What are your top 10?

Below is a link to a  list of 10 Awesome Reasons Why Being a Speech Pathologist Rocks. I love being a SLP and know that many of you out there feel the same!  I love all 10 of these reasons and often share them with others just learning about our amazing field! Check out the link below and then write why you feel being an SLP rocks in the “leave a reply” section below this post! Rock on SLPs, rock on!


The TETN/TWU Speech Pathology Master’s Program, developed to ameliorate the shortages of Master’s level Speech/Language Pathologists in Texas Public Schools, is announcing plans for the upcoming cycle (master’s level speech pathology classes). TWU, Region 10 and participating ESCs will offer four meetings which will provide in-depth information about the program and the application process. All potential applicants MUST attend one of these meetings.


Informational meetings will be held on the following dates:


November 14, 2013                          4:30 PM CST-7:30 PM CST

January 16, 2014                              4:30 PM CST-7:30 PM CST

April 3, 2014                                     4:30 PM CST-7:30  PM CST

July 17, 2014                        3:30 PM CST-6:30 PM CST (webinar)


For additional information please contact Lori Merrell, Education Specialist-Speech Language Pathology, at 512.919.5424 or via email at lori.merrell@esc13.txed.net.  

Interested individuals may register on the Region 13 website in ecampus for these meetings. All meetings, except the webinar, will be at the Region 13 Service Center at 5701 Springdale Road, Austin, TX 78723.

For more detailed information please visit the Texas Woman’s University website at http://www.twu.edu/communication-sciences/what-is-tetn.asp

Individuals MUST attend one full information meeting to be considered for the program. Participants should bring an unofficial undergraduate transcript to the meeting.

October 22nd–International Stuttering Awareness Day!

Today is dedicated to educating others about stuttering, spreading the word that help is available and promoting research. Please check out the links below to a variety of websites dedicated to educating the public and professionals on stuttering through research, public information campaigns, conferences and support groups.  If you know of a good resource or website, please share in the comments section so we can do our part in spreading the word and educating others!




Be a School-Based Speech-Language Pathologist

We are all school-based speech-language pathologists, and we have the honor of making such a great impact on our students’ lives. Here are a few (of many) reasons to work in the schools.

Intensive Service Delivery Model: Jarrell Elementary School

It is time to garner our excitement and SLP-passion for the 2013-2014 school year. As we prepare our brains to aspire towards the most effective year of speech-language pathology services, I challenge you to think of your current service delivery models. A survey conducted by Brandel and Loeb (2011) reported a majority of school-based speech-language pathologists use traditional service methods. What is this traditional service method we speak of? Therapy sessions are conducted one or twice a week for 30 minutes. Is this what is best for our students? In other words, do they make the most progress this way? Did we use the least amount of time in a specialized classroom? Is this the best use of our time as service providers?

The following video is a story about an intensive service delivery model piloted at Jarrell Elementary School in Jarrell ISD during the 2012-2013 school year. Following an intensive, daily intervention schedule, students, on average, scored 18 standard score points higher on their post-tests after nine weeks. Story retells, following intervention, contained introduction of characters, a setting, initiating event, attempts at resolving the problem and a conclusion. Writing samples started as a few lines of text to two-full pages of written text containing all story grammar components. Take a look at the data we obtained.

Then, start thinking about how you can make the most impact as a speech-language pathologist.

Reflection, Gratitude & Learning

With the bustle of a school year ending and the initial embrace of summer, the final days of May often gets shoved into a box we want to quickly pack up.  We are school-based speech-language pathologists, and we have worked hard this year.  For many of us, this profession is much more than going to work, checking items off of a to-do list and going home.  We entered into this role with a big responsibility.  We have earned the opportunity to help students and their families fully embrace life opportunities.  We are part of a journey that blows doors wide open for self-advocacy, building life-changing relationships, humor and confidence in functional, daily skills.  As you close shop for the 2012-2013 school year, take time to reflect on the impact you have made this year.  You have changed lives.  Take the time to acknowledge what you have learned and embraced.  As a teacher, we inevitably gain much from teaching our students.  Finally, take the time to give thanks.  It does take a village to teach others.

With gratitude in mind, I would like to take this opportunity to share the lessons I have learned this year.

  Evan, a student at Hermes Elementary in La Grange, has taught me that we all have a voice that deserves to be heard.

This is Becky Williams, a speech-language pathology assistant.  She will be a part of Texas Women’s University Speech-Language Pathology Distance-Learning Program for their upcoming cycle.  She has taught me about tenacity, and she will be an excellent SLP.  She is already making such a difference in the lives of her students.

This is Corey.  No matter our size or shape, we all have the will to fulfill our job responsibilities to the best of our ability.

