what does a speech session w dawn look like?


The other day I was thinking to myself…I need to document what a speech session, play therapy session, occupational session, play group session, and hippotherapy session looks like w Cali. First up was speech and here is what it looked like…


The session started at 2:30, as they always do on Mondays. Dawn rang the door bell and Cali went running to the door, greeting Dawn with, “Well hello.”  As Dawn puts her bags down, Cali immediately says, “I’m hungry. Can I have a snack?” Translation, “Can I have a piece of candy from your cool candy, treat organizer/container!!” Dawn, “Let’s see if we have goldfish from last time.” And there you have it. The session was started. I was wondering why Cali was so anxious to see Dawn. The power of candy…it’s pretty powerful!


Dawn works in similar ways to Madi, Cali’s developmental specialist, but in different ways as well. One trick they both use is the Your Turn/My Turn.  This may sound redundant to some of you, but the idea of giving Cali turns during a session helps to give Cali some control. Giving up some control ironically allows us to gain back control when it is necessary and important. Go here to read more on giving up some control and the MAJOR benefits of doing so.


Dawn’s turn was first, so she decided to work on categorization. She pulled out a binder full of individual sheets of paper. Each paper had the phrase They Are All ____ printed on the top of the page. Under the phrase were five separate pictures all from the same category. I.e., five different balls, five different shapes, fives different objects that represented cold, etc., etc.


This is how Dawn’s turn worked. She first modeled for Cali what was to be done. Pointing to the first picture she would say, “basketball”, pointing to the second picture she would say, “baseball”, and so on and so forth until identifying the fifth and last picture. Dawn then read the phrase out loud, “They are all balls!” After modeling a couple of times, Cali began to identify the objects independently, then read the phrase, answering with the correct categorization. If she needed help Dawn would prompt the answer by describing things about the objects, repeating what they were, and then again, reading the phrase out loud. Usually this would help Cali figure out the correct categorization for the objects, if not Dawn would simply give Cali the answer. This went on for about 10-15 minutes.


Next up was Cali Turn. Her pick…My Little Ponies on YouTube:) She gets anywhere from one to three minutes on her turn.


On to Dawn’s turn. With categorizing and grouping things still on the agenda, Dawn went with an activity using a School Zone educational dvd. The video involves various educational skills, but for the purpose of staying on topic, Dawn picked the chapter that asked the questions “Which one does not belong?” or “Which picture belongs in the barn?” To clarify here is how it went…A random scene would pop up on the screen. I.e., a bedroom or various toys scattered through the scene. Obviously a bed, nightstands, and other appropriate bedroom furniture WERE situated throughout the picture. Then there were those handful of items/objects obviously NOT belonging in the scene. I.e., a sink or a tree. The voice from the dvd would ask Cali, “What doesn’t belong?” This was helping Cali build understanding of what things should be grouped together. Building the concept of categories.

(Cali is doing same and different concepts in this clip. Listen closely and Dawn explains how same and different correlates to categorizing objects)

They completed the video which meant Dawn’s turn was up. Next…yup, you guessed it. Cali’s turn.


Her pick…My Little Ponies from YouTube:)


Once again, back to Dawn. This time it was Hullabaloo. If you’re not familiar with this fun game go here. For those of you who are, you will know this is a great game to build a child’s understanding of categorizing objects and grouping similar items. I guess Dawn had a very specific agenda for this session, what do you think;) First, Dawn goes over the game with Cali to establish some familiarity. The game tends togive directions at a fast pace. The first time Cali played she didn’t have enough time to process the directions. To build familiarity, Dawn asked Cali to identify the shapes, the colors, and objects before starting the game in hopes that she would be able to respond more immediately to the directions.


The synthesized voice is sometimes hard to decipher, so Dawn will always repeat the instructions.


The game also gets progressively harder. It will ask the players to identify a shape, color, or object by standing, sitting, or touching the item. To simplify, Dawn just requires Cali to identify by standing. As Cali becomes more familiar and has a quicker response time, Dawn will have her follow through with the more complex instructions.


Hullabaloo ended and Cali was back to the couch to watch…you got it, My Little Ponies!!!


The session is almost complete. Two more turns for Dawn and one more turn for Cali. Dawn chose to read the book  A Tree is Nice.

Two reasons: first, the different vocabulary leads to conversations between the two of them, and two, all things trees helps Cali continue to build understanding of categorizing. To give you an example of how the vocabulary leads to conversation…On a particular page it talks about a cat running up the tree, then the birds building a nest high up in the tree. This spurs Cali to talk about Bees flying in and around trees. The bees were the start to a pretty good conversation! This conversation actually lead to the topic of  Animals Like to Live and Work in Trees. Another chance to build the concept of categorizing.


Dawn finishes the book reading activity by asking Cali, “Tell me three things about tress?” This question works on a number of different levels. One area it works on is reading comprehension.


One last turn for Cali…My Little Ponies. Are you smiling yet:)


To cap it off, Dawn choose the app Tuneville. Cali actually thinks it is still her turn because what kid doesn’t love playing with any and all apps on the iPad! Tricky Dawn. This app uses songs to build understanding of various concepts. Sticking with the theme, they listened to the songs that required using logic to come up with the answer and then of coarse used the answer to sequey into categorizing. Let me explain…In one of the songs it asks by singing, “If I want to do some reading, what do I need” (pause. repeat) “What do I need?” Dawn will pause the song and allow time for Cali to answer. If necessary, she will repeat or rephrase the question.


Here’s a clip of what it looked like…



And there you have it. The end of the session. A success if you ask me.


I’m excited to share more of what Cali’s sessions look like in her various therapies. As you can tell, given and using the right resources, it would be very easy to create your own session if you do not have access to a license therapist. Easy but hard I should say. Hard to find the time, but easy once you have it all planned and ready to go. Time is all it takes!!


Let’s recap:


1. Dawn’s turn- using pages with the phrase These Are All ____, and pictures beneath that all belong to the same group.


2. Cali’s turn


3. Dawn’s turn- School Zone DVD


4. Cali’s turn


5. Dawn’s turn- Hullabaloo


6. Cali’s turn


7. Dawn’s turn- Reading a book


8. Cali’s turn


9. Dawn’s turn- Tuneville


Figure out what it is your child needs work on and then cruise the internet, books stores, and other resources to give you  ideas for what to do on “your turn”. Find the time and make it happen!!


Here are some tips from Dawn on what to be aware of during your session:


- Take turns


- Mix it up. Do activities sitting down and others standing up that require motor skills (i.e., a game like hullablaoo)


- Prep the child before their turn is up. Remind them your turn is about to happen.


- If the child is being reluctant to finish your turn. Remind them there turn is about to take place by using a timer on you phone. I.e., “It’s almost your turn. Two more minutes then it’s your turn.” When the timer signals, it’s obviously there turn. Although, if your child is not used to a timer, you may have to  use this technique a few times before it starts to register with you child.



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  1. Your daughters are beautiful. I’m in my last year of speech pathology and was 90% set on specializing in autism. This post has left me with no choice. Definitely specializing in these special people now :)

    • Sarah! I’m so glad to hear this. If you ever have any questions on speech related to autism, let me know. I will happily send those questions to Dawn who will be more than happy to answer I’m sure!!

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