Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Those of us who work with young children are very tuned into various themes.  One of my all-time favorite themes that kids LOVE is dogs and puppies! Even a child who may be a little reluctant to talk will talk about animals, especially dogs. I have several activities that are built around this theme. First, I would like to share a gem that I stumbled upon on  See the photo below...Where Is Puppy? This a basic lotto game with an audio CD and colorful photos on game boards. The speaker is clear and uses a slow (but not too slow) rate of speech when she describes which puppy the child is supposed to locate on their board. I always stop the recording after the speaker gives the instructions to wait for each child to determine if they have a match on their board. This activity is GREAT for working on basic prepositions, although kids who do not need this type of instruction enjoy it, too. Listening activities such as this one also promote good turn taking behavior for preschoolers, which helps them get ready for kindergarten. See the link below the photo to find this item on
Listening Lotto "Where is Puppy?"
See above for link.

Continuing with the dog and puppy theme, my youngest students really needed activities specifically designed for Childhood Apraxia of Speech. What better way to work on beginning sounds than to use dogs and puppies to help encourage participation and enthusiasm?! Below is my Playful Puppies packet-link is below the photo. In this packet, there are cards for working on the P, B and M sounds-in all positions of words (beginning, middle and end). Children this age often need help with basic concept words (similar to the listening activity above) so there are cards for the earliest developing prepositions. I also designed bingo boards with the clip art used for the cards. Additionally, there are cards that depict basic shapes and colors.  Those could be used for a matching or go-fish type game. Lastly, there is a game board which I use when working on articulation. The gameboard can be used as a reinforcer for any task.
For those of you who need a few more activities using this theme, I suggest Janelle Publications "Dudsberry" character sets. They are GREAT! Also found on the Janelle site are magnetic playsets entitled "Create-A-Scene." There are several themes, including "Pet Shop" which fits in nicely with the dog/puppy theme.
Here is a link to the Janelle Publications site:

Have fun!  


What Would You Do?

As a long-time SLP, I can't begin to tell you how many times I have been in public and have noticed someone with a speech-language difficulty. What to do? Well, of  course, 99% of the time I do not say anything. Yesterday, however, was different.

I heard her voice before I saw her face.  You do not have to be an SLP to notice that there is something unusual about her voice. To be truthful, "unusual" is not an appropriate description. She has a voice disorder. Her voice calls attention to her-and not in a good way. How did I approach this?  Not very creatively. I asked her if she had laryngitis.  She said "no," that she had a voice problem. I told her what I did professionally and that voice was an area of our field that I had both experience and interest in. She seemed open to talking about it.  Very nice person, sweet disposition.  She described her attempts to get help and without specifics, she told me she was very discouraged that no one had been able to help her.

Before I go further...for the SLPs in the is what I heard:  aphonia, pitch breaks (which seemed to get worse when she tried to speak louder), diplophonia (is there such a thing a multiphonia?), breathiness, harshness. My training:  I was VERY fortunate as a grad student to have been taught by Dr. Rebecca Leonard. She runs the voice clinic at UC Davis Medical Center. She was an incredible professor of voice disorders--one of the toughest classes I ever took. Loved it.

Now, back to the situation at hand. The person told me her voice had always been this way. She described that she had undergone 3 direct laryngoscopic exams. By her description, the last one was done with the intent of  performing surgery on her vocal folds. However, the surgeon decided not to do anything about it for fear that he might make her voice worse. Her frustration and discouragement with this was palpable.

I suggested she seek treatment at one of two centers: UCDMC or SacENT. I gave her the names of several ENTs I am familiar with any of which would be excellent (also gave her Dr. Leonard's name). I did my best to encourage her NOT to give up. Gave her my contact info and told her to call me anytime for help. I can only hope that she decides to pursue further treatment.

So, a 5-10 minute errand turned into a 25 minute stop and a lively conversation about voice disorders. :)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Future SLPs.....Can You Work in both the schools AND the medical/clinical world?  Yes, you can!

When I started out as an SLP in 1984, I had not decided whether I wanted to work as a school-based SLP or as a hospital-based SLP. Those were basically the two choices. Several of my colleagues had decided one way or the other. I absolutely loved the medical part of our practice.  However, I am the daughter of two school teachers, so the school system is a place where I am totally comfortable and to which I gravitated. Now it is 2013 and I still have not made up my mind which side of the fence I am on! Guess is OK not to make a firm decision. I have practiced in both venues my entire career (add to that list private practice and home-health).  Currently, I work full-time for the local school system and per diem for our local acute-care facility. As many of you probably know, each site requires a very different skill set. There are pros and cons to both. Before I list the pros and cons for each type of work, I will tell you this: Working as a medical/clinical SLP gives you knowledge that transfers to the school setting and enhances your skills as a school SLP. Having said that, here are the pros and cons for each setting.

The School System

Pros: A steady paycheck.  Benefits that are unbeatable in terms of quality and cost. Lots of vacation built into your schedule.

Cons: Paperwork. Work overload. Undervalued as an employee.

The Medical System

Pros: You can negotiate your pay rate. Flexible scheduling. Workload is not nearly as overwhelming as the school caseloads. In general, I find that medical folks have high regard for what I do.

Cons: I can't think of any, frankly.

So, how do you do both? It makes for longer days, but it can be done if you are in close proximity to all of your sites.

If you can swing it, I highly recommend doing both. Please feel free to ask questions!