It has been a long time! I think we can all relate to that feeling, though I cringe at the thought of talking about "hard times" and "pandemic", it really does distort our productivity, connectivity, and concept of how time passes!!
I have been working for myself for just about 6 years now- WOW. I have been so lucky to discover the great community of private practitioners out there who band together to face the struggle of bureaucracy. I feel so supported by my clients and of course my friends and family.
SPEAKING OF FRIENDS- my good friend from graduate school has decided to fill that functionality gap for her specialty and join me here at Imagination Therapy PLLC!
Erica is a great clinician, besides being a great person. She has worked tirelessly on honing her craft and has a LOT of creative ideas to support exponential growth for her patients. She cares deeply about functional use, stress reduction, building independence and a sense of agency for her clients. Long story short- she's a perfect fit for building my team!
I haven't worked with direct colleagues (besides the aforementioned excellent community of private practitioners!) in a long time, and I am ready to have a little company and community within these "walls"!
See the about section to "meet" Erica, and please reach out to learn more!
Erica and I hanging out during the Master's program at Rush University Medical Center! (2011)
In Little Italy (Chicago) celebrating 10 years since graduation and all of our professional achievements! (2022)
I'm offering consultation and direct services to tailor your child's education, and coach them through learning changes this year! I don't know what time will look like, but I'm putting out feelers for interested families!
The world will not be the same this fall, and that's one of the few things we all know for sure. I've worked in many schools, and I'd like to use my experience as a communication specialist and a diagnostician to organize the best plan with you and for you.
Your student's education will need to be individualized. Why not commit that this is the year EVERY child needs an IEP - an individualized education plan. While not all kids will get that tailored plan reserved for students with disabilities, we are ALL needing a special education plan, and I think special educators- speech therapists, occupational therapist, teachers, aids, administration- will have the wisdom to get us through this. Your student deserves and needs a specific approach to suit their specific restrictions this year.
-An IEP is a document made by special education teams to define:
-Strengths and weaknesses, and levels of adult support for success
-Setting the environment for success
-Setting specific goals for learning outcomes.
I'm happy to offer direct services about communication and setting up a plan with your team: your child, your school and family. I specialize in interpersonal communication, executive function and language comprehension and expression.
I see all types of people, even without disorders, for language and executive function coaching. I've been working with clients since March 12 on school changes and e-learning (yes, before it actually happened), and transitioned most of my clients to telehealth successfully. These have been complicated times, but my goal is defining with your child and your home:
What do you need to do to be successful?
How do we schedule, plan, and organize remote learning?
How can we take an e-learning environment and make it MORE challenging with independent learning?
Who needs to take the lead role in your team- is it administrators, teachers, students, parents, advisors?
I try to help get us all on the same page by defining roles, setting goals, and holding us all accountable for rigorous learning regardless of the environment.
That looks different for every student, so I try to tailor the needs, as I do as a speech pathologist.
Please reach out for consultation or direct services!
Today I had the pleasure of presenting at the Hatch Elementary School PTO with our District 97. I was invited with Alyssa from Dynamic Lynks Holistic Therapy who I partnered with last summer for our Executive Functions Camp(s)! Sadly, Alyssa was out, being cautious with illness right now (thank you for that Alyssa!).
Kara from the PTO invited us after hearing our presentations at the Middle School last year. It was SUCH a pleasure meeting these parents today- they had a big group of involved folks, and great questions about how to get their kids/students motivated, organized, and on time.
I gave examples from therapy as well as my home life, including the "points system" we have at home (pictured below - tip: use wet erase for the base and dry erase for points!).
Below were some of the great questions and the responses I gave (paraphrased!), the handout I provided for the parents, and a picture of our "screen time" positive behavior point system! I blocked where the kids' names go, and the list of do-don't can be adjusted for whatever YOUR target behaviors are at home.
Question 1: What do I do if my child is a disaster with folders- materials a mess and a crammed backpack? How much should I be doing, and how much should I be making them do?
I suggested that actually you don't need to force a system on them, or do it for them, but bring it to them of "what are you willing to do?"
a) Ask them how they would like to be organized: folders and colored tabs aren't for everyone!
For Example: a "dump" folder that I learned from Lisa Marsicano, is one way that maybe a slower processor can manage a fast class period transition.
b) If they don't think they need a system, give them a chance to prove it: "find that paper for me, I'll time you and see how fast you can do it!" and show them how being neat and organized (in some way) can improve how much free time they have, and the effort they have to put in. show them that they need a system, but that it can be a system that makes sense for them.
c) Scaffold: start small and build: pick one small skill and practice for a week or two before adding another step. First, let's keep track of your calculator, then as we succeed and buy in, we can build to folders and tabs.
