Cindy L. Meester's Blog- Speech Therapy with a Twist

“Look around and use what you have” Dr. Hank Lawson

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on August 17, 2011

In a preview for the TV show Royal Pains Dr. Hank Lawson was asked how he knew to use some non-medical object to help a patient  and  he stated ” I just look around and use what I have.” It is also a philosophy that I tend to use in therapy. I realize this is part of who I am but I believe as an SLP it is part of our job description. Often when working with a child I can see that the great activity I planned is falling flat so I “look around” and adapt. This happened yesterday with a young client I see in private therapy. We have been working on improving her speech intelligibility but when you are only 4 years old drill and practice is not so much fun. So I’ve tried to pump up activities to keep her focused, motivated and improve her sounds. She loves the Crocodile Dentist game but she does not like to push the teeth. She enjoys watching me get “bit” though. We have used the Crocodile Dentist Seasons app* (which I see is no longer listed in the US iTunes store) but it was not as exciting for her. So we continue to use the crocodile toy in our sessions and this is how I used it yesterday.

*There are some different apps called  Crocodile Familylion dentistdentist game and shark dentist available at the time of this posting.

I took the worksheet with our target sounds and put it in the crocodile’s mouth.  As she said each word (for the croc to eat) I pushed a tooth and we continued until he bit! We had done this in the past using articulation cards but using the whole worksheet seemed to make her giggle more today. The bonus of not cutting up the pictures today was that I could send the page home with crocodile bite marks- small indentations but I drew some in so she could show her mom. This also led to making up sentences about what the crocodile liked or didn’t like to eat. It seemed today the crocodile liked boogers as a seasoning. So the croc ate a bug with boogers, a cup with boogers, a hat with boogers… which reminded me of another fun activity from Eric Raj.

If you would like to see some more fun “use what you have” activities be sure to check out Erik Raj’s newest post in his Artic Brain blog. This one is fun and the gross factor will be a hit!  Another fun gross game is Totally Gross from University Games which I have used with older kids (recommended age 8+) to work on language and articulation skills.

The point of my blog today is to use what you have and change it up similar to my last post Pump up your frumpies. We often find ourselves with this great activity (in our eyes) that isn’t so great in the child’s eyes. So look around and use what you have or follow the child’s lead and let them create a new activity from what you have. I’m always a fan of incorporating higher level thinking skills within all my sessions. This can be as simple as saying “What do you think?” or “What can I do with this?” For less verbal kids it might just be me holding out an object and shrugging. I just try to use what I have.

Now it’s your turn.  Please add your ideas on how you “use what you have” in the comment section. Thanks!!!


11 Responses to '“Look around and use what you have” Dr. Hank Lawson'

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  1. cmf said,

    I couldn’t agree more. Way back in the dinosaur days when I was in grad school I was endlessly frustrated by having to write detailed “lesson plans” that rarely worked out the way I envisioned them. Luckily I came across James McDonald’s ECO program and learned to respond more to my students and less to the goals and activities. I’ve drawn endless pictures of poop and snot and other gross things that my artic boys want to talk about. I’ve learned to crash, knock down, throw in the trash, and destroy all in the name of keeping my early intervention students engaged and interested. The real challenge of being a good and effective therapist is learning how to layer goals on top of a child’s interests and motivations.

    • Cindy said,

      Yes we end up learning a lot from the kids in therapy! Thanks for the comment.

  2. cjmonty said,

    The crocodile dentist is one of my favorites. A few of my kids use a pen with an eraser tip to be the finger because they are afraid of the bite. I’m not sure an app provides that thrill. I’ve expanded on the value of this game by taking masking tape and putting pieces on the teeth. I color them using primary color markers. I then give directions using prepositions. “push the tooth between the red and blue one”. This was actually an invention that happened because I had a child with CP who did not have use of her arms. She used her VOCA to tell us what to push down for her turn. Then I realized we could practice the prepositions also.

    • Cindy said,

      Great ideas! It’s like putting caps or crowns on the teeth. I’ve used objects for some kids to push down the teeth too but some kids still don’t like to use them. I’ll need to try making “caps” for the teeth.

  3. Janette said,

    Hi Cindy, The links on the last 4 pages of Do Donkeys Dance? didn’t not open so that they could be printed. Thanks for uploading the books!

    • Cindy said,

      Thanks Janette- First day of school today so I’m not sure when I can check it out. But I will! I appreciate you letting me know.

  4. I bet she liked the real crocodile over the app because of the tactile feel of it. Apps may be fairly decent for some sensory input but they definitely can’t bite you!

    Unrelatedly, do you accept guest posts for your blog? I would’ve emailed you but I can’t seem to find your contact info. Drop me a line at nataliehntr86 at gmail, thanks!

    • Cindy said,

      Yes seeing, feeling and hearing the toy is a lot different then using an app!
      I’ll send you a message.

  5. I really love so much of what you have blogged about. Crocodile Dentist is my students favorite game – I’ve been needing some new ideas on how to play because I’m bored! Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Cindy said,

      Thanks! I love watching my students reactions to this game. One little girl liked it until she saw it snap then she kept moving back from rpthe table while the other kids played. She wanted to watch but not too close! Her expressions were priceless especially when it snapped!

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