About Speechy Keen Speech Therapy

Tara Roehl is a private practice Speech-Language Pathologist based in the Boulder, CO area. Find out more about Tara Roehl and her private practice by clicking the button below.

Clinic Information
  • Connect with us on Facebook

    Connect with us on Facebook

  • Get Clinic Updates Via Twitter

    Get Clinic Updates Via Twitter

Popular Post: Angry Birds

Popular Post: Angry Birds

"Today a student brought the stuffed toys into group to show the others. One of the other boys quickly identified the characters and the two of them talked and laughed. What they failed to notice was the third group mate, who clearly had no experience with Angry Birds. A lesson was born …"
Read More
Popular Post: Double-Lock Rule

Popular Post: Double-Lock Rule

"Making sure your client files are secure is never something to be taken lightly. No matter how small or large your practice may be, making sure they are protected also protects you..."
Read More
Popular Post: Pinterest

Popular Post: Pinterest

"What if I told you that I had found a resource with unlimited activities, games and crafts for use in your therapy? What if I said this resource could also connect you to some of the latest research, creative SLPs like yourself and even additional resource libraries..."
Read More
Popular Post: Diversity

Popular Post: Diversity

Diversity isn’t just ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation. Let's talk about neurodiversity.
Read More

The ASHA Convention ‘14: A How-To Guide

ASHA Convention '14: A How-To Guide | Tips for thriving at this year's ASHA Convention in Orlando!

It’s hard to believe we are officially 30 days from the start of The American Speech-Language and Hearing Associations annual convention in Orlando, Florida! Every year I try to gather the best tips, information, insider knowledge and overall encouragement for people headed to the Convention. I’ve only missed 2 years since graduate school – so I have quite a few conventions under my belt. I hope you find this helpful!

Today I’m going to give you a quick overview of what the rest of the month will look like. Do you have burning questions you are hoping I’ll answer? Tweet me at @speechykeenslp, or shoot me an e-mail at tara@speechykeenslp.com, and I will try to work it into the series!

Week 1: Problem Solving Purchases

[October 20-26]

Having made the mistake once, I’ve learned my lesson. My shopping list goes out the very first week to give everyone time to get their orders in! This week I will be telling you about all of the lifesaving purchases that help me make the most of ASHA14. These are fine tuned, tried and true purchases that will not only make the Convention run smoother for you, but will be useful after convention too!

Week 2: Set Your Schedule!

[October 27- November 2]

That ASHA Planner can be completely overwhelming! The on-line program planning? Even more so! How do you pick a good session? How do  you set up your schedule? How much time do you need for the exhibit hall? Should you attend short courses, technical sessions or posters? I’ll answer all of these questions and more! I’ll be sharing my free planning template and you’ll even get a peek into my schedule for the convention!

Week 3: What to Wear Where!

[November 3 – November 9]

As if choosing an outfit each day wasn’t difficult enough. a conference can take it to the next level of stress. Your outfit can change drastically day-to-day depending on your plans. I’ll walk you through what is expected and unexpected to wear in a variety of convention settings, as well as some SLP trends that are popping up all over social media!

Week 4: Pack and Prep!

[November 10-16]

As we are in the final days of the ASHA14 countdown, I’ll help you pack your suitcases for your grand getaway! We’ll talk about those necessities, what to leave at home and how to make sure you have everything you need for your arrival. We’ll also talk about packing your bag for each day of the convention!

The Final Days!

[November 17-19]

Just three days left until ASHA14 begins! These final days we’ll chat about how to network, where meet other likeminded SLPs and have you walking into the Orange County Convention Center ready to take on this years Convention! 2

I can’t wait to share with you… let’s get ready for convention!

- Tara, the Speechy Keen SLP

Weekly Planning Part One: The Set-Up

Weekly Planning Part One: The Set-Up | http://www.speechykeenslp.com

Last week I posted about  how to print on sticky notes. In that post I mentioned how sticky notes can help with time management and planning. I received some wonderful feedback from that post and I decided to give you some examples of how I help my clients do weekly planning using those printed sticky notes!

The first step is the “set-up” – creating our “Days of the Week” papers. I print out 8 1/2 x 11 sheets of paper with the day of the week printed at the top. Important: each day of the week is on a different colored sheet of paper. This is the beginning of a color coded system for my clients, so we pick the colors VERY specifically. It really is whatever makes since to each client, so I have to keep a note in my file as to what color system each client uses. TIP: if you are short on colors for printer paper, you can print on construction paper. Just make sure to carefully trim it down to 81/2 x 11 and feed it in one piece at a time.