Question 2: How do I get my daughter to get moving in the morning. No matter what I do, we are always running late and she doesn't seem motivated to go any faster.
We have this same issue at home with meals and mornings- the 6 year old especially. The thing is, they aren't motivated-- and we need to show them why they should care! In our house, we started a system to show that the things THEY care about are tied to responsibility, self-reliance, and good cooperation: they earn screens for efficient and cooperative behavior (see images for our example). Instead of money/allowance, we can offer screen time for a certain level of independence.
Also, set a visual for the timer where she can see it: a counting down timer, a marker on your clock-- the thing is that this little girl probably doesn't know what "time" feels like. She really thinks she is going "fast", and can't edit her urgency until she knows what "late" feels like.
Question 3: My son plays soccer, and every weekend I am working hard to be "super-dad" and make sure we pull it all off to get to soccer on time. I struggle with knowing when to let him fail, and not make it work. I tried that this weekend, so he could explain to the coach himself why he was late, and maybe understand the need to get going and focus on the 6 things that need to be done before he can play soccer.
I would make it visual for him: make a check-list and give a visual timer, like with the other urgency situation. We can give auditory prompts to get going, but visual support is much more tangible. His brain might be distracted and those internal distractions are much stronger than the checklist. To be fair, he might not even really realize that the list exists yet. We are the model for our kids, and we can talk aloud in order to show them how we get out the door on time. And yes, letting them fail to feel that consequence is VERY important- it's the feeling of "late" that will get them going. Some kinds of brains, though, simply can't control when they're on task, and they can't help getting off task: this is where we can support the step-by-step use of a tool or strategy that we use for ourselves, and follow the scaffolding steps: I do, We do, You do. I show you how to use it, then I help you use it, and then I expect you to use it. They have to somewhat master the skill in we-do, or else they will certainly fail during the independent "You do" phase. TELL them about these steps so they know they are expected to do it themselves and soon!
Affirmation/Statement/Question 4: Parents have SO much to do as it is, and while I don't want to pile-on, but they need to step up and give consistency if any of the tips are going to work- get up, have breakfast ready, and be ready yourself to get out the door. We need to model that consequences do happen or else they will not feel the responsibility to do it. Parents need to show that they can be responsible and on time, or else why would their kids do it?
Yes, we are the models: the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. You are the model raising your kids whether they are adopted, steps, grand-children, nieces etc. She is right, we need to be that model and show consistency. We also will fail- we are still only human. When we fail though, how likely is it that our child will tend to fail in the same way? We should admit this failing in a way that shows them how we correct it. Show them that "I can be this way too, sometimes!" and then show how you put in effort to be better and adjust. This could inspire them to do things differently, and even see that you "talk the talk, and walk the walk"- you are potentially the future adult they could become- and they are very much like you!
THANK you to the PTO for their hospitality this gray morning- it brightened my day, even if the sun won't.
This year is full of serendipitous moments! During a collaboration for one of my clients, I was connected with Alyssa Wilkins, a licensed music therapist and yoga instructor. She is excited, intelligent, evidence based and reached out to move forward with a collaboration over our common interest- Executive Functions.
I have had an incredible response already about this camp! I am so thrilled that people are interested in this skill set the way I am. Like pre-literacy, I know these kids are still developing the areas of the brain that organize, predict and plan, but why not give explicit instruction? Why not make it fun, so they can succeed in their social and school life?
If interested, please note that we have 3 age groups- find the age of the child, and then the dates! See the flier for information about pricing!
2-Week Executive Function Camp
(Mon-Thurs mornings, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.)
Imagination Therapy has connected with Dynamic Lynks in Oak Park to follow our common passion for executive function development.
In a play-based environment, we will work on cognitive development for a range of ages with three age groups.
7-12 year olds: July 15-25
13-18 year olds: July 29- Aug 8
3-6 year olds: August 12-22
We hope to build skills and get practice with:
*Language & Vocabulary*
Alyssa and I are both very excited about bolstering these skills that so many kids struggle with as they grow. These skills and strategies will build independence in social and academic life, and we think it's going to be really fun, too!
As always I appreciate the outpouring of support from this amazing community! I think this will be a really great option, and I'm not sure anything quite like it is out there. Please contact me katherine@ImaginationTherapyLLC.com or email@example.com for more information!
Happy New Year!
Welcome 2019! I have had a wild year starting this business, learning about insurance from the other side, slowly getting the swing still of scheduling, taxes, and how to arrange a holiday schedule.
