monday I want to address mastery guidelines for articulation and using them when making placement decisions. Enjoy your kids this week!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Back to School Screenings and Evaluations-Part 3: Submucosal Clefts

Good Morning! I hope you are well caffeinated and ready to start another week with enthusiasm.

Todayʼs entry is predominately for the “mature” SLP who has been out of school for a while. This little nugget of information has to do with submucosal clefts. In my 35 years, I can only recall having one sub-mucosal cleft on my case load, which happened in the later part of my career, at least 25 years after I had completed my education. So did I recall what to look for or what was significant when staring into that childʼs mouth? No, of course not, and letʼs be honest here, neither would you. I can remember looking and not seeing anything remarkably unusual, but fully expecting to see his entire palate missing from the way he sounded. He sounded like he had a full fledged cleft of the palate, but everything “looked ok” not what I had seen from the few cleft cases I had seen in the past. I was stumped, so I called upon a very dear university professor, who gave a day of his life to drive the 6 hour trip to my school to help me with this child. Not only did he help me, but he also instructed me so that if I ever encountered it again I would know what to do. So please allow me to share with you the simple little things I learned and/or refresh your memory if youʼve been out of school for a few years.

There are 3 clinical signs of a submucosal cleft.
1.A bifid uvula. The uvula will be split, but does not have to be split all the way. It can sometimes be divided slightly or might even just be dimpled.
2. V-notch. With a gloved hand you can run your finger down the midline of the palate and just where the soft and hard palate meet you will feel an inverted “V” This is where the palatal shelves did not completely come together.
3.Zona pellucidum. You will see a blue line running anterior to posterior down the mid-line of the palate.

NOTE: You do NOT have to have all 3 signs to have a cleft. If you come across any of these, on a child who sounds very nasal, Iʼd refer just to “rule out” a possible submucosal cleft. The child I have been talking about did not have a blue line and only a slight divide on his uvula. He did, however, have a V-notch but I didnʼt know to check for that.

Also, in my career I only had the opportunity to work with 3 children who had clefts of the lip and palate, so deciding what I should do with them usually involved much time refreshing and researching the topic. So if you are facing a similar situation and canʼt recall what you are to do with them, this website would be a good starting place.
This link provides you with a succinct outline of your role as an SLP on the cleft team, as well as what you are to do at every age from birth to adult. The site is a little gold nugget in and of itself.

I hope this helps you should you find yourself faced with a similar situation this year. If not perhaps you can keep this as a quick reference guide.

Next week, will be a very quick refresher on S/Z ratios. Have fun with your kids this week and Iʼll see you next Monday!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Back to School Screenings and Evaluations-Part 2

Last Monday, I talked about the importance of doing a complete oral exam and focused on nasality screening. Today I want to talk about and open a discussion on the importance of doing those diadochokinetic rates.

How many times have you been tempted to just skip over those because the child does not “appear” to have motor sequencing issues? Or, as one SLP said to me, “He does not have his back sounds (/k/-/g/) so we canʼt do that.” With eyebrows raised in astonishment I say, “What? Oh but yes you can!” There are ways to screen for motor sequencing issues without back or even front sounds.

Typically we have the child do the puh-tuh-kuh, or buttercup, or maybe patty-cake. So what do you do when they donʼt have those back sounds? You have them say a rapid sequence of tip-lip-tip movements by saying “lippity-lippity-lou.” You do not time them as you would the puh-tuh-kuhs. You simply have them say it quickly three times. Can they sequence those oral movements efficiently? Now should the /l/ be missing from their repertoire have them say “dippity-dippity-doo.” If they donʼt have any front sounds (/t/-,/d/) at all have them say “gippity-gippity-goo.” If you hear "gippy-gippy-goo" with the omission of /t/ don't worry about it. They are giving you a rapid back to lip-back to lip-back sequence. Again remember you are screening for motor sequencing not the articulation of sounds. Regardless of which sound pattern you have them do, the scoring is the same: can they say it three times, rapidly, fluidly, without breaking down. Remember the focus of this particular screening task is for the detection of possible motor sequencing issues and to determine the need for further testing in that area. And too, remember this is just a screening task not an entire oral motor evaluation.

There has been much discussion in later years regarding is it apraxia or a severe phonological disorder. In my opinion, the best place to start is with a simple check of diadochokinetic rates and the above tips should allow you to check those on any child.

Next week, I will be talking about sub-mucosal clefts. Until then, have a great week with your kids!

