Monday, April 4, 2016

The Frenzied SLPs: How do you use water in therapy?

Today I'm linking up with my fellow Frenzied SLPs to discuss using water in speech therapy. 

How do I use water in speech therapy? Well, I live in California, so, I do not use water in therapy. We are in the middle of a major drought in our state. Everywhere you go there are reminders of the drought. At the gym, a sign above the bathroom sink admonishes us to conserve water. In our restaurants, signs remind us that water is served upon request ONLY. Every day, our water situation is part of the weather report. How are we doing with rainfall? How deep is the snow pack in the Sierra Nevada mountain range? These totals are updated and analyzed every single day

Good news! We are having a good rainfall season in Northern California. Reservoirs are filling up. The same can’t be said for Southern California, where their rainfall totals are not as robust as ours. Even with this bountiful season, it will take at least 3-4 years of average rainfall to put an end to this drought.

So, although we do not use water in therapy, water IS a topic of conversation and is a part of speech/language therapy lessons, but not in the way you might be thinking. Students on my caseload talk about vocabulary associated with the water cycle--straight from California's edition of a CCSS-aligned science series. 

Drought. An extended period of time with below average rainfall. Students here are familiar, very familiar with this term.

Runoff. In case you don’t live where it snows, runoff in this context refers to the water that flows down a mountain as a result of snow melt in the spring. This is VERY important in my neck-o-the-woods, because runoff from the Sierra Nevada mountain range is the main source of water to fill our reservoirs. A low snow pack means very little runoff, which compounds the shortage.

Shortage. In this situation, we are talking about a water shortage, which is why we do not use water in therapy!

In California, the water shortage also means brown lawns and dead trees. It also means the onset of fear as fire season approaches. Kids know all about this around here. We had a disastrous forest fire right here where I live in September. I housed friends (and animals) who had to evacuate from their home for several days. The evacuation boundary was ½ a mile from my house! It was very scary. The drought is to blame. My friends were VERY fortunate they did not lose their home. The fire burned right up to their back yard! My SLPA lives in the same neighborhood and had the same experience. Our schools were closed for several days. It was a stressful time. Everyone, especially our special needs kids, expressed that stress for many days after the fire was finally put out.

Don’t take your water supply for granted! In some parts of the world, people do not have a fresh, clean water supply readily available. Click the image below to read about a project my church completed in Papua New Guinea. 

In the meantime, we are still doing the rain dance here in California--hoping for more RAIN before summer hits!! 


  1. This is such a great reminder that we shouldn't take things for granted! I hope your rain dance works!

  2. This is a great lesson in perspective. I will likely share this information with my students as they don't have the awareness that in some areas water is in shortage.

  3. Thanks for sharing this perspective!! I think it's an important part of any water or spring based lesson no matter where you live.

  4. We will shake our rain sticks in hopes of some rainfall for you. I love reading about your involvement in bringing water to others. You have a kind heart

  5. I am so glad you were safe, and building those life experiences into your speech therapy lessons is very powerful- it definitely gets kids talking. Thanks for sharing your story!

  6. That is crazy close for an evacuation boundary! Wow! Thankful you and your friends/family were all safe. Fires are no joke! Not due to forest fires, but my parents' house caught fire about 9 years ago and it was awful. Will do a rain dance for you with Annie's rain sticks and hope it brings you more precipitation!

  7. I'll do a rain dance for you too! My students would be very unfamiliar with "drought" vocab or how it would effect their lives OR the impact of not even having available clean water. Planning to share this. Thank you for the reminder. Kim

  8. Such a poignant post. Great life lessons, but I'm hoping for rain for CA.
    All Y’all Need