Autism · social language · Social Skills

Wonder Book Study for Speech Therapy

Wonder activities for speech therapy

Have you been hunting for that perfect book study to use with your older speech therapy students? The book Wonder, by R.J. Palacio may just fit the bill! Reading this book with your students will give you a unique way to discuss nonverbal communication, perspective taking, vocabulary, and of course, kindness.

Using the Book Wonder to Study Perspective Taking and Nonverbal Communication in Speech Therapy



I loved studying the book Wonder with my speech therapy kiddos and I think you will too. Here is why: 

1.) This book is dripping with language that perfectly describes different nonverbal communication actions and character perspectives. 

2.) The types of nonverbal communication the author describes are very different than the examples we often see on drill cards or worksheets, so you have a lot of opportunities to discuss new and unfamiliar nonverbal communication.

3.) The book is chunked into sections that discuss the perspectives of different characters. But, the author also uses precise, descriptive language throughout the book that allows you to target this skill in every chapter.

4.) Students find this story relatable and encouraging, especially our students who might be different than their peers.

5.) Of course it discuss the importance of kindness, which is awesome.

6.) Even if the reading level is too high for a student to read independently, it is great for your student to spend time listening to you read and discuss the story. It will expose him/her to more advanced themes and vocabulary, which they can digest with you. 

Click here if you are interested in using this guide to help your students analyze the different kinds of nonverbal communication and practice perspective taking!

If you read this book with your student/s, be prepared for it to take several weeks to read. This may not be ideal for every student. However, I  believe that taking time with a student to explore a book above their reading level will help expand their comprehension abilities. Another bonus, it makes lesson planning much easier!

Are you looking for more unique book activities to do with your students? Be sure to check these out

Autism · social language · Social Skills · Uncategorized

Important Dating Skills for Students with Autism

Pretend you are the parent or teacher of a teenager with Autism or a Social Language Disorder. Your teenager comes up to you one day and says “Guess what? I am dating someone!” Let’s talk about the most important dating skills for students with Autism.

If this is you, please keep reading! I want to share a few tips and friendly reminders for parents and teachers who are getting ready to start teaching their students with Autism or Social Language Disorders about safely dating.

Dating and relationships are terrifying topics for any parent, but I would imagine it is especially nerve wracking for parents of students with social language difficulties. At the time this blog post is being written, there are no studies that specifically analyze the correlation between Autism and sexual abuse. HOWEVER, there is a study that indicates that a child with any type of intellectual disability was four times more likely to be sexually abused than a child without disabilities (Sullivan & Knutson, 2000). Yikes.

Indulge me for a second and think about your first boyfriend or girlfriend.

I met my first boyfriend when I was 13 years old. We were on the swim team together. One day after practice, I mustered up the nerve to give him my home phone number (because 8th graders didn’t have cell phones back then). We dated for about a year, but like most middle school flings, it didn’t last forever. After that, I dated a few guys here and there until I met and married my husband when I was 23.  

What do you remember from the dating process? Sure, I remember a lot of fun times, but I also remember a lot of uncertainty, fear, anxiety, anger, and sadness. I especially remember being confused…does he like me? Should I kiss him? Do I need to break up with him? How far is “too far”?

Now, I am relatively socially adept. I am pretty good at interpreting and using nonverbal communication. I understand the social norms that surround dating, but navigating this social routine still made anxious! Did you feel this way too?

If you and I both felt this way, imagine how our students who struggle to understand social communication feel!

That is why we need to work with their caregivers to strategically teach them about this process!

Here is what I would do. Begin by TEACHING the student the most important dating skills. Explain why we date and break down the dating process into the following easy to understand steps.

1.) You Like Someone

2.) You Ask Them Out on A Date

3.) You are Dating

4.) You Keep Dating…or You Break Up

5.) Be Patient and Keep Trying

Autism dating skills

A few more important dating skills for students with Autism to keep in mind…

Now, you and I both know that dating is tricky, so, it is important to not shy away from the fact that your student will probably face some rejection. Make sure you talk about ways to avoid rejection (hello, understanding nonverbal communication). Also, make sure you talk about what to do if they are rejected or if someone breaks up with him/her. I know it is unpleasant, but your student deserves to have a plan in place if he/she needs it.

Healthy and unhealthy relationships. Does your student understand this concept? If not, then you need to teach it. Make sure your student knows the signs of healthy and unhealthy relationships…and what to do if they are in an unhealthy relationship. (i.e. break up, talk to a trusted adult, etc.)

ONE MORE SUPER IMPORTANT THING

Talk about physical touch. If you are a caregiver, I strongly, strongly, encourage you to just dive into this topic. Yes, it will be extremely awkward-I’m sorry. But open communication could prevent your child from being abused or put in a dangerous situation. If you are a teacher or therapist of some sort, well you probably can’t go as in depth, but you CAN make sure your student knows that they don’t have to do ANYTHING that makes them uncomfortable.

Do you know a student or teenager who could benefit from discussing dating and relationships? Are you uncertain about what to say or how to approach this topic? I can help!

I created this teaching guide on dating and relationships. It introduces dating, why we date, and it breaks down the process of dating into manageable steps. But the best part is that it also gives you discussion questions and activities that will help your student make a plan to be a safe and successful dater!

Dating and relationship social skills for autism

If you found this post helpful be sure and pop over to this post about power relationships! This is another important safety topic that I feel passionate about!

Autism · social language · Social Skills

How to Teach Power Relationships in Speech Therapy

Power Relationships and social communication

Do your students have trouble submitting to authority figures or bossing their peers around? Navigating around these social relationships, known as power relationships, can be tricky for students with social communication impairments. Keep reading my friends, and I will tell you why we need to be working on power relationships in speech therapy, and how to teach them!

If video is more your thing, go check out this video on how to teach power relationships!

What are Power Relationships?

According to ASHA, Power Relationships, are the ability to understand and appropriately use deference and domination in social communication. While this may sound a little strange at first, it just means being able to understand how to act in social situations with authorities, subordinates, and a peers.

How do I teach my students about Power Relationships?

I am so glad you asked! All you need to get started is to follow the 7 steps I will outline below!

Step 1: Teach the Vocabulary

I would start teaching this topic by introducing the vocabulary. I like to do this using an interactive social narrative, that opens a discussion about the topic. Chances are, your student has never heard the words “authority”, “subordinate”, “power relationship”, or “peers”. If they have heard them, they may not be familiar with what these words mean. Here are some definitions you can you use:

Power Relationship: A connection between two people defined by how much power/authority one person has over the other

Authority: A person with the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience

Subordinate: A person with lower rank or in a lower power position

Peer: A person with equal power to you

Often times our students with social communication disorders also have language disorders, which can make learning new vocabulary challenging. So, make sure you are using lots of examples and visuals as you are teaching these new vocabulary words.

