1. Please take a moment to tell us a little bit about yourself and why you chose to become a speech language pathologist? I became a speech-language pathologist (SLP) because of experiences I had with speech. One experience involved a summer research internship in college, when I worked with preschoolers with language impairments. One of my
preschool participants, Levi, had a huge impact on my decision to become an SLP. I was so impressed by how his speech-language skills improved over the course of the research project. Plus, he and I developed a bond, which was evident when he ran into the corner and cried as I said goodbye to him for the last time. The experience made me realize that I wanted to be an SLP so that I could have a lasting impact on children with communication deficits.
2. For those of us who do not know, what is a speech language pathologist?Can you describe a regular work day? According to Wikipedia, speech-language pathologists serve individuals in the following ways: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speech_and_language_pathology.
I personally am a school-based speech-language pathologist. I provide direct services at a middle school, and I act as a support person for assistive technology with students Pre-K to grade 8. A regular workday for me involves providing therapy, documenting attendance and data collection, collaborating with district staff members, working on IEPs, supervising a new SLP, administering an assessment, and researching the Internet for new techniques and technology.
3. Some parents worry while others are simply unaware of what is considered age appropriate development. What are the speech development expectations for preschoolers? Speech-language milestones vary based on the child’s gender and the given developmental chart. With that being said, I quickly found the following birth-5 checklist:http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/voice/speechandlanguage.asp#mychild. (I also attached a PDF for developmental milestones by LinguiSystems.) If a parent observes his/her child failing to meet the speech-language milestones, then there is a reason to be concerned. If the child is severely delayed, then I highly recommend seeking an assessment.
4. What are some of the warning signs a child with difficulties may display? See response #3.
5. At what age would you recommend to send a child for a speech and language evaluation? I think that parents who are concerned about their child’s
speech-language milestones being severely delayed, regardless of
their child’s age, should request an assessment. Parents can
contact their pediatrician or local school district for a referral to
an SLP. I did a college internship in which I administered
assessments to children 1.5-2 years of age. In the assessments, we
determined whether the child was meeting milestones for speech,
verbal and nonverbal language. So, it’s definitely possible to
administer an assessment well before kindergarten.
6. In your blog you show great video clips with examples of how you use technology while working with children. What made you come up with the idea of using gadgets such as iTouch as a teaching tool? Do you find it more beneficial than other teaching methods? What kind of feedback are you getting from your students? I’ve been inspired by different special educators, all around the world, to use technology like the iPod touch. We network on the Internet via the QIAT listserv, wikis, podcasts, blogs, YouTube, Twitter, and more. The Internet is an incredibly valuable tool for educators to learn, create, and share information.
I feel like the technology I use with students is motivating and relevant to the 21st century. Instead of asking students to memorize facts with paper and pencil, I require my students to learn foundational skills via technology. I’m interested in a different looking educational system that Chris Dede, Harvard professor, describes: “students should learn how to use technology to make a difference in the world, a difference that is authentic, and a difference that they believe in; and then, the academic knowledge would be in the service of the technology, rather than being disconnected from anything other than grades or progressing to the next level of school.”
7. Our philosophy is focused around creating childhood experiences that will be meaningful and memorable. We encourage using the child’s interests as a starting point for exploration and learning. What are some activities (using technology and without technology) that you would recommend for parents when they are at home with their children? I recommend using language stimulation techniques (http://www.our-sma-angels.com/crystal/Web%20Pages/MedicalPractices/Therapists/Speech/speechstimulation.htm) with the following activities crafts, books, stories, toys, songs, games, snack, and sound play.
In terms of activities involving technology, here’s a short-list of excellent, free links for pre-schoolers:
- http://www.literactive.com/Home/index.asp – literacy website
- http://www.starfall.com/ – literacy website
- http://www.childrenshospital.org/clinicalservices/Site2016/mainpageS2016P16.html – Powerpoint downloads for augmentative communication
- http://sqooltube.com/ – website for educational videos