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

4 Amazing Date Night Ideas that are Perfect for Speech-Language Pathologists

posted on September 22nd, 2014 by Erik X. Raj, M.S., CCC-SLP
4 Amazing Date Night Ideas that are Perfect for Speech-Language Pathologists

Do you have a significant other that isn't a speech-language pathologist? If so, this post is for that main squeeze of yours. Yup, I'm talkin' to all the non-slp sweetie pies out there, so listen up. If you've given your heart over to an SLP, you're one lucky duck because we all know that SLPs are the BEST. So, in an effort to help you be the BEST partner to your lovely SLP, I'm going to give you four solid date night ideas that I can guarantee every SLP would adore. Trust me, you're gonna thank me for this one.

1. Permission to whisper during the movie.

There's nothing more classic than the traditional dinner and a movie. This date night idea is just that, but it's got the perfect SLP twist to it. During the movie part, allow your SLP soul mate to whisper to you whenever he/she spots any type of communication disorder in a film character. Because, here's the thing, all of us SLPs are secretly diagnosing things like that in movies all the time. So if you give your SLP baby doll permission to whisper the diagnosis (quietly, of course) to you during the movie, he/she will love you to bits. "Oh, that character totally has to be a person who stutters! Those temporary disruptions in his forward flow of speech are called disfluencies."

2. Transcribe some romantic poetry.

Nothing better communicates warm and fuzzy feelings of love than a good poem. So together with your SLP partner in crime, how about shooting over to your local library and findin' some romantic ones to read to one another? Then, allow your lovely SLP to transcribe a few of those poems to IPA. Because here's the thing, all of us SLPs can't get enough of phonetic transcription. In case you didn't know, IPA stands for the International Phonetic Alphabet. It's a standardized representation of the sounds of oral language, so go ahead and give him/her permission to draw out those little symbols. He/she will be all googley eyed for you!

3. Test drive some new games together.

SLPs are some of the most avid game fans out there. For good reason, too, because many of us utilize games as a means for increasing the speech and language abilities of our students. We just have this magical way of tweakin' and changin' a game so that it perfectly relates to the goals and objectives of the given students in our group. But here's the thing, sometimes we need to try out the potential game before we introduce it to the children on our caseload. So if you ask your SLP love bug if there are any games that he/she might be dying to try, changes are that you'll get a loud and enthusiastic YES! Go on over to your favorite store, buy the game, and set up a little game night together to play it. You can pretend to be the student and your significant other can be the SLP. You'd be surprised at just how FUN this game night idea really is!

4. A dollar store shopping spree.

I've got two words for you. Dollar. Store. I know that every single SLP out there will agree with me when I say that dollar stores make us smile wider than, well, a dollar bill! So if you want to melt the heart of your SLP prince or princess, offer to take him/her to the dollar store for a dollar store date night. Ten dollars goes a long way in the enchanted land of dollar speech therapy materials, so tell him/her to go wild because it's on you. Go down the aisles together and encourage him/her to describe to you how he/she could use that particular thing-ah-ma-jig in speech therapy. Because here's the thing, we love talkin' about stuff like that. But the only thing you need to caution with this SLP date night idea is the timeframe. Sometimes a trip to the dollar store for us SLPs can last hours (HAHA! SERIOUSLY!). We're like kids in a candy store when it comes to dollar stores, ya know? So be prepared!

In closing . . .

These ideas are not only awesome for the sake of being awesome, but they can also help you to better understand why your SLP partner loves being an SLP so much. And that can absolutely strengthen your relationship because it's showing your SLP significant other that you have an obvious curiosity and respect for the amazing field of speech-language pathology. So go on! Give these SLP date night ideas a try as soon as possible and let me know how they go!

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Speech-Language Pathologists Need to Relax

posted on September 15th, 2014 by Erik X. Raj, M.S., CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologists Need to Relax

Right now, I have something like 17 unread emails in my work account. I'm trying to muster the strength to open them but I can't. I'm dreading opening the messages because I already have so much to do and I just know that they all contain new things to plop on top of my already overflowing plate. And so is the life of a school-based speech-language pathologist. *Sigh*

Breathe. Just breathe.

Please raise your hand if you've been in this type of situation before. As clinicians, our days are always jam-packed with therapy, case management, creating homework packets, testing, report writing, emails, phone calls, so on and so forth. All of this could become suffocating, but we must breathe and try to stay calm. Don't let your stress get the best of you and your magical speech therapy ways!

