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August 30, 2012

Treatment Tricks: Introducing Structure to Young Preschoolers

I've got a little one on my caseload that's just turning three.  He's highly entertaining and loves anything with wheels.  He's a little buddy who demonstrates characteristics of Childhood Apraxia of Speech, and is very self-conscious about imitating speech sounds or words for me during our sessions.  I've been working with him for approximately 10 months, and during that time his vocabulary has grown from less than ten words to well over 100.  Most of our treatment time has been child-directed, which you would expect with a two-year-old.  Most of my attempts to introduce activities with specific targets have been met with a strong, emphatic, two-year-old "NO!"  He's using several word shapes, his vowels are mostly accurate, he's got most of the early developing sounds in his repertoire, and he's producing 3-4 word sentences.  However, as his language complexity increases, his intelligibility of speech decreases, making things more frustrating for him than ever.  So what's a girl to do, to get a little compliance?

I threw caution to the wind and decided to make a plan for a little structure.  And guess what?  It actually worked!  Even better than I'd hoped it would!  I'll share it with you now.

First I found three little boxes to "hide" activities in.  I made them appealing (I hoped!) by putting vehicle pictures on them.

Each box contained either an entire activity or a piece of an activity that I had prepared but wouldn't fit in the box, and a paper vehicle with velcro on the back.

The vehicles each had velcro dots on them to attach two wheels.  One of my targets was the word "wheel", as he is learning to make the /w/ sound with rounded lips.  During this sequence of activities, he had many opportunities to practice that word.

I displayed all three boxes on the table and let him choose which one we would open first.  I removed the other two from the table, and together we opened the box.  He removed the paper vehicle, and I showed him that we would put it on the road that I had displayed on the back of my bench after we played a game with the other item or items in the box.

One of the targets of the day was words beginning with the /h/ sound.

Inside the box he found six items to practice words that begin with /h/:  hat, horse, heart, hop, hot and high.  We said the words as we removed them from the box, again when we played with them, and again when we put them back in the box.

When the activity was completed, we put the wheels on the vehicle (after he said "wheel" of course) and then put the vehicle on the road.  By the way, my choice of vehicles was also planned ahead of time.  he uses a generic "word" (wah-we-oh) to refer to all emergency vehicles, so I chose police car (pees car), fire truck (fa ya tuk) and garbage truck (ga ba tuk).  He made great attempts to imitate all three with very little reluctance.  After putting the vehicle on the road, we chose another box.

My little buddy loved this format.  I was hoping that maybe we'd get through two boxes, but we actually completed all three!  Success!  Smiles all around.  I wonder if it will work next time...?

What are your tricks for working with young preschoolers?  I'd love it if you'd share!


August 23, 2012

Answers: YesNo HD app: Choice Making for Toddlers

The Answers: YesNo HD app has been on my iPad for awhile now, but it was one I rarely used, because it didn't really suit the needs of my caseload.  Suddenly I find myself with two pre-verbal toddlers that need to work on making requests and building vocabulary.  One is learning to use the PECS system, and the other needs some symbol support to make specific requests.  I remembered that the YesNO app could also be used as a two-celled AAC device, so I checked it out.  It worked great!  Let me show you how fast and easy it is to make simple communication boards with photographs of your own materials.

First, you choose the Favorite Button Set Up option.

Touch either button to set it up.

Select a photo to add to the button.  I used photos of the toy choices that I took using my iPad.  You can also add text and a voice recording on this screen.  Press done, and then repeat the steps to add a second choice to your page.  It will look like this when you're finished:

You have the option of creating six different pages that you can access quickly with just the touch of a button.

When you are finished with your pages, you are ready to go.  Just touch the "favorites" button, and select your choice board.

This was a fast, easy and very effective way to create a simple choice board system.  I highly recommend it!

Keep exploring new ways to use your iPad,


August 22, 2012

Nature Scavenger Hunt

With summer quickly coming to a close, how about one more outdoor activity to savor the fresh air and sunshine?  Try this nature scavenger hunt!  With my office being part of my home, we were able to go right in my backyard and find everything on the list.  If you're not so lucky to have nature right outside your back door, you could collect a box of items ahead of time and have your students hunt for them right in your office.  Or you could put them in a texture table, or a large box.  Another idea:  send the list home and have your students hunt for things in their own neighborhood with their parents and bring the items back to you.

This activity was wonderful for working on attributes, but it also lent itself well to other goals.  Some of my early elementary kids need a little help with organization, and following a list to complete a task was more difficult than one would think!  It was also another great EET activity:  we chose three items and used the EET method to talk about them.  We also compared and contrasted the different leaves we collected, and several types of flowers.

If you've been following my Camp Journal posts, you know we are earning badges this summer.  After completing this hunt and the tasks associated with their goals, the kids happily added the Nature Badge to their journals.

I adapted this list from an idea I saw on Pinterest, from thefrugalgirls.com.  If you'd like a copy of my list, you can download it here.

Enjoy these last lazy days of summer!