Next I laminate these sheets. I do this for two reasons: durability and to create a work surface.These sheets will be getting a LOT of use, so laminating means they will hold up and not have to be recreated over and over again. It also creates a good surface for the sticky notes to adhere to each week without coating them in paper residue – you’ll see why this is important in the upcoming posts. Did you know laminating creates a dry erase surface as well? (hint hint)

BTW, This is my favorite laminator!

Tune in next week for the next post in this series …

- Tara, the Speechy Keen SLP

Printing Sticky Notes

As Featured On: PediaStaff Tip Of The Week

Disclaimer: I don’t know about you, but I have a ton of clients who avoid writing like the plague. And that isn’t even an over dramatization. There is so much anxiety around it for so many of my students. Whether is sensory, motor planning, task initiation … they all have a valid reason for their dislike. I’m a firm believer in “picking your Alamo”, and writing just is not one of them for me. I may make a few OTs angry at me with this post but I’m going to say it: I let my clients avoid writing. Heck, I even help them! Here’s why: I get a very short amount of time with them each week (40 minutes). I am NOT going to spend 20 of it convincing them to START writing. There are different topics that take a priority for us. Not better, not worse. Just different. Ok, now that is out of the way…


Did you know you can print on sticky notes? This is a great alternative for the messy writer or the client with dysgraphia, sensory difficulties, motor plannign delays... I even do it for myself now! | found on http://www.speechykeenslp.com/blog #slpeeps #specialed #stickynote

I love sticky notes. No really. I REALLY love sticky notes. In college I would write down every task I had to complete for the whole semester on individual sticky notes and surround my computer monitor with them. There was nothing more relieving than ripping off that sticky note and tossing it across the room into the trash can.

Sticky notes are a big help for my middle school clients as well. Many of them have trouble with time management, which translates to “task management” and “week management” as well! We began by printing of sheets of paper with the days of the week at the top, laminated them, and put them up somewhere prominent. Then each week we go through their upcoming tasks and break them down into manageable steps. This is where I would normally have them write them out on a sticky note. But I’ve found a work around! Technology to the rescue!

While cruising around Pinterest I came across a tutorial on printing sticky notes. SURELY it couldn’t be THAT easy …. right?! Nope, it was even EASIER than I thought! So, I created my own little template which you can download:

Click her eto download a free template for printing on sitcky notes with your students! | Found on http://www.speechykeenslp.com/blog

Now the printing part may be a bit of a learning curve but guess what – that turned into a GREAT lesson too! Problem solving, interpreting symbols, drafts before the final project …

Enjoy your sticky notes!

- Tara, the SpeechyKeen SLP

Pinterest Tip: Name that image!

Pinterest Tip: Name that image! | by SpeechyKeenSLP http://www.speechykeenslp.com/blog/pinterest-tip-name-that-image

This post is a follow up to questions I have received since this article on The ASHA Leader Blog.

Pinterest: Name that image! | by SpeechyKeenSLP http://www.speechykeenslp.com/blog/pinterest-tip-name-that-image

Did you know that you can have a say when it comes to the pins from your site? And do you realize that so many people don’t take that advantage? It always makes me groan when I see a site is missing out on that great opportunity! Are you making this common mistake?

What is it …

When you upload an image into your blog or on your webpage, you are able to set parameters. I am already assuming you have them watermarked, after my last post. Settings one typically uses include size, links, location and more. The one most people don’t take advantage of is “alt image tags”. I could get all technical on you, but let’s keep it straight and to the point …

Alt Image Tags name your pin!

When you “pin” something from a webpage, you are able to enter a description. As the webpage/blog owner, you can pre-set the description by setting your Alt Image Tag. People are often “lazy pinners”. This means that if there is already a description, they often won’t change it! Can you see how great this could be for driving traffic?

How to do it …

If you have a WordPress blog, you have the option on every image to enter an Alt Image Tag …

Pinterest Tip: Name that image! | by SpeechyKeenSLP http://www.speechykeenslp.com/blog/pinterest-tip-name-that-image

If you are coding your own site, you can insert it into your image code:

Pinterest Tip: Name that image! | by SpeechyKeenSLP http://www.speechykeenslp.com/blog/pinterest-tip-name-that-image

In Blogger you can hover over an image, go to “properties” and change it there. Here is a good tutorial.

