Motivation, humor, and ideas that every speech-language pathologist who works with children will love!

The Diagnosis Doesn’t Define the Person, the Person Defines the Diagnosis

As a speech-language pathologist, there’s a saying that I say to myself on a daily basis and it just might be my most favorite saying in the history of all sayings. The saying is the diagnosis doesn’t define the person, the person defines the diagnosis. I’ve been hearing that saying for years. It first started to wiggle its way into my world when I was in graduate school and ever since then, the saying has resonated with me a TON!

But I’ll be honest with you, sometimes I forget about the saying.

For example, not too long ago I was working with a student who had a difficult time properly articulating the /R/ sound. We all know that the /R/ sound can be quite tricky for some children. And to make matters trickier, this child had a rather unique way of attempting to make his /R/ sound. So there was a lot that I needed to think about when figuring out a plan of action to help this motivated youngster with his articulation, as it related to perfecting his /R/ sound.

Invisible speech therapy toolbox to the rescue!

So here’s what I did; I busted out my invisible speech therapy toolbox and I tried all of my usual articulation tips, tricks, and strategies.

And what happened?

Well, not much happened. With everything that I was throwing his way from my invisible speech therapy toolbox, NONE of it was working. I was both confused and frustrated (and so was the child). But here’s the real kicker – I actually caught myself thinking, “How is all of this stuff not working? This is an /R/ student. You know /R/ students. /R/ sound, /R/ student – you’ve been there, you’ve done that. Get yourself together! Come on, Raj! Get in the game!”

Shame on me for saying things like that to myself!

When I was saying that stuff to myself, it hit me, I was making a VERY real mistake. I was forgetting about my most favorite saying in the history of all sayings – which is the diagnosis doesn’t define the person, the person defines the diagnosis! What I was doing was automatically categorizing that child as an “/R/ student.” (Big mistake!) I was actually looking at the diagnosis and was like, “Oh yeah, the diagnosis, clearly that’s defining the child.” (Again, big mistake!) When in reality, THE CHILD defines the diagnosis, not the other way around. I couldn’t believe that I had forgotten about the saying of the diagnosis doesn’t define the person, the person defines the diagnosis. (How embarrassing!)

It’s all about the individualized approach!

We, as SLPs, really do understand the power behind individualized approach and the idea that we should always view the person in front of us as an individual, not as just a diagnosis. So, in my temporary moment of insanity, when I was actually looking at that child as an “/R/ kid,” I took a step back and I said to myself, “Yo, Mr. Raj, get your head where it needs to be.” I collected my thoughts and looked at that child as an individual, free from that “/R/ kid” label. Then, I re-tried some of the stuff that I pulled from my invisible speech therapy toolbox because I knew I was in a much better headspace, at that moment in time. And low and behold, within a few minutes, he was actually able to make a bit of progress! He wasn’t cured, but he sure was showing me much more of what I was hoping for. His /R/ sound was moving in the right direction!

How did you get closer to having him show you a more improved /R/ sound?

Here’s what I think: it wasn’t necessarily because of the tips, tricks, or strategies – for me, I believe I got him there because I reminded myself that the diagnosis doesn’t define the person, the person defines the diagnosis. That was THE foundation that needed to be in place for any of my tips, tricks, or strategies to actually work. Reminding myself that the diagnosis doesn’t define the person, the person defines the diagnosis, was HUGE for me and I want it to be HUGE for you, too. So, say it with me so you can continue to memorize it. The diagnosis doesn’t define the person, the person defines the diagnosis.

In closing . . .

The saying of the diagnosis doesn’t define the person, the person defines the diagnosis, can be applied to so many aspects of our field. And that’s why I love it so much. It’s a saying that rings true for every single person that we have on our caseload. Whether you work with preschool-aged students or senior citizens, or anything in-between, the saying of the diagnosis doesn’t define the person, the person defines the diagnosis, will always place you on the correct path. Always.

The Diagnosis Doesn’t Define the Person, the Person Defines the Diagnosis

Speech-Language Pathologists Should Thank Parents More Often

As we inch ever closer to a brand new year, it’s quite common for us speech-language pathologists to get into a mode of reflection. I believe that when we reflect on the past year of our professional careers, it helps us to better understand how things went and it also allows us to better see the changes that we might want to make in the coming year. So, I’ve been taking the past few weeks of this holiday season to think about what I could do differently next year,

Next year, I want to give more thanks.