This is Nicolas.  He is a student at Bill Burden Elementary in Liberty Hill.  He is able to find the joy and humor in every experience. 

This is the Staff Development department at Region 13.  Laura, Tom, Amy and Scott demonstrate stellar work ethic while quietly helping those around them.  They have also taught me about fun.

This is Laura Ostroff and Katie Yoder, teachers at Pond Springs Elementary in Round Rock.  They had an idea, and they executed.  Pond Springs Elementary had their inaugural Autism Awareness Day.  They taught the 3rd, 4th and 5th graders about Autism, individual differences and acceptance.  They taught me how to be a fearless visionary.

This is Keith Schneider, Special Education Director in Jarrell ISD, and Mary Jo Lytton, a speech-language pathologist.  Together, they have implemented a daily, intensive service delivery model.   Within 6 weeks, they demonstrated a increase of, on average, 15 Standard Score points.  They have taught me about gumption and out-of-the-box thinking.

This is Sheila.  She is a mother to three fabulous young adults who have benefited from speech-language pathology services.  She has taught me that what we do makes an impact.  She has reminded me that I chose the right profession.

It has been a grand year.  Thank you for being an integral part of this awesome, productive and meaningful school year.

Inclusion Series #6: Relax

This is the last part of our six-part Inclusion Series with Katie Adams, speech-language pathologist at McNeil High School in Round Rock ISD. We have learned about how to address social skills, language comprehension and expression, choice-making and emotional regulation. Check out the lessons:

How Are You?
Question Time
Choice Time
Listen Up

Let’s take a look at Relax, the sixth, and final, component of this hour-long, inclusive class lesson:


What’s the Goal? The purpose of Relax is to allow opportunity for students to reflect on the previous five lessons. This is also an opportunity to gather data obtained by the educational assistants. Brief dialogue for planning purposes can also take place during this time. Remember, using a few seconds here-and-there to communicate with educational team members is useful. In a school setting, on occasion, it is more effective and efficient to have short conversations to plan than to set aside a lengthier meeting.

Do students relax in the same manner? Students have a chance relax and absorb the information in a manner that is most conducive to their learning style. Some students may put their head down. Other students may sit and close their eyes. This is also an opportunity for students to have autonomy over how they want to take a break.

Is this functional? Research states that we need to have rest periods when learning. This mental break results in better retention of information.

Our mental load increases when at school. It is important to understand that for students (and teachers) to continually be effective, we need to give opportunity for rest. Katie is giving this purposeful opportunity to her students. She is also teaching students to self-advocate when they need a break. In other words, students can self-determine when a break is needed based on personal fatigue and overload, make the request and carry out the necessary energy recoupment strategies.

Thank you for participating in our Inclusion Series. And, thank you to Katie Adams, McNeil High School and Round Rock ISD for their resources. Katie will also be presenting this series at Beat the Heat, Region 13’s three-day professional development opportunity for educators who work with children ages 3-5 and children with significant disabilities ages 6-21. Click on the following link for details: Beat the Heat

Inclusion Series #5: Listen Up

This is the fifth part of our six-part Inclusion Series with Katie Adams, speech-language pathologist at McNeil High School in Round Rock ISD. We have learned about how to address social skills, language comprehension, choice-making and emotional regulation. Check out the lessons:

How are You?
Question Time
Choice Time

Let’s take a look at Listen Up, the fifth component of this hour-long, inclusive class lesson:

What’s the Goal? The purpose of Listen Up is to increase independence when following one, two and three step simple directions.

Are visuals used?
Visuals are used to cue students about the directives being given.

Do they get a chance to practice? Students have a chance to come up to the board to practice their skills. Students at the tables are given the opportunity to check peer’s work.

Is technology involved? Katie uses the Smart Board.  This provides a large, clear visual for students.

Is this functional? We are continually bombarded with directives throughout the day.  Having the capability to follow directions gives a student independence.  With this lesson, you are teaching your students how to be functional, interactive, responsive members of society.

How long is the prep time, really?! Katie creates a one page PowerPoint to use with lesson.  This takes 10 minutes.

Katie is incorporating various language concepts (e.g., prepositions, directional words). She is also giving multiple-step directions. How would you differentiate this lesson to students? Here are ways to scaffold the lesson:

1. Individualize the number of directives. Some students may only do one step. Work at the student’s level. Once mastery is determined, increase the level of demand.
2. Use objects/nouns familiar to the student. Remember, this task involves a) identification of the object and b) comprehension of the directive. Determine which skill you would like to address.
3. Once students are able to follow the 3-step directives, have him/her give the directives.
4. Change wait time between the verbalization of the directive and the execution. For some students, have them wait until all 3 directives are given before execution.

