Have you ever had the “Why do I come to speech” conversation? Or worse, the “Why does he come to speech” conversation? It’s tricky, you know. Keep reading, because these first day of speech therapy activities will help you answer that uncomfortable question with confidence.
Student: “Mrs. Davault, why do I come to speech?”
Me: You are learning how to correctly say the /r/ sound.
Student: “Ok, why does HE come to speech” *student gestures to a boy in the group that is working on social communication and has perfect articulation*
Me: (fumbling, as I quickly try and find the appropriate way to explain group therapy and speech disorders to my speech group): Um, well, he is working on something different.
Some disorders are easy to explain, others, not so much.
As a newer clinician, I would frequently experience some version of that conversation. Group therapy makes this conversation even more difficult, because let’s be honest, you cannot be 100% confidential in group therapy. You just can’t. I had no idea how to explain why a student came to speech, without totally violating all confidentiality.
Finally, after what felt like the millionth time of having this conversation, I had a light bulb moment. I needed to be doing a better job of explaining to my students why they were coming to speech. I already talked about goals with my kids, but I wasn’t doing a very good job. We would quickly address it at the beginning of the year, and then I usually would forget about it until the start of the next school year.
What I wasn’t doing, was teaching my students why they had to come see me in the first place.
When you take the time to explain the different kinds of speech and language disorders to your students, you can help each student understand what they are working on when they come to speech, and then you can draw on this knowledge for the rest of the time they are in speech therapy. You can also use this knowledge to open a conversation about specific goals, and how you are going to go about mastering those goals.
Here is how I do this:
- I do an age appropriate activity with my students that explains why they come to speech. If they are younger, we do an interactive mini-book that gives a very broad summary of their disorder (although I do not use the word disorder with them). If they are older, I like to do a reading passage and comprehension question activity (that way we are still working on other things while we address this task #multitasking). Each student gets a reading passage or book, that is specific to their individual disorder.
- After they know why they are coming to speech, we talk about when they will come and we talk about their individual goals. You can use your discretion on this step to make it as confidential as you feel comfortable with. For example, you can choose to pull students aside individually and discuss goals one at a time while the other students in the group work on coloring the mini-book or answering the comprehension questions.
- We talk about how it might take a long time to master our goals, and that the more we practice, the faster we will master them.
The beauty of using this method, is that it opens the doors of communication. Students have an opportunity to have their questions answered and they understand the process. They also get to learn about many different kinds of speech disorders, and that everyone who comes to speech, has goals to work on.
What’s even more beautiful, is that we can use these activities for any first day of speech. It could be the first day back from summer, the first day of a new IEP year, or the first day of a new insurance authorization period. It works all the time!
If you are interested in using my method, please let me save you some time! I have already done all the hard work of creating, so you don’t have to.
- Classroom posters you can hang in your room to remind students why they come to speech. (see below)
- Interactive mini books for younger students. There is one for each disorder (language, articulation, fluency, pragmatic language, and voice).
- Reading passages and comprehension questions for older students. There is one for each disorder (language, articulation, fluency, pragmatic language, and voice).
If you are not sure what this school year will bring and would like a digital version of this resource, I’ve got you covered!
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 🙂