What to say…

Now you know how to set your Alt Image Tag, but do you know what to write to pull in those people from Pinterest? Here are some great starting points to consider when writing your description …

  • Be wordy!
    You have 500 words, and the most re-pinned often have 200-300 words in the description.
  • Keywords are important!
    Think about the words people will “search” for when they are looking for what you have to offer. But don’t “keyword stuff”, which is when people just write out a bunch of keywords in “list form”. Stick those keywords into a winning paragraph and you’re on the right track!
  • Balancing Act
    Be sure your description has readability, relatability and reaction creation! You want it to be easy to read, you want to speak to your target audience and you want to make people click that link. So before you type, think. Are you pinning this for clients, co-workers, parents, professionals? Write to them!
  • Hashtags
    Just like on Twitter, and more recently Facebook, Pinterest allows for hashtags. Do some searching and find a few hashtags that relate to your content. You can even create your own for your content/branding. But try to keep hashtags to 3 or less, otherwise you look “spammy”.
  • Link Back
    Always include your full webpage address in the description. This helps people find their way back to you. Be sure to link to the specific content page, and not just your website overall. When people follow a pin, they want to be taken directly to the image they were looking at on Pinterest! And don’t “shorten” those, Pinterest often sees those as “spam”.

Do you have more questions? Leave a comment or find me on Pinterest or Twitter! I’m happy to answer!

– Tara, the SpeechyKeen SLP

Minecraft Gingerbread Houses: Wrap Up!

Due to a lot of scheduling craziness, it took us a few extra weeks to wrap up our gingerbread houses. Thank goodness we weren’t planning on eating them!

One particular student really loves making “Stop Animation” movies for YouTube. So, we did a “Getting Ready, Doing, Done” to plan out a Minecraft Film that shows you his house (with a little flair for the dramatic). He’s quite proud of it – as am I! His executive functioning skills skyrocketed throughout the gingerbread building process.

With his parents’ permission, may I present to you his film…

Remember, gingerbread houses aren’t JUST for the holidays! And they can be a fun way to work on those therapy goals with a little “gamification” thrown in. Happy building!

- Tara Roehl, the Speechy Keen SLP

Pinterest Tip: Watermarking Images

Pinterest Tips: Watermark Images! Come see how to make sure people know how to find their way back to you on pinterest! www.speechykeensl...

I recently wrote an article for the ASHA Leader all about Pinterest. Quite a few questions arose. One that concerns a lot of people is the use of their copyrighted material. People see their copyrighted images all over Pinterest and become worried that their hard work is being stolen. Let me address those concerns here!

Are people stealing them?  Possibly.

I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. I would hope and wish they are saving your excellent resources for later use. Remember, “pinning” something isn’t stealing something. All a pin or board is, in essence, is a peak into someone’s “bookmarks” or “favorites”. Most people pinning are simply saving that idea for later!

Are the giving you credit? Maybe.

That responsibility is split 50/50. Half of the responsibility is yours! Keep reading to see what you can do to make sure you get the credit you deserve!

Are people who “re-pin” aware of where that resource is from? Again, Maybe!

Same as above – unless you’ve taken steps to make sure your name is ALWAYS attached to your materials, they might not know how to find you and your amazing resources!


The number one thing you can do to make sure people can find you, is to watermark your images! This means putting your name/website ON your images/resources. People will always know who created it and where to go to find more information if you have it watermarked. Here are some examples of watermarking…

To Me It's a Necessary Evil, Here's Whywatermark02measuringpoints

You can watermark all over an image (#1), making it useless to someone “stealing” it. But this also makes it difficult for people to USE. You can also watermark your name/website across the middle of a image (#2). This might obscure your information some, but it keeps people from “cropping” it out. Or you can “watermark” by placing your name/website in a corner. This gives people the ability to find you without obscuring your image (#3).

How Do I Watermark?

My favorite FREE on-line resource is PicMonkey. Here is a quick tutorial so you can go get those images watermarked TODAY!


So, how important is this all? VERY!

80% of what is on Pinterest is repinned – it’s important your name stays connected to your materials! Pinterest can drive some serious traffic to your site – so make sure they can find you!

Tune in next week for more Pinterest Tips and check out my article in the ASHA Leader!

- Tara, {the} SpeechyKeenSLP

P.S. The “Gingerbread House” project is still in full swing! Due to deaths and illnesses in my family, therapy has been done while on the road since Christmas. Needless to say, the gingerbread house did not come with me – so we’re continuing that project when I get home!

Minecraft Gingerbread Houses: Week 2

Minecraft Gingerbread Houses - Week 2! | speechykeenslp.com

This week we continued to work on our Gingerbread house. My husband has begun complaining that my office smells like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory with the completion of my chocolate bar “landscape”. This week we addressed: problem solving, planning, flexibility, more executive functioning and brainstorming.

