Motivation, humor, and ideas that every school-based
speech-language pathologist will love!

5 Hilarious Instagram Pictures That All Speech-Language Pathologists Will Adore

posted on June 20th, 2016 by Erik X. Raj, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
5 Hilarious Instagram Pictures That All Speech-Language Pathologists Will Adore

You know how sometimes you and a friend will be texting each other funny jokes throughout the day? And you might text a joke to that friend and then she replies with "LOL" or some emoji that implies that she's laughing? Well, whenever I receive a response like that, I always ask myself, "Did she REALLY just laugh out loud or did she just type that out because that's what we're conditioned to do in this Internet-centered culture we're all a part of?"

In case you didn't know, "LOL" stands for laugh out loud.

Most of the time when we do the whole "LOL" thing, we aren't REALLY laughing out loud. When we type "LOL," we're communicating to the sender that her most recent text message was interpreted by us as a humorous one. 99.9% of the time, none of us REALLY laugh out loud - at best, we crack a smile and internally chuckle at what we just read or saw.

But sometimes we actually DO laugh out loud.

In the few instances where a text message does make me literally "LOL," I find myself wondering about what's the best thing to type out to truly let that person know that I did, in fact, laugh out loud?! I just don't know.

Cut to @phoneticspeak.

Recently, a buddy of mine texted me a link to @phoneticspeak's account on Instagram. And let me tell you, this was the perfect example where just typing "LOL" to my buddy would NOT do my reactions any justice. The moment my eyes landed on @phoneticspeak's Instagram account, I was laughing so hard that I had tears in my eyes! My laughs were loud and real. SO LOUD AND REAL! The text message I sent back wasn't just "LOL." It was, and I quote, "LOOOOL WOW LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL X 10000 4E!"

Phonetics all over the place!

In short, @phoneticspeak's Instagram account is a terrific collection of pop culture pictures that all have a speech-language pathology twist to 'em. And what's the SLP twist, you might ask? Well, all the words within the pop culture pictures have been phonetically transcribed! If you're anything like me, seeing the visual representation of speech sounds in something other than a textbook or diagnostic report, that gets me so pumped and excited (I know, I'm such a nerd! Hooray for phonetics!).

Here are five of my fav @phoneticspeak pictures:

  • Hang in there! - Next time one of your SLP besties is feeling a bit stressed out from tons of IEP meetings, consider sending her that classic silly cat picture to cheer her up.
  • Spaghetti! - Next time you have a hankering for some Italian food, send your SLP bestie that cute pug picture and tell her to meet you at Olive Garden for some grub. (And for the record, Olive Garden breadsticks, SO GOOD. Am I right?)
  • Friends! - Next time you're itchin' for some 90s throwback, might I suggest you send your SLP bestie that picture of your favorite sitcom? Let's make it a Friends Netflix night!
  • Chewbacca! - Next time you're having a bad hair day, feel free to send your SLP bestie that picture of Chewie. Because nothing better illustrates a bad hair day then that handsome and legendary Wookie.
  • Grumpy Cat! - Next time your SLP bestie is a bit grouchy, you might want to send her that Grumpy Cat picture. That Internet-famous feline has a fantastic power where her frowny face can really brighten up anyone's day. (Fun fact: Grumpy Cat's real name is Tardar Sauce.)

In closing . . .

Listen, if you're a speech-language pathologist (and I know you are because that's why you're reading this SLP-related blog post), you NEED to follow @phoneticspeak's account on Instagram. Calling that particular Instagram user hilarious and creative, those words are understatements. Serious understatements. (Keep up the great work, @phoneticspeak.)

P.S. If you're looking for other cool SLP-related accounts to follow on Instagram, I wrote a blog post last year titled 9 Creative Speech-Language Pathologists You Should Follow on Instagram Right Now.

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All Speech-Language Pathologists Should Think About Their Comfort Zones

posted on May 31st, 2016 by Erik X. Raj, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
All Speech-Language Pathologists Should Think About Their Comfort Zones

I'm a huge fan of comfort zones. I mean, who isn't? Who doesn't like to be in situations where you feel secure or at ease, without any stress? Comfort zones are great. But here's the thing, growth doesn't really happen when you're chillin' in the C-zone (C-zone stands for comfort zone. It has a nice ring to it, don't ya think?).

A new client of mine.

A few weeks ago I took on a new private client. This terrific middle school-aged boy has an awesome smile and heart of gold. I'm truly enjoying my time getting to know him and we're having a blast in therapy, but what makes all of this a bit challenging for me is the fact that none of his goals and objectives relate to articulation or stuttering. This reality is a bit out of my ordinary because historically, an overwhelming majority of my private clients have been either kiddos with articulation difficulties or kiddos who stutter.

Ya gotta think about your C-zone.

