TV for the win…

tv for the win photoSummer vacation…aaaahhhh! What every school-based SLP waits for ALL year, right? Spending time traveling? Just sitting in front of the TV? Well-deserved time off no matter how you spend it!

But think of all the inspiration you can gain just from watching TV…

I mean does EVERY Looney Tunes character have a speech disorder? And I have yet to watch a newscast without finding something off – a voice, a weird sentence structure, or that tongue sneaking out!

So many TV shows with kids with special needs, someone definitely on the spectrum, and this new show ‘Speechless’ coming soon. Can’t wait for that one!

My favorite part of watching TV these days, though? The commercials! We don’t watch them as much these days with DVR and fast forward, but what a hidden gem!

Google ‘using commercials in speech therapy’ and there are so many great ideas! Especially when it comes to targeting social language skills. Love it!

My favorite right now…a State Farm commercial called ‘Jacked Up’

A girl expresses her excitement over a new car; a man expresses his anger and frustration over his car damage…and they both use the EXACT same words, phrases and sentences to do so.

What can be learned from this short and sweet ad, besides what an insurance company can do for you?

Nonverbal cues

                     Tone of voice and prosody


                                                                                       Making an inference

                                                                                                                        Understanding emotions

The opportunities are ENDLESS!

Video modeling is highly discussed as a tool for teaching social language. Social Skill Builder is one of the many websites and companies that highlights this and provides an overview of the research behind it.

But it is also so much fun*!

(*just be sure you preview the material to make sure it is appropriate for the grade/age level!)

How does watching TV inspire you as a SLP? Share below!


The ABCs of /s/ and /z/

Watermarked sz Photo (2016-06-16-1308)

We all know that there are various reports, research, and information regarding the age of acquisition of speech sounds. How in the world do we decide which ones to use for determining if a student has an articulation disorder? Are you at the mercy of your school system and the age norms they have decided to use?

We have searched many resources and found The Iowa Articulation Norms Project and its Nebraska Replication to be a very helpful read.

When it comes to /s z/, this article raises some great points. Believe it or not, the projects found that acquisition curves for /s z/ did not reach 90% criterion until age 9! Considering that these sounds are so common in English, do we really want to wait that long?

The researchers identified that 80% of responses were adequate by age 7 with slow growth after that. We love the recommendations they provide to look at /s z/ at age 7 with some additional considerations.

To wait or not to wait, that is the question

If a 7-year-old uses an acceptable production of /s z/ in any context (including clusters), it may be best to delay intervention. We should also consider if the child is stimulable for any acceptable production or if they are still waiting on those two front teeth for Christmas! Check again for these same factors at age 8 and again at age 9…but by then we should intervene for sure if errors in production (and educational impact) are still evident.

Speaking of educational impact…

Us school-based SLPs ALWAYS have to consider educational impact. More often than not, with articulation, this is especially evident in the social context. There can definitely be justification to start earlier based on documentation of impact on educational performance!

Too late for lateralizations?

Lateralized productions are not likely to improve with age without intervention. Therefore these should not be considered developmental errors. Early intervention can be considered (as early as preschool) given that the child demonstrates a response to treatment and does not appear to be improving on their own.

Our favorite reference: Smit, A. B., Hand, L., Freilinger, J. J., Bernthal, J. E. & Bird, A. (1990). The Iowa articulation norms project and its Nebraska replication. Journal of Speech and Hearing Disorders, 779-798

Elissa’s personal perspective

You know you’re an SLP mom when you shudder at your two year old’s dentalized /s z/. And you try SOOOO hard not to help her fix it! Then at age 3 it hasn’t changed AT ALL…what’s a mom to do?!?!

So you provide models, show her in the mirror where her tongue goes…


She’s only 3!

By age 4 she is stimulable (mom breathes audible sigh of relief). Maybe she won’t need speech…

So now she’s 5 (5 ½ if you ask her) and ALL BY HERSELF she produces the most beautiful /s/ and /z/…well, most of the time. Sure she slips now and then but come on…she’s only 5!

It will all be ok!

What age norms do you utilize for /s z/?

Image courtesy of fantasista at

School’s out for summer…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Most, if not all, of us school-based SLPs are in the midst of summer break. A time to relax, get refreshed, and spend much-needed time with friends and family. And probably do some work – whether you see private clients, do testing or Extended School Year with your school system, or prep for the upcoming school year. It may be just as important to reflect back on all of the hard work you achieved during the school year.

How many IEP meetings were you part of? How many did you schedule? How many were you not invited to (or maybe at the last minute) but somehow managed to get your part completed in time (and figure out a way to attend)?

Did you evaluate more than 20 kids this year? Did you change your schedule once a month, once a week, once a day? Did you have to pack up and move to a new space? Did you have a space?

Were you bombarded with advocates or attorneys? Were you constantly forced to justify your role, decisions, value to a parent, teacher, administrator?

You are a school-based SLP. You fight for students everyday – the ones you work with now and the ones you know need your help. You are passionate about what you do and how you do it. You deserve a break!

So how are you spending your summer?