Friday, June 28, 2013

FAQ Friday: Thumb Sucking

FAQ Friday is back!  Hooray!  In case you aren't so familiar with it, I try to take a question I commonly get asked and give you some good researched information about it.  Though I certainly do not claim to have all the answers, I'll dig/research/ask other professionals and give you my 2 cents about the topics! :)

Today's question is brought to you by my friends with toddlers and young kids.  They want to know if thumb-sucking is ok or if it has harmful effects on their kid's speech.

The short answer: it can be.

First of all, let me just say that most thumb-sucking is normal.  Babies can even begin sucking their thumbs in the womb.  As infants, thumbs and pacifiers can be great soothing mechanisms.

The problem comes in when kids keep sucking their thumbs or pacifiers as their teeth and jaws begin to develop, usually passed the age of 2.  Thumb-sucking can actually have the potential of causing oral musculature and formation problems.  It can cause incorrect tongue placement and the teeth to form into an open-bite.

My baby sister is a prime example of this.  She sucked her thumb until the age of 5, causing a severe open bite and articulation deficits.  Thankfully, her teeth are perfect now, and she can speak just fine.  ;)  Here she is back in the day in all her open-bite glory lol (Love ya, Ash!).

When children suck their thumbs, it can affect the position and movements of their tongues, causing it to thrust too far forward or have weak muscle control during speech.  The most common sounds that can be affected by incorrect tongue placement are the alveolar sounds: /s, z, t, d, n, l/.  Other speech sounds can also be affected.  Open bites and tongue thrusts are often a perfect recipe for a frontal lisp.

When a child comes in with an open bite and interdental placement of alveolar sounds, it's usually a long hard road to normalcy during speech therapy.  I know some therapists that may not even choose to work with a child who has an open bite.  They would prefer to wait until it closes or refer to a dentist.

Overall, if your child is around the age of 2 and still sucking on his thumb or a pacifier, I'd say you might try working to stop it before it negatively affects them.

Here are several other articles and sites that deal with thumb-sucking and speech problems.  Be sure and check them out:

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Firework Artic FREEBIE!

I can't believe it's the end of June already!  Now that my weddings and showers are over, it's about that time to iron out the plans for the Fourth.  Man, I LOVE summer!

For those of you doing some private therapy during the summer, here's a cute freebie to get your kids excited about Independence Day!  Check out Firework Artic for K, G, F!

Most kids love fireworks, so this product will give you an opportunity to talk about fireworks, safety, and of course practice their sounds.

Use the included game board to move pieces from start to finish.  They can turn over one of their artic cards before each turn.  It's open-ended, so feel free to use your other card decks or materials alongside it!

There are 18 cards with visuals for each sound: K, G, F in all positions.  

This game can also be played without the game board in a Memory-matching style.  

I've also included a blank card sheet for you to add your own sounds!  Thanks so much for your support of my little blog!  This freebie is just my way of saying thanks.  You can grab this game from my TPT store HERE!  And don't forget to follow me while you're there.  :)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Articulation Carry-Over Activities

We've all been there.  After months of drill and practice and tongue depressors, he's finally got his /r/ sound!  He can say it in words, in phrases, even sentences and short conversations.  You're thinking he's definitely on his way out the door with a "graduation" certificate soon.  Then you see him in the hallway.  He grins at you, waves his hand cheerfully, and says, "Hey, Miss Lauwen!  I was just going to the bathwoom and getting a dwink of watew."

Uuuggghhhh!  It seems like the second they leave the speech room, everything the've been learning and practicing goes out the window.  This is exactly why I like to get my kids out of the speech room every so often to reinforce their articulation skills.  

If you aren't sure how to do that, my new download will be a big help!  Check out Carry-Over Activities for Articulation.  :)  It's all black and white, so NO colored ink required for this one!  

This packet comes with 4 activities that get kids up and out of the speech room to address the carry-over of their target sounds.  Activities are included for /r, s, l, k, sh, ch, th/ and blends.  

I begin by having my students choose a card and highlight all the words with their target sound.  We then role play with echo microphones or other props.  After they've rehearsed, I take them out into the hallways to find as many people to interact with as possible.  OR I let them make an actual phone call (if I feel they can handle it).  

You can also record them using your phone or iPad for them to review afterward.  This helps with self-rating and monitoring.

The kit includes 4 types of cards:

1.  Interview a Friend - Students ask other students questions and wait for their responses.  They rate themselves using the smiley faces afterward.  

2.  Make a Phone Call - Kids call a local store and ask a question that contains lots of their target sounds.  This one is usually harder since they're often nervous when calling. 

3.  Give Information - Students can find a faculty member, janitor, or other student and read them the information on the card.

4.  Tell a Joke - Students tell a joke to another student or faculty member that they see in the hallway.

I try to have them find as many people as they can to ask the questions.  The more they practice the better, right?  Most of the cards are shorter so your non-readers can quickly memorize the sentences with a little help from you.  

I've also included some data tracking cards for the therapist or students to see a visual of how they're doing.