Don’t get me wrong, I share words of thanks to lots of wonderful individuals throughout my day as an SLP. I thank the children I work with for consistently giving it their all. I thank my colleagues for consistently brainstorming with me. I thank various physical and occupational therapists, and other professionals, for consistently sharing new knowledge with me. The list goes on and on, but do you know who I don’t thank nearly as much as I should? Parents.

Trust from parents.

The idea of giving thanks to parents is a very broad notion; where do I even start with giving thanks to them? Well, first and foremost, it’s all about trust. I want to thank them more often for trusting in me to help their son or daughter to grow as a communicator. Trust is the foundation of all successful therapy relationships – without trust, not many gains are going be made within the therapy room. So, I want to thank them for entrusting in me to provide therapy services to their children.

Assistance from parents.

I want to thank them more often for helping their children with the homework that I give. Their assistance paves the way for true success. We SLPs know how important carryover is. When homework is done at home, it helps children to grow that much faster as communicators. So, I want to thank parents for taking time out of their busy schedules to work alongside their children during various carryover assignments.

Motivation from parents.

I want to thank them more often for the motivation that they give to their children. I see their children all the time and those youngsters are always smiling. They legitimately want to try within the therapy room. And that honest WANT to try, where does that come from? It comes from their parents’ motivation. So, I want to thank parents for building up their children with intentional positivity.

Try not to forget about parents.

Here’s what I think, sometimes we, as clinicians, we forget about parents. And, I get it – if you’re a school-based SLP, sometimes you don’t actually get to see the parents all too often. But, it’s important for us to realize that parents are absolutely a part of this therapy puzzle. Without the parents being on the same page with us, we’re not going to get nearly as far as we want to go. And we want to go as far as we can because we know our clients are destined for great things. All those great things, they start to fall into play when everyone knows that they are appreciated for their contributions. And parents, they make SO MANY contributions so we need to do everything we can to communicate our appreciation.

In closing . . .

I just wanted to thank you, the parents. You’re a member of this team and all of us SLPs, we couldn’t do it without you. Starting today, I’m going to thank you more often. And next year, I’m going to thank you more often. Why? Because you deserve it. Big time. So, here’s the deal – I’ll promise to thank you more if you promise to do the following for me: I want you to look at yourself in the mirror right now and I want you to say, “I’m a good parent.” Then, I want you to look at yourself in the mirror again and I want you to say, “I’m a great parent.” Lastly, I want you to look in the mirror, one last time, and I want you to say, “I’m an awesome parent.” Because, my gosh, in my heart of hearts, believe me, you are an awesome parent. Here’s to one heck of a new year!

Speech-Language Pathologists Should Thank Parents More Often

Happy Monday to Every Single Speech-Language Pathologist out There

Like clockwork, each and every Sunday evening, my Facebook feed starts to fill up with status updates of doom and gloom that directly relate to the impending transition from Sunday night to Monday morning. Messages such as “ugh tomorrow is Monday!” and “I don’t want the weekend to end!” start to show themselves to me and it honestly makes me feel a bit uneasy reading them because some of the people typing out those sorrowful messages are actually . . . educators!

From the digital word to the real world.

The same educators that type out anti-Monday status updates on Sunday evenings, sometimes they’re the ones who walk into work on Monday mornings and communicate their distaste for beginning of the work week in a very obvious manner. Whether it’s through huffing and puffing or whether it’s through crossing their arms and looking angry, they send a crystal clear signal to those around them that “ugh today is Monday!” and they “didn’t want the weekend to end!” And when that type of negative communication actually goes on INSIDE of the work building, potentially in front of students, well, that’s a very scary thing and that’s what really worries me.

You must watch what you say.

If you’re an educator that works with school-aged children, here’s the honest truth: whether you realize it or not, children are ALWAYS watching you. Always. The number of kiddo eyeballs that could be on you at any given moment when you’re inside of your work building is through the roof. So with that large number in mind, you need to make sure you’re ALWAYS on your best behavior because if you’re not, the kiddos are going to be the first ones to notice.

We never want them to think that it’s them!

Listen, we’ve all had a crumby Monday here and there before. That’s life and those types of bad Mondays are bound to happen. But we need to be mindful of HOW we’re communicating our occasional Monday blues within our work buildings because we NEVER want the children to say to themselves, “He doesn’t want to be here? Why doesn’t he want to be here? Is it because of me? Does he not want to be here because I’m here? What did I do? Maybe it’s ME that he doesn’t want to see?” We NEVER want them to think any of that because NONE OF THAT is EVER the case!

