Thursday, March 28, 2013

Just me & Thomas- working over spring break...

Yesssss, it's spring break and I'm officially OFF of work for 10 days!  
Well, sort of.  

In addition to my full-time job, I also do private therapy.  I treat children in their homes, or their parents bring them to my home for therapy.  
Going to see a child in their home really gives you the big picture of that child's life.  
It's always funny to me to see how different families communicate. 

It also allows their parents to see what I do in therapy firsthand and to see how they can help their kids when I'm not around 
(and they usually do practice with their kids during the week by imitating what I do-I'm very thankful for that!) 
They're like honorary SLPs! 

Although I try to remain professional- I usually get very attached to the kids and families I work with and it's hard to say goodbye after going to see a child in their home for years. 
The bad thing about doing private therapy is that if you're good at it, you're constantly putting yourself out of business!

So one little guy I went to see this week is obsessed with TWO things- 
Angry Birds and Thomas & Friends.  
I make this poor little guy work HARD during the time I have with him so I try to bring activities multiple activities that will hold his attention since he is young and active

That's where these guys come in....

Today I'm just going to write about Thomas 
(I mean, don't you think Angry Birds deserve their own post?) 
Angry Birds are like...taking over the world!
 I didn't want to jump on board but my kids will do aNYTHIng for those flying feathered phenoms! 
{more on that next time}

My little guy needs articulation drill but he also needs help with literacy.  
His school is mentioning that he isn't ready for 1st grade so Mom has asked me to become part SLP/part kindergarten tutor.  
Ok, I can do that. 

Before I move on to Thomas, let me tell you that I taught him the letter sounds he had not mastered using Phonics Faces
Kiddos with severe articulation disorders are usually NOT auditory learners-I love Phonics Faces because they're visual tools for learning letter sounds.

If you haven't heard about Phonics Faces... YOU MUST!!
Phonics Faces is a program for teaching letter/sound and alphabet skills developed by Dr. Jan Norris.  

She was one of my professors and supervisors at LSU and if you're an SLP, you probably know her name.  

She is an ASHA fellow and has won the ASHA Clinical Achievement Award twice. 

Straight up- Dr. Norris is a genius.

She developed an extensive line of products for phonemic awareness, reading, etc when she found her own grandchildren struggling to learn to read.

You can see her stuff at and you can see Dr. Norris in action using it HERE

It seriously helps kids learn to read. 

Now that he was familiar with letters and their sounds, it was time to play with words and strengthen his phonemic awareness so he could begin to read and write.  

That's where Thomas came in- Thomas was my secret weapon to start working on fundamental phonemic awareness skills like rhyming, listening for beginning sounds and ending sounds-and later- those tricky middle sounds.  If fact I made a whole packet all about Thomas and his friends just for this little guy- and now it's for sale in my TPT store.  You can see it HERE

I started by using the "Thomas cards" - the rhyming cards- they're set up so that we could play memory but before that, I used them one card at a time- just to talk about what could rhyme (and not rhyme) with the picture on the card. 

We used it as a card game (if you can rhyme it, you get to keep it "I bet I can get more than you!" scenario).  Somehow he beat me :)

Then we played matching and finally, we used the cards to play the board game - worked like a charm. 

Next we will do the same with the beginning and ending sound cards. 

The Percy cards (the green cards) have 18 pairs of pictures with the same beginning sounds. 

The James Cards (the red cards) have 18 pairs of pictures with the same ending sounds.  

Just as I did with the rhyming cards, I plan the use the cards for teaching & then for practice. I even printed a set for his Mom to work with him while I'm not around (the game, too!!) 

The pack includes a dice and spinner and Mom already made it for them to use.  
Gotta love moms who do "speech homework!" 
Now don't forget, I still have to do articulation drill with this little guy! 
So in addition to being able to use the board game for that, I made a set of open ended cards to play matching with - so that he can hunt for a match after he says 5 target sounds.  

When he's ready, we will move on to listening for sounds in ALL positions of words, to writing the corresponding letters, and to writing words!  
My goal is to get him there by summer!

And I made 180 word family flash cards for his Mom to practice with him at home when the time comes- she can use those with the board game, too, (read 5 words then get a turn at the board game) to keep him from protesting!

I can't wait to get him reading! I wish I could take a picture of his wild eyed, happy face everytime I pull a Thomas activity out of my bag- it is priceless!!
(but I do try to respect this family's privacy) 

If you want to grab the whole pack for your Thomas lovin' kids, you can find it HERE

I'm not a teacher.  I hear a lot of speech-pathologists say that, and I agree; I didn't go to college to become a teacher.  However, I do know a thing or two about phonemes, about sounds, about auditory processing and comprehension.  As SLPs, we all do.  

I'm happy to have a part in teaching kids to learn to read.  
There's nothing like the look on their face when... IT CLICKS....they read a word for the first time that they didn't think they could read......and it's a complete surprise to them 
(to both of us to be honest!)

Have you seen that look?  
It's a beautiful thing. 



  1. Looks great! At the beginning of your post, you mentioned that you also do private practice. I am also starting a private practice, and I am wondering if you have some tips on how to find clients. Any info/tips you have for starting out would be helpful!


    1. Hi Aersta,
      Yes, I do private practice. I've always just gotten clients through word of mouth so I really can't offer advice on how to attract clients, but I will tell you that in May/June when school is ending, lots of parents (and their school therapists) are always looking for someone to do therapy during the summer. I would just let all your colleagues know that you're open to seeing kids privately-we are always having parents inquire.

      My advice is to go into it being firm about what clients should expect from you and what you expect from them- for my first client I made the mistake of not laying down guidelines and I was often left to babysit little sister or walked into my client eating dinner or playing at a neighbors and was continuously asked to wait until he was done to begin therapy.

      Make sure you outline your services on paper so they know your fees (for various sessions, 30, 45, 60 minutes, group or individual) and how and when payment is expected. Tell whether you include assessment as part of this fee or if those services are separate or available upon request for a fee- tell how often you will provide progress reports, how sessions will be scheduled, whether or not you agree to correspond with the child's school or other professionals (and if you charge for that) and whether or not you expect parents and client to complete "homework."

      These are all things I've learned from wacky scenarios that have come up over the years. Good Luck!! I love doing private therapy because it gives me the freedom to do what I know is best for a child without limitations- I think you'll find it very rewarding!

    2. Awesome, thanks so much for the info! That's very helpful!


  2. My girls live princesses, butterflies, anything girls. The boys love angry birds, Star Wars, and Legos.


Jasper Roberts Consulting - Widget