Something I learned about myself, even in my mid 30's, is the importance of routine and stability. I rely heavily on following the same schedules and paths, and the holidays are great but definitely not a time of stability! It reminded me to be grateful for the people who I have connected to, and for my usual coping skills to handle changes. Not all the clients I work with cope with change.
I have been researching a lot about impulsivity lately. I wanted to know if the research supports a technique for impulse suppression, or if target behavior elevation is the therapy key. As you might guess, there isn't really a definite answer, but the speech therapy techniques talk a lot about activating the appropriate words. This is the context of aphasia, which is defined by ASHA as "a language disorder that happens when you have brain damage... Aphasia may make it hard for you to understand, speak, read or write. It does not make you less smart or cause problems with the way you think."
One very well known technique for addressing aphasia is Semantic Feature Analysis, or SFA. This helps with anomia, which is when you can't "find the word" you're looking for. SFA is documented by Boyle and Coelho in 1995 in the American Journal of Speech Language Pathology Vol 4, No 4. (http://eprints-prod-05.library.pitt.edu/227/1/25-03.pdf). We all use this technique when we talk around an object to think of the word that's just "on the tip of my tongue". The details associated, like it's group, use, action, properties, location and association, are considered and expressed to assist with activation of the word in verbal expression. This is an example of trying to elevate the target word as opposed to suppressing the error expression.
This technique is useful for mild-moderate aphasias, and requires a fairly heavy cognitive load to execute and the results for generalization are considered to be limited thus far. In my journey to find some more current evidence (1995 was over 20 years ago!) I found an article by my Aphasia professor from Rush, Dr. Peach. (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02687030903058629) which supports a discourse-based approach using the same techniques as opposed to single pictures.
Working with adults and kids to build their vocabulary and get their wants, needs, and observation labelled is a huge part of the job. For the SLP though, there seems to be a tendency to try to make these activities hobbies as well and my friends and I used to play this game called Anomia during our breaks! https://www.anomiapress.com/our-games.html
I have resolved to blog more in 2019, so here's hoping you'll get to hear a little more from me soon. I seem to be talking about The King's Speech a lot again lately, so maybe I'll go into the accuracy of that era of speech therapy!
Stay tuned, and happy new year everyone!
Good morning everyone! I haven't updated in a long time- no news is good news, because I've been very busy! What a great summer! I worked with folks ages 2-33 this summer and it was my dream come true.
I also did a lot of research and studying this year to build my executive function knowledge, to determine how to target language skills to support executive dysfunction, and the other continuing education with dysphagia and swallowing for my other work-life. As a result of gobbling up all this education, I was awarded an ACE award by my licensing board! I received a notice in the mail just the other day. How cool! I thought I had just missed the mark, but all that hard work will pay off!
It feels great to take that kind of initiative for myself and my clients through professional development, and then to be recognized by my field without having to self-promote loudly to anyone in particular.
In other news, I have been playing a game with a group called Beyond the Wall. I am planning an event for the guys to work through this afternoon (this is a group of teenage boys and we meet at the library on a weekly basis to work on natural social skills, problem solving, and language use). I am getting the hang of it, but GMing is hard work! Shout out to the DM and GM leaders out there!
I have had a greatly supported couple weeks! Of all the amazing friends, family and colleagues, I have to say that I think with the support of a small group of dedicated moms- anything is possible. Yes, I have had the support of a few amazing moms I would like to recognize.
1. My mom. She is so supportive and encouraging even though I bet she worries. If she is more confident than worried, I feel like a success!
2. Lauri from http://www.theapraxiaconnection.org
I got invited to an event with this amazing group in order to see Nancy Kaufman speak to parents of children with CAS. This is a speech production disability at the level of the motor planning phase that can cause unintelligible speech, and can result in non-verbal communication. I am so excited to be involved with the Apraxia Connection!
3. Nani- My nephews stay with Nani in her care during the day, and she is an enthusiastic supporter! She connected me with Mom mail.. again, moms should take over as they are efficient and are supportive! I have had two connections from mom mail already- how amazing!
4. Lara who supports me and my business every week- I am so grateful for her and her great family!
In light of growing connections with EFS Coach, Lakeview Speech, Possible opportunities with Loyola Home Health, and my previous employer at Central DuPage Hospital, I am hoping for a 2018 schedule for Imagination Therapy to look like this:
Tuesday: 3-7, there are spots for 2 clients (2 slots are already taken!) and I think I may hold off on Open Houses for Tuesdays
Wednesday: Open Houses, 4:30-6:30, based on interest so far. See my services page for details in informal intervention and support. I would LOVE more people, and request for activities or lessons! If there is interest, I will build a schedule of topics/lessons! (see below)
Thursday: I have spots for clients from 3-7, like Tuesday. I currently have spots for 3 clients (I may need to travel between!) since one is taken already!