The possibilities are endless. This task can also be generalized to various parts of the school day. Have students practice by listening to directions for cleaning up the room, completing a task/activity or playing a game. Peer interaction is also key for maintenance of a skill. Model and practice this skill with peers. So, it is definitely time to Listen Up!

Inclusion Series #4: Feelings

This is the fourth part of our six-part Inclusion Series with Katie Adams, speech-language pathologist at McNeil High School in Round Rock ISD. We have already learned about three great methods for addressing social skills, language comprehension and choice-making. Check out the previous three FUNctional lessons:

How are You?
Question Time
Choice Time

Let’s take a look at Feelings, the fourth component of this hour-long, inclusive class lesson:

Here, Katie outlines the details of this lesson:

What’s the Goal? The purpose of Feelings is to recognize, interpret, and model facial expressions to increase social skills.

Are visuals used?
Real pictures of students, teachers and staff members are used. This is not only motivating, but it also makes this activity more functional, engaging and applicable. Pictures of high-public figures is also extremely motivating for students.

Do they get a chance to practice? Students practice facial expressions with their paraprofessionals and peers. Peer interaction is essential for learning communication and social skills’ generalization. Katie creates a built-in opportunity to have peer interaction in this lesson.

Why Does Katie Use Sign Language? Sign Language is shown to students as a visual cue to express emotions.

Is this functional? Absolutely! Understanding personal feelings, how feelings are conveyed and personal accountability for social scenarios is vital for navigating social interchanges.

How long is the prep time, really?! The PowerPoint is saved, and 1 to 2 new pictures are added each month. This takes a total of 10 minutes.

Katie is addressing an important and relevant skill. More importantly, she is giving the students an opportunity to practice with one another. The students are learning, and they are keeping one another accountable. Through this simple lesson, the SLP is creating a community for the students. What can Katie do for students who have already mastered Emotion Identification? Teaching students how to manage and self-regulate emotions is a functional skill, as well. Kari Dunn Buron’s Incredible 5 Point Scale is a great tool to teach students emotional regulation.  The following chart, created by Dunn & Curtis, is an example of how to implement a point scale:

Remember, our goal is to have our students become self-advocating, communicative, productive and happy members of society. And, it is a privilege to have the opportunity to make such an impact in our students’ lives. Bravo McNeil High School and Miss Katie Adams!

Inclusion Series #3 Choice Time

This is the third part of our six-part Inclusion Series with Katie Adams, speech-language pathologist at McNeil High School in the Round Rock Independent School District. We have already learned about two great methods for tackling social skills and language comprehension in a functional, comprehensive and fun way:

How are You?
Question Time

Let’s take a look at Choice Time:

Now, you may have some questions. Here are some of the details:

What’s the Goal? The purpose of Choice Time is to request items in an appropriate and effective way.

Are visuals used?
Picture Visuals are used to facilitate choice-making. Students choose from different item sets depending on their language ability.

Do they get a chance to practice? Students practice with their paraprofessionals and peers. What a great way to build capacity as a speech-language pathologist. Also, research states that peer interaction facilitates more language and social skills.

How do you keep students engaged? Highly motivating items are used.

Is this functional? Yes! We make choices everyday. Where do you want to eat? Do you like the Aggies or the Longhorns? Gryffindor or Hufflepuff? Giving someone the opportunity to make a personal choice is empowering.

Are they sitting the entire time? They MOVE! Students volunteer and come to the front of the class to make their choices and receive their reinforcement. The smile on Willy’s face when he played with Mr. Smith was priceless.

Do you use reinforcement? Yes! Positive reinforcement is used! Students who volunteer get videoed and are “featured” in the next lesson. Clapping and praise is also used.

Do you differentiate communication systems? Absolutely! Voice Output Devices and Picture Exchange Systems are used for individuals with increased communication needs.

How do you help to facilitate communication? Sign language is used to give students a visual cue. Keep in mind that we fade cues quickly to give students the opportunity to independently initiate communication.

Did you think of getting peers involved? Absolutely! We use peer modeling. Students will higher language skills model correct behavior and language used in the task.

Are they going to generalize the skill? We thought of that. We use Model, Practice and Independence. The student receives a model of the task, practices it in a small group and then tries the task independently.

How long is the prep time, really?! The same items are used each week (visual supports printed and laminated); therefore, preparation time is not needed!

Using highly motivating reinforcers, Katie has been able to address an important skill in an engaging format. For Katie’s students, she provided an opportunity to engage in some physical fun. In the past, I have also used experiences to engage students. Do you want to mix the ingredients for the cookie dough or grease the pan? This is an opportunity to get functional and get creative! What motivates your students?