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Introduction to the Dietrich S&L Services Blog

This blog-of-sorts contains reminders of upcoming events, helpful information for parents and others (as a supplement to our "Caregiver Resources"), professional opinions, papers, links and so forth, anecdotes of successful and/or challenging SLP sessions, therapy interventions and recommendations, diagnostic assessments and more!
Please feel free to leave a comment or question below. You may also e-mail us at Thanks for visiting & have a great day!
August 13, 2015
Therapy "Tool" Thursday
Tobbles Neo
I waited a while to post this therapy tool/toy as the price was higher than some of my therapy purchases. Children from the ages of 10 months to 10+ years have enjoyed "playing" with these stacking semi-balls.

They can be stacked as shown in the picture or by turning each piece upside down. I've used this tool in therapy to elicit expressive language by withholding the item until the child attempts a sign, word approximation or full word indicating he/she wants the item. It can also be incorporated into basic receptive language tasks such as following directions, identifying colors, prepositions and more.

The quality of the material has lasted for over a year of continuous use. It's simple to clean and easy to store. The pieces are heavier than some similar toys and do require adult supervision to help prevent little ones from lobbing them toward anyone's face. ;)

Happy Therapy Time! -Kristen

Link to "Tobbles Neo" Toy at Fat Brain Toys, LLC ($26.95 at the time of posting)

*Photo retrieved from above link at Fat Brain Toys, LLC

#fatbraintoys, #therapytoolthursday, #dietrichspeech

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August 12, 2015
"Speech Therapy: Child's Play"
Article Link

The tagline of the below article sums up a conversation I just had: "How something as complex as speech therapy can be as simple as a game."

I continue to be surprised when I read or see something one day that can be applied to a real-life situation the next. I didn't post this article when I read it yesterday, but was inspired to search for it following a conversation with Nicole this afternoon.

Thanks for the talk! -Kristen…

*Photo from TheraPlay Inc., Quakertown, PA; retrieved from the above article

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July 31, 2014
Therapy "Tool" Thursday
Recommendation No. 2
Eureka's 50 Counting Bears with 5 Cups

My recommendation today of plastic counting bears with matching cups easily makes my TOP 10 THERAPY TOOL LIST...well, it'll make it if and when I ever create such a list.  Although there are several versions of these "counting bears" available, I've been using "Eureka's 50 Counting Bears with Cups" for 5+ years now.

-WHERE TO BUY: Search online for the best deal

-PRICE: Ranges from $7-15 plus any shipping & handling

-GOALS TO ADDRESS: sorting, counting, identifying and naming colors, following single-step, multi-step and/or sequential directions, adjectives, requesting wanted items (verbally or with gestures), imitatively and/or spontaneously using single and/or multi-word phrases, maintaining age-appropriate attention, task completion, articulation targets, behavioral objectives and more!

-BONUS: They're easy to clean! Sanitize with a classic bleach and water solution, run them through the dishwasher in a lidded basket or throw them in a mesh bag in the washing machine.


Recently I had one of those great moments in therapy when I inadvertently discovered new ways to use two favorite therapy tools simultaneously!

Variation #1: Click together the Fisher Price "Stack & Roll Cups" into BALLS and place them on top of the Eureka "Counting Bear Cups." Drop the bears into the hole in their matching stacking cups.

Variation #2: Arrange the Fisher Price "Stack & Roll Cups" into a TOWER and drop the bears in the hole at the top of the tower.

Voila! You've created two innovative activities from toys you already owned! Plus, OTs will like it for the fine motor skills involved with picking up the bears and dropping them through the hole in the top of the stacking balls. Your kiddos may love it for the clunking sound it makes while falling through the ball and "disappearing" into the cup.

Hope you have a BEARY fun time! -Kristen

‪#‎dietrichspeechtherapytools‬ ‪#‎therapytools‬ ‪#‎speechtherapy‬‪#‎countingbears‬ ‪#‎fisherprice‬

As always, photos are used with explicit parental permission.

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July 24, 2014
Therapy "Tool" Thursday
A Classic Stack
Fisher-Price Stack & Roll Cups

Although the odds were STACKED against me to find great recommendations for two consecutive weeks, I must be on a ROLL as I have another versatile toy to share with you: Fisher-Price's "STACK & ROLL Cups!" (Do you see what I did there with 
the clever play on words?)

Candice (SLP) introduced me to this versatile "therapy tool" on her first day with Dietrich Speech & Language. I couldn't believe how quickly children of numerous ages and abilities were enamored with this colorful toy! There was one young patient who rarely verbalizes who even initiated several 1-2 word spoken requests for the toy. 

