Friday, December 16, 2011
Welp, I'm on holiday vacation! Technically I have a meeting in the AM, THEN I'm on vacation... but I'll count it now. I have some big plans for SpeechieSpeaking over the coming days. I want to do a redesign of the layout. I've gotten some great constructive criticism from Facebook friends (thank you!) and noticed some issues with viewing on Safari/iPad. Also have taken several pictures and gathered some information on topics I would like to cover. I know everyone will likely be busy in the coming two weeks enjoying family time, but at least for a bit of the time you might want some extra things to procrastinate with ;) Off to bed to prep for the AM meeting!
Monday, December 12, 2011
I had started writing this post quite a while ago, but I never got around to finishing it.

I tip my hat to you, Mr. Bear!
We got a neat bubble toy at the office from TheraPro! It is a Bubble Bear. The neat thing about it? You squeeze the bears belly to have the wand come up. As long as you have enough "bubble juice" in the container, it will make the wand bubble-blowing-fun ready. 

Cheap; easy to use; cute looking design

If you or a child squeezes the belly too hard, the wand holder pops out of place. It is easy to stick back in, but just something you have to watch for. Sometimes there isn't enough bubble juice in the top part to blow bubbles. To fix this you can put your finger on top of the wand (keeping it in the top of the bear) while you squeeze the belly. That will let a little bit of bubble juice into the top area to refresh your wand.

Feel free to ask if you have any questions.
The holidays are here! :) 

Today is my last week of work before two weeks off for the holidays. I'm excited, and the office is buzzing with excitement. Of course, some of that may be due to the sugar rush from treats that some of the families have brought in - haha!

Although Thanksgiving is I guess more of a time to give thanks, I do want to take the opportunity to reflect on how happy I am with my job, my coworkers, and all of the wonderful families I serve. I love each and every one of the children I see, and I am excited to come into work each day to see their (most of the time) smiling faces. Even in the midst of the worst tantrums, I'm thankful that my job lets me get paid for playing games and making kids laugh and feel success all day!

Another thing I'm thankful for? The expanding number of readers for SpeechieSpeaking!

On Friday, I made the decision to purchase the domain for It appears that it isn't quite up yet, so hopefully there hasn't been any issues with accessing the blog in the meantime.

Thinking of taking the time that I have a cancelled client to film a product review for an awesome app I love called ArtikPix! Of course, preparing for my afternoon children with some extra homework is probably a much better plan :)

Off to be productive!

Thursday, December 8, 2011
I had it this week.

I got a...

Totally awesome "A-ha!" moment.

The A-ha moment is that moment when the client you are working with just.. *gets it.*

It is seriously the most amazing feeling ever. I think I should have probably added a third person in my stick figure drawing of me crazy dancing with happiness.

Today, I did a crazy dance. The victory? A child who has a very hard time with fronting said "cup." Wow. Commence with crazy happy dancing now!
"Huh??"  --> "A-ha!!!"

Another a-ha... I am working with an older child on planning and writing for a variety of purposes. Currently we are tackling persuasive writing. My plan of attack for the day was to brainstorm together!

We talked through the topic out loud, and while we discussed it, I wrote down everything we said. We would think of negatives/positives for the ideas we discussed. Usually I write down notes and take data throughout the entire session, so I didn't tell the child that I wasn't doing just that in this particular session. After we were done coming up with lots of good points, I showed the child what I had written.

The child literally said:
Wow! This is like the essay right here! All I have to do is add more words to make the points sentences! 
As aforementioned happy dance is not always appreciated in the above 5 year old crowd, I happy-danced inside. He just had his "A-ha!" moment for why we outline and plan for writing.  That kind of learning experience is priceless. I could have told him a million times that outlining will help you plan essays, will help you write more clearly, will help you to stay on topic... but having him discover this himself - amazing!!

I hope to see many more "A-ha's" in my years to come as an SLP!

#slpeeps - Share your best "a-ha" moments! I would love to hear about them...
Welp. We don't learn everything in graduate school.

Not even remotely.

One thing I wasn't really prepared for was the fact that school systems, the government, even teachers/support staff... may not have your kiddo's best interest in mind. As an outsider, (and someone completely inexperienced with needing services), I always figured that if a child needed therapy, they got therapy. If a child needed some kind of AAC device, walker, writing tools, they got them. The reality is so far from this...

A lot of it stems from the core issue of money. Isn't money always the problem? You cut services here and there for X, Y, and Z, trying to save money for salaries, supplies, etc. Kids end up in group therapy sessions, 30 minutes weekly, with severe language impairments. One SLP may serve several schools in a county with over 100 kids on his/her caseload. I really marvel at the fact that any progress is actually achieved in the school setting.

Recent changes have brought a new system implemented in Florida classrooms called "RTI." You can read more about RTI on Wikipedia. They give a decent overview.

On the surface, RTI appears absolutely fabulous. We don't want children stuck receiving special education services when really all they needed was a little extra smaller tutoring sessions. We want to look at all children to identify potential learning disabilities/areas of difficulty so that we can implement appropriate services. RTI is supposed to be a structured way to go about this.

In reality, it is ... a beast. A nasty, paperwork filled, service delaying beast. I am incredibly happy that I do not work in a school system.

As you know, I haven't been practicing for very long. Despite my short stint so far as an SLP, I've seen several children get stuck going through the different tiers, for weeks at a time (!) making no progress and struggling. I see these kids come in to me upset, frustrated, and just wanting to give up on reading/language materials because they aren't receiving the true intensive services they need. In order to receive the highest tier of services -- or the most intensive service available -- a child must progress through the different tiers. The less intensive interventions must first be tried before a child can be moved to more intensive programs. Now what I didn't tell you is that the FIRST step in the RTI process is teacher observations and data collection. This alone could go on for a few weeks. Then you have smaller groups within the classroom... then perhaps tutoring of some sort... then maybe pull out into a resource class... I mean this goes on and on. You end up having a child struggle for an entire school year, failing miserably while they progress through the RTI tiers. And it starts all over again the next school year if an IEP is not put in place.


Let me add here that this is not always the case I'm sure. I'm sure there are school systems and areas that implement RTI wonderfully, and children receive services as needed, and there aren't frustrated parents and outside SLPs pulling out their hair.

Since I have digressed, let me get back on topic! The idea of this post is to NEVER GIVE UP THE FIGHT! And yes, my friends, you will be fighting.

It is not an uncommon situation for me to see a child that is just simply not being served well within the school system they attend. Parents must really become proactive at this point and become their child's advocate. It is our job as SLPs to support and educate parents to the best of our abilities so that they are able to successfully advocate for services. It can be a true fight to get the services that you know your child needs. But... never give up the fight.

I have had a recent case that I have been sending letters and e-mails back-and-forth regarding a child not receiving the services I believe she requires. We finally have an IEP meeting set up to discuss this matter. I cannot even begin to explain the weird crazy "We-made-progress!" dance I did when I got the e-mail. This matter has been going on for months, and the folks in charge did the best they could to brush us (the parent and I) to the side. We did not give up. We gathered data. We presented clear arguments. We cited IDEA (oh yes, we went there). We fought for our child! And hopefully, I will report back that it was successful.

Fighting for services is an unfortunate reality for parents and caregivers of special needs children. Again, I will state, as the parent/caregiver, you are your child's advocate. SLPs out there -- help to empower the families you see by providing them with information and support. Help them to be successful advocates to provide the BEST services possible. 

Hoping to report back that this particular "fight" was worth it... until then, adios!

Have a good "fight the system" story? Share it to encourage the good fighting mojo in others!