The Language Fix

A blog for sharing language and learning information


February 2015

The Skill More Americans Think Most Kids Need to Succeed?

This post comes from this link.  I didn’t have anything to add; I just wanted to point it out.FT_15.02.09_skills_overall1

Pew Research Center recently asked a national sample of adults to select among a list of 10 skills: “Regardless of whether or not you think these skills are good to have, which ones do you think are most important for children to get ahead in the world today?”

The answer was clear. Across the board, more respondents said communication skills were most important, followed by reading, math, teamwork, writing and logic. Science fell somewhere in the middle, with more than half of Americans saying it was important.

Rounding out the bottom were skills more associated with kids’ extracurricular activities: art, music (sorry, right-brained people) and athletics. There was virtually no difference in the responses based on whether the person was a parent of a child aged 18 and younger or not.

Objective Language Therapy

Earlier I described why there’s a need for making language therapy more objective.  Now I’ll specifically describe how this can be done.

  1. Check the deficits on the present levels and goals/objectives – They should be the same as from the most recent evaluation minus goals achieved since that evaluation.
  2. Keep referring to those deficits/goals – Make a list to put at the top of each data page, or the inside of speech folder – IEP goals can be copied, but make sure they reflect the present levels
  3. Take good notes – good notes help you as much as anyone else
  4. Be objective not subjective with your notes – Objective language data must have 3 things:
    1. Level of words – There are big time differences developmentally within classes of words. You may work on basic words or later developing words, but not at the same time with the same kid. For example, for a kid working on conjunctions, and and or should not be worked on at the same time as although and unless. You probably need a comprehensive list.
    2. Task type – Some tasks are easier; some are harder. To differentiate tasks, I use ID/Label/Use (ID is easiest, Use is hardest).
      1. ID tasks – Often involve pictures or objects and/or choices with foils – Easier tasks have fewer foils generally, with more foils making it harder with IDing objects in environment or in scenes being the most difficult, as they have tons of possible incorrect answers. Other tasks: “Wrong or Right,” and “Find It”
      2. Label – Can be spontaneous labeling (The kid just labels something as soon as he sees it); direct elicitation (What is ____?); choices (Is this a _____ or ______?); or fill in the blank (The giraffe is ____.), labeling from attributes, labeling category members
      3. Use – Can be using in a sentence (Use the word “fell” in a sentence); repair (Fix this sentence: “He are running.”), finishing sentence (Finish this sentence with the word “not:” “He did _____.”); describing; sentence repetition
    3. Cueing – Be consistent. This system seems prevalent: min (cueing required some of the time, generally less than 25%); mod (cueing required approximately half of the time or about 25 to 75%); and max (cueing required most or all of the time or greater than about 75%).
  5. Tons of great activities combine task types. Tons of great activities can’t be measured – Books, play activities, theme based activities, crafts, etc. These are all great to do, especially considering the tremendous motivational value from varying teaching techniques. However, you can’t perform objective measurements with combined tasks. Not all therapy should be objective, though – we know that best practice is to do baselines, and criterion referenced short “quizzes” to measure progress, and then devote much of therapy time to teaching, or activities that reinforce or integrate different skills.

Continue reading “Objective Language Therapy”

Getting Comfortable With Language Therapy

The following scenario is completely made up, but in a way that should be familiar to a lot of speech-language pathologists (SLPs).  Miraka has been working on time concepts for, well, a long time.  You, as the therapist, have worked on asking her questions like what she did yesterday, when she eats lunch, and maybe even differentiating between hours and minutes.  Perhaps you’ve worked with staff implementing routines and visual cues so that Miraka can anticipate what’s coming next in her school day.  You seem to be doing some good stuff, but you’re just not sure Miraka’s making progress, and you’re not even sure exactly how to tell when her goal’s been met.  People ask how Miraka’s doing, and we say things like, “She’s working hard.  It seems like you can understand her better,” or “Her sentences seem better.”  Inside we squirm because we can’t be more precise.

I’ll just state it bluntly:  a lot of SLPs do not like language therapy.  It’s just not as neat and straightforward as, say, articulation therapy, where you know exactly where the kid’s at, and exactly where the kid’s supposed to be going.  The practice of language therapy has often been messy, or more of an art than science.  And though we don’t like to admit it, we tend to measure language progress more from the gut than from any chart.  We go almost entirely by subjective measures, such as how we feel, and what others are reporting.  We can’t quantify Miraka’s progress, and this makes us uneasy.

Continue reading “Getting Comfortable With Language Therapy”

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