Questions and Answers

If you have any questions or concerns that relate to speech language pathology in any way, at any level....just ask.
I will answer them to the best of my ability on my blog.
Contact me at

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

For SLP's Only.........Goal and Objective Writing

     I would love to find out how other speech therapists across the country are writing goals and objectives.  I want to collect actual goal samples  in all areas  but especially in the areas of pragmatics and higher level language development.  I'm interested in how detailed you get and how you measure those goals (observation vs. hard data).  Please include what area of the country you are from, how big your caseload is, what type of school/clinic you work at and if you do your own testing.  
     After over 25 years of working maybe I need to freshen up my skills a little.  I also want to know it there is such a think as a "right" way to write goals and objectives.
     I would also be interested in speech and language materials that would be leveled for specific ages and grades.  Any suggestions are welcomed     Please send samples to my e-mail or post on this site.  I may compile the sample goals for an article.


Teresa Sadowski
Ipswich MA


Monday, November 7, 2011

Being Proactive is Key

     I happen to come across this article called "Special Ed Strategies: Be Clear, Be Proactive, Be Inventive"  I was actually quite impressed.  I have to say I am lucky enough to work in a school that follows most if not all of the proactive steps outlined.  In the past 25 years, I know systems that work better are the ones that are flexible enough to be proactive, see it from the parents perspective and have the administration support.
     If I knew that an extra half hour of speech and language services was going to help a parent feel empowered and more comfortable with the service delivery, I offered it.  Once I worked with a very skilled program manager who had no problem holding marathon IEP meetings.  This made the parent feel like the team cared about their child, was listening to their concerns and taking those concerns seriously.  Rushing meetings or squeezing them into a half hour or hour just feels wrong.
     There are a few other things that would bother me as a parent that I've seen happen in meetings that are not proactive.  I don't see classroom teachers taking notes when specialists are presenting their opinion or findings.  Team members often play musical chairs during meetings.  They leave and don't come back or send someone in their place.  So they only get half the information.  Advice..... be proactive and hire a sub.  I saw one administrator pull out their blackberry during a meeting, hope someone let this new administrator know it wasn't a typical board meeting.
     Being proactive is also a good rule for regular education too.  A good behavioral plan that is consistent can solve a lot of problems.  Creating and initiating universal supports will only strengthen your curriculum and hopefully save time.  Schools need to preach high expectations and follow through.
     I've worked in schools that take proactive measures and schools that didn't.  The schools that didn't are always trying out new programs and new systems as a knee jerk reaction.  Schools like this rarely accomplish anything.  With some proactive measures in place it will be amazing how well your school can run.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

This is a 3rd Grade Spelling List????

     This isn't a middle school issue but I have to share.  Last week a colleague showed me her child's 3rd grade spelling list.  I am all for challenging students but this is a little bit much.   This child is one of the brightest in the class but keep in mind this is only 3rd grade.   My colleague asked her daughter if she knew the definitions or if she could use them in a sentence.  The daughter’s response was “All I have to do is spell them”.  A note to the teacher questioning the list, yielded no response.  A friend showed her the list from the other third grade class and the words were much more appropriate.  Guess those teachers aren’t collaborating.  When teachers do something like this on their own it’s no wonder kids are on unequal levels within their own school system.  I am almost positive that the kids who had this list learned nothing, maybe could memorize it for the test, frustrated because the spelling was above their developmental level and lost it right after the test since there was probably no previous knowledge to tie it to.
    Here is your challenge.....Can you spell these words without looking?  Can you even pronounce these words?  Can you use them in a sentence?  Not the root word the whole word.  Post your sentences below.
     I have to tell you I’d be in the principals office or the curriculum director office letting them know this is happing.  Apparently this wasn’t a one time thing.  Does anyone recognize this list for any program?  Imagine the words our middle schoolers would be learning by middle school if this was an actual 3rd grade list.  Why they would really be smarter than us.....not just think so.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Follow up to /r/ and /s/ Remediation Conference

Ok, so what did I learn.  I learned that /r/ is a really difficult sound to remediate. (as the kids say "duh")  When all was said and done, the therapy techniques Ms. Boshart talked about is what I’ve been doing.  What made her conference difference is that she spoke about tongue stabilization and achieving a good resting position as being key to remediation, which made sense to me.
     How is that done you ask?  She presented some oral motor tasks to strengthen or stabilize the tongue and jaw in the correct resting position.  Some were simple but some were invasive tasks involving entering into a child’s mouth with things like tongue depressors and toothetts.  I understand the science behind it but I was gagging just watching her.  
     One thing she was very unclear on during her lecture (I say lecture because she clearly did not like questions, but maybe that was just to get through the material) was how to diagnosis a distorted /r/.  I found that part very confusing.  However, it didn’t seem to matter what type of /r/ the kid has, remediation was the same.  When asked what to do about students who could say /r/ in the initial position but still produced distortion of r-controlled vowels she glossed over the answer.  In the public schools, r-controlled vowels are very important in reading and phonics.  
     I have to wonder what population Ms. Boshart has worked with in her practice.  Over the years my artic students have usually been been students with average cognition, a little older and appropriate motor skills, except for their mouth.  Most would never feel comfortable with the invasive techniques Ms. Boshart recommends.  When I posed that question, again all she talked about was desensitizing the student little by little.  She either missed the point of my question or again hid the fact that she had no answer.  Eventually she included some outside (the oral structure)  cueing techniques but these were not  emphasized.  
     Now I’m not saying Ms.  Boshart techniques don’t work.  I think she is right about good position being key.  I just don’t feel comfortable going inside a student's mouth.  I believe your typical public school kid will and should feel uncomfortable with some of the techniques presented in this conference.  There has to be another way to achieve this.  Maybe not.  Lucky I live in New England where /r/ is produced in a variety of ways depending on your area, town or neighborhood.  An /r/ that needs to be worked on in the mid-west doesn’t always have to be worked on here. 
     Below is one of Ms. Boshart's links to her products.  Oh yes there was a gift shop at the end of our tour.  Just like at Disneyland. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Remediation of /r/ and /s/