Here. I wrote this just for you.

This blog post is to be read at night after you had a long day in speech land. Listen, believe me, I know it's NOT unusual for us SLPs to go above and beyond the call of duty with everything we do. I get it. I truly do. However, I feel it's vital for us to not forget about ourselves and our well-being. We must not burn out! So, in an effort to save you from crashing and burning because of the anxiety of our never-ending to-do list, I'm going to give you the permission that I know, deep down inside, you're craving.

  • Tonight I give you permission to not open up your laptop to work on progress notes. That can wait until tomorrow. Instead I give you permission to watch your favorite show on Netflix!
  • Tonight I give you permission to not open up your laptop to finish scoring that assessment you gave today. That can wait until tomorrow. Instead I give you permission to go to the gym!
  • Tonight I give you permission to not open your laptop to check to see if your coworker responded to your email about scheduling the new student that just moved into the district. It can wait until tomorrow. Instead I give you permission to meet up with your friend at your favorite coffee shop!
  • Tonight I give you permission to not open your laptop to go on Facebook, Twitter, Teachers Pay Teachers, Pinterest, Etsy, or any other website that SLPs love to frequent. Instead I give you permission to go to bed early because you earned it!
  • And most importantly, tonight I give you permission to look at your bathroom mirror, smile, and remind yourself that you're doing a terrific job. This world just wouldn't be the same without you. Thank you for all that you do with your students in speech therapy.

In closing . . .

Do you know an SLP who might need this post right now? Is that colleague currently overwhelmed? Do me a favor and share this post with him/her. We all need to stick together and sharing some comforting words with one another is always key. Blogs posts have the ability to inject a great deal of warmth into the soul of a person who needs it. That's all I want from this post, to positively impact people that need a little pick me up. ;-)

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Are You Giving Rushed Greetings to Your Speech Therapy Students?

posted on September 8th, 2014 by Erik X. Raj, M.S., CCC-SLP
Are You Giving Rushed Greetings to Your Speech Therapy Students?

I've been thinking a lot lately about restaurants and how the first encounter with whoever seats you really sets the stage for what the meal's experience will ultimately be. Now I know you might be wondering how this thought even relates to speech therapy. Does it? Yes, it does, trust me (haha!). Just keep on reading and I pinky promise that I will get us there. But before I transition this body of text into something that makes sense to us speech-language pathologists, I feel like I need to describe a couple of typical restaurant greetings that I'm sure every single one of you have encountered before.

Those rushed greetings that feel as if the person doesn't care.

Sometimes I will walk into a restaurant and the first thing that the employee says is . . .

"How many?"

Um, what?! How many?! That's the FIRST thing you say?! Not even a hello?! Or a hi?! Yikes. From an SLP's point of view, this rushed attempt at communicating to me is pure torture to hear. It almost sounds like nails on a chalkboard. And no matter how great the food is, that type of first (rushed) impression seems to always leave such a bad taste in my mouth.

Now let's take a moment to transition that scenario to a speech therapy one (see, I told you I'd get us there, haha!).

Sometimes when I'm in a bit of a hurry, I find myself picking up my students for services and I will say obviously rushed greetings to them (just like those rushed restaurant people). I would say lines like "time for speech" or "come on, let's go to the speech room." Not even a hello or a hi first, just one of those empty and embarrassing attempts at communicating.

Ugh! What's wrong with me?! How embarrassing.

Now, just imagine how my rushed greeting negatively sets the stage in speech therapy. Those rushed types of greetings are communicating, loud and clear, that I'm not in the moment and that my mind is somewhere else (when it shouldn't be somewhere else, it should be on my students and in that moment). That's a terrible thing to be communicating. Just. Terrible.

Let's be intentional with our greetings and let's not rush.

I know I can't be the only SLP out there that has ever given a rushed greeting to a student. It happens to the best of us sometimes, right? Sure. But from here on out, I'm making a very real and conscience decision to be more mindful with the greetings that I choose to use. I want to be more intentional with my words and I want to remember that my greetings can either positively or negatively set the stage in speech therapy. From here on out I'm choosing to adopt a new collection of non-rushed and ultra positive greetings that I promise to say to each and every single one of my students (regardless of how rushed I may or may not be).

