Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Review + Giveaway: PicWits! Sharpen Your Social Wits!

I am so excited to be collaborating with Jenn Choi, editor from  Her website is a wonderful resource for both parents and therapists looking for fun, educational toys for their children/clients.  It is a win-win situation--she sends me AWESOME toys to review and then we get to have a fun "chat" about what my "expert" opinion is.  Below, is the most recent review she did on PicWits--I think you will find her insights to be incredibly helpful, thorough and informative.  

Number 1 loves to say "Awkward" as a one-word comment.  I think that's a thing to say these days.

PicWits! from Mindware
INVENTOR: Nicolas Cravotta and Rebecca Bleau (Blue Matter Games)

 practice being flexible and fun with language; practice being a better social communicator

INVEST: $24.95
AGES:10 and up (you may be able to go lower with adult guidance)
TOOLS: Flexibility is My Superpower, Foment Love of Language, Lose and Win Gracefully
EXPERT OPINION: Nicole Kolenda, M.S., CCC-SLP, P.C., Speech & Language Pathologist 
GIVEAWAY:  Win your own box of PicWits!

I am a huge fan of Howard Gardner and so I believe that humans possess different kinds of smarts.  However, if you asked me which profession has THE SMARTEST PEOPLE, I would take off my HG-groupie uniform for a quick minute and give you an answer. But you may be surprised, I would not say brain surgeon, rocket scientist, or professor of ancient languages.  Actually, I would say that the smartest people in the world are comedians.

Come on. You know who I'm talking about, those people who tell joke after joke after joke? They make it up right there on the spot!  There is no prepping, no memorizing and definitely no cheating.  There is definitely no cheating when a person can make you laugh so hard that you cry... or pee... or both.

I suppose you can train to become a comedian but some people are harder to teach than others.  The good news is this kind of teaching and learning can be done. It really can! So... if you have one of those kids who have a hard time understanding meanings of jokes or really any play on words then you are going to want to invest in PicWits!  This game totally rocks! 

Click here to read the rest of this wonderful review!

Friday, May 24, 2013

A fun, easy (and cheap) way to target /k/!

Below is a guest post for  I wrote for "articulation week" on the [simply speech] blog 
(thanks Kristin!) 

A fun, easy (and cheap) way to target /k/

I have a client who can produce the /k/ in the final position of words but not word initially or syllable initially (within a word).  I typically find that the PROMPT technique ( usually works for this phoneme—but not this time.  I then tried the lollipop trick—where I put a lollipop (or tongue depressor) on the tongue tip (to hold it down) and instruct the child to articulate the /k/.  This didn’t work either.  My client was also not AT ALL interested in any of my exciting ideas for the session to target this sound…/k/ bingo, /k/ worksheets, /k/ Go Fish!  I needed to come up with something fast, so I looked around my room and gathered the following:
YES, that’s right, a handful of paperclips, a small paper cup and a magnet “fishing” pole.  Doesn’t every SLP have these?!?
I also invited some friends to join us:
Oscar, Cookie, and Monkey!   They are always ready to join in on the action in my office!

I threw the paperclips on the floor and explained that we were going to pick them up! This was an easy way to thenchain this sound –we were pick-King up the clips!
I instructed my little guy to say, “pick up”—pick-Kup—pi KUP.
Immediately after he picked up a paper clip, I would have him put it in the cup, requiring him to articulate “cup” after I “flew” the cup over to him while singing “in”.
Oscar, Cookie Monster and Monkey all took turns pi-King up and putting in the Cup! 
My kiddie LOVED this activity and eagerly attempted each target word, over and OVER and OVER AGAIN!! 

Ahhh…if only it was this easy all of the time!

Friday, May 10, 2013


Below is a sonogram of my son when I was 5 months pregnant...who said lip rounding was hard?!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Always striving to be....BETTER!

So it is MAY!  FINALLY...nice weather, colorful flowers and...


Figure 1, adapted from

I currently teach an undergraduate course on Language Disorders and this past week, as we near the end of the semester, our focus has been on intervention.  I truly enjoy teaching; I get an intense satisfaction from my interactions with the students and sharing with them therapeutic technique(s).  When students come to my practice to observe, I become more conscious of my techniques and the materials I have chosen to facilitate the current goal(s).  Sometimes in therapy, I notice I go into "auto pilot", and this increased consciousness is important.  This is also how I feel about teaching.  It keeps me current. It is nice revisiting theories that are logged in my brain and don't necessarily come out for air much--but definitely guide my assessment and intervention approaches.  It is also nice to take another look at old (and new) research as an "older" or shall I say "seasoned" clinician.  I enjoy reading this literature with the students as well, who are digesting it for the first time. 

The past week we have talked a lot about the continuum of "naturalness" in therapy, which Fey introduces in his 1986 book Language Intervention with Young Children.  We focused on how each approach is distinct and uniquely important.  But we also talked about how these approaches can exist in harmony within an SLP's therapeutic practice.
Fey identified three basic approaches to intervention:
1. The Clinician Directed Approach,
2. The Child Centered Approach,
3. The Hybrid Approach. 

Most Natural                                                                                                              Least Natural
Child Centered                                          Hybrid                                               Clinician Directed
Daily Activities                                          Milieu Therapy                                             Drill
Facilitated Play                                         Focused Stimulation                                      Drill Play
                                                                Script Therapy                                              CD Modeling

Figure 2, The continuum of naturalness.  (Adapted from Fey, M. [1986] Language Intervention with young children.  San Diego, CA: College-Hill Press.)

My assumption is many of the therapists practicing right now rarely think about these approaches--rather we just adjust to the needs of our clients.  After observing a session of mine through a two-way mirror, a wise parent once exclaimed, " There is a lot of "art" to the science of pediatric speech therapy!" YES...there certainly is! I remember here is a parent who really gets it!  A big part of this "art" is understanding how to approach our clients.  As we have been discussing this continuum, I find myself thinking a lot about how I approach intervention and, generally, where my sessions fit in the above paradigm.  As it is BETTER HEARING and SPEECH month--I have been reflecting on my practice and how I can be better.  How can my sessions be better?  

Assessment and goal planning, although challenging, are many times easier than execution (although, not always).  When a session doesn't go as fabulous as I had planned, I have learned to re-think how I could of executed my goals better.  Was I too rigid (clinician directed)?  Did my kiddie over-run the session (Child Centered)?  Should I have swayed a little to the right or left of the above paradigm in an effort to actively engage my client while simultaneously targeting my goals?  I used to pride myself on being a "tough" clinician; keeping my sessions very structured and rigid and expecting a lot of trials on part of my clients.  And, although this can be a very productive way to do therapy, I came to realize it was more about my need to feel "in control" and less about what my clients' needs were.  Now, I see there is a certain fluidity that my sessions must have to keep my clients working optimally.  Maybe that means I fluctuate between all three of the above mentioned approaches within one session, because that is what my client requires.  It certainly goes, without saying (although, I am saying it aren't I????) different activities lend themselves to different approaches and we must adjust accordingly. can my sessions be better?  I like the idea of bringing to the forefront of thought--goal execution and this continuum of naturalness.  I think for many of us, therapy feels intuitive (which it MOST CERTAINLY is), but like a conversation with a good friend, thinking about this paradigm and our interplay between ourselves, our clients and the items with which we have chosen to address our targets (Pop Up Pirate anyone?) can only strengthen our sessions, not hinder them.  I will now always include a comment in my notes indicating where on the above continuum my client seemed to fare the best and how I responded.  Was I comfortable?  If not, why? And lastly, how can I make myself comfortable in the approach which seems to really fit my client.  A little bit of self-reflection always goes a far way!