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Icebreakers! Speech and Language Style

31 August 2013

The school year is upon us, and that brings in some novel faces. It's always good to get to know these newcomers and get reacquainted with the ones you already know. Of course, it's not always easy, and the typical "say your name, age and favorite X" tends to bring on the simultaneous 'ugh'. So, what are we supposed to do? We want to get everyone excited to begin the year and to trust you, but you don't want it to get monotonous. That's where some hands-on, interactive icebreakers come in! Here are some that can help raise the energy level and induce some laughter while promoting speech and language:

-Never Have I Ever- A classic game that can help make inferences and work on receptive and expressive langauge. One person begins saying "Never have I ever...X" (ex. 'Never have I ever gone to the pool'), and whoever in the circle has done this will have to put one finger up. You keep going around the circle until someone has 5 fingers up (one hand). It's a fun way to get to know each other by learning some silly or interesting facts about them. Make the facts as fun as you want (like never kissing a pig or wearing a tutu)! Great for all ages.

-Two Truths and a Lie- Another circle game where you say two truths and one lie about yourself. Everyone else then guesses which statement is a lie. Once all the participants have said their guess, the speaker reveals the lie. Sometimes they can be tricky or silly, so it keeps everyone entertained. Sometimes it's surprising what is the lie vs truth! This game is great for expressive learning, creativity and making guesses.

-Name Game- This is a slight twist on a classic game. Each participant chooses his/her favorite character or well-known person. Then, each person is partnered up (or can be small groups) and they take turns asking each other questions about their fellow partner(s) person. Once the identity is found out they ask each other why it was that they chose this person. What makes that person their favorite? You can then have them all come together and present their partner (or themselves) and why the character/famous person was chosen. If you want, you can even have them draw a picture of the person chosen to show to others when playing the game. These questions, introduction and possible picture are great ways to build questions, receptive/expressive language, memory and descriptive skills.

-My Animal- This game lets the creativity spill out and allows the participant to use expressive language. Each person gets a sheet of paper and draws an animal that describes him/her. It can be a made up creature or a hybrid of real ones and can be as colorful as they please. Whatever the person comes up with can be drawn. Want a cotton candy tail? Sure! A panda-otter hybrid? Yeah! Anything goes, as long as it describes the person. Once complete, each person must describe their animal and why it describes them. "It has a cotton candy tail, because I love cotton candy" or "Blue is my favorite color so I gave it blue hair" are examples. It's a fun way to get to know each other and work on expression!

What games or icebreakers do you use in your therapy for introductions? Please share! :)

Professional Network of a Speech-Language Pathologist: Occupational Therapist

23 August 2013

It's no surprise that most professions entail a multidisciplinary approach, and Speech-Language Pathology is no exception to this. Patients come in many shapes and colors and may require other professionals in their rehabilitation team. Speech-Language Pathologists must be ready to work with others to create a team that will provide the most optimal service to a patient. They may work with or utilize the knowledge base of numerous individuals or just one other professional, including: audiologists, teachers, different therapists, behavioral specialists, psychologists, physicians and others.  I've written before about the vital role an Audiologist can play in speech therapy, which you can see here.

Who will we talk about today? The Occupational Therapist (OT)

You might be asking why a professional who works towards improving someone's life and working skills through the use of physical activities would have to collaborate with a SLP. Well, they help those who are injured or suffer from a physical or mental condition that renders them unable (or with difficulty) to conduct tasks necessary to live and work. Some of these conditions overlap with patients that also need speech or swallowing therapy. An example of these conditions would be stroke victims, those with mental disabilities, traumatic brain injury patients, Parkinson's disease and those with swallowing/eating issues. Take a child with an eating issue for example. A child may not have the jaw strength to chew larger food pieces and requires both forms of therapy. During a visit, an occupational therapist and speech pathologist will work together. The OT will help the child gain the skill set and strength to eat, while the SLP checks how the consistency of the food affects the swallowing mechanisms and make sure all food goes down without the threat of aspiration. They will have to work together to find the best possible technique to help the child overcome the chewing and swallowing deficiencies. This is just one example in many where an OT and a SLP will collaborate in therapy with a patient.

Occupational therapists are just one among a smorgasbord of professions that speech-language pathologists will work with to improve someone's quality of life. I'll be writing about the plethora of others as time goes on! If you have any that you'd like to see, or if you'd like to write a guest post on working with other professionals in practice, feel free to contact me and we will see!

Humpday Hurrah!

