Friday, November 22, 2013

Thoughts from NC DPI's Speech-Language Pathology Institute: Part One

It's time for another first experience: NC DPI's annual EC conference. Over my short time in the schools, I have heard a mixed bag of reviews about the annual conference. It's something that is starting to become a common theme whenever I bring up the topic of conferences. The main conference may repeat this notion for attendees, but the pre-conference institute that I attended was terrific.

The low-down: The institute was split into two long sessions. The first session was an SLP specific presentation on Executive Functioning. The second presentation combined SLPs and School Psychologists to focus on the theme of collaborative assessments.  It went from 9-4, which started to seem really long during the last 20 minutes. 

The Executive Skills: Strategies for Success by S. Hutaff & B. Henry was a shortened version of a class they've apparently done before at one of NC DPI's Summer Institutes. These wonderful ladies gave a brief overview of what Executive Functioning using Dawson and Guare's model. They took it a slight step forward from the poster below by breaking down the areas between thinking (cognition) and doing (behavioral) skills. The areas of thinking are: working memory; planning/prioritizing; organization; time management; and meta-cognition. The areas of doing are: response inhibition; emotional control; sustained attention; task initiation; goal-directed persistence; and flexibility.

So how does this chart come into play for Speech-Language Pathologists?
Well, just look at your goals:
  • Working Memory= following directions; predicting; recall; relating past experiences to current situations (or stories). 
  • Planning/Prioritizing= sequencing steps to complete a task
  • Organization= I would relate this to following schedules/routines
  • Time Management= sequencing steps to complete a task; following schedules
  • Meta-cognition= self-monitoring skills; initiating topics & maintaining them; identifying key information
  • Response Inhibition= resisting the urge to interrupt conversations 
  • Emotional Control= learning coping strategies to control behavior (friendship skills)
  • Sustained Attention= following directions to complete a task
  • Task Initiation= following multiple step directions
  • Goal Directed Persistence= completing tasks
  • Flexibility= identifying problems and potential solutions; emotional control in difficult situations (friendship skills)
Dawson & Guare also provide professionals with principles for improving Executive Function. I won't go into all of them because it will make this post way too long. The main thing is to include the student in his/her plans so they are motivated and keep supports in place until they achieve mastery level. As with anything, you want to take developmental levels into account and teach deficit skills. The presenters focused on  using the "Success Map Technique" to help students choose a strategy (name it) and use the strategy (social stories, role play, modeling, practice, etc) until the supports can be faded.

The information I gained in this session makes me really want to learn more about the topic. 

Thank you, Pandora, for introducing me to this band.

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