Now Where did that Cheese go?

18 Sep

This may seem like a strange title to some of you. It makes sense when you know I am referring to a book by Spencer Johnson called “Who Moved my Cheese?”. It is a rather short story based on the processes people go through to cope with change. A friend recommended it years back when a work location of mine was making a lot of employment cuts. I found this book helped me to get the right perspective so I could move forward and make the needed changes. This seems to be happening a lot in the education setting. I recommend it to anyone going through a lot of changes. I see there is a children’s version now too.
I’m sure there are many more of you out there dealing with the same changes that I am. Employment cuts not only hurt the people who leave locations, but also those left behind to pick up the pieces. I think this especially holds true in the education setting where staff is required to do more with less and still be reassuring and good-humored with students who feel the impact of missed programs and staff. Some change is good as it allows us to develop in different directions and meet new people.
This brings me to why I’ve been somewhat absent from writing. When I ended the school year last Spring, my assignment was in one building with a rather large caseload/workload. Two classrooms for children receiving lifeskills training and the general education students made a significant caseload for one SLP in that building. I was told I would be staying in that building. On my return this Fall, I was surprised to find I no longer served the life skills program but was assigned to two elementary buildings with the use of a SLPA or speech assistant in one of the buildings. That has left me scrambling to adapt to a new building and personnel. Meanwhile the members of my special education team in the old building also changed. This means I do not have the same support personnel as in the past. I had developed friendships with them, so that hurt on an emotional level.
Working in two buildings brings its own challenges. This is not new to me but over the years things have changed to make it more difficult. New mandates have occurred that require special education team members to participate in meetings and collaborate with classroom teachers. It makes it more difficult when people are scattered across several schools operating on schedules that do not match. Also SLPs have taken on a major role of case management duties, particularly with children who have the eligibility of autism. This means many more meetings for behavior plans and consultation with staff. An SLP is not available for this same level of support when they are divided between two buildings. Yet teachers are asking for more support as the classroom sizes increase and children feel more overwhelmed. The scheduling is turning out to be a major hurdle.
On a brighter note, all SLP staff here have received I pads. I am having fun seeing how many different ways I can use it. It has to be one of the most versatile tools I have ever received to make therapy easier. It has an app called face time that I have already used to make contact with the SLPA at the other building. I envision having meetings with an I pad used as personnel reported in at a parent meeting. I may also use it as an observing tool as my SLPA conducts therapy.
So even though I have been an SLP for many years I am finding this year already filled with many challenges and a bit mind numbing. I am afraid that many of our new people are being overwhelmed as they begin their CFY year. Would anyone like to report in and say how they are managing?

Using stories to teach social concepts

21 Jun

If you have worked with students with autism or other disabilities,  it doesn’t take long before you find out the value of a good story to teach social situations.  “Social Stories” is actually a trademark of  Carol Gray who first developed the idea and gives conferences and trainings on how to write and use  them.  In her words,  “The goal of a Social Story™ is to share accurate social information in a patient and reassuring manner that is easily understood by its audience.”     She has developed a site that has more information then what I can possibly put here and I wouldn’t want to violate her trademark.   So go to Carol’s site to find out more information  on how to actually write one.

I have used stories  to help students correct challenging behaviors or deal with  new situations.  They can be written for all levels of development.  They can be made as a picture book or in just written form.  You can even use technology with program like ‘Power Point”.  If you  add a switch  a child with physical limitations can turn pages independently. Sometimes real pictures are helpful.  We’ve taken pictures of staff and the building to prepare a student for transition to a new school.  They’ve been useful for getting children to line up and return from the playground,  and wait their turn.  An important thing to remember is to focus on the positive.   Let the child know what  behavior you want them to do  and what to expect.  Don’t emphasize the bad behavior.  A child that is hitting for attention may actually need a story on how to ask someone for a turn or to play with them rather than “We don’t hit”.

There are many sites with already made stories.  They can be a resource for downloading or writing your own stories.  I have found stories on “Speaking of Speech“,”Boardmaker share“,and One Place for Special Needs. I’ve added a comic strip maker to the tool section.  This would be a great tool for  older elementary or middle school students who might like writing their own stories.