21 August 2013

Rachel Wynn over at "Talks Just Fine" has called us all together yet again. She's decided to dedicate every Wednesday to celebrating something in the week that she wants to celebrate and is asking her fellow #slpeeps to join in! This will be called "Humpday Hurrah" and you can see more information HERE. It's all to promote a more positive outlook as we sometimes tend to post about our tribulations in social media. It doesn't matter if you're a SLP or a SLP2B, you just have to write about something that went well in your SLP career (or pursual of a SLP career) in the past week! It's going to happen every Wednesday and you can post if on your blog, FB or twitter with the hashtag #humpdayhurrah, catchy right?!

Let's see... something positive in my week has been figuring out my #slp2b classes and beginning my journey to conduct undergraduate research! I was worried about my schedule and reading all the papers to catch up with my mentor's research, but it's starting to look up! :)

Go ahead and share yours!
Photo Credit

On the Minority of Researchers (And Academia Faculty)

16 August 2013

Upon entering my university's Communication Science and Disorders department, I was often asked which side I was more interested in: audiology or speech-language pathology. Being that I love linguistics (the mechanics and components of language, not languages in general), I've always  leaned more towards the speech-language pathology aspect of the degree. I also just don't feel like peering into someone's wax-filled ear for a living. And I admit, there is more to audiology than that, and that is just an exaggeration that barely gives them credit for what they do.What I've come to realize, though, is that this isn't just a double-sided coin, in fact, there are several other sides to this degree as well. Most students seem to look over the options of research and academia, which, in reality, are an enormous part of our community. We are continually told to use Evidence-Based Practices, which come from evidence-based research that in turn requires those who do the research. Plus, there has now been a distinction between a Clinical Doctorate (CsD and SLPD) and a research Doctorate (PhD) to differentiate those who obtain higher education for working with patients and those who desire to do research upon graduating. All of this requires those aptly trained to teach and mentor us in the process of our academic and working careers.
Photo Credit

This thought process of not including those interested in research or academia in questions similar to the above should change. There is a special need for this since there is actually a lack of researchers and professors in this field. In fact, I recollect the day when I attended the orientation for my program, where my Dean urged us to seek higher education and eventually be involved in research or academia. So, not only is there a large need for clinicians, but even more opens slots for doctoral candidates and graduates.

Here are some reasons why all undergraduates should begin asking "what are your post- undergraduate plans?" instead of the heavily biased "what side do you like more?", and consider a career in research or academia:

-Growing need. Basically what this whole post is about: there is a great need for more researchers and professors in this field. You're already in a field where clinicians are needed, and other professionals are needed as well! So you picked a good career path. There's also the growing need of up-to-date research on new technologies and methods that are entering the field.

-More in depth knowledge. With research comes the opportunity to broaden your knowledge about a given subject that you are interested in. If you're like me, this is a huge plus, as I love to continuously learn.

-Another way to help others. Your research has the potential to aid others, which is the main reason people enter this profession-- they have giving souls. This is your chance to find assessment and treatment techniques that will benefit those who suffer from a disorder and to better their therapy experience. It will assist therapists in their work as well. Not to mention, if you enter academia, you'll be able to help the next generation of clinicians and researchers find their calling and gain experience.

-Retiring academia professionals. As my Dean told us, the professors in most universities will be retiring in the next 10-20 ish years. Many spots will open up, meaning they need qualified individuals to fill the spots.

-Networking. This will allow you to network to a variety of non-clinical professionals who are valuable resources. You can befriend other researchers inside and outside of our field who may know information you desire or that need assistance with their research. Many professors are also fountains of knowledge and continue to do research as well. Over all, these are a superb group of people to know and connect with.

-Mentoring. Throughout your Master's degree thesis (if you opt for this option), you'll have the guidance of you mentor to aid you with problems that arise. ASHA also has some mentoring programs that you can utilize during this process as well. Once you've completed research, you may also be a mentor for future researchers, if you wish. This can be done in the academia world as well.

"Free" Education- Most, if not all, programs for PhDs provide funding for the research necessary to complete your PhD degree. Some even give you working or living stipends as well. These are great opportunities to snatch up on! Who wouldn't like to go to school for free and having a chance to do research in an interesting topic with some extra money on the side? (Of course, you do have to toil on research, but it is a great learning opportunity, as I keep mentioning.)

Now, I'm not saying that you should go straight into research upon graduating. In fact, I encourage everyone to be a clinician for some years to find what questions are being asked that need research. Rather, I pose that text time you want to ask someone what side of the metaphorical audiology-vs-speech-language-pathology fence they are on, perhaps ask what their future plans are. And mention these two possibilities as well. You never know where life may lead you in 5,10, or 20 years from now. Simply including these options could open you, and others, open up to a wider world of possibilities. (Don't forget, you could also complete a Master's thesis rather than taking a comprehensive exam in some schools!)

