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Author Archives: Erik X. Raj

2 Simple Things Every Speech-Language Pathologist Should Do

2 Simple Things Every Speech-Language Pathologist Should Do

“Erik, in your opinion what is one thing that I can do to become a better speech-language pathologist?”

That’s a question that I often get from people during my various workshops (and it’s really is a spectacular question). Welp, today is your lucky day because I’m going to give you not ONE, but TWO suggestions that just might change the atmosphere and overall culture of your speech therapy room for the better.

1. Know your kiddos

In my humble opinion, all amazing SLPs know their students on a personal level. Remember to talk to them during the speech therapy sessions. Do they have any pets? What is their favorite cartoon? What is their favorite breakfast food? Not only do you ask them, but also make it a point to specifically bring up the information you know about them. For example, if your student didn’t complete his speech homework and you know that he has a dog named “Princess” – why not say something like, “Oh no, let me guess, Princess ate your speech homework, huh?” Trust me, when a student sees that you remember things like that, the connection that the two of you will make will be fantastic!

2. Show up for your kiddos

Are you looking to be just an okay SLP? Or, are you looking to be an A+ and top notch SLP? (Actually, you don’t even have to answer because I know you want to be the best!) Well, in my humble opinion, the best SLPs attend school events here and there. Does your school have a holiday chorus concert coming up (and you know that a bunch of your speech students are also in the show)? That’s the perfect opportunity to make a strong connection with your students. When you are seen by the students and parents at these types of performances, it helps them to know that you care and support them!

In closing . . .

I have made a very conscious decision to practice these suggestions and it has helped me and my students a great deal. I hope you give them a try, too! Please shoot me an email and let me know how it goes. Stay awesome and I look forward to hearing from you.

What Motivates You as an SLP?

What Motivates You as an SLP?

Not too long ago, I had dinner with a few of my close friends who are all involved in the field of speech-language pathology. We got on the subject of motivation and more specifically, “What motivates us, as speech-language pathologists, to do great work?”

In this profession . . .

  • You don’t make millions of dollars (you make enough to live of course, but no one I know is pulling in a lawyer’s salary).
  • There is no such thing as year-end bonuses (at least not to my immediate knowledge!).
  • You don’t ever really get a promotion or a title change (you pretty much enter as an SLP and retire as an SLP).

So . . . what motivates us?

It’s obvious to me that it clearly is not any type of external motivator.

After doing some digging online, I ordered a book called Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink, where the author actually debunks the power of external motivators, and expands on the intrinsic motivators that inspire us to do great work. He mentions three key points that drive creative thinkers: autonomy (self-directed work), mastery (getting better at stuff), and purpose (serving a greater vision). Super interesting information and I recommend you purchase his book.

Ah-ha moments!

There is nothing that gets me more pumped than when I notice a student’s “ah-ha” moment — when that child finally produces that sound perfectly. He looks at me and says, “Wow, I never knew I could say it that good.” Then I look at him and I say, “Pshh. I ALWAYS knew you could.” I used my creativity to put together an individualized approach to specifically target that child’s communication difficulty — and it worked. The child is smiling, I’m smiling, and for that brief moment in time, all the stars are aligned. That, in a nutshell, is what drives me. It’s a combination of the three intrinsic motivators that Daniel Pink speaks about. The work that a speech-language pathologist does is extremely purposeful and as cliche as this might sound, we truly make a huge difference.

What about you?

So with all that being said, what motivates you to be an awesome SLP? What gets YOU pumped? Why do you love this job so much?

In closing . . .

I believe it’s important for us to step back and truly think about these questions. Reflecting on these thoughts can make us even better service providers. In the end, we all want to be the best for our students because they are depending on us, and that’s what truly matters.

Why Should I Teach Handshaking in Speech Therapy? [Free Download]

Why Should I Teach Handshaking in Speech Therapy? [Free Download]

Here is one thing that I absolutely can’t stand: bad handshakes. Have you ever gotten a crummy handshake that felt like a limp, dead fish? Have you ever received a bone-crushing handshake that made you want to scream “OUCH! YOU’RE KILLING ME!”? Honestly, it’s embarrassing when an adult doesn’t know how to give a proper handshake, but here’s an interesting question to ponder:

When the heck does one even learn about handshakes?

