Thursday, May 10, 2012

sign: MEET Speech LANGUAGE pathologist Ashley from Talk It Up

It's still Better Speech and Hearing Month and we want to celebrate with a post from Ashley, creator of Talk It Up

Meet Ashley founder of Talk It Up. She has some great things to say about her thoughts on using ASL in speech-language therapy. 

When did you first learn about ASL? Or first gain interest in ASL?
I was first introduced to ASL in 5th grade.   My teacher taught the class how to sign the Pledge of Allegiance and we signed along to it every morning at the beginning of our day.  I instantly fell in love with this “new” language.  I wanted to know more!  From there, I self-taught myself the alphabet and some basic vocabulary.  Years later, I took a Master’s level course, Sign and Culture of the Deaf.  Not only did I learn exceptionally more signs, I learned about the culture of people typically using ASL.  To this day, I enjoy using and learning about ASL. 

How do you use sign language in your current job setting?
My job as a Speech-Language Pathologist allows for opportunities to use ASL in the educational setting.  While none of my students use ASL for their primary means of communication, I have found ways to work it into our day. 

How do you incorporate ASL in your therapy?
The first way I incorporate ASL into my speech/language therapy classroom is to use signs as visual cues.  I have one student who speaks entirely too fast.  I use the sign for SLOW DOWN to remind him to use a slower rate of speech.  Since this visual cue was working in my room, I shared it with the student’s teachers.  We are all in agreement that using a sign rather than a written visual cue is less intrusive and will be easier to fade out.  

I have also used signs to cue students to speak LOUDER, give MORE detail, and to stay seated SIT.
I also incorporate ASL in my therapy setting by signing during routine game play.  I have a student who has a difficult time asking and answering questions.  We play 'Go Fish' to help with this skill.  I taught him the signs that correlate to “Do you have?” and “No, go fish.”  Because of this student’s strength in visual learning, he was able to pick up on the routine of the game after learning the signs.  I slowly added speech along with the signs which allowed the student to independently play the game with peers.  The student and his peers still sign along to the question/response because they enjoy the motoric movement. 

What’s your next step with ASL in speech therapy? Any thoughts?
My next step is to incorporate more ASL into therapy sessions.  Next year, I’m planning to teach the sign that correlates to our vocabulary word of the week. 

Why do you think ASL is successful for some of our students in therapy?
With the higher functioning students on my caseload, teaching ASL in conjunction with spoken language can be successful because it is fun and motivating.  Also, I have found that teaching sign is great for the kinesthetic learners on my caseload.   However, all of my students are more attentive when sign is incorporated in therapy. 

Ashley McGeehon, CCC-SLP is a certified Speech-Language Pathologist who resides in the Midwest.  She works with students in grades 1 through 8 in the public school setting and in her own private practice, Talk It Up Speech and Language Therapy.  She also writes a blog to share ideas with other educators.  Check out her blog for more great therapy ideas.

  The sign Language is L's wiggling outward as you can see from sign 1 to sign 2 (or in the video below).

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