Welcome to The Hello Foundation Blog

We use this blog to keep professionals and parents current on the latest trends and research in our field, as well as to share opportunities or interesting stories.

Hello at NW Children's Outreach

The Hello Foundation made a strong showing Tuesday evening at NW Children's Outreach NE Portland.  Our team of clinicians, husbands and kids packed bags with seasonal clothing and shoes, filled special requests for diapers or socks, and even wrapped birthday presents and made cards for local kids! 

NW Children's Outreach has several locations in the metro area, allowing social service agencies to put in specific requests for their clients. Bags for individuals are packed by volunteers and picked up by case workers later in the week. This organization provides Hello clinicians a chance to collaborate outside of work, come together with our families to support kids in our own community, and practice our THF core value, "Give!"

Three recommendations for therapy and assessment

Here are a couple of finds I've come across in recent months, along with my favorite new app for language samples!

  • The Predictive Cluttering Inventory (PCI) by Daly (2006). It's an interesting tool designed specifically to differentiate people who (predominantly) clutter, clutter and stutter, and those who neither clutter nor stutter.
  • Create a free account at ReadWorks.org for unlimited access to their research-based reading comprehension curriculum. I love that I can search by grade level, as well as specific skills and strategies. Great for those sub days where I'm probing IEP goals on kids I've never met before!
  • You're the Storyteller: The Surprise is a fantastic app from Hamaguchi Apps that is so versatile! The app contains a wordless story, told in one video or through a series of short video 'chapters.' Students can then record their own words to 'tell' the story along with the video. Though it is set up to record within the app, I was disappointed to find that there is a 20 second limit on the recording for each chapter (not enough!), but I recorded the retell as a voicememo on my phone. What I loved about it was the complexity of the story - simple enough for a kinder to give a basic story about a boy bringing home a puppy, but with plenty of possibilities for older students to talk about explanations, emotions, and multiple perspectives.

Hello Clinicians Learn Together

Almost 30 Hello clinicians and their colleagues and neighbors came together last night for a presentation by Marydee Sklar on Visual Tools for Executive Functioning Success. Executive function is a topic we address more and more with teachers and students, but is also pertinent to our families, and our own struggles to be productive and fit more in to our busy days! Marydee's smart and funny style engaged us on both a professional and personal level. 

Here are some of the resources she referenced or recommended: 

  • 50 Tips to Help Students Succeed - Marydee's most recent book, providing concrete strategies in a quick, approachable format to help parents help their students succeed in school and life with a minimum of stress and conflict
  • The Miracle Cube Timer - Marydee's recommendation to support task initiation (one small tip of the cube and you've started!)
  • Combination Clock/Timer/Stopwatch - the favorite tool that Marydee was wearing around her neck! She told us about setting the timer for 15 minutes before she has to leave so she can start the process of being on time!
  • Mindset - A book by Carol Dweck explaining how better understanding the brain can create a love of learning and a resilience that is more important in finding success than abilities or talent. 
  • David Berg - a multisensory, structured program for cognitive development in Mathematics (contact Marydee Sklar for recommendations on local trainers and practitioners)

April 2014 Clinicians of the Month

Heidi Peters and Gina Ossanna each took on a practicum student from PSU last term, and introduced them to the alternate reality that is Distance Service! The grad students were interested in learning about this kind of non-traditional service model, and were lucky to be able to collaborate with these competent clinicians! 

"Like any other time I've had interns, it's more work.  You have to explain what you do while you're doing it, justify why you're focusing on this instead of that, etc.  But she's super smart, and keeps me on my toes professionally. And it's fun to have someone to share ideas with,” said Gina.

Although they were initially wary - their students were part time, but came to their home offices, and never actually met the students in person! - both Gina and Heidi agreed that it was a valuable experience both for them and for the students! 

Heidi had her student learn about scoring tests, writing reports, interpreting results, developing goals, writing present levels, and helping with lesson planning. She even arranged for her intern to get some assessment hours for completing an evaluation when a student from eastern Oregon was in town at OHSU. "Would I do it again? - Definitely!!!” says Heidi.

Thank you, Gina & Heidi, for demonstrating truly High Quality Service - with kids and future colleagues! Congratulations on being our April 2014 THF Clinicians of the Month!

Research Tuesday: What's the Deal with Speech Disorders, Language Disorders, and Reading Disabilities?

research tuesday

Ok, so before I delve into the question I ask in the title, I want to first give a little intro to this Research Tuesday thing, which is why I'm asking the question and how I found the answer. SO. Research Tuesday is a once-a-month event where SLPs around the world (!) write blog posts about research that is relevant to them. The posts go up on all of the different blogs on the second Tuesday each month, and then Rachel over at Gray Matter Therapy rounds 'em all up on her blog and does a summary post, like this one for March. I thought I'd give it a whirl since a) I like to be associated with smart people doing smart things, b) I get a little rush when I say, "Well, the literature tells us . . .", and c) I can't remember the last time I read a research article all the way through.  