Here are some of my favorites that I will use (and feel free to use them, too):

  • I'm so happy you're here today! Let's head on over to speech.
  • Yes! There he/she is! Let's head on over to speech.
  • The one and only (insert name here)! Let's head on over to speech.
  • Woo hoo! We're going to have a blast today! Let's head on over to speech.
  • Hey smart cookie! Let's head on over to speech.
  • You make me smile wider than a school bus! Let's head on over to speech.
  • I have such a great activity planned just for you! Let's head on over to speech.
  • I'm so pumped I get to hangout with you today! Let's head on over to speech.

In closing . . .

Imagine how spectacular we would feel if we walked into a restaurant and they said something along the lines of "oh fantastic, you're here! We've been waiting for you. Let me take you over to your table." We would feel ecstatic and that type of greeting would absolutely set the stage for one memorable dining experience. Well, we can do the EXACT same thing as SLPs in the school-setting with our initial greetings as we transition our students from whatever room they are currently in to our speech therapy rooms. We can (and should) make them feel like VIPs because they are. So, let's all re-think the way we greet the children on our caseloads. Cool? Cool!

P.S. Just so you know, this post is the 100th post on my blog. I feel a great sense of joy to know that I have been able to connect with so many amazing educators through this particular medium. Thank you to each and every single one of you for reading all of my thoughts and ideas as they relate to speech therapy. It really means the world to me!

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Walking and Talking with Your Students Before and After Speech Therapy

posted on August 27th, 2014 by Erik X. Raj, M.S., CCC-SLP

Let me paint you a picture that illustrates how I used to typically start off my speech therapy sessions as a school-based clinician. It looked something like this: I checked the schedule to see which group was next. Once I knew which lucky little kiddos I needed to get, I would leave my speech therapy room to go pick them up. Once I had everyone, we would walk down the hallway together, en route back to my speech therapy room. We would enter the room and THEN we would begin our session.

Notice how I emphasized the word THEN?

In the past, I pretty much wouldn't start speech therapy until we all were in the speech therapy room. No speech therapy UNTIL we entered the magical speech therapy room. It's as if I thought that it wasn't possible for us to work on our goals and objectives UNTIL we were sitting at the speech therapy table.

What missed opportunities!

My transition to and from the speech therapy room is usually something along the lines of 2-3 minutes. So in theory, because of the walking that my students and I do, we lose about 5 minutes of speech therapy time. In my opinion, that's a bunch of missed opportunities where we could've practiced aspects of effective communication that related to our goals and objectives. So now I make it a point to start speech speech therapy the moment I see my students. ASAP!

There's no time like the preset!

I've changed my routine around so that we begin working on our goals and objectives WHILE we are actually walking down the hallway WAY WAY BEFORE we even enter my speech therapy room. For example, let's say you have a student and he's working on perfecting the /CH/ sound. You could easily take that opportunity to say, "Hey, let's look around the walls while we walk to see if we can find any pictures that have the /CH/ sound in it." You might discover a poster next to the lunchroom of a boy CHEWING on food. Or a piece of student artwork of a mouse CHOMPING on some CHEESE. Ya see? There's just so many /CH/ words that begin to show themselves to us, outside the speech therapy room, once we actively start to keep our eyes peeled for them. What a BEAUTIFUL thing!

Why should we do this OUTSIDE of the speech therapy room?

In short, it's because we need our young learners to be able to successfully use their newly learned skills in many different locations, not just in the speech therapy room. Encouraging your students to practice their sounds while walking to and from the speech therapy room reinforces the given sounds in a new location and further helps to move the students along towards mastery.

And it's not just for articulation!

Walking and talking is also ideal for WH questions. It's never been easier to target aspects of WH questions by being intentional with your questions. For example, let's say you have a student and he's working on better understanding WH questions. You could easily take that opportunity to say, "Hey, do you see that trophy case over there? What do you think those trophies are for? Why do you think teams are given trophies? When do teams usually get trophies?" So on and so forth. The possibilities are endless once you make a conscious decision to incorporate WH questions within the students' surroundings outside of the speech therapy room.

In closing . . .

Purposeful walking and talking with your students is where it's at. For real. It's educationally relevant and it also gets the students ready for the main lesson that is usually waiting for them once they enter the the speech therapy room. Nah mean? So, do you think you could benefit from this type of routine? Do you have some other ideas that relate to this one? As always, please let me know. I just LOVE hearing from each and every single one of you.

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