Saturday, January 21, 2023

More on using music in therapy

Music is motivating, self-regulating and full of language. Recently I have used songs with individuals and groups in a couple of specific ways.

For an individual client I see, I have been working to incorporate many of his interests as part of a neurodiversity-affirming approach. When he mentioned liking the Beatles, I instantly knew this could be a great path to engagement. We started with "Here Comes the Sun" and using Wikipedia to look up some details about the song brought some great conversation. In addition, the famous album cover of "Abbey Road" brought some Visualizing and Verbalizing-style picture description into the session. Songs with lyrics are available on YouTube and through this we discussed figurative language with this song and "Yesterday."

Simple sketches helped with some back and forth- "Wait, 'Here Comes the Sun' is about the sun coming right at us and crashing into us, right?" "Is 'Yesterday' literally about yesterday?"

For a group activity focusing on different kinds of conversations, I was inspired by this TikTok, in which a teacher polled her students for opinions on the #1 song when she was their age. This made a good executive function activity- what would this look like if we did this? What do you need to know? What objects do we need? See Ward/Jacobsen's Get Ready, Do, Done model. All comments were welcome and I was pleased to learn some new slang when one of the kids reported that Heart's "Alone" (showing the music video in this case provided some extra visual engagement- such big hair!) was "mid," meaning "just OK." 

Do you have other ways you like to incorporate music? Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Revisiting Breathwork with Breathwrk

I can't say enough about the app Breathwrk and what it has done for me, and taught me personally. I've mentioned I struggle here and there with SAD and some other layers. Whether thought- or experience-driven or sometimes just an undercurrent of mismatched energy, using breathing techniques to regulate is very effective for me, and as you can see in this app, backed by science. Try it yourself for free and I'd actually recommend this as exactly the kind of app that is worth paying for a full subscription. 

Additionally, Breathwrk can be very useful clinically. Whether teaching Zones of Regulation® tools or Autism Level Up (see the writeup, instantly usable, as well as many resources at the website), an approach strongly and specifically endorsed by the autistic community, who identify emotional and energy regulation as a priority, breathing techniques as regulation tools can be solidly in our wheelhouse as SLPs. The app has a fun, visual approach to practicing techniques that clients can access elsewhere. I especially appreciate the brain-based science blurbs that accompany each technique. Breathwork can be quick and simple as a tool that may appeal to those who are not so into lengthier mindfulness exercises, and can also complement these.

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Exploring Emotional Vocabulary

Check out Hume AI's website for a number of maps of various types of nonverbals that may be useful to you in therapy activities, particularly with teens, young adults or adults. I say that because some of the content on the website-- particularly the expressive language map-- is more mature. 

I'd suggest starting with the facial expression "galaxy" as I labeled it with students. Click within a cluster and explore nearby facial expression to discuss, for example, what makes surprised look surprised, in terms of what the face is doing.

We used this as a preparatory set with students before checking out videos with some kind of prevailing emotion. Anna Vagin has a great list on her site (and you'll really benefit from her email newsletters) and you can also check out resources such as this one from A Fresh Breath on TpT.

Scroll down on the main site and you'll see other datasets such as Emotional Speech, "Recordings of sentences being spoken in dozens of emotional intonations around the world"

Thursday, November 17, 2022

You Are The Historian- First Thanksgiving

Museums appealing to children are often a great source of interactive websites. I liked this website years ago (see the blast from the past) and the now Plimoth-Pawtuxet Museum has redesigned it with a modern look and perspective. Pre-and a little post-Thanksgiving, you could bring some groups through this "adventure," the conceit being you are a teenage reporter investigating some Wampanoag and Pilgrim sites. I might be biased as a Massachusetts guy, but it's a nice site for students to practice discussing what they see in pictures, processing information, and there are some sequencing and word-fill interactives. There is a lot of content here and seemingly no way to save progress, but you could just visit a few of the sites or keep tabs open if you want to continue. 

Friday, November 11, 2022

Book Creator Templates (including Thanksgiving!)

Book Creator has long been a stellar app/webtool and recently I discovered that they have templates to "remix." You can add templates to your app and do a collaborative work on your iPad among students, or if in a Chromebook environment your free account will allow you to share with students' Google accounts easily. This is an attractive option because, well, they are attractive and you don't have to design the book yourself. Richard Byrne describes the magic ink and autodraw features here.

These "activity books" are filled with language underpinnings like storytelling opportunities, semantic knowledge and vocabulary. You can easily copy and modify any page to cater to your students before starting the activity. For example, on this page below, you can zoom in on a map and have kids in the group find out where others live (generally) for spatial/academic/biographical knowledge of others. Additionally, with this template, gratitude is literally good for your brain to practice all year long.