By no means am I saying that I can't handle what this particular child's needs are. I absolutely can, but this is the perfect example of how I made the decision to think about my C-zone. If I wanted to stay comfortable, I would have simply not taken on this new client. And that would have been a real shame because he and his family needed me. So, I made the decision to get out of my C-zone because not only did I want to grow my clinical abilities, but I wanted to do everything I could for this boy. I could see his potential. I knew that this flower could blossom as an effective and confident communicator. He just needed a bit of water and sunshine from me.

Getting out of your C-zone is a win/win.

Because of this kiddo, I've had the opportunity to correspond with therapists and other professionals that I would have never corresponded with. They've all been terrific with giving me feedback on my therapy ideas. They've also directed me to a massive number of resources that I would have never thought to check out. I've learned a lot and I've helped my client a lot. This whole experience has been such a positive one and I can't help but say to myself, "What if I chose to stay in my C-zone?" What a missed opportunity.

Staying safe.

Recently, my good friend Mary Huston and I were chatting about comfort zones and she said it perfectly. "Comfort zones are very . . . safe. I think most people prefer to be in a comfort zone, not because it's a good place, but because it's a known place. Change is scary, very scary, but without change things become stagnant and stale. In order to grow as a person and LIVE, we have to accept that fear of the unknown and if not embrace change, accept it."

Let's do something scary.

Let's be brave. I want all of us speech-language pathologists to step away from our C-zone so that we could continue grow. But believe me, I know the whole "let's be brave" thing is waaaaay easier said than done. Don't worry - we don't have to do something CRAZY. How about something a bit on the smaller side? Perhaps you could administer a brand new diagnostic that you've never administered before. Who knows, it very well might turn out to be your new favorite diagnostic. That doesn't sound too scary, does it? That's totally something we could do to step away from our C-zone. Pretty good first step!

Let's do something a bit scarier.

Something else you might want to think about is presenting. Have you ever presented some speech-language therapy information to your colleagues before? If the answer is no, I believe you should think about doing it. Submit a proposal to present something at any upcoming speech-language-hearing conference, just like Kim from ActivityTailor.com did. Or better yet, team up with a colleague to present together because two heads are always better than one. In my humble opinion, presenting in front of a live audience is one of the best ways to step away from our C-zone. Totally a step in the right direction!

In closing . . .

I just want you to know that you're a spectacular speech-language pathologist. And you know what else? I can feel it in my bones that you're just getting started. So do me a favor, over the next few weeks, I would love for you to think about your own C-zone. Are you a bit too comfortable right now? If so, this is the ideal time to try something new so that you can grow, both professionally and personally. Take on a new private client like I did. Or start a blog like some of my colleagues have done. From administering new diagnostics to presenting at a conference, the possibilities to move away from you C-zone are endless. The only thing that matters is moving forward. If you're moving forward, that's what it's all about.

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5 Amazing Brain Teasers for Your Amazing Speech Therapy Students

posted on May 10th, 2016 by Erik X. Raj, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
5 Amazing Brain Teasers for Your Amazing Speech Therapy Students

I don't know about you, but I love me a good brain teaser every now and again. Giving my noggin the opportunity to think about a tricky problem or puzzle, and then maybe, juuuuuust maybe, being able to solve that tricky problem or puzzle --- there just ain't a better brain workout than that. Brain teasers are often the perfect mixture of intellect and humor, and over the last few years, I've been noticing just how much my speech-language therapy students enjoy the mental workout that often comes along with attempting to figure out a finely-constructed brain teaser.

Sharing is caring.

I wanted to take this moment to share with you some amazing brain teasers. Why? Because we're best friends and best friends share with one another. HEHE! Anyways, check out this list right HERE. I came across that particular list of brain teasers back in 2012, and since then, I've happily introduced most of 'em to the school-age clients of mine. From that list, here are my top 5 ultimate favorites:

Brain teaser #1

A man stands on one side of a river, his dog on the other. The man calls his dog, who immediately crosses the river without getting wet and without using a bridge or a boat. How did the dog do it?

  • Answer: The river was frozen.

Why I like #1: This one allows me to target a bunch of aspects that relate to cause and effect. For example, if it gets REALLY cold outside, what happens to the water? It freezes. The cause of the water freezing is thanks to the cold temperature. Right? So, is my student able to comprehend that idea AND verbalize it to me in a way that I understand? Through what we do within our session, that's exactly what I'm trying for. Good times!

Brain teaser #2

What is unusual about the following words: revive, banana, grammar, voodoo, assess, potato, dresser, uneven?

  • Answer: Take the first letter of each word and place it at the end. It will spell the same word backwards.

Why I like #2: When working with the K-8 population, we almost always have conversations that touch on syntax and the overall arrangement of words and phrases to create well-formed sentences. So this brain teaser that focuses on words, it allows me to further extend conversations that have to do with taking a word, changing it, and seeing how it may or may not be able to fit into the sentence we are tying to create. Very fun! (For this brain teaser, it's best to use Scrabble letters or individually cut out letters on pieces of paper. That way, you are able to physically move around the letters to eventually show your students the answer.)

