As many of you know, I started off my career in the schools in Florida. Then I had a baby, and needed to be closer to my family. So we moved back to Georgia last June, and I spent a little over a year working both inpatient and outpatient for our local hospital. In August, I decided to leave the hospital and go back into the schools, in the same school district I grew up in!
Now that I have worked in both clinical and school settings, I feel like I have a better view of the *many* different roles of SLPs, and the similarities and differences in these roles across the different settings. I loved my time in the hospital, but I did discover that I'm made for the schools (well, mostly the school schedule!) But one thing in particular I loved about working in the hospital's outpatient clinic was the amount of time I got to spend with parents. In the schools, I may only see parents once a year for the annual IEP review (if they come). While I try to send notes home regularly and sometimes call as needed, sometimes, a sit-down is much more effective. At the hospital, I saw the parents when I got the child, and when I returned the child. And often times, the parent came back into the therapy room with me. In many cases, this was such a perfect opportunity for me to observe the parent interacting with the child and facilitate carryover of the skills we were working on into the home environments. Many times, I spent more time teaching the parent how to communicate with their child than I did with teaching the child himself.
One resource that became absolutely invaluable to me was a book called The Big Book of Exclamations by SLP Teri Peterson. I met Teri last year at the ASHA Convention, and she graciously gave me a copy of her book to use and review. Although I'm just now getting around to finally writing my review, I have literally used this book multiple times each week for almost a year....even at home with my own child! Disclaimer: A copy of the book was provided for a review, but no other compensation was provided.
This is most definitely not a usual children's book. On the inside cover, it explains that there is no story in the book to read to your children. Instead of a story, this book has prompts to show parents/teachers how to act out the story, specific vocabulary words to focus on, gestures, words, sounds, and even how to model 2+ word phrases. It then gives tips for using the book, such as using repetition, making reading entertaining, and more!
The pictures on each page are beautifully illustrated, and show activities from a typical day in the life of a child (waking up, eating breakfast, getting ready to leave, going to the park, taking a bath, reading a bedtime story, and saying goodbye.) The prompts at the bottom of each page are not meant to be read to the child, but are meant to show the parents or caregivers how to point out pictures and facilitate learning while reading books or looking at picture books. These are especially useful with nonverbal children, and those children working on expanding their MLU (mean length of utterances). I had a parent call me last week and told me they went home and purchased the book to use at home. In just a few short weeks, their child who wasn't talking at all is now using 2+ word phrases such as "Up, up, up wheeee!" "all done" and "night night mama"!
At the end of the book, the author breaks down communication milestones by age in information taken from ASHA's website. This is an excellent reference for parents who are wondering what their child should be doing by a certain age, and whether or not they may have delayed communication.
Overall, this book has been a fabulous resource for my magic SLP bag. (You can tell by the bent and tattered pages that it has gotten a lot of use!) I usually bring it with me to do evaluations, and use a few minutes after the evaluation is complete to give the parents suggestions about what they can start doing at home. I show the parents the book, and we discuss how they can still get in learning time without feeling the need to read every word on every page to their child (especially if their child is more active).
As SLPs, we usually have an overage of materials to use with the children on our caseload, but I love that this is a resource I can use to specifically teach parents...because a child's parents are also on my caseload!
You can find The Big Book of Exclamations on Amazon by clicking on the Amazon affiliate link below. You can also find additional information at: www.TheBigBookofExclamations.com.