Progress and Problem Solving

We first checked in on each other’s “landscapes” to see how we’d done with our goal for the week. We also discussed unexpected problems that arose. The main issue we both were running into was adhesive. Have you ever tried to use royal icing to make candy stick together? Those cake shows make it look much easier than it is. My client was stuck on how to fix this. Particularly because he was stuck on “edible” answers. I had the answer, but really wanted him to reach it on his own. So we put on our “future glasses”[Sarah Ward] to talk about our plans for the houses once finished. Once we’d both agreed that we would NOT be eating our gingerbread houses, he was able to brainstorm “non-edible” options. Our conclusion? Tacky Glue!

Brainstorming and Flexibility

When we first began this project, we’d “warmed-up” by brainstorming everything Minecraft and organizing it visually (see here). So, we had already practiced brainstorming once. Now we needed to brainstorm candies to use for the next step – the siding. We’d decided ahead of time that we were going with “bricks”. So we used Google Image to look through pictures of red candy. We went down a few rabbit trails until we made our choice – can’t wait to show you next week! My client became a little “stuck” the “mortar” you see between bricks. He wanted to dye icing grey and filling in the spaces between the candies. Oy! After some talk on time limits and flexibility, he decided to eliminate it from our plan and just use “bricks”. *phew*

Shopping List

Because my client had no prior knowledge about some of our choices today, a written shopping list was fraught with danger. Have you been in the candy aisle? Completely overwhelming, even when you know what you are looking for! With executive functioning delays, it can often be difficult to remember what something looks like when transitioning from a 2D picture to a 3D object. This means my client would most likely ended up trying to read EVERY package. Which also means mom probably would lose patience, step in, grab the package and the learning moment would have fallen to the wayside. So, for our shopping list this week, we copied pictures from the web and created a “visual shopping list”. This took less than 5 minutes and helped my client “keep a “mental picture” of what he was searching for.

Personal Note

My client did not have his project finished before group tonight. That resulted in a HUGE meltdown on his part, which I was able to view via webcam. As much as my heart broke for him, it was good for me to see so we could discuss why this happened. I really appreciate his parent’s honesty in saying “It was completely my fault. I dropped the ball and didn’t support his executive functioning skills.” I’m putting together a webinar soon for parents and executive functioning as I’ve discovered a lot of them need help supporting their child. Stay tuned for more information soon!

Here is a picture of the progress:



Join us next week for more lessons and another step closer to our finished gingerbread house!

– Tara Roehl, SpeechyKeenSLP

Thanksgiving Comic

thanksgiving comic

Seeing as today is the day before Thanksgiving, it always feels better to work that into therapy somehow. So, when this comic came up on my Facebook feed, I quickly saved it to use in my sessions today!

The Goal

I love using comics in therapy. There are so many areas comics can address in therapy! Today’s session focused on social cognition and executive functioning.The client’s I used this with have difficulty:

  • Describing facial expressing when given a picture with contextual cues but blocked out facial features.
  • Figuring out the emotions of everyone in a scene based on contextual cues
  • Making connections between what they see as expected/unexpected and how that can help them make social inferences
  • Seeing organization in a space – most of them see “chaos” in pictures and the real world
  • Problem Solving within the areas of Executive Functioning and Social Cognition


Our Session
  • Social Cognition
    • I covered the face of the mother, working with my client to “put yourself in her shoes” and “read the clues”. We talked about how she was stirring with her feet, how many pots were on the stove, etc.
    • We used Social Thinking’s™ “Expected/Unexpected” language to talk about mom’s actions
    • We used Mindwing Concepts™ Story Grammar Marker to talk about the important clues in the room (Who, Setting, Kickoff, Feelings, Plan). We then made “Smart Guesses” (Social Thinking™) to predict what would happen and fill in the rest of our Story Grammar Marker.
    • We then had to draw the important clues we thought we might see on mom’s face to know how she was feeling. They had to describe her face to me, and I attempted to draw it. (Funny side note: When I asked one of my clients why they thought I covered her face, he whispered “because she’s drinking something?”)
  • Executive Functioning
    • We looked at the kitchen space and had to figure out if mom had “Getting Ready, Doing, and Done” (GRDD/Sarah Ward) spaces (Hint: She does!)
    • We discussed the “TIME”  – was this a fast moment or a slow moment for mom?
    • We pretended we’d been hired to be her “GRDD” consultants – how could we help mom? The conclusion was that she was “too zoomed out”! Her “GRDD” Plan was too general. Instead, we needed to “zoom in” and make a “GRDD” for the Turkey, the mashed potatoes …. (this also showed me how many clients didn’t categorize Thanksgiving foods! I got all types of wacky guesses as to what was on the stove!)