Step 2: Identifying Power Positions

Your students might be confused what their power role in a relationship is, so the next step is helping them identify people around them who are their authority figures, peers, and subordinates. I would do this with some kind of graphic organizer or visual. This helps the students to see that they have many authority figures and peers, but they probably do not have any subordinates. This can be difficult for some students to accept.

Identifying Power Positions in Speech Therapy
Here is an example of a graphic organizer I would use to teach power relationships in speech therapy!

Keep this in mind as you teach this step: Older siblings and students are probably peers. Not all adults are authorities. If your student needs a subordinate, they can call a pet or themselves a subordinate.

Step 3: Why Are Power Relationships Important?

Students who struggle to submit to authority, need to understand that authority figures are put in place to make and enforce the rules. These rules are made to keep us safe and to keep things running smoothly. If we did not have rules there would be chaos. As you discuss this, help your students think of examples of what would happen if we did not have authority figures.

Step 4: Showing Submission

This step is tricky because it requires the student to understand and appropriately use nonverbal language. Make sure your student understands the types of nonverbal communication before you move to this step, then discuss the ways that you use nonverbal communication to submit to authority. For example, using appropriate tone of voice, eye contact, body language, gestures, and personal space.

Teaching students to submit to authority
Consider these aspects of nonverbal communication as you discuss submitting to authority!

Step 5: Dangerous and Safe Strangers

Remember how I said not all adults are authorities? We need to be very, very careful we are not teaching our students they have to submit to all adults. Are most adults safe? Yes. But are ALL adults safe? NOPE. Students with social communication deficits tend to see things as black or white, and do not easily catch onto nuances. It is our responsibility to teach them what they need to know to stay safe.

Start by explaining that most adults who are wearing a badge and/or a uniform are probably safe. BUT even when talking to these people, they need to be listening to what the person is saying and see if it is appropriate.

For example, if a doctor tells you “take off your shirt and get on the table” this is expected and appropriate for the student to submit to the authority of the doctor. But if a store manager gives the student the same directive, well, this is not appropriate and the student should not submit. You will need to spend a lot of time on this step to make sure your student is able to identify dangerous and safe strangers.

Step 6: Rules

This step is for the student who likes to boss around his/her peers. In this step, you will discuss the different kind of rules: posted, social, and imagined.

Posted Rules are rules that are written somewhere, for example, “don’t steal”.

Social Rules are not written down, but we all know to follow them. For example, “don’t pick your nose in public.”

Imagined Rules are rules that we made up for ourselves. For example, “this is my chair and no one else can sit here.”

Many times, our students will have some imagined rules that they are trying to force on their peers, even though they do not have the authority to do so. As you work on this step, make sure your students understand they are equal to their peers and they should submit to their authorities.

Step 7: Self Monitoring

Once your student understands power relationships and why they are important, you need to teach them how to practice the discipline of self monitoring. To do this, have your student think about a recent interaction they had with a peer, authority, or subordinate. Guide them through this process by asking the student to describe the interaction, tell what the did well, and make a plan for improvement.

References: (2020, February 21). Check Your Power Position: Helping Individuals with Autism Navigate Power Relationships. Lecture presented at Texas Speech Hearing Association 2020 Convention in Texas, Houston.

Now for the good stuff…

If you are new to teaching power relationships in speech therapy, or if you are just don’t have the time/energy/desire to make your own lessons, I’ve got you covered. I’ve put together this teaching guide for you using all the elements I’ve listed in this post. Oh! And if you are interested in the digital version, I’ve got that too!

Autism · Language · social language · Social Skills

The Difference in Social Communication and Pragmatic Language

Social Communication Disorder

I have a challenge for you. Write an essay telling me the difference between Social Communication and Pragmatic Language. Make sure you cite your references!

JUST KIDDING! I know you aren’t going to do that; you are reading this blog post because you want me to tell you the answer! So, keep on reading my friend and I will tell you what you want to know.

I have often heard people use the terms ‘Social Communication’ and ‘Pragmatic Language’ interchangeably, but they are not actually the same thing. Simply speaking, Pragmatic Language is a component of Social Communication.

According to ASHA, these are the areas that make up social communication:

This graph shows the difference between social communication and pragmatic language

What Exactly Is Nonverbal Communication and Verbal Communication?

Nonverbal communication consists of the aspects of communication that are nonverbal:

  • eye contact
  • gestures
  • body language
  • facial expressions
  • gaze
  • proxemics (personal space)
  • challenging behavior that is communicative in nature.

Verbal communication is every verbal component of speech:

  • Type of speech act
    • Requests
    • Comments
    • Directives
    • Demands
    • Promises
  • Communicative intentions
  • Prosody
  • Tone of Voice
  • Discourse
    • Discourse Style
      • Conversation
      • Narration
      • Expository
      • Procedural
    • Interaction vs Transaction
    • Cohesion and Coherence
    • Social Reciprocity
    • Etc.

Ok, now that is A LOT of stuff and that’s just the highlights. To see ASHA’s full list, click here. AND that is ONLY pragmatics! Social Communication also includes plain old expressive/receptive communication, social cognition (aka knowledge of social skills), and social interactions.

Once I realized how much more we need to be targeting to help our little friends with social communication impairments, I made it my personal goal to try and create a resource targeting each of these areas outlined by ASHA. I am not there yet, but if you keep reading, I am going to show you everything I have created so far.

Many of these items are extremely unique in the TPT marketplace because I have a hunch there are a lot of us that didn’t know the official name for some of these skills we have already been working on.

Expressing Affective Language

Expressing Affective Language

Have you ever had students whose social language skills weren’t quite right, but you couldn’t exactly put your finger on what was wrong? Did you notice that when you asked them questions, they could give you the right answer, but when it came time to use these skills in the real world, they couldn’t? In this situation, the problem is with the students ability to express pragmatic language. With this teaching guide, you can methodically teach your students how to use affective communication to connect with others using the included scaffolded and interactive lessons.

Do you understand affective communication? If you are still feeling a little murky, this post should clear it up for you!

Emotional Intelligence, Empathy, and Complex Emotions:

Empathy, Complex Emotions, and Emotional Intelligence Activities

Do your students with autism and social emotional disorders struggle to understand empathy and emotions? This resource contains no prep activities and scenarios focuses on teaching these skills, then practicing them in structured activities, so that your students can begin understand these complex concepts.

Does teaching empathy have you stumped? Go read this post on how I strategically teach this skill!