I mentioned to Candice how much I loved the "Stack & Roll Cups" toy and before I could purchase my own, she gifted me my very own set for my therapy bag! Thank you, Candice!

-Kristen Dietrich, MS, CCC-SLP

Potential Speech & Language Goals to Address Using the Toy: 

- imitating consonants/vowels/words/phrases/signs
- spontaneously requesting wanted items
- providing appropriate conversational exchanges or targeting pragmatic goals such as eye contact
- following 1-step,multi-step, sequential and other types of directions - demonstrating understanding of foundational concepts - colors, numbers, size
- articulation goals 
-many more!

#fisherprice  #dietrichspeechtherapytools  #therapytools  #speechtherapy

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March 21, 2014
World Down Syndrome Day
Wear Silly Socks Today. . .

and raise awareness because it's World Down Syndrome Day! Click here to learn more!

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April 03, 2014
Teachers Pay Teachers
with April SLP Therapy Ideas
Incredible Site for Original Materials

I'm in love. Yes, with my husband. Naturally. I'm also in love with a website called Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT).

TPT is one of my newly discovered and newly favorite resources for a variety of speech and language therapy activities. It's a huge open marketplace for educators and the link to buy, sell and share their original resources. 

I find myself coming back to this website more and more frequently to search for inspiration and tangible products I can use to help my patients reach their SLP goals. Most resources from this site typically come in the form of downloadable PDF files - either for free or for a relatively nominal fee. 

Although I enjoy creating many of my own materials, I find there's never enough time to do it all! With Teachers Pay Teachers, I can search for activities and within a few minutes usually have something helpful I can use that very day.

I'll hopefully be looking over Jenna Rayburn's materials in greater detail soon, but click here to find some of her freebies for April SLP therapy for preschool, early elementary and later elementary school children. 

Link to me!

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March 01, 2014
Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Books for SLP Therapy

What's the next best thing to reading a real book? Listening to one online!

Click the below links to listen to a reading of 2 fun books for the holiday:

That's What Leprechauns Do by Eve Bunting
  • There are so many activities associated with this book that would be great for targeting numerous communication skills. Find some here
  • Click here for some activities to accompany the book that address several speech and language goals

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February 02, 2014
Happy Valentine's Day!
Valentine's Day Therapy Ideas

Valentine's Day will be here soon! I like to try to incorporate themes such as holidays (if it's okay with the patient or their gaurdians, of course) into our therapy sessions. I've discovered over the years it's usually much easier than you might think to do so. 

Sometimes, we'll simply use construction paper in holiday colors and decorate them while addressing our speech and/or language goals. Other times, we'll create more elaborate holiday crafts or spend some time baking in the kitchen. 

In an effort not to recreate the wheel this week, here are some links that might inspire you this Valentine's Day: 

Note: The image for this post can be found here. Thanks, Kristin at Perfectly Printables and Cristy at Pretty My Party!

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January 27, 2014
Hopes & Dreams Conference
20th Annual!
Feb. 7-8, 2014 - Columbia, SC

A conference for parents and professional who care for children with special needs.

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January 24, 2014
Toys are Tools
How Toys Help Children Develop
by Jenn Choi

Happy Friday!

I stumbled upon this article which led me to a blog about using children's toys as tools for their development instead of for mere entertainment purposes. I don't necessarily endorse everything the author believes, but she definitely has some great take-home points. She's worked with speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and other therapists for her child so it's even more relevant to me. 

Some of you may see inspiration I get from her blog show up in our own therapy sessions! :)

Have a wonderful weekend!


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January 14, 2014
More than Baby Talk Handout
10 Tips to Promote Communication
by the Frank Porter Graham CD Institute 

I'm always on the lookout for simple and informative handouts to offer to anyone working with or caring for children.

So, you can imagine my excitement when I happened upon this easy-to-read online guide that features 10 research-based recommendations to promote the communication and language skills of infants and toddlers.

This PDF was published by the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at UNC-Chapel Hill.  You can find out more about this cool center here

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January 11, 2014
Muffin Tin Fun
Goals Targeted: matching, sorting, recall, etc.

Sometimes the best activities are also the easiest! I first found the idea for this activity at the link below, but have since adapted it for a variety of skill levels and age groups. 

Our goals this week were rarely for matching and sorting. Instead, we usually targeted goals related to higher level cognitive, receptive language and expressive language skills. Some such skills were:

• following several types of directions (multi-step, sequential, spatial, etc.)
• recall/memory
• task completion in a set time period without multiple prompts
• adjectives, adverbs and other parts of speech

Click here for the entire activity with directions. 

