19 April 2016

How to find assistive technology loans in your state

Let's be honest--finding assistive technology that works with any of our students with more involved needs can be intimidating, let along pricey! Communication devices can come with astronomical pricetags. What's more nerve-wracking than hoping that you've selected JUST the right technology for a child?! What about a child who needs adaptive switches, or switch-operated toys?! Those things just don't grow on trees!

I've probably said almost every one of those phrases, and so have a lot of my colleagues. Fear not. Each of the 50 states offer assistive technology loan programs, and some even offer "trial runs" of products were are very much like a try for awhile before you buy system. (Can we have that system set up with shoes? Just a thought. Someone make that happen!) Psstt--assistive technology includes communication devices!
Here's a list of assistive technology loaner/trial programs I've found for each of the 50 states. I use this system quite often in my outpatient/early intervention positions, and it's been an absolute life-saver. I've used it to just try a device, grab a piece of tech that I didn't have access to, or use it as a hands-on demonstration to improve parent buy-in. If you're school-based only, you can still use these resources. Just remember--state laws can be really finicky about suggesting parents rent/trial assistive technology, so know your state and district's policy. And if you rent/loan/trial a piece of equipment yourself, you're financially responsible!

Simply find your state listed below and copy/paste the link into a new browser to start perusing what your state has to offer! [This is list is current as of 4/19/2016]

Alabama --https://al.at4all.com/
Alaska --https://catalog.aktradingpost.org/welcome.aspx
Arizona ---http://aztap.org/
Arkansas --https://equipment.ar-ican.org/
California --https://exchange.abilitytools.org/
Colorado --http://www.swaaac.com/LoanBank.html
Connecticut --http://www.eastconn.org/index.php/assistive-technology-lending-library
Florida --https://www.faast.org/programs/device-loans/search
Illinois-- http://www.iltech.org/deviceloan/SearchInventory.aspx
Indiana --https://www.indata.at4all.com/
Kentucky --https://katsnet.at4all.com/
Louisiana --https://www.disability.gov/resource/louisiana-assistive-technology-access-network-latan/
Maine --http://mainecite.org/devices-for-loan/
Maryland --http://mdod.maryland.gov/mdtap/Documents/Loan%20Closet%20Directory%202015.pdf
Massachusetts --http://www.easterseals.com/ma/our-programs/assistive-technology/loan-programs.html
Michigan --http://mits.cenmi.org/LendingLibrary.aspx
Minnesota --http://server.admin.state.mn.us/star/device.html
Mississippi --https://www.myatprogram.org/?State=28
Missouri --http://at.mo.gov/device-loan/etc-catalog.html
Nebraska --https://www.at4all.com/
Nevada --https://natrc15.wordpress.com/assistive-technology-loan-library/
New Hampshire --http://www.iod.unh.edu/priorityareas/assistivetechnology/Services/DemonstrationsandLoans.aspx
New Jersey --http://www.assistivetechnologycenter.org/technology-lending-center
New Mexico--http://www.tap.gcd.state.nm.us/assistive-bank-of-loan-equipment-device-loan-program-able/
New York--https://www.justicecenter.ny.gov/services-supports/assistive-technology-traid/traid-in-eep
North Carolina--http://www.ncexchangepost.org/items_available.php
North Dakota --http://ndipat.org/
Pennsylvania    http://www.ioddev.org/search_inventory.php
Rhode Island http://www.atap.ri.gov/
South Carolina http://scatp.med.sc.edu/
South Dakota https://www.sd.at4all.com/
Tennessee http://tacnashville.org/services/
Texas http://tatp.edb.utexas.edu/
Utah http://www.uatpat.org/atlab/
Vermont http://www.atp.vt.gov/
Virginia http://www.vats.org/Default.htm
Washington http://washingtonaccessfund.org/
West Virginia http://wvats.cedwvu.org/
Wisconsin https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/disabilities/wistech/index.htm
Wyoming  http://www.uwyo.edu/wind/nimas/index.html

Have a resource or website you love in your state that I didn't list? Leave it in the comments or e-mail me and I'll add it to the list right away!
Happy tech-ing!

21 February 2016

How (and why) I teach phone numbers in speech therapy

Last year I had a pretty scary experience--one of my first grade students went home the wrong way and ended up crossing the busiest four-lane highway in my city. When he made it to the drugstore on the corner, he couldn't tell the clerk his phone number, parents name, or his address. Needless to say, it was a scary day for all of us. (Don't worry--he was safe and sound!)

From that day on, I've worked to make sure ALL of my students know their personal safety information. Now, in order to line-up to go back to class, I use personal safety questions as "exit tickets" for each student. 
 My caseload consists of about 50% moderate cognitive disability students along with a lot of other diagnosis, so I have to go a little bit beyond "Hey kid, learn your phone number".

In undergraduate, I did some in-home therapy with children on the Autism spectrum and I learned the technique of backwards chaining. I dusted off this old skill and I've been seeing great results with my entire caseload. Here's what my setup looks like.

All you need to accomplish this task is a student, their phone number, a couple post-it notes and a pen. By the by, this isn't my phone number. I won't answer if you call this number :) 

Break up the phone number according to the student's number identification level. If they can identify 2-digit numbers, break it down like the photo below. If they can identify single digits only, you'll need a few more pieces of paper. 
Not familiar with backwards chaining?  Check out my example here (and ignore the few cat "meows" in the background. Ryder thinks he's a backwards chaining professional.)

This method is easy enough to teach, so I've taught it to my special education teachers and their assistants, which has been great for reinforcement! 

What ways have you found to be successful in teaching personal safety information? I'd love to hear about them!

28 December 2015

My SLP New Year's Resolutions for 2016

I remember this time last year--getting ready to ring in 2015 and while I was excited, I wasn't sure how great of a year it would be. For the first time, there were no graduations, licenses or other monumental occasions that I knew were coming. Little did I know, it would turn out to be a year of accomplishments!
If you follow me in Instagram, you saw these photos this year--my top 9 photos of 2015! A lot of giveaways, funny e-cards and a cat costume. So you know, typical.

-In September, I ran my first half-marathon alongside my best friend (her 3rd!) This was a huge bucket list check-off for me, especially since I don't consider myself a true runner. I ate the best.breakfast.ever. shortly after this picture ;)

-In November, I got the incredible chance to head to ASHA in Denver (my first solo flight!) and spent the weekend with these 14 incredible fellow bloggers. These ladies are hilarious, smart, wise, and all around good souls. I also got to meet so many of YOU readers at our SLP Blogger Booth, which was the icing on the cake!

I also started a new PRN position at a wonderful pediatric clinic, celebrated one year as a home owner, and the list goes on. So as I sit here 360-some days later, here's my SLP resolution list:

-Put away the data binder more. Yep, you read that right. While data drives everything we do, I want to be more present with my students and hear what they have to say, not just how they say it. My goal is to spend one session a month unbound by my massive pink binder and be all the more intentional with my kiddos.

-Get a handle on paperwork. Especially in the spring, you can find me any given morning writing last minute paperwork (whoops!) for my school caseload of 80 and counting. I'm resolving to have paperwork I need done at least 3 days in advance to save my sanity, and ensure my students have the best documentation and IEPs possible.

-Eliminate the clutter. This is my third school year as an SLP, but I've already collected a hefty stash of speech materials. There may or may not be an entire room in my house I refer to as "the toy room" because it's entire contents are full of materials and toys. I stocked up on any and everything I could get my hands on during grad school and some things I haven't touched since. It's time for quality over quantity (and gaining another room back in my house!).

What are your resolutions for 2016? I'd love to hear them in the comments. Happy New Year!