Making Friends Social Narrative and Activities

Making Friends Social Narrative and Activities

Do your students with social language difficulties know how to make new friends? Are you struggling to figure out to teach this complicated skill? I can help you! This social activity strategically breaks down the friend making process into 8 easy to understand steps. Then, students use the companion activities to practice what they have learned in a structured environment, leaving you feeling confident and productive.

If you are still feeling a little apprehensive about teaching friendship skills, go read this post. You might even find something that you can apply in your own life!

Making Friends Project Based Learning Activity

Making Friends Activity

Are you looking for an interesting new way to target social skills goals that is not just another worksheet? This no prep, hands on, and engaging project will get your student’s creative juices flowing while learning about the social skills that are needed to start and maintain a friendship.

Power Relationships Teaching Guide

Power Relationships, authority figures, and peer relationships activities and teaching guide

Do your students have trouble submitting to authority figures or bossing their peers around? Navigating social relationships can be tricky for students with social communication impairments, but it doesn’t have to be! This resource breaks this complex social skill into easy to understand chunks that will teach your students who they need to submit to and why.

Nonverbal Communication Teaching Guide and Activities

Nonverbal Communication Teaching Guide and Activities

Nonverbal communication can be tricky to teach. Most of us have learned these skills effortlessly, which makes breaking them down into easy to understand lessons quite tricky. This resource discusses the seven main areas of nonverbal communication (facial expressions, body language, gestures, touch, personal space, eye contact, and tone of voice). Each area is introduced with a reading passage and contains an expansion activity so students can practice the skills. The focus of this resource is to help you teach these vague skills using a concrete, methodic approach to improve your student’s understanding.

Conversation Social Narrative and Activity Packet

How to have a conversation teaching activity

Knowing where to start when teaching conversation skills can be confusing. This is an important topic and needs to be taught intentionally. This social activity helps students learn the fundamentals of conversation skills by strategically breaking down this complex social skill into manageable step by step instructions, leaving you feeling confident and productive.

I love teaching conversation skills! Go check out this blog post to see how I teach them to my students!

Oral Narrative and Storytelling Teaching Guide

Oral Narrative and story telling activities

There has been a lot of research coming out in the past few years indicating the importance of working on oral narrative and story telling skills to help develop other language skills. Targeting these skills improves writing abilities and other areas of language such as grammar, vocabulary, and pragmatics. This interactive notebook uses evidence based strategies in a step by step, scaffolded hierarchy to help students practice telling stories.

Do you know why targeting oral narratives in speech therapy is so important? Read this post to learn more!

Tone of Voice Teaching Guide

how to teach tone of voice

If you have ever wondered how to begin teaching tone of voice, you are not alone. This resource will guide you through the process of teaching this complex skill in easy to understand steps. The resource contains informative texts that introduce the topic of tone of voice and also has audio clips and other guided practice activities to help your students understand what tone of voice is, how to listen for it, and how to use it.

Or if you want to read how I teach tone of voice using 4 easy steps, click here!

A Conversation With a Famous Person

Conversation skills hands on activities

Are you ready to try a different approach to practicing conversation skills? Do you love targeting multiple skills during one activity? Your students will love practicing this social skill while having a pretend conversation with a famous person! This engaging pragmatic language activity has everything you need to get your students talking!

References: https://www.asha.org/uploadedFiles/ASHA/Practice_Portal/Clinical_Topics/Social_Communication_Disorders_in_School-Age_Children/Components-of-Social-Communication.pdf

If you’re interested in upping your pragmatic language therapy/evaluation game then you have come to the right place. Let me share my tips and tricks with you so that you can approach this tricky area with confidence. Click here and we can start learning together–I even want to give you a free pragmatic language evaluation checklist so you can sample my work. If my style isn’t your cup of tea, you can unsubscribe at anytime 🙂

Autism · social language · Social Skills

Expressing Higher Level Pragmatic Language Skills

Teaching Affective Expression

Have you ever had students whose pragmatic language skills weren’t quite right, but you couldn’t exactly put your finger on what was wrong? You ask them questions, trying to probe their knowledge, and they always give you the right answer, but when it comes time to use these skills, they often fall short.

These students are difficult to treat, aren’t they?

            The problem is not necessarily in their understanding of pragmatic language. The problem is with their ability to USE pragmatic language. And I’m not just talking the use of obvious, easy-to-measure social skills like participating in greetings. I am talking about higher level skills such as expressing sorrow, gratitude, complements, regret, and empathy. And of course, it’s not just about saying the right words, but using the correct nonverbal communication too. When students don’t use these skills, they are not effective social language communicators.

            Using these higher-level communication skills is called affective expression. These skills are difficult for individuals who struggle with pragmatic language, because it goes beyond just expressing wants and needs. Affective expression helps you to truly connect with your communicative partner on a deeper level. Read on if you want some ideas to help you teach these complex skills.

Step 1: Create a Buy In to the Learning Process

            So, how does one go about teaching these extremely complex skills? Well, we start by giving our students a reason to buy into this learning process. You can do this by having your students make a list of their loved ones, and talk about why that person is special to them. Explain that when we care about people, we want to make them feel good, and if we hurt them, we want to make it right. Help your students understand that when they use these social skills, it will make them feel better and it will make the people they care about feel better too.

Step 2: Teach the Vocabulary

            Introducing the vocabulary is always an important step in the learning process. So, take a moment and exclusively explain each concept: sorrow, regret, gratitude, compliments, and empathy. Make sure your students have a solid understanding of each concept before you move on.

            I know a lot of us like to use videos to introduce new concepts, so, I found some videos that you might like to use as you teach these skills. But just a heads up-I would definitely recommend using these with kids who are a little older (middle school and up) and have typical or almost typical receptive language abilities. You probably will want to watch them to decide if they will work for your students.

Giving Compliments:

I like this first video because it talks about the nonverbal communication aspect of a giving compliments. The actors do have an accent, so it might be hard for your students to tune their ears to it at first.

This video talks about the different types of compliments which I really liked and found helpful, but the speaker does speak a little fast, so he might be hard for some kids to follow.

Expressing Gratitude:

This video talks about why you should be expressing gratitude and how to do it in four steps. The content is really good, but the speaker is an older man, so some of your students might have a hard time finding him relatable or engaging.

This video shows different students expressing gratitude.

Expressing Empathy:

This video does a nice job of explaining what empathy is and it gives for steps to remember when expressing empathy.

Expressing Regret/ Apologizing

This video just has text going across the screen. The content is good, but it might not be good for students that struggle with reading.

This video goes over 5 steps to giving a good apology.

Expressing Sorrow/Emotions

This video talks about why it is important to express emotions. The content is interesting and good, but be cautious showing this video because it is very wordy, and it uses some higher level vocabulary that might not be ideal for students with language disorders.