August Link Up

08 August 2013

The lovely ladies over at All Y'all Need have posted August's monthly Link Up, and I decided to join in! August looks like it's going to be another hectic, but fun-filled month for me, so I'm excited to get things going.Luckily/Sadly, August mean that school will be starting up again (August 26th for me)! So, going with this theme, they decided this Link Up is B.T.S (as in Back To School) to fit the feeling of this month!
Buying: I've been desperately trying to save money any way I can since the school year and all it's wonderful expenses are coming up. This was working until I hung out with a friend, and one of our destinations was Michael's craft store... I haven't done anything crafty lately and once I saw those fuzzy coloring posters I instantly bought a few to relive childhood and relax before summer is over. I also found some nice small planners for my purse!  (Still deciding what big one to get...)

Trying:  After pinning a plethora of things on my "Yum Yum" board and ordering almost the same thing at restaurants each visit, I've decided to actually try my pins and order new things. To start this, I ordered the  Bourbon Street Chicken and Shrimp at Applebee's when I went out with my friend. It was slightly spicier than I would've liked, but still tasty!
(Bad flash from my phone, sorry!)

Speeching: I recently finished creating posters/flyers and a presentation for my school's CSD department, and I super excited to show them to my director! They have info on why to study SLP, why study audiology, why study speech and hearing sciences, extra information sources and why you should study at my university. They took quite a bit of work and editing, so hopefully they are all set and don't need any touch ups. Despite being finished, I'm considering making another version of some of the flyers that are more text-y and less pictoral, as well as another presentation... we'll see how that goes!

You can join in on the fun or just read what others are up to HERE. It's open all month!

Liebster Nomination!

05 August 2013

I'm very excited to announce that the lovely Michelle from Miss, Hey Miss!, a fantastic special education blog, has nominated my blog for the Liebster Award. This is my first nomination for any award, so I feel very blessed and honored!

So, what is the Liebster Award? Well, from my German language knowledge (that is sadly diminishing), the word "Liebe" means love, so 'Liebster' goes along the lines of 'sweetheart', 'dearest', 'beloved'. Cute meaning for an award, right? And it's main purpose is to help you get to know others in the blogging community! Of course, you don't just get to have your heart melt thinking about the meaning of "Liebster" to receive it. Michelle gives a good summary of the rules, which are [1]:

1. Link back to the blog that nominated you.
2. Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers.
3. Answer the questions posted for you by your nominator.
4. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
5. Create 11 questions for your nominees.
6. Contact your nominees by commenting on their blog or sending them an email to communicate the nomination.

Michelle's Questions For Me:

  1.  What/Who made you decide to be a teacher?
    Ever since I was little, it's been instilled in me to help others, be it helping with BINGO at a nursing home to making care packages for children around Christmas. Once I was at the age to work I began babysitting and then working at a daycare, so my whole working 'career' has been surrounded by children and helping them. They are just so funny and amaze me with how fast they learn, so I knew I needed a career with children. I later found my love for language and felt the need for a job where I'd be helping others... so I've found that I could combine both by becoming a Speech 'teacher'/therapist. :)
  2.  Where did you grow up?
    I grew up in a nice, small-ish town about 40 minutes Northeast of Philadelphia. It's quite a nice area with trees, parks, and lakes nearby. My house is actually over 130 years old, and is on one of the first streets of my town, giving it added antiquity. (I love old things!) 
  3.  What is your favorite holiday?
    Oh man, this is somewhat of a toughy. It's not exactly the holiday itself, but I love Christmas time. Just the winter air, joyous feeling and Christmas lights make me feel all warm inside (along with the hot cocoa and toast)! I don't really care about the gifts, but more the atmosphere and being with family.
    Side note:
     Is hot cocoa and toast a regional thing? Some of my friends don't even know about the deliciousness of toast dipped in hot cocoa!
  4.  On Pinterest, what board to you pin to most frequently?
    Ayy, another toughy. It depends on my mood, but I'd say it's a tie between my SLP related board "Speech Speech Speech" and the one dedicated to my love of food, "Yum Yum".  (I promise not all of my boards are repetitions of a word.)
  5.  Google, Yahoo, or Bing? Other?
    I'm a Google-er! I hate strongly dislike the layout of Bing, and will occasionally use Yahoo, but Google just trumps them! (Doesn't help that I just have to type in a term in my URL bar and it goes to Google.)
  6.  What kind of vehicle do you drive? Does this say anything about your personality?
    Sadly, I don't own my own vehicle. As for now it's parents car or public transport, so I guess that shows I'm somewhat frugal? Haha. My dream car, although not practical, would be a Ford Model T... I just love the look and antiquity of them. :)
  7.  Do you have any special talents?
    I'd like to say I'm a self-professed monkey, as I used to prop myself up in the doorway between my kitchen and living room. I'd even talk on the phone like that! (Sadly, I can't fit there anymore.) To further this statement, I will occasionally open the fridge or pick things from the floor with my toes, aka "monkey feet". I can also make my tongue touch my nose and make one eye look inward while the other looks up. 
  8.  Mechanical pencil or old school #2?
    Never thought about this really... I do tend to go for mechanical just because you can refill them and don't have to sharpen them. The downside is that those darn erasers can wear down or fall off easily, so I will bring an eraser. I also bring old school #2 to scantron tests just because I'm paranoid about the wrong lead type being used. Silly, I know.
  9.  When you were a child, what did you 'want to be when you grew up'?
    This changed many times. I've wanted to be a teacher, vet, speech-language pathologist, marine biologist, geneticist, gymnast, translator...I even considered Cirque Du Soleil when I was super little! 