Saturday, November 5, 2022

New Course Available!

Hi everyone! In July I was honored to present at the SLP Summit. I’ve expanded on that content and have a new 1.5 hr on-demand course available for you to earn more CEUs! We know one hour isn’t always enough so this is a chance to dive deeper into some fun, new content. 

Check it out now at

See what others said about my last course:

 “Amazing & inspiring!! I came away with tons of ideas to use in therapy that my kids will love! Thank you!!”

 “EXCELLENT COURSE! Jam packed! Thank you!!”

 “Excellent presenter! Terrific demonstration of the different tech tools available for narration, not just providing links, but describing their use and demo'ing how to use them.”

 “Loved all the practical ideas given. Even though I have used some of these tools, I still learned so many new things and features.”

And that’s not all! Need more CEUs? The course below is also now available for free!

Friday, October 28, 2022

Monday Halloween?

Looking for an engaging activity this Monday? Check out this fun one from Control-Alt-Achieve (also a great resource in general). In this you use Google Docs as a visual creator to make a Halloween "Rebus" story. I have mentioned before the principal that typing into a white space is a visual support for language formulation and (many of) your students will be engaged by it- tech integration need not always be super interactive or fancy! This activity integrates the use of emoji and don't miss the way expanded context provided by going to what is now available as Insert>Emoji. How fun! I did this activity with several middle school groups this week and they were super-engaged. In addition to targeting some story grammar, complex sentences or vocabulary, I integrated the work described in this ASHA article to make this an improv game focusing on conversation building and flexibility. Note: I always accompany some encouragement of "yes, and" with neurodiversity- and human-affirming takes on "it's also ok to say no."

It doesn't have to make total sense, haha. In another group, a kiddo told me he hated this font, lol. So we changed it, easy enough! 

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Engaging Animal Sounds!

Try this Google Earth "quiz" on animal sounds from NPR's Science Friday to engage your students! I have mentioned before and on the Talking with Tech podcast that quiz-like activities can be a great way to build semantic knowledge and structure a conversation. In addition to prompting attentive listening, this one will let you play animal sounds, sometimes hilarious, and discuss:

-descriptive attributes from the photos

-animal groups and families

-geographic locations and descriptions of settings!

It is a great way to tie in with a classroom unit on the continents, habitats, or other geography or science content.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Talking with Tech Podcast Appearance(s)

Back in May, I had the wonderful fortune of recording with Chris Bugaj and Rachel Madel for their terrific podcast, Talking with Tech. They split the conversation over two episodes which came out in the past few weeks!

I have been lucky to know Chris and Rachel personally over the past years, seeing them IRL most recently at ASHA Convention in Washington, DC. It was great talking with them and the conversation flowed very freely. Rachel and Chris centered the convo around my Jeopardy! appearance but had many brilliant tie-ins to issues of accessibility and generally about language, so it will be fun to listen to even if you are tired of hearing about [that game show]. They also include their own segments with some great discussion of AAC topics, and we go into my FIVES criteria for evaluating technology resources as potential SLP tools as well. I hope you'll listen and keep listening to Rachel and Chris--also be sure to see them present if you ever get the chance! 

The episodes are available below via Spotify but you can also listen wherever you like to hear podcasts (Apple Podcasts, etc)

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Another example: Pic Collage for Mobility, Ease and Versatility

In my session on creating "stories" for SLP Summit last week (recording available free until August 15, Register here), I focused on thinking about features of resources that might make a clinician pick one over another. You may pick Pic Collage if you like using your iPad, doing a pass-and-add playlike activity (I learned from the authors of We Thinkers that add-a-thought=play=conversation), or want the versatility of being able to quickly cut around any image. You may have seen in my recent post on Google Slides/Jamboard that this is not always QUITE as easy there. So always be thinking FEATURES.

Pic Collage, free, available for iPad, Android, and runnable on new Macs (M1 chip) allows for the creation of a visual as-you-go, so that student contributions to the context can be instantly reinforceable, and it is easy enough for them to use themselves. The menu allows you to add photos from your library, search the web for photos (a school-clean version of BING), and also add text or doodles (powerful because you can sketch things that may be hard to find photos of, or sketch over a photo)

As I showed in the session, you can start with a setting (story element teaching) and add elements of the setting (descriptive sequence level of narration) or introduce an initiating event, such as the bear! Double tap on any picture you add to be able to "trim" around it.

We also talked briefly about expository vs. story language (a good resource is here) and adding to LISTs-one key informational macrostructure- can also be a playful or academically important task. This was made with Pic Collage with/for a student who was learning about the topic/list of "different ways to pay" during a consumer science class.