What do you think?  You can grab this packet at my TPT store HERE!  

Oh, and I've got a free copy for a random blog follower as well!  Just comment below to enter and I'll pick a winner in a bit.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Phono Learning Center App Review + GIVEAWAY!

Sometimes I feel a little overwhelmed when I get a client with severe phonological processing or severe articulation problems.  It just feels like a long road to intelligibility.  Fortunately, there are programs and activities that are very helpful when dealing with these types of cases.

I am so excited to share with you a brand new app from Smarty Ears that will be perfect for these more severe cases!  Introducing Phono Learning Center!

PLC was designed using the Hodson's Cycles Approach, which is an evidenced-based program effective for treating kids that are unintelligible because of a sound-system disorder.  One of the most beneficial affects of the Cycles program is the impact it has on a child's overall intelligibility.  You can check out THIS video to see a "before and after" of a child using Cycles.

On the home page there are 3 buttons: Support, New Session, and Report Cards.  Under "Support," you'll find helpful info, including a Video Tutorial and Homework option.

The homework screen allows you to choose targets and print them for extra practice or email them directly to parents.

Tap on "New Session" on the home screen to get started.  Press the plus sign to add students individually or import from Therapy Report Center.

Tap "settings" to choose how you want the app to run.  Here you are able to decide if you would like to use the app based on the Cycles approach or traditional therapy.  You can also select a "standard" scoring style or "level of prompts" style.

Customize the targets and information for each student.  Choosing to turn on Auditory Bombardment will let the child play an auditory bombardment game prior to beginning each session.  Select the level that you want the child to work (words, phrases, sentences).

Further customize by choosing the targets at the bottom of screen.  Use the tabs to move from primary to secondary targets.

If only one student is participating, a simple auditory bombardment game will automatically play (if it's on).  The student pops the balloons to hear the target words.

There are 4 activity options to make the app more fun and engaging for students: Balloon, Matching, Basket Paper, and Puzzle.

  • The balloon activity allows students to practice their targets by inflating a hot air balloon.  They say the word then drag the balloon to the basket.  Each time they add a picture, the balloon inflates more.

When there are multiple players participating, you have to tap the players to switch turns.  This allows you to score multiple productions of the same target.  Score using the red, yellow, and green buttons at the top of the screen.  The above slide depicts a standard scoring style, and the slide below depicts a "level of prompts" scoring style.

  • In the matching activity, students find the target card hidden among the faced-down cards.  
  • The basket paper toss is a popular one for lots of the kiddos.  They say the target, touch the paper and watch it crumble, then toss it in the basket. 
  • The last game is a puzzle.  Students say the target, then drag the pic to the puzzle.  Each time the drag it, the puzzle gets more and more complete.

Press "Done" to end the session.  View student data from the "Report Cards" session and email it or save it in TRC.

You can find more info about this app, including a video overview HERE.

What I dig about this app:
  • It's more engaging than most artic apps with the use of fun little games.
  • It's evidenced based using the Cycles Approach to increase intelligibility
  • The auditory bombardment option 
  • Homework to send home with the student
  • Highly customizable and provides a variety of treatment targets and options
  • Multiple ways to collect and save data
What might make this app better:
  • It might be nice if the games could keep score or number their responses.  I like to be able to say "Great job, you did it!"  Even if their productions weren't successful, they feel like they completed a task.  Or you could even play the first one to 20 is the winner, etc.
Overall, this is a fantastic app.  You can grab it HERE on sale right now for $14.99 (regular $24.99).

The fabulous folks at Smarty Ears gave me a code to GIVEAWAY!  Yay!  Enter in the rafflecopter below!  Good luck!  :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, June 6, 2013

10 Books on My Summer Reading List

Ahhh summer days are the best!  How many of you are officially on break??  I'm lovin' being able to take my time in the mornings and having time to read before bed.  I asked some of my friends on FB for some reading suggestions and have been filling up my Kindle with some great reads.

I thought I'd share some of them with you, in case you are looking to add to your lists.  There are a few "speechie" type books, but not all of them have to do with special needs.

1.  Carly's Voice ~ by Arthur Fleischmann

-If you aren't aware, Kristin over at [simply speech] is hosting a summer book club for speechies!  Number one on the list was Carly's Voice.  It tells the story of a girl with autism written by her dad.  It shares the struggles and daily life of living with a child with special needs.  She eventually learns to type on a computer to communicate.  Love it so far!

Carly's Voice: Breaking Through Autism

2.  Schuyler's Monster ~ by Robert Rummel-Hudson

-I read this one last week.  This is a similar book written by a father of a child with a communication disorder.  Although I didn't love some of the harsh language and didn't agree with all of his thinking, this book was a very interesting read.  It was good to be able to see through the parents' eyes and think of situations from their perspectives.

Schuyler's Monster: A Father's Journey with His Wordless Daughter

3.  A Good and Perfect Gift: Faith, Expectations, and a Little Girl Named Penny ~ by Amy Julia Becker

-I'm excited to read this book.  A mother tells her journey of having a daughter with Down's Syndrome and the struggles and joys that come with it.