Brain teaser #3

What makes this number unique - 8,549,176,320?

  • Answer: It contains each number, zero through nine, in alphabetical order.

Why I like #3: For the kiddos on your caseload who adore numbers and all things related to math, this one is guaranteed to get them thinking. When I present this one to students, I always encourage them to "talk it out while you try to figure it out." I've seen students verbally explore so many different mathematical ideas, all in an effort to solve this numbers brain teaser. From adding to subtracting, to everything in between, it's always neat to hear their thought processes, and more often than not, it gives ME great qualitative data that helps me in my efforts to continually gauge how their verbal communication skills are coming along. Woo hoo!

Brain teaser #4

Two boxers are in a match scheduled for 12 rounds. (Pure boxing only – no kicking, UFC takedowns, or anything else). One of the boxers gets knocked out after only six rounds, yet no man throws a punch. How is this possible?

  • Answer: Both boxers are female.

Why I like #4: This one is the ultimate forehead slapper. You're sure to hear a bunch of students shout, "D'oh" after getting stumped on it. This brain teaser is grand because it perfectly emphasizes the fact that we need to use our listening ears to hear and understand EACH WORD that is being said. We can't let language tricks get the best of us! So when I say the "yet no MAN throws a punch" part, I make sure to say MAN in a way that hopefully triggers them to realize the word's opposite, WOMAN! Hehe!

Brain teaser #5

What do these words have in common: polish, job, herb?

  • Answer: All three words are pronounced differently when the first letter is capitalized.

Why I like #5: Grammar, grammar, GRAMMAR! This riddle let's me continue to harp (in a fun way) on the importance of grammar, and more specifically, capitalization. Capitalize those proper nouns, kiddos. Don't forget! ;-)

In closing . . .

The chances are probably quite high that you have some random brain teasers book somewhere either in your office or at your house. Well, I'm here to tell you that you should bust out those books and see what hidden gems are hiding within those magical, riddle-filled pages. And if you're in the market for an app that has a bunch of brain teasers in it, might I suggest THIS ONE? It's called Mini-U Riddles and it's only $2.99 on the Apple App Store. It's ideal for the K-8 demographic and I've been using it for YEARS. I dig it. A lot. You will, too. Enjoy!

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Start a Dance Party in Speech Therapy with Dance Party Articulation

posted on April 26th, 2016 by Erik X. Raj, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
Start a Dance Party in Speech Therapy with Dance Party Articulation

I love parties. Birthday parties and holiday parties are probably two of the most common types of parties out there. But do you know what my all-time favorite type of party is? A good, old-fashioned dance party! Crank up the tunes and get your boogy oogy oogy on because their ain't no party better party than a dance party!

Am I right?!

As a form of non-verbal communication, dancing allows people of all ages the opportunity to express thoughts, feelings, and ideas in a manner that explores and encourages rhythmic body movements. In my experience, when most children are exposed to music and are given the chance to dance, they do so with a massive smile. That's why I feel it's essential that we, as speech-language pathologists, make a conscious decision to infuse music and dancing into our teaching activities whenever possible. It just makes learning that much more fun for school-aged students.

I made a new app for all you dancing fans out there!

After months and months of hard work, my latest speech therapy app called Dance Party Articulation is finally available for download on the Apple App Store (please download it to your iPad and/or iPhone today!). This musical app is a comprehensive collection of over 500 wacky and hilarious dance instructions designed for speech-language pathologists to use with individuals who exhibit difficulty producing the following speech sounds: S, Z, R, L, S/R/L Blends, SH, CH, and TH. It's intended to aid in the remediation of articulation impairments, as well as auditory and language difficulties because clients often need practice in more than one area of communication.

For example:

Let's say your kiddo is working on improving his /S/ sound. With Dance Party Articulation, all you have to do is tap on the /S/ section within the app and you'll gain access to dozens and dozens of silly /S/ dance moves like, "Dance like you’re a superhero. Show your super power." After you and your student work on saying that particular /S/ sentence and talking about the sentence, you both can tap on the Play button to start a random dance song that will allow for everyone in the room to dance like a superhero! Maybe you might flex your muscles to the beat? Maybe you might pretend that you're wearing a cape and flying all around the room while the music is jamming? There's no such thing as a wrong dance move, so let your imagination go wild!

In closing . . .

I invite you to check out Dance Party Articulation so you can use these dance instructions to spice up your speech therapy sessions. All of the dance instructions are intended to initiate excitement and humor. And in all honesty, each dance instruction has the potential for leading almost anywhere. Even a dance instruction that appears simple can trigger a unique thought process that happily surprises all parties involved. So what are you waiting for? Download Dance Party Articulation today and shake your groove thang while you practice proper pronunciation!

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