I took the "recent research in the field that is pertinent to their scope of practice" line seriously and thought about what I'm doing right now that I'd like to know more about. I currently have a placement in a Middle School with pretty intense linguistic and cultural diversity, so I started with a search on ASHAWire for new research on working with English Language Learners (ELLs). Unforch, the pickin's were somewhat slim, so I made a mental note to go back to school to get my PhD and do clinically-relevant ELL research, and then I started a new search related to Middle Schoolers. I came across Reading Skills of Students with Speech Sound Disorders at Three Stages of Literacy Development (Skebo, C. M., Lewis, B. A., Freebairn, L. A., Tag, J., Ciesla, A. A., & Stein, C. M., 2013) from Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools and was intrigued enough to dive in. 

The purpose of this study was to look at the influence that a variety of linguistic and non-linguistic skills have on reading development over the course of a student's academic career, with a particular focus on those with Speech-Sound Disorders (SSDs) and/or Language Impairments (LIs). The authors cite a large body of evidence that supports that students with speech and language disorders are in fact at higher risk for having Reading Disabilities (RD) as well. It should come as no shock to anyone that phonological awareness, overall language ability, vocabulary, and non-linguistic cognitive skills are predictive of various aspects of success in learning to read. The team responsible for this article wondered, though, which sorts of linguistic and non-linguistic skills predict success at 3 different points in reading development -- Chall's (1983) Stage 2 (ages 7;0-8;11 ), Stage 3 (ages 10;1-12;11 ), and Stage 4 (ages 14;0-17;11 ) -- and whether the predictive value of any given skill was the same for a typically developing student and a student with a SSD and/or a LI. 

The study took 461 students, both typical and with speech/language disorders, and essentially tested the living daylights out of them. Each student was given the Goldman-Fristoe, the Elision subtest of the Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing, the CELF-3, the PPVT-III, the EOWPVT-R, 5-10 subtests on the WISC-III or the WAIS-R, the WIAT and the Word Identification (WI) and Word Attack (WA) subtests of the Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests-Revised. Over 2 sessions. Oosh! They then took all of the results, paired them with the demographic info for each participant, and did a whole bunch of fancy statistical analysis that I probably could have understood 15 years ago but was a smidge over my head today. 

All of that maths told the researchers that . . . 

  • Students with combined SSD and LI performed significantly more poorly than their typically developing peers or their peers with only SSDs across all 3 literacy stages.
  • Not surprisingly, these same SSD+LI kids were at greater risk for reading difficulties than students with SSD only. 
  • No significant differences were found between the students with typical language (TL) and SSD-only groups across literacy stages. In general, students with SSDs were more similar in performance to the TL kids than to the SSD+LI participants. 
  • Students with SSD-only may be able to rely on vocabulary and overall language abilities for both decoding and reading comprehension to make up for their phonological awareness deficits. Students with combined SSD+LI may be at a greater disadvantage because they have deficits in both phonological awareness and overall language skills. A double whammy, if you will. 
  • "Overall Language" skills were the most predictive factor influencing both decoding and reading comprehension for students with SSD+LI across reading stages. Middle School students relied on phonological awareness skills as well, while High School students relied on vocabulary skills. 
  • Students with SSD+LI differ in predictors of literacy skills from SSD-only and TL students. 

The authors conclude the article by saying that SLPs are uniquely qualified to address both the foundational skills and the later compensatory strategies that struggling readers with speech-language impairments have. Is it just me or are we "uniquely qualified" to do a ton of stuff?! Anyhoo, they also stress the importance of SLPs being familiar with the path of typical reading development and with the influence different factors have at the different stages of learning to read. 

Sooooo, what exactly is the deal with speech disorders, language disorders, and reading disabilities? And, maybe more importantly, what's that got to do with me, the SLP? The conclusions in this article supported the previous findings of others, showing that there is indeed a relationship between having a speech-language impairment and having difficulty learning to read. They also took it a step further and demonstrated that there are certain factors that influence success more than others, and that those factors change over time. It seems to me that the SLP who focuses on "overall language," with a particular eye to the stage of reading their student is in, would be supporting both the language and reading development of their student/client. Skills like identifying prefixes and affixes, knowing typical word order in sentences and sentence order in paragraphs, tricks for finding context clues, and the all important vocabulary (my borderline obsession) would all do double duty in helping students with both their oral language skills and their reading skills. I can think of one student on my MS caseload who is an emerging reader and fits the SSD+LI profile. Maybe we'll experiment with doing some quickie phonological awareness warm-ups each session. I'm curious to see how he does!

Now, off to find an article for next month!