Interview with Carissa Speelman of Home Sweet Speech Room
April 2, 2018
Carissa Speelman, M.A. CCC-SLP is an ASHA certified speech-language pathologist. She currently works in an outpatient pediatric clinic setting with children ages 2 through 21. She is also the founder and author of Home Sweet Speech Room, a therapy blog that showcases materials, treatment techniques, and apps. Carissa has experience with autism, articulation and phonological disorders, language disorders, apraxia, social pragmatic communication disorder, dysphagia, and dyslexia. She holds a Hanen Centre certification in More Than Words.
Note: You should consult with your doctor or speech pathologist for recommendations on treatment. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Carissa Speelman and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeechPathologyMastersPrograms.com
What inspired you to start Home Sweet Speech Room?
When I was doing my clinical placements in undergrad and grad school, I would get compliments on the activities I created. Others would ask me to borrow them/make a copy for them, so I thought I would share my ideas with the world. At the time, there were not many grad students that were blogging, so I thought I could bring a different perspective to the SLP world.
What do you hope your readers get from your posts?
I hope my readers gain fun therapy ideas from my posts. I hope they see that speech and language therapy is more than worksheets, and that it doesn’t have to be boring! When I’m not writing about materials and rather a topic, I hope my readers gain insights into evidence-based practices on a given topic or a new perspective that they may not have thought about before. Finally, I hope they feel as though they can relate to someone, that they can laugh at the silly moments and also feel that they are not alone in those moments of struggle.
What are the most important things to consider when creating effective speech-language pathology materials?
There are many things I consider when I sit down to create materials. First, I think about my caseload. Everything that I create is something I use with my clients. Second, I think about what research says about that topic and try to incorporate in those methodologies into the activity. I also think about current topics or what themes are “in” at the moment or what my clients would be motivated by. That way, my clients will be more likely to participate in the activity for longer.
What are your best tips for keeping materials organized?
I have bins on a shelf labeled by theme (e.g. fall, spring, sports, etc). Within each bin, I keep each individual activity in a Ziploc bag. That way, I can just grab and go easily. At work, we have a cabinet for all articulation materials, another cabinet for all language materials, and a cabinet for all assessment materials, and so on.
Teachers Pay Teachers stores are popular among speech-language pathologists. What do you like most about using TPT? What are the benefits of TPT as a seller and a buyer of speech materials?
I like Teachers Pay Teachers because it makes planning sessions very easy and quick. For less than the cost of a coffee, you can purchase an activity to use over and over again. TpT has been a lifesaver for me as a buyer when I’ve had that super busy week and don’t have time to make any materials myself. You can also find many materials to fit any theme you may want to do in your speech room. You can also find activities to be used year-round.
One benefit of TpT as a seller is it has allowed me to make friends and connections all across the nation. These connections have had many benefits both personally and professionally. We have shared many joys and sorrows together. We have presented together at conferences, attended each others’ weddings, and more. TpT also pushes me to be creative. It allows me to use a different side of my brain, in a way. As a seller, it pushes me to stay relevant in the materials I create.
You have recently reviewed several apps on your blog. How did you start integrating the use of apps in your practice? How do you look for apps to use?
I first purchased an iPad for myself after graduation from undergrad. I started by finding a few, “non-speech” apps that I could incorporate into my preschool sessions, such as a finger painting app for colors and shapes. Shortly thereafter, I was introduced to Smarty Ears and had the opportunity to try out some of their apps.
Now, a lot of app developers come to me for feedback, to be honest. If I am in need of a different app, I will search the App Store by the goal that I’m looking for. I always read the app description first, to make sure it is what I’m looking for. Then, I look to see if any of my blogger friends have reviewed it by doing a quick Google search. Sometimes apps will have “lite” versions, so I will try those first before committing to buy the entire app. ASHA is another great place to check out app developers. Many developers have booths in the exhibit hall, where you can try out the apps for yourself.
That is your advice for SLP graduate students?
My number one piece of advice for the grad students that I supervise is ask questions! There is no such thing as a dumb question. This is your opportunity to learn and have someone answer those questions. Once you’re done with your CF, you don’t always have someone with you to answer questions or bounce ideas off of.
Another piece of advice is to find ways to relate to your clients/students. I do a lot of “research” by watching kids’ movies and walking down the toy/game aisles. Try to incorporate those themes into your therapy, as the kids will be more motivated and will likely participate longer.
Finally, take advantage of opportunities to go to ASHA, state, or local conferences. You can learn about so many different topics and gain so many new treatment ideas.