People who are familiar with the UK might be wondering if I’m talking about the multi million British chain store Tesco?
Well, no, but I am going to introduce readers to another British enterprise: this website called TesCo (or, Tes Connect, which stands for Think, Educate, Share, and Connect) with the address: www.tes.co.uk. My colleague just shared it with me and it has hundreds and thousands of FREE resources for teachers of general ed classrooms AND special needs. Another GOLDMINE! It claims to be the world’s largest online network of teachers, and has more than 2.5 million registered users (me included!). In addition to being a free resource sharing site, they also produce e-magazine that requires a paid subscription and provide a job search feature.
I was able to easily find SLP related resources by simply searching under “special needs” and “speech and language communication difficulties” which are then further subdivided into “articulation, receptive, expressive” and even “selective mutism.”
Here’s an example of an activity that I found that I will use, about prepositions:
Here’s another one:
All you need is to set up a username and password, and start a downloading frenzy! Let me know if you do try it out and find great resources. Thanks, S, for sharing this with me!
It is about time I started writing about my time in China. Not that the memories are fading by any means, no, they won’t for a really, really long time; hopefully never. I want to write about China because I’d love to share about it, and hopefully inspire someone to do something similar, too!
Over the Easter break, I traveled with my husband and 16 month old son to Shanghai, China for 13 days to do volunteer work. Actually, my husband was the one who really pushed me to do this. He knew I had felt called to do this for awhile now, but because of finances and the fact that we have a little toddler, I kept putting it off. Thankfully, Shanghai was one of the places he had wanted to visit, so the trip was worthwhile for him, too. He also graciously sponsored the entire visit and looked after our son while I worked. What a gem!
I spent a little over a week at a healing home called Charity Dream Shanghai Healing Home. Orphans or abandoned children with cleft lip and palate (pre and post surgery) receive special care at this foster home. In addition to providing them with medical care and a loving, nurturing home environment, they also raise money for their operations. Many times, these children get matched with a forever family and leave the home at around 2 years old. The children who do not get adopted by around that age either get fostered locally or sent back to the orphanage that originally accepted them.
Children with cleft lip and palate are by default highly at risk for delayed speech and language skills. Throw in the fact that these kids are in an orphanage…and their starting point for speech and language development is even further behind. Despite the fact that the home was such a bright, happy place, with extremely nurturing and loving nannies “ayis” who were cuddly and affectionate with the children, many, if not most, of the children there had significantly delayed language skills.
Being strategically situated in Pudong, the eastern part of Shanghai, the home gets many volunteers – most of them expatriate trailing spouses – who spend time playing with the children.
Three days a week, some volunteers run a language program using songs, rhymes, books, and signs for the 1-2 year old kids. As most of these volunteers are from western countries (mostly North America), the kids get input in English in addition to their native language, Mandarin.
I was pleasantly surprised and pleased that there were volunteers without speech and language backgrounds who recognized the need for such a program to help these children. I was even more impressed when the children were able to sign words like “shoe,” “dog,” “car.” So cute!
Together with my co-volunteer and unofficial mentor, Angela, M.S., CCC-SLP, our main role at this home was to develop this language program further, working alongside the volunteers who coordinate the program and the Director of the home. I was also tasked to see a few kids to do case studies on their speech and language abilities, to provide the volunteers with some direction on how to better help these children develop linguistically and cognitively.
By the end of my time there, Angela and I had a working document with specific goals for the language program. We also proposed a structured play-based program. We modeled a few sessions for the volunteers, which meant we were up there, signing songs, rhyming, signing, and having a lot of fun with the kids! I had gotten to work individually with two kids, and prepared case studies for the Director to share with her team.
Because I speak Mandarin, I was also able to do some incidental teaching to the ayis about how to best stimulate the children’s speech and language. I also got to incorporate some Mandarin rhymes and stories to include the ayis who sat with the children during the language time.
The experience in China was amazing, challenging, and eye-opening. Speaking to Angela, a Chinese-American from New York who moved to Shanghai to work, as well as a few other volunteers, I got firsthand experience of the SLP profession there. Like a lot of developing countries, there are few SLPs and even fewer who can speak the native language. Currently, there are1.3 billion people in China but only about 1000 SLPs. Most locals cannot afford SLP services and the SLPs who work at therapy clinics service expatriate communities. Angela works for a pediatric therapy clinic called Olivia’s Place that strives to also provide services to those who need but can’t afford them. There is even a foundation set up by the clinic just for this purpose! I meant to see a couple cases with her but there was simply no time during this trip. Fingers crossed, it won’t be too long till my next visit to China.
If any speechies are inspired to go on an adventure to China to volunteer and/or work, regardless of whether you speak the language, there will be somewhere and someplace that would desperately need you and greatly benefit from what you can offer. I haven’t done much research on the adult population and the SLP needs there but with an aging population, I would imagine there to be a big need for rehab SLPs in hospitals and nursing facilities, too.
Did I also mention that the food there is incredibly delish and extremely affordable?
 Meyer, D. (2011, November 01). Speech-Language Pathology in China: Challenges and Opportunities. The ASHA Leader.
In case you haven’t already heard, there is now a Colourful Semantics App (£27.49) available for download! It is released by London Speech Therapy…yes, the same people that generously put online free Colourful Semantics materials on their website.
For those unfamiliar with Colourful Semantics, it was developed based on research by Alison Bryan (1987), that colour coding different parts of sentences helped with language learning and development. Please visit my old post here that talks more about it in detail.
I have used Colourful Semantics many times with my clients, and was extremely excited when I was asked to give this app a try and review it!
The colourful app is instantly engaging. The clients I tried the app on were immediately drawn to the strong visuals. There is also an option to turn on the background music if you wish.