All photos are always posted with permission.

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January 31, 2013
SC Assistive Technology Expo
Wednesday, March 27th from 9am-4pm

Click here
(download #6) for a PDF of the flyer for this expo.

FREE & OPEN TO THE PUBLIC! Exhibits and workshops showcasing assistive technology for people of all ages.

• Tuesday, March 27, 2013 from 9am-4pm
• West Columbia, SC 
• See website for the expo  AND/OR...
• Download the flyer for more information

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December 20, 2012
Happy Holidays!
Holiday Wishes to You and Yours

It's hard to believe this time of year is here again and that we're wrapping up 2012! I wish you all a wonderful holiday season filled with love and laughter. Happy New Year!

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November 05, 2012
Turkey Fun!
Targeting Multiple Goals
Thanksgiving Themed Therapy

A great construction paper craft for children of many ages and abilities. With adult assistance, this turkey was created by a 3 year old who has expressive and receptive language delays. Our goals targeted sequencing and following directions as well as imitated and spontaneous speech tasks.

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October 06, 2012
Buddy Walk 2012
Hosted by DSAL
Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Down Syndrome Association of the Lowcountry hosts an annual "Buddy Walk" on Daniel Island, SC! Buddy Walk is fun for all who attend. Here's a list of activities held at this year's Buddy Walk:

Buddy Walk Events
  • 12:30 — Face painting, clowns, jump castles, food and fun for the whole family!
  • 3:00 Walk! — A fun 1-mile walk through one of Daniel Island’s beautiful neighborhoods. Bring strollers and wagons!  All are welcome!
  • Until 4:30 — After the walk, enjoy Etiwan Park on Daniel Island with a hot dog eating contest, games and fun
Click here for more information. Hope to see you there! :)

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October 05, 2012
Candy Corn Craft 2012
for all ages
Happy Fall!

Some of our speech-language therapy sessions included a fun fall craft this week! One craft some of our pediatric patients enjoyed was this simple "candy corn" project. This craft incorporated a variety of speech-language goals depending on each child's needs. You can adjust this craft to address a variety of goals: attention goals, as well as articulation, expressive, receptive and pragmatic language goals.


-1 larger piece of construction paper (any color, but we mainly used brown or dark purple)
-Orange, yellow and white construction paper (scraps work great!)
-Glue stick
-scissors (optional)
-Draw a candy corn outline on larger piece of construction paper
-Tear/rip the orange, yellow and white construction paper scraps into smaller pieces (adult or child can do the actual tearing/ripping depending on skill level)
-Put glue on one section of candy corn at a time
-Place ripped pieces of construction paper in appropriate section of candy corn (white in top section, orange in middle section, yellow in bottom section)     
-You can either cut out candy corn or leave on construction paper

Examples of Goals
-Patient will maintain attention to task for 3 minutes x5/session.
-Patient will imitate /target sound/ in the initial position of words with 80% intelligibility.
-Patient will imitiate CVCV words with 90% intelligiblity. 
-Patient will spontaneously request basic wants/needs x10/session.
-Patient will ask for wanted item using correct sentence structure (in question format) x5/session.
-Patient will identify common objects (field of 3) with 90% accuracy. 

Clinical Note: The SLP or adult caregiver can use this craft as a motivation for some patients. For example, if the child completes "x" amount of specific goal, then he/she gets to complete part of the candy corn craft. (e.g., Child receives 1 piece of torn paper for every attempt at imitating initial /k/ words.) 

Home Exercise Plan: The SLP may choose to write target goals with examples for each child on the back of the candy corn craft so caregivers can use for practice outside of therapy.

The child who completed the craft featured in this photograph is 2 years, 11 months old. He had assistance from his speech pathologist.

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August 27, 2012
Celebrating a Milestone
est. 2011
Happy 1st Anniversary!

Dietrich Speech & Language Services has been open for 1 year as of today! We've had a great year and are continuing to grow every day. Looking forward to the next year! :)

Photo for this post is courtesy of Jader Bomb. Thanks! 

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June 01, 2012
Lowcountry Autism Forum - FREE!
Saturday, June 16, 2012 - 9am-4pm

:  Seacoast Church, Longpoint Campus

Details: Hosted by Lowcountry Autism Spectrum Disorders Consortium and Project Rex at MUSC -- FREE!

