Apps, Language Therapy, Random Therapy Ideas, Worth Every Penny

Let’s Color Indeed: New Lazoo Let’s Color App!

You know how everyone always asks what kind of animal you would want to be if humans could magically morph into their dream-creatures? Well, If I could be any animal, I’d be a narwhal…unicorn whale!!!!! And since I know you were wondering, if I could be any app developer, I would want to be Lazoo! Lazoo makes the 2 most adorable, fun, all-around-good-time apps, and I am so excited about their new one, Let’s Color!

I reviewed their first app, Squiggles, a while back: Like I did with Squiggles, I’ll break down the highlights of Let’s Color.

What is it?

Let’s Color is an interactive coloring “book” for creative kids (and creative SLPs looking to target speech and language skills in a fun way). Choose a page, which is essentially a partially illustrated scene. A little phrase will flash across most of the pages and be read aloud, encouraging the child to add something to the picture: e.g. “What kinds of patterns can you draw on the fish?” or “It’s fun to blow bubbles and to draw bubbles.” While coloring on the page, you can choose your color and the width/texture of your drawing tool (pictured as a marker, paintbrush, chalk stick, or ketchup squirt bottle), and can even add “stickers” to your page!

Once your client (or, ahem…you) is done coloring, press the GO button and watch the page come to life! The app animates whatever was drawn in a short, fun animation that fits with the scene! In the photo below, the balloons are pulling the ants up into the air one by one once they have been colored in 🙂

Why is it great?

Although the app isn’t necessarily designed for speech-language pathologists, it has the key ingredient for any app that will work well in therapy with youngin’s: it’s super engaging for kids! There’s no right or wrong when it comes to coloring each scene. Although the choices for colors/marker widths are limited, this can be a huge benefit for kids who otherwise get caught up in simply deciding which shade of red to start with. How should you get language?

  • Encourage kids to come up with funny ideas of things to add to the picture and then tell you about it (the dragon can breathe ice cream cones and suns instead of fire).
  •   Target colors, shapes, or common objects that appear in each scene.
  • Work on velars: “Let’s GO” “Let’s COLOR

How Much?

Let’s Color is a steal of a deal at $free.99. That’s right ladies and gents: FREE as can be!

I hope you have fun with this new addition to your iPad and find it to be a successful tool in therapy!

Guest Posts, Just for Students, Random SLP

5 Ways to Set Yourself Up NOW for Private Practice Success Later: Guest Post by Jena Casbon

I am absolutely thrilled and honored to have a guest post by the wonderful, amazing Jena Casbon! She has a fabulous website about everything under the sun for private practitioners and those hoping to start their own practice, so I suggest you hurry (not mosey) on over to The Independent Clinician as soon as you finish reading!

Attention graduate students and new grads:

Are you interested in starting a private practice someday? If you’re anything like I was, I hoped to get my degree, work for a few years and then start my own private practice. I had fallen in love with the profession of Speech-Language Pathology and couldn’t wait to fix everyone with a speech, language, cognitive or swallowing disorder.

During my CF, I became aware of two colleagues who had their own private practices. They worked part-time at the hospital with me and part-time treating their own private clients. I longed for their freedom, their confidence, their status as private practitioners and their ability to earn double their hospital salary in half the time. In the year after my clinical fellowship, Rick and Kathryn taught me everything I needed to know about treating private clients. From what liability insurance to get, to how they documented, to their suggested fees and marketing strategies. Eventually I felt ready and started to treat my own private patients and I haven’t looked back!

If you’re still interested in becoming a private practitioner someday, here are 5 Lessons that Will Help YOU Start Your Own Private Practice Someday

1. Your Knowledge Must Be Valuable

Speech-Language Pathologists provide a service, much like a masseuse, a car mechanic or a realtor. In private practice, clients will either pay out of pocket for services or they will be reimbursed through health insurance. Make sure that you have enough experience and expertise before you start to charge people for your services. Although a bad massage or a half-fixed car would be a bummer, patients and families are trusting you with all of their heart to help their child or family member to become whole. Do not take that lightly.

2. Be Open to Various Forms of Private Practice

Many people think of “being in private practice” as leasing office space, having employees and a waiting room. The mentality is that you either have a private practice OR you have a regular job at a school or hospital. There is a much larger percentage of clinicians who have their own part-time private practices after work, on weekends or during the summer. Some therapists have private practices that do second opinion evaluations only. Others incorporate cool elements like pet therapy. One of the best things about private practice is that it’s yours to shape how you want to.