A challenge for you!

In the same way that I’m saying “Happy Monday!” to you today in the video portion of this blog post, I want to challenge you to deliver that same positive message today to the people you work with. Tell all of your co-workers (and students) HAPPY MONDAY! Why should we be saying “Happy Monday?” Well, because Mondays signify yet another week for us, as educators, to do everything that we can do to help every single student that we work together with. Today, we can push our youngsters in the right directions and we can plant new seeds in their minds so that all of their new knowledge starts to grow and continues to grow. And that means they’re that much better TODAY then they were LAST WEEK. So as you can see, Mondays ARE something that can (and should) be celebrated.

In closing . . .

Will you accept my Happy Monday challenge? Will you join me in announcing to the world HAPPY MONDAY?! I really hope you will because I promise you, this is going to be a good day and a good week for you and your students. So let me say it again, just in case you didn’t hear me the first time. Happy Monday to you, you beautiful speech-language pathologist you. Go get ’em, tiger. This is YOUR Monday to shine as an educator. You got this because you rock and you’re a super lovely person.

Happy Monday to Every Single Speech-Language Pathologist out There

Making Articulation Speech Therapy More Fun with Wacky Selfie Articulation

Making Articulation Speech Therapy More Fun with Wacky Selfie Articulation

Like it or not, ‘selfie photos’ are now a modern fact of life and people of ALL ages enjoy taking selfies. The iconic self-portraiture has been finding it’s way into every aspect of daily living, so why not let selfies exist within the speech therapy room? If you can get behind that idea, and I know you can, let me introduce you to my brand new app called Wacky Selfie Articulation because it allows you to take speech therapy selfies.

Speech therapy selfies?! HUH?!

Let me explain. Wacky Selfie Articulation, which is available for your iPad and/or iPhone, takes advantage of camera technology to create a truly unique speech therapy experience for all students who love taking selfies. This app gives a youngster the opportunity to snap a selfie of him or herself and, like magic; the app randomly adds a sound-specific sticker right on top of the student’s head (hence, making’ the selfie VERY wacky and VERY speechie)!

Here’s an example of the app in action:

After you choose the sound you’re working on and it’s position within the app, simply place your face in the displayed outline and tap the red button to snap your selfie!


How about a soapy selfie!?

Since this child chose the /S/ sound in the initial position, his selfie shows that he has some soap on his head! Now he can easily say some silly /S/ sentences that revolve around the fact that there’s some soap on his head.


How about a seafoody selfie!?

If he wants to see other random initial /S/ things on his head, all he has to do is tap the Randomizer icon (the die picture at the top) and the app will generate another sound-specific selfie sticker. Anyone hungry for some seafood?! HAHA!


Lots and LOTS of sound-specific selfie stickers!

Wacky Selfie Articulation features a comprehensive collection of over 450 hilarious sound-specific selfie stickers for the following speech sounds: S, Z, R, L, S/R/L Blends, SH, CH, and TH. Are you excited to try out this app yet, or what?!

Personalized fun for ALL students!

The format of Wacky Selfie Articulation is a departure from traditional articulation drill materials and is effective for students ages 6 and up. And because of the personal selfie approach, students enjoy talking about the various selfies of themselves with their friends and classmates outside of the speech therapy room, further practicing their communication skills and thereby facilitating the sometimes difficult stage of carrying over newly-acquired skills. By talking about the selfies with the youngster, paraprofessionals in the classroom and/or parents at home can reinforce the targeted articulation skills while sharing a personalized fun activity. Practicing these skills in environments outside the speech therapy setting increases opportunities for generalization.

The possibilities are endless!

I invite you to use Wacky Selfie Articulation to spice up your speech therapy sessions. All of the sound-specific stickers are intended to initiate excitement and humor. And in all honesty, each selfie has the potential to spark conversations that could lead almost anywhere. Even a selfie that appears simple can trigger a unique thought that surprises all parties involved.

In closing . . .

Regardless of when, where, or how Wacky Selfie Articulation is used within the speech therapy session, one thing is certain, children (as well as clinicians) will have a blast taking selfies and talking about them . . . and in the process, all of the youngsters will continue to practice the correct pronunciation of their sounds. So what are you waiting for? Let your imagination run wild and have fun with this one of a kind photo-based speech therapy material! Download it RIGHT HERE, my friend.

I like to share things on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat. Sweet!