Step 3: Create a Script

            Individuals with pragmatic language difficulties can have a hard time knowing what to say in social situations, we know this. Scripts are a tool we can use to help them know what to say. Basically, a script is a formula of words that work for a specific situation. For example, if you wanted to give a compliment, you could use the following script:

Step 4: Structured Practice

            After your students understand how to use the script, practice using it. You can do this by giving them pretend scenarios and determining how to use the script in different situations. Practice in a structured environment until you feel like your student is proficient.

Step 5: Real World Practice

            Help your student practice expressing affective pragmatic language in the real world. This is the most important step, the longest step, and the hardest step. This step is important, because these skills are not mastered until they can be done the majority of the time. Independently means the real world and not the speech room. This step is the longest, because, let’s be honest, opportunities to practice some of these skills don’t come up every day. This step is the hardest, because, well, generalization of new skills is always hard.

            So how do we do this step? The way I see it, there are 3 options.

  1. Push in to the classroom. This is my least favorite option because, like I said earlier, you can’t fabricate skills like expressing sorrow. These opportunities don’t occur often, and the chances of them occurring during your (maybe) 30-minute time block is slim.
  2. Train the student to look for opportunities to practice these skills. Once the student is back with you, have him/her reflect on their performance. Did they follow the script? What did they do well? What can they improve next time?
  3. Caregiver support. If you have supportive caregivers, this is the best way to help students practice in the real world. Enlist their help in finding scenarios to practice these skills. Teach them how to look for practice opportunities and guide their student through the learning process. After all, the caregivers are probably going to be the ones who are with the students as they encounter these situations in daily life, so let’s use them to our advantage!

If you want to learn more about this topic…

Go read this article. It discusses evaluation of pragmatic language skills, particularly trying to find concrete a way to evaluate pragmatic language so that students who struggle with these not-so-obvious skills can receive treatment in the areas they need to improve. It’s a great read!

How do you like to teach complex social language skills? Leave comment so everyone can get some new ideas!

Autism · Language · Uncategorized

Must Have Pragmatic Language Evaluation Tools and Tips

Pragmatic Language Assessments

My favorite speechie thing to do is pragmatic language evaluations and therapy. I even like to write the reports. *gasp* . Try not to judge me too harshly though, because I want to share my pragmatic language evaluation tools and tips with you. I am hoping it will save you time, and maybe help you enjoy writing those reports a little bit more. (Hey don’t look at me like that, I said maybe).

First, I want to take a moment to discuss what ASHA says indicates an area of concern when it comes to social communication.

According to ASHA, “Social Communication includes 3 major skills…using language for different reasons, changing language for the listener or situation, and following rules for conversation and storytelling”.

Nonverbal communication such as understanding/ using gestures, facial expressions, tone of voice, proxemics, and eye contact all fall within that last section- “following rules for conversation and storytelling”.  (To read more about what ASHA says, click here).

So if you are like me you might be thinking, “Whoa…that is A LOT of really complicated things to evaluate, how do I do this in a methodical way that will get me all the information I need so I can write good strong goals (and a parent friendly report)”? Well, keep reading my friend, and I will tell you how.

Parent/Teacher Report

As with all evaluations, I start my assessment process by sending out checklists and questionnaires to the parents and the teachers. I have created some that specifically ask questions regarding the areas outlined by ASHA. I created them to be a rating scale, because I have found most student’s rarely fall into a “they always do it” or “they never do it” category with these skills. In my experience, parents and teachers find rating scales easier to fill out, and I find they give me more useful information.

Student Observation

The next step- try and observe the student in his or her natural habitat…or the lunch room, or recess, or centers…you get my point. Students act different for us in one-on-one settings, so watching them interact with other children in less-structured settings can give you a wealth of information. Even though I know this takes a lot of time out of your day, I strongly advise not skipping this step if possible. To keep me organized during this step, I use a checklist to remind me to try and observe #allthethings.  If you are in a position where you cannot observe the student, you will have to rely on the parent/teacher rating scales.

The rest of the evaluation takes place in my room. I like to give the student structured tasks that revolve around those ASHA guiding principles. Personally, I find that I get more/better data from my own personal evaluation than I have gotten from a formal assessment. I know those assessments have their place, but I personally find them too rigid and not quite as thorough as I would like them to be.

Nonverbal Communication/ Theory of Mind

This is probably my favorite area of the evaluation because you never know what is going to come out of the student’s mouth. I just love getting a glimpse into their little brains.

So just a quick reminder, theory of mind is “the ability to understand the desires, intentions, and beliefs of others”, and typically develops between 3-5 years of age. It is well documented that students who have Autism and/or social language deficits often struggle in this area, so it is extremely beneficial to evaluate this area.

I evaluate theory of mind and nonverbal communication together because you can’t have one without the other. Think about it. What strategies do you use when you are trying to guess what someone else is thinking or feeling? You look at their facial expressions, body language, gestures, eye contact…AKA their NONVERBAL LANGUAGE!

To evaluate both areas at the same time, I show my student a picture of someone displaying an emotion. I have the student identify what the person is feeling and then they have to tell me two things the person in the picture might be thinking. I like to show pictures depicting both basic emotions and more complex emotions. (To read more about complex emotions click here). Usually my students do a good job identifying simple emotions, but asking them to tell me what the person in the picture is thinking (AKA theory of mind) is much more challenging. I have even had students tell me “How am I supposed to know what they might be thinking?!”

Story Telling

Since ASHA states that deficits in storytelling accompany social language disorders, I definitely want to assess that area. I like to give my students a prompt, then, as they tell the story I listen for the following skills:

  1. The story is on topic
  2. The story contains details
  3. There is a clear beginning middle and end
  4. The student uses nonverbal communication to enhance the story

As for what kind of prompts I like to give, I usually use the following hierarchy:

  1. How to do a familiar task (i.e how to do a chore)
  2. A story about a personal event (i.e. a time the student got hurt/felt scared—these are usually easy for the student to remember)
  3. Retelling a familiar story (i.e. fairy tales or summarizing a book)
  4. Creating a new story (i.e. “Tell a story about a time a boy went to outer space”)

Conversation Skills

When I evaluate conversation skills, I look to see if the student does the following: initiates a conversation, stays on topic, asks questions, makes comments, takes turns speaking, and ends the conversation appropriately. I try to let the student lead the conversation as much as possible so that the student has the opportunity to use these skills. Usually though, I find that the student needs to me to lead the conversation.

Jokes/Humor/Idioms/Figurative Language

Even though ASHA does not explicitly outline deficits in these areas as a potential indicator of social language disorders, I still like to take a look at some of these skills. This is because in order for an individual to understand humor or figurative language, they must be able to take on someone else’s perspective (which they do by utilizing those nonverbal communication and theory of mind skills).

