Pin It! (We Give Books)


Source: wegivebooks.org via Tara on Pinterest

I am so excited about this pin that I couldn’t wait to share it with everyone. I honestly didn’t believe the description when I first saw it. “Read books … for free”. My first thought was “yes, but are they books that are any good or of any use to my therapy?” Imagine my surprise when I saw Llama Llama Red Pajama, The Snowy Day, Silly Goose’s Big Story … so many great therapy books!

Why are they doing this? By reading books, you are helping to send books to children around the world through different “campaigns”. What a great lesson – teaching your own students that, while they learn, they are also helping children in Mexico, the Philippines or all over Asia! [current campaigns]

Here’s how it works:

  • Log-in to WeGiveBooks.org
    (you can use your facebook log-in or create one!)
  • The “Campaign of the Month” is automatically selected – but you can change the selection at the top of the page
    (or even let your students pick!)
  • Either begin reading a book, or get ready ahead of time by putting some in your “personal library”.
    (this save “hunting” with squirmers waiting!)

You can make the books “full-screen” and they have very engaging “page turning” graphics. It’s as close to a “real” book you’ll find digitally. Right now they don’t stream to “mobile” devices (read:iPad) but they claim it’s coming soon! Spread the word about this great campaign and try it out in therapy this week – Happy reading!

– SpeechyKeenSLP

“I Need You In My Head”

The title of this post is a sentiment I hear from parents all to often. I’ve heard many reasons for this comment, including:

  • “He started to have a melt down and I couldn’t remember any of the strategies to help him…”
  • “I thought I understood after group, but by the time I got home I couldn’t remember anything…”
  • “I know you gave us a handout, but couldn’t remember where I put it…”

I realized my job of educating the parents needed to get even better than the 10-15 minutes I have after each session to talk to them. And paper handouts were doing part of the job, but they didn’t always have the paper with them. Even when I began e-mailing the handouts to the parents, they didn’t always have time to catch a great learning moment because they were scrambling to find the document in their e-mail!

One day I’d heard the sentiment above after another great parent education moment and it hit me — I *can* be in the heads! Ok ok, not literally. But what do almost ALL parents walk into our therapy space with? Technology!! It can come in the form of smart phones, tablet devices, mp3 players and/or laptops. So many parents miss me calling out that we are all done. Why? Headphones and/or bluetooth devices. That was my ticket in!

The Ticket In ...

Now when I first had this idea, I was *not* allowed to do this. The company I worked for had some extreme reservations, so I respected that. But now I have my own private practice, so I am free to see if this meets the parents’ needs. What I’m doing is weekly e-mailing home quick audio clips to each family. Each ~2 minute clip includes:

  • A summary of this week’s session
  • The ‘why’ behind this weeks’s lessons/activities
  • How to work on it at home
  • Some words of encouragement – everyone needs some of those!
And the best part? It takes me less than 5 minutes – from recording, to saving, to sending home! Less than 5 minutes and my students might be more successful across environments?! Technology for the win!Now to answer the burning question in your brain … “how is she doing this in less than 5 minutes after each session?!”

After reading many reviews for audio recording apps, I downloaded Audio Memo Lite onto my iPad. I love this app for so many reasons:

  • Super easy to overwrite a section of my audio, which means I can redo sections of my recording without starting again from the beginning.
  • I can transfer the file wirelessly from my iPad to my computer as long as they are both on the same wifi network through a very simple process
  • Automatically saves the files as a .wav, which is compatible with practically everything
  • I can email files smaller than 3MB directly from my iPad or upload directly to my dropbox or box.net account.

As soon as you download the app, it directs you to a great youtube video that clearly explains how to use the app. I only watched about half of it and felt ready to go!

Now, the benefit of the paid app is that I can email and upload audio files larger than 3MB, and even send it directly to some of my social media networks. And for $.99 … why not?!

So far, the response has been GREAT! Parents are downloading the audio file onto their mobile devices and listening to it throughout the week to help them review how to work with their child. I’m hoping to get a few less specific “mini-podcasts” up on my site as well to continue educating parents!

I hope this has been helpful to you – feel free to e-mail me or comment with any questions. And let me know if you give this a whirl yourself!

– Speechy Keen SLP

(images by timtak via flickr and from iTunes)

Bay Area Tweetup News

Click to download the three-page PDF with active links.

World Autism Day 2012


Often parents ask me about my credentials when they entrust their child to me. Whether it be for weekly speech therapy or each Sunday at church where I run the special needs program. I can rattle off my credentials, the settings I’ve worked in, etc. But this doesn’t tell the whole story. This doesn’t tell anyone how I got to be where I am today. Seeing as today is World Autism Day, and I specialize in autism … it seems fitting to share my story.