Speakers will be from around the country, state, and lowcountry, such as Dr. Joe Horrigan, Head of Medical Research for Autism Speaks, Leslie Long, Director of Housing and Adult Services Autism Speaks, Carol Page, PhD, Program Director of SC Assistive Technology Program.

Free Lunch

Up to 6 hours Continuing education credits for teachers, behaviorists, speech therapists, and Occupational Therapists-Free

Helping Start the Lowcountry Autism Therapists Association(ABA,SLPs, OTs, etc.)
  • How can I use my iPhone, iPad to help my child?
  • What applications are most useful for areas my child needs help
  • Can I get insurance or medicaid to pay for an iPad?
  • How can I get reimbursement from medicaid/health insurance to pay for ABA therapy?


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May 01, 2012
May is Better Hearing & Speech Month!
Celebration Brings Awareness

This annual event provides opportunities to raise awareness about communication disorders and to promote treatment that can improve the quality of life for those who experience problems with speaking, understanding, or hearing. Click here to find information to help you celebrate Better Hearing & Speech Month!

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February 08, 2012
Hopes & Dreams Conference
March 23rd-24th, 2012

Click here
(download #5) for a PDF of the flyer for this conference.

A conference for parents of children with special needs and professionals who care for them. 55 helpful workshops & nearly 70 presenters. Continuing education units available for many professionals.

• Friday, March 23 & Saturday, March 24 from 8am-4pm daily
• Columbia, SC   
• See website for additional information, brochure & on-line registration
• Registration fees vary, but there are a limited number of parent scholarships and child care options available

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January 28, 2012
SC Assistive Technology Expo 2012
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 from 9am-4pm
FREE & Open to the Public!

Click here
(download #4) for a PDF of the flyer for this expo.

Exhibits and workshops showcasing assistive technology for people of all ages.

• Tuesday, March 13, 2012 from 9am-4pm
• West Columbia, SC  
• See website for the expo  AND/OR...
• Download the flyer for more information

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January 22, 2012
Feeding Meeting
Thursday, January 26, 2012 from 6-8pm
Free Meeting for Everyone

Click here (download #3) for a PDF of the flyer for this feeding meeting.

Many parents, therapists, caregivers and others have great difficulty when it comes to feeding truly "picky" eaters. For more insight on this issue, please feel free to attend a free feeding meeting this week!

• Thursday, January 26, 2012 from 6-8pm
• East Cooper Hospital (2000 Hospital Drive, Mt. Pleasant, SC)
• Classroom #1

Guest speakers:  
• Tiffany Jackson, a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine and DAN (Defeat Autism Now) Doctor
• Tom Meletis, a Keagan (alkaline) water expert

Future meetings at East Cooper Hospital (exclusively for therapists):
• Thursday, March 8, 2012 6-8pm
• Thursday, May 10, 2012 6-8pm
• Thursday, July 12, 2012 6-8pm

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January 05, 2012
Speech Sound Errors: Dialect or Disorder?
Considering Accents...
by Kristen L. Dietrich, MS, CCC-SLP

Click here (download #1) for a PDF version of this entire blog entry "Speech Sound Errors: Dialect or Disorder?" (includes the attachment listed below)
As speech-language pathologists, we take great pride in being able to effectively and efficiently answer a variety of challenging and complex questions related to the production and processing of speech and language. It is essential that we are able to explain multifaceted topics in a succinct and meaningful manner. We need to be proficient at summarizing the acquired evidenced-based knowledge and skills gained from years of graduate school and professional experience into a few concise sentences.

Unfortunately, I recently hesitated over my response to a question from a parent regarding how I was able to determine that their child’s articulation error of the /r/ phoneme was considered a disorder and not a part of their native dialect. I have composed the following explanation in the hopes of providing a more eloquent and substantial response to the intriguing question: Is it a dialect or a disorder?

First Things First: What is a speech sound disorder?

To adequately answer this broad question, it is important to first understand the definition of a speech sound disorder. Many children make mistakes as they learn to say new sounds and words. In young children learning to speak any language, speech sound errors are quite common. For example, many young children substitute a “w” sound for an “r” sound as in “wabbit” instead of “rabbit;” or, a child may omit sounds in words as in “nana” for “banana.”

A speech sound disorder may be present when such mistakes occur past a certain age. Every sound in a language has a different range of ages when the child should be able to produce that sound correctly. Generally, children should be able to correctly produce all speech sounds in the English language by the age of 8.
Click here (download #2) for a speech sound development chart by age and gender.

Furthermore, speech sound disorders may include problems with articulation (making sounds) and/or phonological processes (sound patterns), but that is an entirely different topic for another day.