(Above) In the “setup” mode, you can select the tailor make the program depending on which level your client is at the moment, and then select the scene you wish as the stimulus.
(Above) You can also add your own scene from a photo or camera.
Each level comprises of four pictures from which the clients can choose to answer the question. Upon tapping “start” the targeted question is asked immediately by app.
(Above) After the child correctly selects the answer, the voice over reads out the selection (e.g., “the boy”) and then gives a few seconds for the client to provide the answer. Finally, the voice over gives the answer in a complete sentence, and thereafter again leaves a few seconds for the client to provide the answer.
There are two modes: learning mode and test mode. Data is collected if “test mode” is selected, which is great for tracking progress!
What I love about the app is the bright visuals and the real life scenes, and the ability to automatically collate data. But to me, the winning feature about the app is the ability to add background scenes from photos or a camera, allowing the clinician or parent to customize the activity according to the child’s interests and people/places/things/activities s/he is familiar with. I could see this working extremely well with children with autism who need more concrete, literal examples to learn.
What I’d love to see more:
As I got a “trial” version, the number of scenes I got was limited. I’m not entirely sure how many scenes are in the current sale version. However, I believe the developers are working on adding more built-in scenes. Hurray! I’d also love to have the option of controlling when the app gives the answer, and how long the app waits for the child to say the answer. As I was using it in therapy, I’d love to be able to just give the answer instead of sitting through the voice overs. Also, one of my clients found it challenging to wait for the next scene after he had already given the answer.
Although there are “set” colours in the non-digital, original version of Colourful Semantics, the developers made one tweak to one of the colours, changing the “where” from red to blue. I can see why they did that, as red and orange are both magenta based! However, as I’ve been using the paper version with my clients, where we had worked on red for “where,” there was a wee bit of confusion. If I had used it with clients that I had not introduced the paper version prior, it would not have been a problem.
***Just did a quick peek at the Colourful Semantics’ Facebook page, which mentioned that they will be including the following in their next updates:***
18 changes/additions in our next update including:
1. more pre-installed scenes
2. options to turn off music & 3. background
4. change the colours of each category
5. a ‘quick play’ function
6. save scores to measure progress
7. a much faster way to add a new scene
That’s heaps (totally trying to be Australian here)! AND it also included the things I had said I hoped to see! Do take time to check them out on iTunes (better yet, download the app) and on Facebook.
Note: As mentioned at the beginning of the post, the app was provided to the reviewer to review. No other form of compensation was awarded. Comments in this post are entirely the reviewer’s.
A number of very exciting things have happened in my little speechie corner, and a lot of ideas are brewing in my head as a result. Soon enough, I will definitely be blogging about what I’ve been up to the last couple weeks.
But first, I want to quickly announce to Colourful Semantics fans who haven’t already heard: London Speech Therapy who brought you free, downloadable, Colourful Semantics pictures, have now released a Colourful Semantics APP available for download at iTunes! I have been lucky enough to try it out with my clients (thanks, Chris!) but haven’t had the time to properly review it. That will be in my next post. Coming up hopefully in the next few days.
So, please stay tuned!!
I did my SLP training in the United States, and moved to Australia shortly after. Being foreign-trained, I find it refreshing to learn about some of the useful and popular resources and programs here that are not so big in the States (at least not when I was training), and today I’m going to do a brief post on one of them I have grown to love and find myself using almost every (work) day, called Cued Articulation.
Cued Articulation is a set of visual representations of English speech sounds that was developed by Jane Passy, a Speech Pathologist from Australia. There is a hand sign for every speech sound: consonants and vowels included. As SLPs, we talk about speech sounds in terms of Place, Voice and Manner (PVM). Without going into the technical details (because if you’re reading this, chances are you’re an SLP or SLP to be and would already know this!), these hand signs are great because they were developed to show where the sound is made, and how it is made. The detailed version of cued articulation also comes with colour codes, and therefore children get another visual prompt for the speech sounds, in addition to the hand signs.
It has been an extremely versatile tool, as I’m able to use it when working on speech sounds, phonological awareness, and language. It’s great because when children get used to doing the signs, they start prompting themselves with the actions! Cued Articulation is also handy for teachers taking the younger grades, especially when introducing the alphabet to their students and cueing them to remember their sounds.
Want to find out more? Training sessions are regularly run in Australia, and in the UK. I don’t know if they are in the US (if anyone knows of such training sessions, please let us know!), however, you can purchase the book on Amazon to learn the cues (book costs about US35) or look them up on YouTube.
Here are a couple of examples of the cues. The images are taken from the Cued Articulation book.
Have you used Cued Articulation? How have you used it and what are your thoughts on it? Do you have a similar system/method of cueing speech sounds in your country that you can share?
***Update March 9: To clarify: Cued Articulation is not the same as Cued Speech, which is a system used among deaf and hard of hearing people.
Valentine’s Day is a great festive day to talk to kids about showing love to family and friends. Today, my kids made this craft cupcake in therapy. It’s super easy and fun! I used mostly materials that I already had lying around at home:
- Muffin liners
- Styrofoam balls (this I got from a $2 shop)
- Pipe Cleaners
- Aluminium foil
- Sticky tape
One of the kids was working on the /k/ sound, so the word “cupcake” was a perfect one to sneak into the conversation! All my kids, from ages 3.5 to 10 were excited to make this. I used this activity in multiple ways: for example, as a reinforcer in a board game for the kid who was working on speech sounds, and as an activity to get my 5 year old kid with language disorder to sequence steps and remember the materials used for the cupcake.
Here are some boards that you might like to download related to this activity:
What did you do with your kids to celebrate Valentine’s day?