3. Have Multiple Streams of Income

This is something I learned from my mentor Kathryn. She told me, “Never become dependent on one income.” Now she took this a bit further by working at the hospital, having her private practice, owning rental property and teaching 14 spin classes at the gym BUT the principle is worth practicing and sharing. Working full-time at a “regular job” is typically extremely safe but layoffs do happen. Private practices can have a steady stream of clients and then a drop off. By flexing your schedule and adding extra income opportunities, you can keep yourself safe.

4. Become an Expert Something You Love

By this point in your early career you have probably started to figure out your interests. Maybe it’s with adults with aphasia. Or children with hearing loss. No matter what aspect of our field that you fall in love with, if you’re truly interested in helping people, become an expert. Read journal articles, ask questions, attend seminars/conventions/workshops, do research, give a presentation at ASHA. In general, the people who are most successful in private practice have become experts. People want their loved one to receive therapy from an expert. Become the expert and watch your practice grow.

5. Build a Network of Colleagues/Friends as Referral Sources

You may be too young to realize this but the therapy world is very small. The people you know through graduate school, clinical placements and friends of friends are all a part of your referral network. Embrace and cultivate those professional relationships as they will become part of the backbone of your success. Also, don’t limit your network to SLP’s only. You’ll want to add OT’s and PT’s, music therapists, pediatricians, social workers, special education instructors, neuropsychologists, etc. to your list of professional contacts. Engage with these people often and make sure they know what your professional interests are. Private practices often grow through word of mouth referrals. Personal referrals are often the most successful.

 One Final Note

One thing that amazed me about Rick and Kathryn was their willingness to teach me how to get started in private practice. My initial thought was, “Why would they teach me, their potential competition, how to enter the market?” The truth was, we weren’t competition. We had different interests, levels of expertise and years of experience. By supporting me, I was able to in turn help them. Collaboration always wins over competition.

Not everyone is lucky enough to have had that level of mentorship. This is exactly why I created The Independent Clinician, a website filled with resources to help SLP’s, OT’s and PT’s get started on their journey to private practice. Even if you’re not ready yet, go ahead and get on the mailing list. I am here to answer your questions and support you if or when you decide to start your own private practice.

Jena H. Casbon, MS CCC-SLP is a Speech-Language Pathologist in New Orleans, Louisiana and soon to be returning to Boston, Massachusetts. She is passionate about helping adult survivors of stroke and brain injury regain prior functions and be successful in their new lives. She has acted as a consultant for MTV’s True Life: I Have a Traumatic Brain Injury and Lisa Genova’s novel, Left Neglected. In addition to helping her patients, she has taught hundreds of SLP’s, OT’s and PT’s how to start their own private practices. She is the author of two books: The Independent Clinician Guide to Private Patients and The Independent Clinician Guide to Creating a Web Presence. 

Just for Students, Random SLP, Random Therapy Ideas

The Dysphagia Quiz

Spring quarter (fondly known among my classmates as “the quarter that broke our souls”) is finally over. Final case summaries have been printed and signed, ART meetings are done, and finals have been…well…taken (I wouldn’t go so far as to say “aced”). Among other things, we took the class that all grad students anticipate with bated breath: dysphagia. Ok, ok, in all fairness, swallowing disorders are a huge part of the field, but I can’t say that many students are jumping up and down to memorize the neural innervation for the muscles of mastication or characteristics of aspiration pneumonia.

Can you keep a secret? Yeah, I didn’t think so. But…I’ll tell you anyway, since I’m not sure how else to keep this post going. Despite my initial doubt, I was shocked to realize that I kind of sort of actually might have liked dysphagia. I attribute 79.24% of this to the sheer brilliance and power of our professor, Dr. Bob Miller, though there’s was a solid 20.76% that actually came from pure, unadulterated interest in this facet of the field. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a ped’s girl through and through (and this wasn’t our pediatric dysphagia class), but the lectures got me hooked much like a Costa Rican soap opera: will Mr. Smith clear the thin liquids once they penetrate the larynx, or will he aspirate and and up with yet another bout of pneumonia? Does Mrs. Johnson have a stroke of the posterior inferior cerebellar artery, or could her inability to swallow be part of a darker, more disturbing conversion disorder brought on by the stress of watching her long lost brother find out about her grandmother’s uncle’s niece’s illegitimate child?