Let Me Save You Some Time

If you like this method of completing informal pragmatic language evaluations then I have some good news for you! I have already created an informal pragmatic language evaluation resource that follows this method of evaluation. I personally use this resource for all of my evaluations and I have found it to be very helpful.

This resource contains all of the pragmatic language evaluation tools that I talked about in this blog post: a parent/teacher rating scale, an observation checklist, plus stimuli for evaluating theory of mind and nonverbal communication, conversation prompts, story prompts, and jokes and idioms to help you evaluate figurative language.

If you’re interested in upping your pragmatic language therapy/evaluation game then you have come to the right place. Let me share my tips and tricks with you so that you can approach this tricky area with confidence. Click here and we can start learning together–I even want to give you a free pragmatic language evaluation checklist so you can sample my work. If my style isn’t your cup of tea, you can unsubscribe at anytime 🙂

Autism · Uncategorized

Teaching Conversation Skills in Speech Therapy

How To Teach Conversation Skills

Do you know how to begin teaching conversation skills in speech therapy? You know conversation skills are imperative to lifelong success, but where do you even start?

Maybe this conversation looks familiar:

Me: “Hi! Welcome to Speech, I am Mrs. Davault and I am going to be your speech teacher.”

Student: *mumbles incoherent response while avoiding eye contact*

Me: When you come to speech, you are going to be working on goals that will teach you ways to be a better friend.

Student: “I don’t have any friends.”

Me: That’s ok!  We have a goal for learning how to make friends! We also have a goal for learning how to have a conversation.

Student: “Oh yeah, I don’t know how to do that either.”

If video is more your thing, go check out the video version of this blog post!

This is summarized version of an actual conversation I have had with one of my students. (We went into his goals a little bit more in depth, but you get the idea).

Conversation skills…what are they exactly? How do we teach them? More importantly, how do we help our students learn them?

As with all good lessons we start the bottom of the ladder and scaffold our way up to the top. Teaching conversation skills in speech therapy is no different…but what is the bottom of the conversation ladder?

Step 1: Teaching the Vocabulary

Since many of my students struggle with language delays and disorders, I always want to make sure they have a nice, firm, grasp of the vocabulary they will need to know in order to be successful with the skill we will be practicing.

When teaching conversation skills, I like to focus on two main vocabulary words: conversation and topic.

What are conversations and topics

I explain to my students that a conversation is what you do when you talk to people and that the topic is what you are talking about. Then, we brain storm all the different topics we could talk about. We identify topics the student likes to talk about and we identify topics that other people might like to talk about. Common topics I like to review are family, friends, games, books, pets, chores, school, recess, etc. I especially want my students to understand that anything ANYONE talks about can be a topic.  Keep this list of topics to refer back to as your students learn more conversation skills.

Step 2: Smile and Look

Here is the point where our sweet students learn the first actionable steps to having a conversation: smiling and looking.

Remember, we are starting at the bottom of the ladder and climbing up, so I don’t even have my students worry about talking yet.

Smiling and looking is hard enough for many of them. I don’t expect them to make eye contact with everyone, but I do encourage them to try and look at the other person’s face. I explain that when we do this, it lets the other person know that we are friendly and that we want to talk to him or her.

After we have talked about this skill in the relative safety of the speech room, we walk around the school and practice smiling and looking at everyone we meet. It sounds easy enough, but it often makes my students squirm with discomfort. With each new person we see, I remind my student why this skill is important until the student can repeat it back to me. We try and practice smiling and looking each time we walk together around the building.

Step 3: Asking Questions

Asking a question is a natural way to start a conversation. Typically, we start a conversation by asking “How are you?”, so I teach my students this first. Unfortunately, a conversation cannot be maintained on this single question alone, and our little friends need to learn other strategies for developing questions.

 Having students initiate a question around a preferred topic, helps them ease into the conversation, but it is also important to explain that they need to ask questions about many different topics. This is where that list of topics from Step 1 comes in handy. Help your students generate different questions they could ask someone about each topic on the list. I also give my students pretend scenarios and have them practice thinking of questions they could ask in each situation.

Our students always need to know why each skill is important, so I make sure they understand that asking questions gives the other person a chance to speak, which makes that person feel good and makes the conversation more interesting for the other person.

Step 4: Find Common Interests

Once our students are proficient at asking questions, they will now have the ability to find common interests with someone. We find common interests by asking questions about many different topics, until we find a topic everyone likes. I try and explain to my students how to tell if someone enjoys the topic or if the topic is not a shared interest.

Why is finding common interests an important piece of the conversation puzzle?

Because, when we find that golden spot where each communicative partner is engaged and interested, the conversation is so much more enjoyable for everyone.

 To teach my students how to find common interests, I have them first identify their own interests, then I have them practice asking questions that can help them find out if someone shares their interests. I also talk to them about how shared activities/situations such as the weather and school can be a common interest and can be used to make conversation.

Step 5: Take Turns Talking

I have listened to countless one-sided conversations perseverate on everything from squirrels to video games, and I bet you have too.

While these fixed interests are part of what makes the student unique, they aren’t functional because we know that it takes two people to have a conversation. And if one person isn’t getting the chance to speak, that isn’t really a conversation, is it?

Find a way to remind your students to take turns talking. Teaching your students to respond to a visual or auditory cue might be helpful if your student is struggling in this area.

Step 6: Stay on Topic

As we continue to climb the conversation ladder, our next rung is staying on topic. At this point, our students can (hopefully) ask questions and take turns talking, but if each conversation partner keeps trying to redirect the conversation to a specific topic…well that’s going to be a confusing conversation.

Find a cue that can remind your students what the topic is, and a cue to redirect them if they get off topic.

Step 7: Add Comments

This next step is really tricky. It can be extremely difficult for students to generate an appropriate comment, on topic, and insert it in the appropriate place in the conversation. I like to teach my students how use place holder comments such as a head nod, saying “uh huh” or “mmhmmm” to show their communicative partner they are listening. I teach them to listen for natural pauses or breaks in the conversation and insert comments in those places. I explain that adding comments like these lets their partner know they are interested and that they are paying attention.

Step 8: Ending the Conversation

Have you ever had someone literally walk away from you without doing anything to indicate they are leaving the interaction? It is kind of jolting and it is definitely awkward. Knowing how to end a conversation can be really confusing, so it’s important that we explicitly teach this skill to our students.

To do this, I explain to my students that just leaving a conversation is not polite…even if they are ready to be done with that conversation. Then I give them a few key phrases that they can use to end a conversation more politely. We also talk about making sure the other person is done talking before we leave the interaction.

