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Welcome to Speech - Language Pathology

What do you think of when someone mentions Speech services in the schools? Often most people instantly think of a “Speech Teacher” who works with students that have difficulty pronouncing certain sounds affecting their intelligibility (our ability to understand them) or students who may exhibit fluency issues (aka - stuttering).

That is certainly part of my job but, as with most SLPs (Speech-Language Pathologists), the majority of the students that I work with are struggling with language skills. Hence the name Speech-Language Pathologist.
Language skills can be broken down into three different areas. Receptive Language – how someone understands or comprehends verbal information, Expressive Language – how someone is able to express themselves to convey information, and Pragmatic or Social Language – how one uses language (both verbal and non-verbal) to communicate with others.

Currently I have a 5th Grade group working on an activity to build their Expressive Language Skills. We read the book The Greatest Homework Excuse Book Ever which was authored and illustrated in 2009 by a 4th Grade class at Sycolin Creek Elementary School in Leesburg, Virginia. (One interesting fact we figured out, these students would be sophomores in high school this school year!)

In this book, a boy forgot to bring his homework to school one day and was feeling anxious as he watched his teacher walk around the room collecting everyone’s homework. As he wondered what to do, a student next to him passed him the very book that may solve his dilemma!

As he looked through the book, he wondered which excuse his teacher was likely to accept – “My mom thought my homework was wrapping paper and mailed it to my Uncle Fred”, “My brother made it into a paper airplane and accidently flew it into the paper shredder”, “Aliens came down to Earth and demanded I give them my homework”, etc. My favorite “The doctor says I’m allergic to homework” (it evens comes with a Doctor’s note that you just have to cut out and give to your teacher). Eventually, he realizes that all of the excuses are worthless and breaks down, telling his teacher the truth. His teacher thanks him for telling the truth and not giving her some silly excuse. She tells him just to bring it in tomorrow.

Our group decided that we needed to come up with our own Homework Excuse Book. The group worked together to brainstorm ideas (“My dad used my homework for a napkin.” “My mom put it in the dishwasher.”) Then we worked on expanding those ideas in order to express them clearly to a reader. We edited our work and added illustrations to match our story. Now we are in the final process of putting together our pages. What a fun activity and the entire time the students are building their Expressive Language skills!

I also want to take this opportunity to introduce a student Intern from East Carolina University who I am supervising this semester. Kim Gajan (rhymes with Lion) will be with us through early December. She has an undergraduate degree in Graphic Design but made the decision to return to school to receive her graduate degree in Speech/Language Pathology. Kim lives right here in Union County and has two children attending Rea View Elementary School.

Speech students working on their expressive writing.


Written by: Joan Lewis, Speech Language Therapist
Posted: Oct 10, 2014 by Carrie Johnson

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