Random Facts

1. My brother and I were such monkeys that we'd race each other climbing up the water pipes in my house to see who'd reach the ceiling first. It's even videotaped.
2. We used to own a goat, whom my mom once walked, yes, walked,  to school for my Kindergarten "Bring Your Pet To School Day". Luckily he was just a tiny kid at that point.
3. I've had over ...19(?) pets in my life. The most we've had at one time, I belive, was 9.
4. I tried to do track and field in 7th grade. At this point I wasn't even 5 feet tall yet, maybe 4'9''. Needless to say it only lasted 2 weeks as the hurdles were at my waist/chest and the lowest the high jump could be was 4'9'' while ON TOP OF a huge foam mat.
5. I once fractured my wrist when jumping from a picnic table to hold on to a metal clothes line. After a few successful attempts, I guess I just landed the wrong way. My mom, who used to be a nurse, didn't think it was broken as I could move my fingers... still hurt the next morning, went to the doctor, sure enough it was!
6.  For some reason I love and want to visit Georgia, even though I've never been there.
7. I want to visit New Orleans, but considering my name is Katrina and they are known for voodoo around there, I'm slightly weary of visiting. Silly, I know.
8. I did make up for my namesake hurricane though! I volunteered in Mississippi rebuilding houses with my youth group.
9. My brother and I used to race each other to see who could finish an entire Philadelphia cream cheese bar first. Yeah, you read right, an entire bar.
10. I love to write and occasionally write some book ideas down.
11. I'll admit that I have some guilty pleasures on TV. Two of them would the The Real World and The Real World/Road Rules Challenge. It's entertaining to see how they all act and I love seeing the challenges that are done.

Questions for Nominees

1. Who is your favorite author (or favorite book)?
2. Mustard or ketchup?
3. What is a guilty pleasure of yours (food, show, activity...)?
4. What is one language you wish you could be fluent in?
5. If there was one thing you could do again, what would it be?
6. What's one thing you miss from 'the good ol' days'?
7. What is your all-time  favorite recipe/food?
8. Favorite or least favorite form of transportation?
9. What would you do for a Klondike bar?
10. Who do you look up to the most?
11.Which item are you more likely to lose: wallet, phone, accessory, camera or keys?


~Michelle at Speaking of Kids- A wonderful blog on pediatric speech-language therapy aimed at clinicians and parents, with some extra info on hearing loss.

~Courtney and Lauren of The Talking Owls- Two school-based speech pathologists with lots of wonderful ideas on organization and activities.

~Andy over at Gosh That's Neat!- An Occupational Therapist who blogs about a variety of information on disabilities and therapy.

~Elsy, the writer of Just Another Speechie- An awesome SLP working in Australia with the pediatric population, writing on topics pertaining to therapy and app reviews.

~Julianne of Something To Talk About- A previous Early Intervention SLP, now school-based therapist ready to share her organization tips as well as games, books and ideas for therapy.

~Jill who writes Life Is Just Speechie!- Grad student writing her way through school about the trials of grad school and inspiration for therapy plans.

~Julie, the woman behind Wide World of Speech Therapy- Thoughtful discussion and materials for therapy from a woman who has been in a variety of settings.

~The wonderful writer of The Peachie Speechie- A blog created to share hands-on activities and creative crafting ideas to use in speech therapy.