Anywho, since I just had to prove myself “worthy” through a somewhat horrific dysphagia final, I thought I would test all of you SLPs out there to see how sharp your assessment and diagnostic skills are these days. May the odds be ever in your favor:

1. Mr. Hughes comes to you complaining of severe chest pain that occurs frequently during swallowing. He says that solids tend to “stick in his throat” during meal times, but that liquids seem to clear easily. This patient likely has difficulty with which stage of swallowing? (oral, early pharyngeal, middle pharyngeal, late pharyngeal, esophageal). What is one likely explanation for his complaints?

2. If your patient has a hyperactive gag reflux (and other hyperactive reflexes), what kind of lesion does he/she likely have? (unilateral lower motor neuron, bilateral lower motor neuron, unilateral upper motor neuron, bilateral upper motor neuron)

3. Individuals with severe ataxia may experience nasal regurgitation during meals. Why?

4. What esophageal condition causes a “bird beak” or “funnel-like” appearance of the esophagus during imaging?

5. ________________(hot food/liquid OR cold food/liquid) can be a catalyst for esophageal spasms in someone with a history of esophageal spasms.

6. Explain the rationale behind the free water protocol.


  1. Esophageal phase; esophageal achalasia or possible esophageal spasms
  2. bilateral upper motor neuron lesion
  3. These patients may have difficulty coordinating the raising and lowering of their velum during their swallow, so they may not achieve velo-pharyngeal closure at the right time during the pharyngeal phase of the swallow
  4. Esophageal achalasia
  5. Cold foods/liquids
  6. Oral hygiene is one of the biggest concerns for patients at risk for aspiration, since the cause of aspirational pneumonia is the bacteria that gets aspirated with the food/liquid and not the food/liquid itself. For some patients who are on thickened diets or are NPO in the hospital, it may be alright to allow them water to thirst, but only if there is extremely special attention paid to their oral hygiene. Even if they do aspirate small amounts of water, their lungs can reabsorb the water and there isn’t a great risk of developing bacterial pneumonia since so much care has been taken to maintain good oral hygiene.
Language Therapy, Uncategorized, Worth Every Penny

How Fun? Absurdly Fun!

Super Duper strikes again, this time with an app aimed at helping kids recognize goofy, absurd details from a scene. Listening for Absurdities is a bit like a miniature version of the “what’s wrong with this picture” books, though each card illustrates only 1 scene with one silly thing going on. As with all the Super Duper apps, you can customize the card options for each client, or you can make all of the cards accessible to the client. Additionally, you can mark each turn as correct or incorrect, and the app keeps track of this data as you play.

So, how can you incorporate Listening for Absurdities into your next session? Well, here are a couple ideas to start you off 🙂

  • Capitalize on the voice option of this app: Like some of the other Super Duper apps, Listening for Absurdities includes a voiced component. As you scroll from flashcard to flashcard, you must click on the card to activate the voice, which gives you a short sentence about what’s happening in the scene (e.g. “Uncle Luke poured his coffee into a boot”). This is a great added cue to help students who might otherwise have a tough time figuring out what’s goofy in the scene. Additionally, if you’re working on listening skills, you can turn the iPad away from the student and have them fix the sentence after hearing the verbal cue alone (without ever showing them the picture on each card).

  • Keep the voiced component of the app off: Some of the cards are more obviously absurd than others, so you can challenge clients by choosing the cards with more subtle absurdities and asking them to identify what doesn’t fit in the scene and explain how they might fix it. This is a great way to help kids learn to search for key details that might aid in comprehension.
  • Use each card as a story-starter: Not every kid is little Ms./Mr. motor mouth, just dying to give you a 300-word language sample in the first 18.4 seconds of your session. For the quieter clients on your caseload, use the cards in this fundeck as a good theme for a made-up story. They’ll like how silly they get to be, and you’ll be on cloud nine with all their language!
  • Challenge kids to problem solve: With each new card, don’t just have your client point out what’s silly in the scene, but also ask them what kinds of words you could substitute into the sentence to make it correct. Try to generate as many ideas to correct each card as possible! This is great for kids who struggle with semantic variation.

I hope I’ve left you with some good ideas that get you well on your way to absurd fun with your clients!