Disclaimer: You are reading a blog which is just our opinions and our tips and tricks. It is not intended to replace sound teachings.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Back to School Screenings and Evaluations-Part 1

It’s Monday! I’m ready and raring to go with this first series that I’m calling “Back to School Screenings and Evaluations.” When pondering where to begin all these blogs, I let mass screenings be my deciding factor. These first six blogs will all relate to screenings, evaluations, and placement considerations.

I felt the most appropriate place to start would be with a quick refresher of the oral mechanism examination. If your workload is anything like that which I faced, you’ll find yourself rushing through the oral mech or just doing a cursory exam. I found, after doing therapy for many years, that when a child presented as a simple artic disorder my exams tended to consist of a quick look inside the mouth and a few basic tongue movements. Not good. You’ll get into therapy and a few weeks or possibly months later find that this kid has an oral deficit that you didn’t pick up during the oral exam. So you have to back up and start again and that might even involve having to rewrite your IEP goals/benchmarks/objectives, and that means scheduling another meeting. You really don’t want to have to do another meeting do you? Me either! So do a thorough oral exam the first time and avoid creating headaches for yourself later in the year. The time spent now will save you frustrations later.

I can’t recommend one specific exam over another, but I can strongly urge you to do a complete exam. Beyond checking the structure and function of the lips, teeth, tongue, and palate, you need to really look at and note ALL findings. Many times we do note them on the oral mech record sheet but then ignore it as insignificant when considering the child’s overall assessment, or can’t remember what the implication of that would be. The next few blogs will target some of these, but today I’ll simply refresh your memory regarding nasality.

A quick screen for nasality is to simply have the child occlude their nostrils and say “oo”. I always demonstrate the procedure as I give the direction. The sound should be produced completely out the mouth. There should be no sound from the nose. If you hear nasality have the child try it two more times with additional instruction on how to do it correctly. Some children just don’t understand what to do the first time, and can be successful on subsequent attempts. If they are unable to do this correctly after three attempts, then that is a red flag that you should consider referral to an ENT.

Now for a refresher tip: when I am looking in the child’s mouth instead of having them say “ah” I have them say “uh-uh-uh” (three short repetitive sounds) because it lifts the velum higher and more than once, so I can clearly see the movement. Is it lifting up as it should? Is it lifting on one side higher than the other? This is your first indicator of possible neurological involvement (nerve damage) or velopharyngeal incompetency or insufficiency.

NOTE: Velopharyngeal insufficiency and incompetency are NOT interchangeable terms. Velopharyngeal insufficiency is an anatomical defect. It is a physical problem and could warrant surgery. You do not do therapy for that.
Velopharyngeal incompetence is not anatomical. It is an articulation problem and you would address it in therapy.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Back to School!

August 2nd and it's already back to school for many SLPs. In my 31 years of working in public school, I never lost those feelings of excitement and anticipation at the beginning of a new year. Everything in my physical space would be clean, neat, and organized, and there was always that smell of newness. It was like a new beginning and I was always full of hope and promise that this year would be different. That this year wouldn't be as difficult as the last.

It is those last two sentences in the above paragraph about which I want to talk. Through this blog, Leah and I hope to make this school year different for you. We hope to help you tackle some of your daily challenges of organizing yourself, deal with the various problems on your caseload, spice up your therapy, and guide you in finding help when you need it. In short, we hope this blog will be a hands on resource you can turn to each week.

You can expect to find a new blog from me each Monday morning to start your week off on a positive note. I'll be having a cup of coffee as I write them and hope you'll join me with a cup and relax as you read them. I'll try to be concise and not ramble as much as I do when I talk.

I have organized all the information from our 2 short courses into 12 different series. Here is a preview of the upcoming series:
1. Back to school refresher of screenings and evaluations-a 6 part series;
2. Organizing yourself and your space-a 6 part series;
3. Oral Motor-a 2 part series;
4. Eliciting Sounds-a 7 part series;
5. Online resources for AAC-a 5 part series;
6. Online resources for Autism-a 6 part series;
7. Interactive resources online-a 4 part series;
8. Printable resources online-a 2 part series;
9. Subscription sites-a 4 part series;
10. Must Have sites-a 4 part series;
11. Help line-a 3 part series
12. Tech tips for your speech room-a 2 part series.

We welcome your comments or even a simple "hi"!

You can reach either of us by email: or

Of course, it goes without saying you're invited to take a look at our products on our website!

Have a GREAT year! See you next Monday!
Dean :)