Step 9: Practice

We all know that repetition is the key to learning. The more opportunities our students have to practice these skills, the easier and less awkward it will be come. The final step of teaching conversation skills is practice. I like to begin practicing full conversation skills by using conversation prompts in my classroom. I give my students a visual of the steps to having a conversation, and we work through each prompt, making sure we have used each step appropriately. If the student is struggling with a particular prompt, we practice it again until it becomes easier. Then, if it is possible, I like to practice using these skills with familiar people in our environment. This might be peers or other adults who are around us. We then practice and practice some more until the student has met mastery.  

Conversation Social Story

I have created a “How to Have A Conversation” Social Story, that teaches conversation skills using the steps I have outlined above. Each step is explained using simple, easy to understand language so that it can be understood by most learners, even those with language delays or disorders. Each of the steps above has a dedicated page in the story and a companion activity so that students can practice the skill in a structured lesson. There is also an option for the students to draw the pictures for their story. I have found these pictures spark interesting conversations and it also helps the students take more ownership of the story.

I usually spend one session teaching each step. I have found reading the story, doing the activity, and drawing the picture usually takes around 30 minutes. Afterwards, I like to send the activity home for the student to review with his or her caregivers. Once all the steps have been taught, we practice using each step together to try and form a conversation.

If you are interested in learning more about teaching conversation conversation skills in your speech therapy groups, please click the picture below!

How to have a conversation social story and activities
Conversation Social Story and Activities

If you’re interested in upping your pragmatic language therapy/evaluation game then you have come to the right place. Let me share my tips, tricks, and research with you so that you can approach this tricky area with confidence. Click here and we can start learning together--I even want to give you a free pragmatic language evaluation checklist so you can sample my work. If my style isn’t your cup of tea, you can unsubscribe at anytime 🙂

If you enjoyed this post, please share one of the images below on Pinterest!

Do you want to learn more social communication tips and tricks? Grab your coffee and start binge reading about teaching affective expression, empathy, and complex emotions!

Autism · Language · social language · Social Skills

Oral Narratives In Speech Therapy

How to Teach Oral Narratives for Speech Therapy

We need to talk and I want to be 100% honest with you.  I am not an expert Speech-Language Pathologist. There are many, many things I don’t know.

Phew! *Wipes brow* Serious moment done! Now that you know that I will NEVER pretend to be anything I am not; we can talk about narratives and their role in speech therapy.

The reason I need you to know I am not an expert SLP is because I used to know nothing about teaching narratives. I didn’t even know I should be working on them! I discovered their importance while reading some reviews on The Informed SLP. (Seriously-click that link to check it out, it might just change your speechie life.)

Why Should I be Working on Oral Narratives in Speech Therapy?

I am so glad you asked! As it turns out, there are quite a few reasons you should be working on narratives, but for this post I am going to focus on the three that stood out to me.

  1. The first reason is that when you work on narrative skills, there is evidence that suggests that other language skills may improve simultaneously. My understanding is that the trick here is not to get caught up in perfecting the “microstructure” of stories, but instead to focus on improving students understanding of the “macrostructure”. (In case you need a little refresher, when I say microstructure, I am talking about things like grammar, vocabulary, syntax, etc. When I say macrostructure, I am referring to the bigger story elements such as the character, setting, problem, and solution.) 
  2. Do you know what else gets better when you work on oral narrative skills? WRITING SKILLS! We know that we need to be working on writing skills in therapy (after all, writing is written language). But typically, we only have about 30 minutes at a time to get our speech business done and, oh my word, writing takes FOREVER. It almost feels like a waste of a session when you spend the entire 30 minutes helping each of the four students in your mixed group write two, maybe three sentences. I’m just saying, if the people who know more about these things than me say that when you work on oral narratives it also helps with writing skills, I think we should be giving it a try. I am all about efficiency, and what is more efficient than working on two things at once?
  3. According to ASHA, storytelling deficits are indicative of pragmatic language disorders. (Click the link here if you want to read what ASHA has to say). So working on oral narratives not only helps students with receptive and expressive and writing deficits, but it ALSO helps with social language disorders?! That is like working on four things at once! If working on two things is efficient, what does that make working on four things?

How Do Oral Narrative Skills Develop?

As it turns out, narrative skills actually begin to develop when children are very young. (As I began researching this topic, I read this article that showed me that my two-year-old son is already learning narrative skills!) When we are talking about how narrative skills develop, it gets pretty complex really quickly. I am not even going to attempt to break down the complexity of these development skills, but I am going to tell you the basic hierarchy I developed that I think makes a good starting point for your everyday speech therapist.

  1. Retelling Stories About Familiar Routines: In the first stage, children are talking about familiar routines. Since they have done these things before, they have an easier time sequencing and organizing the story.
  2. Retelling Past Personal Experiences: In the second stage students begin to tell a story that actually happened to them. It requires students to pull an event from their long-term memory and sequencing skills might deteriorate slightly.
  3. Retelling a Fictional Story: The next step is having your students retell a fictional story. This is best done with stories that have easy to identify characters, settings, problems, and solutions. In this stage, students must now rely more heavily on sequencing skills and short-term memory skills.
  4. Creating a Fictional Story: Students begin creating their own fictional stories in the final stage. This is the most complex stage because it requires students to have an understanding of story elements, sequencing skills, and they must also rely heavily on both their long term and short-term memory to create a story that makes sense.

How Do I Work on Oral Narratives in Speech Therapy?

Now for the moment you have all been waiting for! (Cue the drum roll in your head) It is time to talk about how we can target oral narrative skills in speech therapy!

  1. Target sequencing skills. Many students who struggle with storytelling skills have a hard time organizing a story into a logical structure, so we need to be making sure our students are proficient in this skill.
  2. Teach the main story elements (macro elements). Again, you can make this much more complicated, but for your average SLP, I personally think targeting the basic story elements (character, setting, problem, and solution) are a good starting point when you are trying to target macro elements. I would suggest helping your students get really proficient at identifying these and then moving onto more complicated story elements, if you think it is necessary.
  3. Help your students identify the main idea. Often times when students struggle with narratives, they have a hard time getting to the point of the story. They get wrapped up in details and never really tell us what they wanted to say in the first place. Helping them learn to weed out the main idea from the details will help them tell more stream lined stories.
  4. Help your students make personal connections to the story. This is the basic stage of making inferences. When students feel connected to the characters in the story, it makes it easier for them to make emotional inferences. This is especially important to work on with students who have Autism or pragmatic language disorders.
  5. Practice making inferences about the emotional states of the characters. This is the more advanced stage of making inferences. It is known that students with Autism struggle with understanding the emotional states of characters in stories, so the more you can practice this, the better. A great way to introduce this skills is by showing a picture that shows an emotion and helping your students make a story about the picture.
  6. Pre-teach Tier 2 Vocabulary: If students are retelling a story, make sure they understand the important Tier 2 Vocabulary.
  7. Practice, practice, practice. Practice retelling stories until they are securely stored in long term memory. Each time a student retells a story, it should get better. The story should become more fluid and other language elements such as sequencing, grammar, and vocabulary should improve.