Saturday: My Saturdays are open, and I am working with EFSC to work with them part time, too, as interest builds and word on the street spreads. I want to make time for 4-6 clients in Oak Park on Saturdays- i'm wide open in 2018, so contact me for details! firstname.lastname@example.org
Topics for Wednesdays... just ideas for now:
"That's so Meta"- How to talk about talking and think about thinking.
"Sequential, Spatial, Ordinal" - Vocabulary building
"Prioritize"- How do we decide what is most important?
"Visualize" - We all do it, how can I make this idea something tangible- to see or hold on to it.
"Predicting the FUTURE?!"- Actually, we can make better guesses than we think, if we assess all the details,
"Multi-tasking" - Nowadays we can't get by without doing at least 2 things at once. How can we focus our attention (Maybe this is a follow up to Prioritize??).
I'll keep it coming and make some of these topics available to you all. I think these lessons would be free, and from 4:00-4:30 on Wednesday, with chances to practice after at the open house. PLEASE leave a comment or contact me if you think this sort of opportunity would appeal to you or someone you know.
Ok, I think I will blog one of those ideas tomorrow, and I look forward to hearing from you!
Yesterday was my friend Holly's birthday, and we went out this weekend to celebrate! She is an SLP as well, and she and I met through trivia and our dogs, Daisy and Lady. Her family has Gypsy blood, and they do tarot and palm readings. Well, for her birthday we went to a local place, and I got my fortune told via crystal ball (!). The woman immediately asked about my new business venture- wow! She told me that it would be very successful, and not to worry about the bumps in the road coming up in these early months.
Well if you are a frequent flier to this website, you'll know that my website has been down for 2 days because of some mistakes I made with the billing! Weebly and Namecheap were great though, and restored all my content, thank GOODNESS. I am also managing a re-fax situation with BCBS: I didn't include some pages of the whole application and it got rejected! Even the non-application portions need to be returned, for anyone trying to apply as a provider!
Despite the little hiccups though, there has been an awful lot to be thankful for! I am working alongside some excellent companies and people who are supportive and great role models for me as I start up!
Executive Function Skills Coach (EFS Coach), run my Lisa, referred by Alex at Social Butterfly, Inc.
Lisa is an amazing resource and was a very early advocate for Executive Function in the area. She does not to therapy, but is a former teacher who COACHES kids. She has some AMAZING products, too- I think she said these are the result of 15 years of work with Executive Function.
Alex was my first contact who offered to help me work through some of those start-up moments as a private speech therapist. She was the first to tell me that this field is so needed, that I should be proud of myself and that in this business world, we collaborate instead of compete! What a great message from someone who has been working for years now, and started in the school system like I did! Alex provides social groups for kids including several integrated philosophies, including the style of Michelle Garcia-Winner.
The Auditory Connection, run by Donna Turetgen, a community connection!
Donna is a fellow product of Rush University Medical Center and an Audiologist in the area! She met with me VERY early on in October and is not only a very like-minded, supportive colleague, but a great cheerleader and new friend. Donna has experience with students who have Auditory Processing Disorders, among others, and notices a real need for work with Executive Function!
Lakeview Speech and Language Clinic, run by Tracy Trumbell., a former Northwestern classmate of mine!
Tracy reached out to me during my open houses, and she and I are working together in the Oak Park area (and surrounding suburbs!). She is so smart, positive, and collaborative with everyone in the area- I am inspired by her and hope my business grows alongside hers to help everyone who needs services in our local community!
I also have been cheered on by my former employer at the Center for Speech and Language Disorders (CSLD), and all the amazing people I worked with there, too!
Yesterday was Giving Tuesday, and if you have the time and extra money, a little goes a long way to help kids who do not have the means get the therapy they need. CSLD is a non-profit speech clinic, and provides programs for social communication and literacy intervention, and can provide a variety of speech services in a 1:1 environment as well!
Of COURSE I couldn't do any of it without my amazing individual supporters- Leelaa, Lara, Linda/Nani, my friends and supporters on facebook for spreading the word, my family, my partner (who helps me with all my technical and internet things when he is not working his full time job!), my D&D buds who are flexible with my open houses, my Doobs (in the UK!), my trivia team, my WAKA kickball friends, one my my rocks Gina and the SugarBeet Co-op in Oak Park (https://sugarbeetcoop.squarespace.com). I am sure I am missing someone or somewhere, but I feel so lucky for all the support and generosity in my life right now.
Happy Holidays, however you spend them! I hope to hear from you soon and I look forward to meeting you!