Differences vs. Disorders

Not all sound substitutions (“w→r”  as in “wabbit”) or omissions (“ba” as in “nana”) are speech errors. Instead, they may be related to a feature of a dialect or accent. For instance, speakers of African American Vernacular English (AVVE) dialect may use a “d” sound for a “th” sound as in “dis” for “this.” This is not a speech sound disorder, but rather a phonological feature of AAVE dialect that is different from many other dialects. Likewise, speakers of Southern American English (SAE) dialect may use “y’all” as a contraction of “you all” or substitute “-n” for the “-ing” sound as in, “Where are y’all goin’?” This use of the SAE dialect is different from that of many other dialects, but it is not a speech sound disorder.

Like dialects, an accent is a unique way that speech is pronounced by a group of  people speaking the same language. Accents are an inherent part of all spoken languages of the world and it is important to realize that no accent is better than another. Accents relate specifically to how words in a language are pronounced.

It is the official position of the predominant national governing body on communication sciences and disorders, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), that dialects and accents are NOT a speech or language disorder.

Determining if an Individual’s Speech Production is Part of a Recognized Dialect OR is a Speech Sound Disorder

A speaker of any language or dialect may have a disorder that is unrelated to his/her use of the native dialect. An essential step in determining if a person’s speech sound production is due to a DIALECT or a DISORDER is to be able to distinguish between the following:

1.  regular linguistic patterns that are commonly shared among many people of that speaker’s dialect and are considered to be a normal dialectal difference


2.  irregular linguistic patterns that are rarely/never found among the general population of that speaker’s dialect and represent a true speech or language disorder.

In the case of a person rightly questioning whether a certain distorted speech sound is part of the overall dialect or not, it may be helpful to ask, “Do I hear this particular speech sound produced in this exact manner by most other speakers of this dialect?” If the majority of speakers of a certain dialect do not pronounce the speech sound the same way as the sound in question than it is likely NOT a feature of the dialect.

Who is Qualified to Diagnose a Speech Sound Disorder? What Makes Them Qualified?

A speech-language pathologist (SLP) is the professional who evaluates and treats children or adults with speech and language difficulties, including speech sound disorders. SLPs generally obtain a minimum of six years of higher education and are required to earn at least a master’s degree in the field of communication sciences and disorders (a.k.a. speech-language pathology). Being a “certified” SLP means holding a Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC), a nationally recognized professional credential that represents a level of excellence in the field of Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP). An SLP with the “CCC” has voluntarily met rigorous academic and professional standards, typically going beyond the minimum requirements for state licensure. They have the knowledge, skills, and expertise to provide high quality clinical services, and they actively engage in ongoing professional development to keep their certification current. (Explanation of SLP and the “CCC” is directly from ASHA’s website – click to go to specific ASHA webpage).

How Does an SLP Diagnose a Speech Sound Disorder?

An SLP listens to the person and may use a formal articulation test to record sound errors. An oral mechanism examination is also conducted to determine whether the muscles of the mouth are working properly. In graduate school, an SLP has been trained to discern between sounds that are typical and atypical to dialects. The SLP may recommend speech treatment if the sound is not appropriate for the child’s age and/or if it is not a feature of a dialect or accent.

Often, there are only slight differences between speech sounds and they are very difficult to detect by the untrained ear or by a person who has grown accustomed to the individual’s speech over a long period of time (e.g, parent/child; husband/wife). Comprehensive SLP graduate courses revolve around the listening and transcribing of speech sounds using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), an alphabetic system of phonetic notation as a standardized representation of the sounds of all spoken languages. For instance, the IPA notation for the “th” sound is notated by 2 symbols depending on whether it is a voiced or voiceless phoneme – /ð/ as in “this, breathe, father” or /θ/ as in “thing, teeth.”

Additional  Competencies Required for Speech-Language Pathologists to Distinguish between Dialects and Disorders*

The speech-language pathologist must have certain competencies to distinguish between dialectal differences and communicative disorders. These competencies include

  1. recognizing all American English dialects as rule-governed linguistic systems,
  2. understanding the rules and linguistic features of American English dialect(s) represented by their clientele,
  3. being familiar with nondiscriminatory testing and dynamic assessment procedures, such as the following:
    • identifying potential sources of test bias,
    • administering and scoring standardized tests in alternative manners,
    • using observation and nontraditional interview and language sampling techniques, and
    • analyzing test results in light of existing information regarding dialect use.
 *These compentencies are directly from a report located on ASHA’s website at this link

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