Good and Perfect Gift, A: Faith, Expectations, and a Little Girl Named Penny

4.  Wonder ~ by RJ Palacio
This book was recommended to me by a couple of my blog readers (thank you!).  It's a fiction story about a 10-year-old boy with facial abnormalities who goes to school for the first time after being homeschooled.  Even though it's written for kids, it definitely piqued my interest.


5.  Kisses From Katie ~ by Katie Davis

Katie tells the story of how at 18, she moved from her comfortable life in the US to Uganda in order to serve the people and orphans in Africa and to follow God's call.  She ended up adopting like 14 kids and inspires others to touch lives - one at a time.  

Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption

6.  Is There Anybody Out There? ~ by Mez McConnell
Mez shares his story from childhood abuse, violence, and drugs to ending up in prison.  It tells of how he escaped a world of despair and discovered a hope that changed his life.

Is There Anybody Out There?: A Journey from Despair to Hope

7.  How People Change ~ by Timothy Lane and Paul Tripp

The book description from Amazon says it better than I ever could: 
"What does it take for lasting change to take root in your life? If you've ever tried, failed, and wondered why, you need How People Change. This book explains the biblical pattern for change in a clear, practical way you can apply to the challenges of daily life. But change involves more than a biblical formula: you will see how God is at work to make you the person you were created to be."

How People Change

8.  French Women Don't Get Fat ~ by Mireille Guiliano

Random yes, but good.  This book shares the secrets of how French women stay slim and healthy but do not diet.  It's full of recipes and insight to help women live healthy and full lives.

French Women Don't Get Fat

9.  What Alice Forgot ~ by Liane Moriarty

Gotta have a good fiction novel in there somewhere.  Alice is 29, happily married, and pregnant but wakes up one day to find herself 39 with 3 kids and getting a divorce.  She has to put the pieces of her life together to figure out what went wrong.  

What Alice Forgot

10.  Sons of Encouragment ~ by Francine Rivers

I have read every single book by Francine Rivers.  If you haven't read any of her books yet, I recommend starting with Redeeming Love.  It's one of my favorite books ever.  I realized that I hadn't read Sons of Encouragement and immediately put it on my list.  Any and all books by her are amazing and I know this one won't be any different.

Sons of Encouragement

What's on your list?  Please share!! :) :)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Syllables Splash App Review

I've got another fabulous app from Smarty Ears for you.  This one landed in my lap just in time for summer.  It's called Syllables Splash!

Lots of my little kiddos work on counting syllables.  In fact, it's part of the Common Core standards for K and 1st.  This app provides great practice.  Check it out!

When I first open a new app, I usually like to watch the video tutorial.  It gives a nice overview and shows me tricks I may not notice on my own.  Just tap the support button at the upper lefthand corner to access it.  You also get options to contact Smarty Ears or back-up/restore your data to iTunes.

At the bottom of the home screen, you are able to choose "Quick Play" to begin a session without a specific student selected.  The picture below shows the target screen.  I love how the shark bites the wrong answers.

The "Select Player" button on the home screen will take you to a student screen.  Here you are able to add students individually, import them from Therapy Report Center, and adjust the settings.

Tap the plus sign inside the clam shell to add a student.  Press the "settings" icon at the top right corner to adjust the settings.

I really like that you have the option of increasing the level if they are getting the answers correct.  You are also able to choose what happens when an answer is incorrect, how many multiple choice options they have to choose from, which number of syllables to include, and whether you'd like to keep the animations (like the shark eating the numbers).

Here is a shot of the target screen.  Participants are locates on the left.  The player at the top indicates whose turn it is.  It will switch players automatically after each turn.  A picture comes up and a voice says the word.  The answer choices are at the bottom of the screen.

The circular arrows above the picture give you the option to display the written word.  You can just play the game with these words if you'd like.

One of my favorite features is that little yellow starfish that says "Help."  Do you see it at the bottom of the submarine?  Tap it if the kids need an extra hint.

A little green turtle appears and claps out the syllables in the word for them!  So fun and cute.

Press the purple "Done" button to end the session.  It will bring you directly to the "Report Cards" screen, which you can also access from the home page.  Select the player whose data you would like to view.

The "Share" button allows you to open the data in TRC or another program on you iPad.

What I dig about this app:

  • It's simple and straightforward and easy for both students and therapists to navigate.
  • The animations are reinforcing for the kids.  I have one student in particular who is obsessed with sharks.  This app is definitely a winner in his book! :)
  • The option to increase the level of difficulty as the students get correct answers.
  • The ability to customize sessions depending on your students needs.
  • The extra hint button for a visual to tap out the words.
  • It uses a variety of real pictures as target words.
What could make it better:
  • Since this app does exactly what it's intended to do, there aren't many cons.  Some of the words were pronounced differently than I would say them, making it difficult to choose the correct option.  
Grab this app from iTunes HERE for $9.99.  :)  What do you think?  Do you have any favorite apps to work on phonological awareness?
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