I sure can’t remember when I was first introduced to the art of handshaking, but I owe whoever taught me BIG TIME!

We need to teach it!

So here is what I’m proposing: we speech-language pathologists need to take a few seconds out of our speech therapy session to teach all of our students (regardless of their goals and objectives) how to give a great handshake. The reason why is simple, a handshake is the most common and important form of communication on this planet! The act is used to say hello, goodbye, we agree, and as a mutual sign of goodwill and peace. A handshake can establish a first impression with someone and if a child is not able to give a well-constructed and executed handshake, he or she is not producing an effective communicative intent (and is ultimately not establishing a good first impression).

How do I add handshakes into my speech therapy?

My students know that they’re not allowed to enter my speech room until they stand at my door and give me a loud and clear greeting. In addition, directly after their greeting is complete, the students and I engage in a handshake. Sometimes I squeeze too tightly, sometimes I don’t squeeze at all, it’s up to the child to tell me what I did wrong. This action alone will turn your client into a champion handshaker in no time!

Let’s ask some questions about handshakes!

Here are some fun questions to ask your students in regards to handshakes:

  • What would happen if you tried to shake a lobster’s hand? Why?
  • What would happen if you had glue all over your hand and you tried to shake your teacher’s hand? Why?
  • What would happen if you had honey all over your hand and you tried to shake a hungry bear’s hand? Why?

In addition, I created a FREE coloring sheet for you and your students to work on while engaging in a conversation about handshakes. Click HERE to download it.

Remember, age doesn’t matter!

From preschoolers through 5th graders and beyond, it’s NEVER too early to talk about handshakes.

In closing . . .

I hope you will think of this blog post the next time someone shakes your hand. Please do me a favor and teach your speech students the importance of becoming a wonderful handshaker. Let me know how it goes and I look forward to shaking YOUR hand sometime soon (unless you are a lobster, of course, haha!).

5 Reasons Why Having a Real Snake in Speech Therapy Would Be Awesome

5 Reasons Why Having a Real Snake in Speech Therapy Would Be Awesome

If you are a speech-language pathologist, I’m sure you would agree with me that you almost always say (out of pure habit), “Great snake sound!” when you are working with children to help improve their /S/ pronunciation. It only makes sense that we automatically associate the hissing sound a snake makes with the /S/ sound that we humans make; but here is a question to ponder . . . what if we actually brought a REAL snake into the speech therapy room?

Would it be awesome?!

Below you will find 5 reasons that lead me to believe that it would be pretty amazing to have a living, breathing, and slithering reptile on top of the speech therapy table.

1. Perfect sound!

It goes without saying, a real snake is probably the best role model for children who are working to solidify their /S/ sound. The perfect /S/ hissing noise that snakes make is music to any SLP’s ears. (The only con I can think of is a real snake might bite someone. Is that really a big deal, though? I do have band-aids in my desk.)

2. Perfect shape!

A snake’s body could easily be manipulated and molded into the perfect “S” shape, further proving that a snake is probably the best role model for children who are working to create rockin’ /S/ sounds. (Once again though, a con is that the real snake might bite someone and I’m not 100% sure a band-aid to a snake bite would “fix” the situation.)

3. Perfect attention!

Some of my students are disinterested in speech class, but I’m willing to bet that giving them the opportunity to hold or pet a real snake might prove to be an excellent reinforcer. (Eeek! I just read online that some snakes are poisonous . . . this might be a bad idea!)

4. Perfect prize!

Occasionally, I will forget to restock my prize box. I could easily just throw a real snake into the prize box, right? I’m sure the student would love to take it home! I’m positive that I would be crowned “the coolest speech teacher ever” by that child! (Oh no, but what if the student has a pet mouse at home? Do you think the snake might accidentally swallow the mouse?!)

5. Ummmmm . . .

Actually, I’m just going to stop this list right now. It seems clear to me that having a real snake in speech therapy is a horrible (and dangerous) idea, and besides, my supervisor HATES snakes.

Wait, my supervisor hates snakes?!

Hmmm . . . maybe I can somehow use the snake to get out of all that CRAZY paperwork I’m told I have to do. Or maybe I can use the snake to get out of a few of those BORING after school faculty meetings. Suddenly, this whole “snake idea” might not be so bad after all. LOL!!!