June 1, 2013 Departments

Blogjam: June 2013

SLPs and audiologists are blogging about their experiences and discoveries. Check out some of their posts.

Behold the Power of Maybe

Winning is fun, losing is not—and doing them both with grace is an art form often lost on the 4–7 age set. What's more, games geared for this age tend to be guided by random chance, so there are plenty of opportunities for a child to either win or lose. Tackling this gray area is where speech-language pathologist Karen Head likes to introduce the word "maybe."

"Kids at this age are beginning to grapple with the concept of 'gray.' This is when they begin to find out that 'not everything is black or white,' 'things change,' 'life isn't always fair,' 'randomness happens.' These are upsetting concepts, particularly for kids who are sensitive, competitive or inflexible."

Head recommends not addressing these emotionally laden topics in the moment. "Trying to reason with a kiddo who has just landed on a 'chute' and is plunging back to the beginning of the game is not the right time. But there are lots of ways that we can lay the groundwork when emotions aren't running so high. And this is where that wonderful word 'maybe' comes in."

Assessing Functional Communication

On "If I Only Had Super Powers," blogger Cheri Chin takes on the task of assessing functional communication in students with or suspected of having autism.

"When I do autism evaluations, I try to include standardized language testing (when I am able). Depending on the student's levels and native language, I often use the OWLS, PLS-4, or CASL for this evaluation. In addition to standardized testing, however, I must provide a functional communication assessment ... What language and social language skills can the student demonstrate in informal contexts?"

The blog post suggests specific activities related to eliciting a narrative sample, theory of mind, emotional understanding, social problem solving, shared attention, reciprocal interviews, topic maintenance and conversations with a peer.

Pave the Way for Pretend Play

Blogger Sherry Artemenko encourages pretend play—complete with costumes—to teach children the power of language as they slip into an adult role, experiment with dialogue and story plots, and negotiate with peers.

"Some of the most creative homes I visit have an overflowing bin of costumes, swords, masks, necklaces, wings, tiaras and safari hats. I actually encourage parents to start gathering some props to keep available starting at 12 months, when pretend play begins. Start out with a wash cloth for a blanket, teddy bear and a cup so your toddler can imitate feeding, sleeping and caring for a pretend friend. By the time a child is 3, pretend play is in full swing as little pirates, fairies, doctors or zookeepers surprise us as they suddenly appear after they have suited up."

New Apps for Apraxia

At "GeekSLP.com," blogger Barbara Fernandes presents five apps published in the past year—one of them her own—that may be useful in treatment for apraxia.

"Several apps have been published in the last year, which can serve as tools for the intensive motor speech drill shown to be effective in helping children learn consistent sound production. One approach that has been shown to be effective is the initial use of words with less complex syllable structures such as CV [consonant-vowel] and CV to words with multi-syllables ... .

All the apps ... reflect a structure that is in line with this approach. Last year I became very interested in developing a new app for apraxia, which has pushed me to learn and research the subject more than ever."

In a companion podcast, Fernandes provides a demo for each of the five apps.


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