Speech Therapy Oral Narrative Interactive Notebook

Speech Therapy Oral Narrative Interactive Notebook
This interactive notebook activity contains everything you need to target oral narratives using the strategies listed above.

Now that I have told you everything I think you need to know to start tackling those oral narrative speech therapy goals, I want to tell you about this interactive notebook I created to help me work on narrative skills with my caseload. It will help you target each of those 7 areas that I listed above in one beautifully curated speech therapy session. Here is how it works.

  • Students will practice their narrative skills by creating an interactive notebook.
  • Print off the activity pages and assemble them using the instructions I have given you in the download.
  • As students create their notebook, they will be practicing using sequencing skills, identifying story elements, finding the main idea, making inferences, and practicing some Tier 2 Vocabulary.
  • By creating a notebook, students have all the resources they need to go back and practice retelling the stories they have already created in the notebook. This repetition is paramount for improvement in storytelling skills.
  • The activities in the notebook build in complexity using the hierarchy I listed above. You can practice each level as much as your students need until they are ready to move to the next section.

If you are interested in learning more about this notebook, click the picture below and it will take you to my Teachers Pay Teachers Store!

Speech Therapy Oral Narrative Interactive Notebook Product Cover
Click the image above if you would like to learn more about this Speech Therapy Oral Narrative Interactive Notebook

If you’re interested in upping your pragmatic language therapy/evaluation game then you have come to the right place. Let me share my tips and tricks with you so that you can approach this tricky area with confidence. Click here and we can start learning together–I even want to give you a free pragmatic language evaluation checklist so you can sample my work. If my style isn’t your cup of tea, you can unsubscribe at anytime 🙂

Articles About Narratives and Speech Therapy

Click the links below if you are interested in reading more about narratives and speech therapy!

 Adolf, S. M., McLeod, A. N., & Leftwich, B. (2014, April 14). Structured narrative retell instruction for young children from low socioeconomic backgrounds: A preliminary study of feasibility. Retrieved from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00391/full#h9

Gillam, S. L., Olszewski, A., Squires, K., Wolfe, K., Slocum, T., & Gillam, R. B. (2018, April 5). Improving Narrative Production in Children With Language Disorders: An Early-Stage Efficacy Study of a Narrative Intervention Program. Retrieved from https://pubs.asha.org/doi/10.1044/2017_LSHSS-17-0047

Spencer, T. D., & Petersen, D. B. (2018, July). Bridging Oral and Written Language: An Oral Narrative Language Intervention Study With Writing Outcomes. Retrieved from https://pubs.asha.org/doi/10.1044/2018_LSHSS-17-0030

Westerveld, M. F., & Roberts, J. M. (2017, October). The Oral Narrative Comprehension and Production Abilities of Verbal Preschoolers on the Autism Spectrum. Retrieved from https://pubs.asha.org/doi/10.1044/2017_LSHSS-17-0003

How do you like to work on narratives?

Leave a your favorite narrative strategies in the comments so we can all get some fresh ideas!

Autism · Back To School · Language

Fun Activities to Teach Body Parts To Preschoolers

Activities to teach body parts

If you have landed here, you are probably looking for some fun activities to teach body parts to preschoolers. It doesn’t matter if you are a parent, a preschool teacher, an early interventionist, or a speech-language pathologist, you know the importance of teaching body parts. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), children should be able to identify a few body parts between the age of 1-2 years.

Maybe your student still needs to learn body parts, or maybe you are wanting to reinforce some emerging skills, but if you have landed on this page it is because you are searching for some ideas to teach body parts…so let’s dig in!

Fun Books For Teaching Body Parts

Like any speech therapist, I love using books to introduce/teach/practice new vocabulary. For body parts, my favorite book is “Toes, Ears, and Nose” by Marion Dane Bauer and Karen Katz.

Toes, Ears, and Nose book
“Toes, Ears, and Nose” lift the flap book, written by Marion Dane Bauer and illustrated by Karen Katz.

To turn this book into an interactive lesson for my little learners, I like to print out pictures of each body part featured in the book using a program like Boardmaker or Symbolstix. As we read the book, I help my students match the printed image to the picture in the book. This works on matching two non-identical pictures and helps my kiddos stay engaged while we are reading. I have yet to meet a kid who didn’t like ripping apart two pieces of Velcro.

Body Part Book Activity
“Toes, Ears, and Nose” body part picture matching activity.

Songs for Teaching Body Parts

I am sure we all like to use Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes as our song companion when we teach body parts. So today, instead of recommending a new song, I would like to suggest a YouTube channel.  If you haven’t already discovered the YouTube channel Cocomelon, I would strongly encourage you to watch some of their videos. I love these videos because the characters have great facial expressions and use really good nonverbal language. I also like that they take traditional songs and put a new spin on them. Here is their versions of Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes if you would like to check it out.

Cocomelon Head, Shoulders, Knees, & Toes YouTube Video

This is another great video choice for teaching body parts. It has more body parts and it talks about the functions of the different body parts!

Fun Activities to Teach Body Parts to Preschoolers

Activity #1: I can’t take credit for this first activity. I have seen it a few times on social media, but its such a genius activity that I wanted to share it here, just in case you haven’t seen it.

Body Part Band Aid Activity
Band-aid body part activity

You will need band aids and a stuffed animal or doll, that’s it. Pretend that your toy has gotten hurt and needs a band aid, then help your student put a bandage on the hurt body part. I mean, what kid doesn’t love playing with band aids? And what teacher doesn’t like working on pretend play skills, body part vocabulary, and following directions at the same time? That sounds like a win-win scenario if I’ve ever heard one.

Activity #2: Preschoolers + Play Dough = True Love, #amiright?

Body Part Play Dough Smash Mat
Body Part Smash Mat Activity

For this next activity I used my play dough smash mats from the Body Part Activity Packet I created on Teachers Pay Teachers. Your students can have fun smashing out their favorite colored play dough while you are teaching vocabulary and following directions. Fun and multitasking? Another win for the teacher.

Activity #3: Sensory Bins. So you may not want to do this one if you really hate cleaning up messes…but if a little mess doesn’t bother you and you want to take a multi sensory approach to your lesson, give this one a try. And hey, you can always have your students practice those functional cleaning skills when you are done.