My Story

I never planned to specialize in autism. I never even planned to be a speech therapist. I began my college career in Northern Virginia, attending a local community college for my first two years of college and final two years of high school. When I transferred to Indiana University of Pennsylvania my junior year, I was on my way to being a deaf education teacher. It took me a while to pick this degree and it was the only way I could figure out how to combine my loves of sign language and children with special needs. But I knew something wasn’t right, something wasn’t resonating inside of me. I enjoyed my courses, but I wasn’t passionate about them. Honestly, the thought of an entire classroom entrusted to my care gave me an upset stomach. Then the day came that I sat down in Dr. Robertson’s Language Development class. She was a friendly professor, very down to earth. She wore a purple pantsuit, used an overhead projector, had a Midwest accent like mine and sat cross-legged on the front table. I sat through that class unmoving, completely consumed by her every word. It struck a cord down deep in my soul. As I walked out of that class I literally felt as if electricity was shooting through my veins. I switched my major that very week. All through undergrad and grad school I still planned to specialize in deaf/Hard-of-Hearing, but now as an Speech-Language Pathologist and not a deaf education major (insert huge sigh of relief here). I even did my graduate internship with an SLP who worked exclusively with students with hearing losses in the schools. My first job was in a special needs preschool in Urbana, Illinois  and I anxiously hoped for some students with hearing loss on my caseload. No luck, though it seemed I had every other disability possible on my caseload that year! But that is where I realize what God had created me to do – reach students with autism. A passion was ignited, and there has been no looking back. Often people ask me what I do and, when I tell them, I get some comment related to the super-power level patience I must possess. But, for me, it doesn’t take any more patience than a neurotypical child would require of me. I often tell people "my heart beats to another drum … the same drum my students dance to…" I love figuring out how their brains think and meeting them there. I care wholeheartedly (and probably too much sometimes…) for each and every one of my students. I love every story their parent shares with me. My heart breaks with their difficulties, my heart rejoices in their successes … as I teach them, they teach me. So much. Every single day.

– Tara, SpeechyKeenSLP

[Flickr image By hepingting]

Bay Area Tweetup News


Click to download the pdf (with active hyperlinks).

“Hacking Autism” Releases Documentary Trailer

I am a huge supporter of “Hacking Autism“. It began last year, in an effort to connect the Autism community with technology developers. Recently that have done a doccumentary on the use of technology with children with Autism. The trailer was released at 8am this morning.



As a Speech Therapist who uses technology in therapy, I cannot say enough about the multiple fascets this documentary addresses.

  • Autism Awareness: There cannot be enough awareness, enough research, enough support. The CDC released new statistics yesterday. Autism is now 1 in every 88 children. It impacts every American either directly, or through friends and family members. No one can ignore it any longer.
  • Technology’s Impact: Research continues to validate the strong impact technology has in therapy for students with Autism. This movement acts as a rally cry for developers to gather together and use their skills for something much greater than themselves.
  • Communication: As a Speech Therapist, the impact of students developing speech/language/social skills is my passion. Watching the impact of touch technology in accessing these children, giving them the power to share their thoughts and feelings … I sat and cried as I watched the trailer.

Will you spread the word? Will you let others know about this great movement that helps these children and in turn, helps us all? Please share …

– Tara, SpeechyKeenSLP

Diversity isn’t just ethnicity/religion/sexual orientation/etc …

This is the first video of five parts of the keynote speech I gave with Phil McKinney in Atlanta, Georgia last year. We were graciously invited by the American Institute for Managing Diversity to speak on diversity. Phil McKinney was invited to talk about his (and my) work with Hacking Autism. But when they saw my blog posts from Rwanda, they extended the invitation to me as well. Our focus was the need for businesses to extend their understanding and education of diversity to now include Autism.

Have a great holiday weekend to my American readers!

#ASHA11 Day 3

 Day 3 – ASHA 2011 has come to a close. It was a bittersweet end. Everyone was beginning to miss “home”, but we’d also met so many friends that we’d only ever known through twitter. Here are just a few of the #slpeeps at the closing party this evening. So wonderful to meet you all — can’t wait till next year!

More to come on interesting and fun ASHA information in the weeks to come!

– Tara, SpeechKeenSLP

#ASHA11 Day 2

Day 2 of ASHA was just as eventful as day one, just double the exhaustion and triple the fun! I dedicated 3 hours to the exhibit hall floor today – yes, THREE! The floor is HUGE this year, with a lot of great products, apps and learning opportunities. I am really looking forward to reviewing some apps in the upcoming weeks. I saw apps by new companies that seem to have a lot of potential, so keep your eyes peeled for those reviews!

Today was also the day of the “#slpeeps Tweetup and was a great time for networking and connecting with other tech savy SLPs. I couldn’t even begin to name everyone who was there, but it was a joy and I look forward to future communicaiton in the twitterverse with this fabulous tweeters!

Let me close this short post (so tired!) with a video from what I believe was the first EVER SLP flashmob …

 – Tara, SpeechyKeenSLP



Why I Love The iGo

A quick little piece on why I love the iGo, and answering some of the questions I got via e-mail, the blog and twitter!
See you all soon! [2 days, 7 hours and 47 minutes till I land…]