Chicken Soup for the SLP Soul

Imagine this scenario:
You’re a first year SLP—ready to take on the world after 6 years of school including 2 years of practicums behind you.  You’re a little nervous about being out on your own, but confident enough to know that while you don’t know it all, you know enough to be plenty competent in order to do your job.  You’re ecstatic that you’ve landed your first job!

Then… “Oh by the way, these several parents of children on your caseload are not happy because their kids didn’t get the services they should have last year.  It happened before you ever came and is something you had absolutely nothing to do with, but you’ll need to put out some of these fires.” 

Um.. What?! That was terrifying for me as a shy, quiet, first-year SLP trying to get my sea legs! I had no idea what I was walking into!

One of these particular students who didn’t receive consistent services that year was a little girl with Apraxia.  Her teacher had told me that the year before, she basically “squawked” because she had such difficulty with her speech. 

I first met the freckle-faced cutie pie with Apraxia at a “Meet the Teacher” night before school started.  She was a bit shy, but we were able to talk a little bit, and I adored her right off the bat! Then, I chatted with her mom and she asked about my previous experience.  Cue hundreds of butterflies in my stomach as I desperately tried to remain confident when saying that it was my first year.  I figured after the prior school year’s debacle and some lack of speech progress the year before, that a brand-spankin’ new, first-year SLP was probably not what she was hoping for!

The night went well enough, but I was still really nervous about the whole situation when I got home that night.  My husband gave me a pep talk, though, and told me, “Just do your job, and they’ll have to love you.  You’re awesome! You got this” (Thanks, hubs!)

So, that’s what I did.  I “did my job,” and both me and that little girl worked our tails off that year.

I remember the day when she finally mastered the /y/ sound we had been working on.  She had a w/y substitution, so the word “yeah” always came out “wah.”  To show off, her teacher and I asked her questions like, “Are you beautiful?” “Are you smart?” “Are you funny?”  It was so fun to see her just beaming with pride and self-confidence, answering “yeah” or “yes” to all of those questions.  She never seemed to struggle with /y/ after that! 😉

I’ll never forget when her /L/ sound popped into a word one day, too. Her name had an L in it, so it was a pretty big deal! I remembered her mom telling me at the beginning of the year that whenever someone would ask her daughter’s name, that her daughter would turn to her and ask her to say it, because she said she “couldn’t say it right” Well, let me tell you– She was rockin’ those /L/ sounds like nobody’s business by Spring!

About a year or so later, in May 2013, on the first official Apraxia Awareness Day, I stood next to her mom at the kindergarten graduation program. She gave me the sweet card pictured above, letting me know how much she appreciated me and the difference I’d made in her family’s lives (I still keep it in my desk, and pull it out to re-read on the extra tough days for a smile!).  Together, we stood there, and watched that same freckle-faced cutie who used to squawk and be embarrassed to even attempt to say her name, sing with her peers in her end of the year kindergarten graduation program.

And that moment, right there, is why I am an SLP. Moments like that far outweigh the negatives, and I can’t imagine doing anything else for a career!

Want more stories to warm your heart or make you laugh? Hop on over to the next blog, and keep reading! Don’t forget to keep collecting numbers at the end of each post so you can add them all up at the end and enter into the raffle for some AWESOME TpT gift certificates!   My number is:

Happy Hopping!

Thanks Felice at Thedabblingspeechie for organizing this awesome hop, and thanks to all of these ladies who shared their sweet stories!

Potato Head Play

Mr. Potato Head is a toy that many of us SLPs have used in therapy with little ones.  It’s always been toted as a “must-have” for anyone working with early intervention/prek.  I love my potato heads (I scored a big tub full of heads and accessories at a yard sale last year!), but I’ll admit- there was a point in time when I first began my career, where I wondered how I could *really* use it in a variety ways besides the very basics like labeling body parts and requesting.

If any of you new to the field/new to this population have wondered the same thing, or maybe if you’re a more seasoned SLP just looking for new ideas for this toy… Here are some other ways I’ve been targeting many other speech & language goals through potato head play with my preschoolers!

1.  Pronouns:  I have pieces that let me work on both “he” and “she” during play.  I have eyes with eyeshadow and big eyelashes, earrings, big red lips, purses, etc… so I can not only work on “Mister” potato head but also his female counterpart 🙂  I model a lot of “HE has green shoes on today” and “SHE has a pretty yellow purse”  and try to slightly emphasize the different pronouns.

2.  Basic Concepts:  I model comments like “He has a BIG nose and LITTLE shoes” “Here’s his hat! It goes on top!”  “I’m putting her eyes ABOVE her nose”  Or, if I want to check understanding of concepts, I can say things like, “I have his shoes! Do the shoes go on the top or on the bottom?”

3.  Final consonants:  Purse, nose, arm, feet, eyes, hat, top, put, on, in, take, out– all great words to model and practice with final consonants during play.  I like to sometimes hide the pieces in a sensory bin (ie my box of beans!) so they dig for parts and then we name the item and do short phrases like “Put on ___”     “___ on top”   and   “___ goes in”

4.  Plurals:  Talk about all the pairs your potato head has! Model plurals by talking about the potato head’s two ears, two eyes, two shoes, two feet, two hands, two arms, two earrings, glasses, etc!

5.  Action words/-ING verbs:  Make your potato heads do all kinds of silly actions! “He is running” “She is shopping”  “He is dancing” etc…

What other ways do you play with potato heads?

For the Love of Speech: Valentine’s Blog Hop!

Welcome to your next (or maybe first!) stop of the “For The Love Of Speech” blog hop organized by Lyndsey over at Speech to the Core and Elizabeth over at Speech Owl! You’re in for some sweet treats!

I am SO very thankful for each and every one of you who take time to read this blog, follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, and those of you who download freebies & paid items from my TpT store.  I wanted to share the love that I’ve been feeling! 🙂

Hop through each blog and download a Valentine’s Day freebie– we each have a different component to make up a full lesson plan to target a variety of activities!  Mine is a little pronoun-themed activity:

You can grab it HERE.

After you’ve downloaded my freebie, hop on over to Speech Sprouts (by clicking the image above) to check out what fabulous activity she has for you!