Body Part Sensory Bin Activity
Body Part Sensory Bin Activity

For this activity you will need a container and a filler and pictures of the body parts you want to practice. Dry rice, dry beans, dry pasta, pom poms, and cotton balls are all common fillers. For the container, lot of teachers like to use empty supply boxes or food storage containers. You can also use a clothes pin or tweezers to grab the pictures out of the bin for a fun fine motor challenge. To create these images, I have used the matching picture-to-picture worksheet that is included in my Body Part Activity Packet.

All your students have to do is find the picture in the filler and practice matching them to their counter parts. Burying the picture under the filler for a little scavenger hunt is extra fun-but again, messy. I especially love this activity for learners who have limited language abilities.

Activity #4: Slap the picture.

Body Part Vocabulary Activity
Body Part Slap the Vocabulary Picture Activity

For this activity you will need images of the vocabulary you are wanting to teach and something to hit the picture. I like to laminate the picture and use these little suction hammer things to grab it. I got my hammers as part of another game, but you can use a fly swatter, a pointer, or students can use their hands. You can do this activity individually, or students can compete against each other.

Activity #5: Sentence Builder

Body Part Sentence Builder Activity
Sentence Builder Activity

For this activity you will need a mirror and some picture cards to use as a visual cue. Students find a body part while looking in a mirror, then make the sentence “I see my _____.” I’ll even give you bonus points if you make silly faces while you look in the mirror. 😉

We have reached the end of this post and I truly hope you have found some fun activities you can take with you as you teach your preschoolers about their body parts. If you would like to see these activities and more like them, check out my Body Part Activity Packet on Teachers Pay Teachers by clicking the image below. If you would rather keep perusing the blog, I would recommend reading this story about this experience with one of my preschool students!

Body Part Activity Packet Cover
Click the image to check out this Body Part Activity Packet on Teachers Pay Teachers!

References: One to Two Years. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/12/

If you’re interested in upping your pragmatic language therapy/evaluation game then you have come to the right place. Let me share my tips and tricks with you so that you can approach this tricky area with confidence. Click here and we can start learning together–I even want to give you a free pragmatic language evaluation checklist so you can sample my work. If my style isn’t your cup of tea, you can unsubscribe at anytime 🙂

Click the image above for your free pragmatic language evaluation checklist!
Autism · Back To School · Language

Nonverbal Speech Therapy Homework Activities

Speech Therapy Homework Calendar

I was sitting in an IEP meeting and a cold dread started seeping from my throat to my toes. I was terrified of what I was going to say to the parents sitting across from me. They were desperate for their son to talk- so desperate, that our meeting was solely focused on that one topic. As the paid speech and language expert in the room, it was my job to help them.

To help this family I needed to do three things:

  1. Help them understand the severity of their son’s disorder. SPOILER ALERT: I failed. (But that is a story for another time.)
  2. Inspire their confidence in my ability to help their son. I would like to think we made some progress in this area by the end of the school year, but lets be honest, I know we will never be best buds.
  3. Help them help their son at home. SECOND SPOILER: I would like to think I was successful, but I was not efficient… keep reading to find out what happened.

Let’s go back to that IEP meeting. The parents wanted their son to talk, so they were requesting more speech time. I increased his speech time at school, but I knew that this little boy needed help outside of school too. His parents were already trying to help him at home but they didn’t have a strategy and frankly, they weren’t using good techniques. I really wanted to help this little boy and his family, but as a school SLP I had limited contact with the caregivers outside of IEP meetings.

The mother and I exchanged email addresses, and each week I told her the goals we were targeting in speech and ways that she could practice them at home. Trying to teach her how to facilitate a language rich environment through email was tedious. I kept thinking to myself “There has to be a better way to give this family home practice activities.” I hoped there might be some sort of homework calendar for nonverbal students on Teachers Pay Teachers, but the only homework calendars I could find required the student to have expressive language skills. Since this boy had very limited expressive language skills, none of those resources would work for me.

I spent all school year thinking about this problem. I spent all school year thinking about how I could do this better. I wanted something that I could easily print and give to the parents of nonverbal and limited verbal students that would help them practice language skills at home. I wanted something that could be used for every nonverbal preschool, PPCD, kindergarten and early intervention student on my caseload. I wanted something that would get me through the entire school year. I wanted something that would teach caregivers how to work on language skills using everyday items.

Since nothing like that existed…I created it. It was my first big project on Teachers Pay Teachers and y’all, it took me F-O-R-E-V-E-R. I sat down and made my first draft and put it up for sale. It was awful, but someone purchased it.  That person then promptly gave me a well-deserved, terrible review. (If that person ever reads this, I am so sorry you bought that.)

But I still felt strongly about this project so I called my grandmother and asked for her help. My grandmother is a well experienced teacher, and I knew she would have some wisdom for me. We hashed a new plan for my calendar and my grandmother agreed to be my editor. I slowly churned out each month until the calendar I have today was completed. I was so happy when that dang thing was finished!

My Nonverbal Speech Therapy Homework Calendar

Each week focuses on common areas of weakness and 2-3 skills are targeted each week. It also very loosely follows the kindergarten curriculum of the district I worked in. I did this so that my students could practice the vocabulary they were learning at school, at home. Most of the activities can be completed using items people probably have at home, but there is a shopping list that should be sent home with the caregivers at the beginning of the month so they can make sure they have everything they need on hand. Each activity is then explained using basic vocabulary and tells the caregivers what skills are being practiced during any given activity. As the educator, all you have to do is print off the calendar and companion activities and send them home.

Even though all that stuff I just mentioned is great, I think the best part is that no expressive language abilities are needed to complete any of the activities in the calendar.  

So now you are asking, “Can you tell me more about this calendar?” Honestly, I could talk about this calendar for days, but I think the preview, product description, and free sample do a better job of showing you what is included in the resource. Just click on the image below if you want to learn more!

Year Long Nonverbal Speech Therapy Language homework activities

One more thing…my sweet friend Kaitlyn (aka The Stay at Home Teacher) created a blog post about the resources she uses with daughter as part of their home school-preschool routine. She mentions this calendar and several other resources that would be helpful to speech language pathologists, special education teachers, and early interventionists. If you want to read more about these resources, click here!

If you’re interested in upping your pragmatic language therapy/evaluation game then you have come to the right place. Let me share my tips and tricks with you so that you can approach this tricky area with confidence. Click here and we can start learning together–I even want to give you a free pragmatic language evaluation checklist so you can sample my work. If my style isn’t your cup of tea, you can unsubscribe at anytime 🙂

Click the picture to get your free pragmatic language evaluation checklist now!