 We are talking the trickiest of the tricky when we talk about working on remediating the 
/s/ and /r/ sounds.  As middle school therapists this is usually all we see in terms of articulation needs and what we dread most.
     With the initiation of RTI in one of the last schools I worked with also came the directive that we wouldn’t see any kids in the middle school for articulation unless they were basically unintelligible.  First I jumped for joy, no more /r/’s or /s/’s.  Well that was fine until I got into their classrooms and heard how some of the kids sounded.  Knowing that I might make a difference in their lives, I felt bad that I wasn’t able to work with them.  
    With a new job and new direction, I find myself in need of brushing up on my articulation skills.  Specifically with those pesky hard to remediate sounds of /s/ and /r/.  I’ve just spent three hours in a conference lead by Char Boshart (we have another 2 1/2 hours to go).  So far I like the information I’m getting.  Really nothing new but broken down into managable order and steps to follow.  You need refreshers every once in awhile. 
     I guess as I am writing this I realize that Ms. Boshart hasn’t gone out and created the “program of the month.”  She has taken what we’ve all be taught in terms of anatomy  and articulation, researched all of it and applied her techniques.  That seems to be the case anyway.
     Her procedure and logic for /s/ sounds appropriate.  On to /r/ this afternoon.  Hope I can pick up some tips.  I have a couple of significant cases.  If Ms. Boshart techniques work and my students improve....... I would look like super therapist.

I'll let you know about how my afternoon works out......

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Book Review: a smart girls's guide to starting middle school

     I recently came across this book while looking for a gift for my niece.  I think it would be a great gift for any 4th or 5th grader moving on to middle school.  There is so much practical information, hypothetical situations (with good solutions) and suggestions on all kinds of kid relevant middle school topics.  I couldn't think of a topic that wasn't covered.
     The book itself is written in a style that makes it easy to read.  Information is provided in short bursts making it a quick and easy to understand read.  It's published by American Girl.  I know American Girl dolls, accessories magazine and crafts are still very hot with the younger girls.  I also assume older girls still love their dolls/memorabilia as memories and collectibles.  Knowing that this book is part of that tradition might provided a nice bridge for them.
     Every little girl in my life will get a copy of this book before they make the big and sometimes scary transition to middle school.  I would also suggest that parents take a glance at the book.  I believe that would help to foster some good conversation about what to expect in middle school, help alleviate worries and let your daughter know she can always talk to you about Middle School concerns.

Now what do we do about the boys out there.  Has anyone seen a similar book written for them?  I'll have to research a little more. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Improve that Vocabulary!

     A friend of mine showed me a couple of books she thought I might be interested it.  The 100 Most Beautiful Words in English and The 100 Funniest Words in English.  Both book are written by Robert Beard.  After glancing through the words I think this would make the perfect gift for any student in middle school, high school and college.  I find vocabulary development lacking in even some of the brightest students, especially with the higher level descriptive vocabulary words.
     I'll guarantee you'll learn some new vocabulary too.  I knew about 1/2 the words on the most beautiful word list and about 3/4 on the funniest word list.  I really liked the funniest word list because not only were the words silly but a lot of them were well accepted slang words.  Any student could use these books to spice up their writing and oral language.  (At the very least, get the books and throw them in the bathroom.)  
     Check out alphadictionary for a complete review of both books.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Social Skill Development Programs in Teens

     I don't usually get inspiration for this blog while at the hairdresser or from people magazine.  However, a few weeks ago People Magazine highlighted a unique program developed at UCLA to help teens gain awareness, understanding and improved use of social pragmatic skills.  Given my extensive work with middle school and high school students, I know exactly they type of student the program is designed for.  The People article

talks about a 17 year old boy and his lack of understanding on how to act and interact with peers.  It briefly describes the program he went through.  
     The program is called PEERS, Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relationship Skills. PEERS is a manualized, social skills training intervention for adolescents and young adults. 

     This is a program that addresses a critical skill that is rarely addressed within the public school setting.  It's difficult to understand that social skills do not develop in some people because social skills are usually acquired in such a natural fashion.  I've never seen a developmental chart guideline for the development of social skills.  Social skills are not concrete skills like acquiring good grammatical skills.  We can measure and assess grammatical usage with ease.  With social skills, professionals can tell something is wrong and we can describe it.  Very few pragmatic language tests are out there and I've never reviewed one that was able to really identify a pragmatic issue without detailed observation and analysis from a professional.  As a matter of fact most older students will test within the average range on formal pragmatic assessments.  This leaves kids similar to Joey basically in limbo.  
     I was excited to read about this program.  I'm glad someone has identified this as a significant need.  The recent law suit in Massachusetts, (see previous post) highlights that more needs to be done in the area of social skill development for adolescents and young adults.  Frankly in my opinion it should start a lot earlier.

Social Skills for Teenagers with Developmental and Autism Spectrum Disorders: The PEERS Treatment Manual