Here is a pdf from one of the lessons – to give you a “picture”. We worked together on this document during our session, using screen sharing!

Happy Thanksgiving!

– Tara Roehl, the Speechy Keen SLP

Minecraft Gingerbread Houses: Week 1

Minecraft Gingerbread Houses: Week 1 | via SpeechyKeenSLP.com

This week we’ve begun our Minecraft gingerbread houses! This activity addresses a lot of therapy goals. Especially one of my favorites – executive functioning. All of my therapy is now via telepractice, so it requires extra planning/executive functioning skills to make sure we are ready on BOTH sides of webcam.

Our Kits

For this activity, I bought gingerbread house kits and had my clients gingerbreadhouse_kitbuy some as well. This cuts out on a lot of the “cooking”, which is quite difficult (but not impossible!) via telepractice. Most kits include similar products, but making sure everyone has the same kit helps with clients who struggle with “flexibility”. I buy mine at the end of each season from Michaels – because they are a chain, I can have my clients pick up the same ones at their local store!

Getting Ready, Doing, Done (GRDD)

We use Sarah Ward’s GRDD framework to prepare for our sessions. We fill out a table together via screen share – always beginning with the “DONE”. We GRDDneed a mental picture of the finished product before we begin making a “GETTING READY” list! We also create a visual of the “DONE” so we can make sure we are all “seeing” the same things in our brains! Then we make our “GETTING READY” list – which often now includes a shopping list as well!

Setting a Goal

We set a “DOING” goal for each week. But many individuals with Executive weeklycalendarFunctioning Delays struggle with “weekly goals”. This type of “general” goal doesn’t give them an actual timeline. We break our “weekly” goal” into daily goals, and put them on a calendar. When you do this, you see there are a LOT of little goals going into that weekly goal. A few we included were: grocery shopping for items, asking mom where our “waiting spot” is for the house in progress and covering the house after each step with plastic wrap!

Tech Support

When doing this via webcam, it’s helpful for me to have two webcams. I useHP-Elite-Webcam the one built into my laptop for my face, but have another one I can aim at the desk. This has helped with looking at items in our kits, planning a layout on our cardboard “base” and even discussing how to apply the icing!

Personal Note

We decided to start this week with our “landscape”. We chose a “snow” scene, seeing as it is winter currently. We searched Google Images and found this minecraft__wonderful_snow_by_arriii-d4m72d4image as our “inspiration”. We’re going to try to make our landscapes using chocolate bars and icing. I love that my client picked chocolate bars. They are square, similar to the pixilated look of the game!

Tune in next week for our progress and more examples of how we worked on our therapy goals!

- Tara Roehl, the Speechy Keen SLP

Gingerbread Image Source

Speaking at ASHA#13: From iPad to iPlay

The American Speech-Language and Hearing Association’s 2013 Convention (ASHA) flew, as convention time always does. I could swear I just arrived in Chicago, yet here I am, home in Colorado again. Convention was filled with laughter, friends, freebies, and many fantastic sessions. I’ll be posting notes and details from some of my favorite sessions in the days to come. But this ASHA (my 6th!) held a brand new experience for me. In the weeks leading up to ASHA, I was excitedly preparing for my session. It has been a “bucket list” item for some time – to present at ASHA. The dream finally became a reality, and the support from the ASHA community absolutely blew me away.

My Session:

From iPad to iPlay: Utilizing Popular Apps to Engage Your Preschool-Middle School Clients

This dynamic technology-themed presentation is filled with practical take-away strategies: easy-to-access, engaging clinical resources that can be used collaboratively. The presenter will demonstrate popular gaming apps, with clinical adaptations, that improve active student participation during sessions while improving language development, problem-solving, interactive play, pragmatics, executive functioning, and behavior modification. [download the handout here!]

Images from the presentation:

The line of SLPs, waiting to get into my presentation

The line of SLPs, waiting to get into my presentation

My view as the room filled with ~800 professionals

My view as the room filled with ~800 professionals


Yours truly, presenting on a topic I absolutely love!

Presenting on a topic I absolutely love!

Thank you for the overwhelming support! I’m already preparing new activities to share related to this talk. And thoughts on presenting next year are already swirling around in my head!

– Tara Roehl, Speechy Keen SLP