Now What? IEP Development for Bilingual/ELL Students

So you’ve determined that a bilingual/ELL student is eligible for special education…now what? In my role as an evaluator, I’ve often struggled with this question when providing IEP input.

Unfortunately, IDEA provides limited guidance in this area, stating only that the IEP Team shall, “in the case of a child with limited English proficiency, consider the language needs of the child as such needs relate to the child’s IEP.” That leaves a lot of room for interpretation, but here are the questions I tend to ponder during IEP development:

Continue reading

SONRISA: Strategies for Home Carry-Over

If you’ve read my entry about CRECER, then you know how much I love acronyms. The name for this blog was actually inspired by another one of my acronym projects. I was working in an outpatient facility at the time. Each SLP had a their own office/therapy space with an adjacent observation room, so parents could either join the session or watch through a one-way mirror. It seemed like an ideal set-up, but I just wasn’t achieving the level of family involvement that I had hoped for. I wanted to ensure that parents understood what was happening during speech therapy; even though it looked like child’s play, there was some serious learning going on!

I had previously used the SMILE program from Bilinguistics as a birth-3 interventionist. I had also purchased a book called MERRILY, authored by Chicago-based SLP Paulette Y. Robinson. Both of these books encouraged home carry-over, had catchy acronyms, AND were available in Spanish…but they primarily focused on very young children. I needed something that could also apply to the needs of preschool and school-age children.

And so the SONRISA program was born! I adapted ideas from the previously mentioned books and created the this new acronym. The goal was to help parents identify the various strategies I was using to facilitate their child’s speech and language skills. At the end of each session, I would ask the parents  to reflect on the strategies they had observed and brainstorm ways to carry-over at home. Continue reading

Working Toward Equity: Legal and Ethical Considerations for Working with Bilingual/ELL Clients

Advocating for culturally/linguistically diverse (CLD) clients can feel like an uphill battle sometimes. There are numerous barriers–limited resources, competing priorities, misconceptions, and conflicting cultural views, etc.–that can make it difficult to provide the best possible care. Ideally, the institutions for which we work would always be on the same page when it comes to meeting this challenge. Unfortunately, SLPs sometimes find themselves needing to defend their position. Making an argument for evidence-based practice is of course my first line of defense. But when that fails to sway administrators, quoting the laws and ethics that govern our profession can go a long way.

I haven’t used this blog to venture into the realm of political commentary…yet…but I think it’s worth mentioning, given the current political climate, how important these legislative protections are. In a perfect world, everyone would do the right thing just because it is right…but here in the real world, we often rely on the law to ensure that our most vulnerable clients get the care they need and deserve.

Continue reading

CRECER: Strategies for Interactive Reading

As an SLP, I have an affinity for words and creating acronyms is always a fun (albeit nerdy) challenge. The inspiration for this one struck while I was completing a leadership program with the Phoenixville Community Health Foundation. The topic of the session was public speaking, and so we were tasked with preparing a short speech to present. Though I’m told most people fear public speaking nearly as much as they fear death, I’ve never had any qualms about talking in front of a group. In fact, my main challenge for this assignment was to stick within the timeline….I knew a handy acronym was just the thing to keep me on track!

Acronyms can be great memory devices…but they often don’t translate well. My larger project for the leadership program was focused on Hispanic literacy outreach, so I decided to create a bilingual acronym to describe dialogic reading strategies: CRECER (which means “grow” in Spanish). Continue reading

From Color Blindness, To Seeing in Color

I grew up color blind. No, not the type that can be diagnosed with a test like this:1292c23b266b61cda01cf54db6ff7a3f

I’m talking about color blind ideology, or the belief that we shouldn’t “see “racial or ethnic differences. It was popular then and still appeals to many now. We are all equal, we are all the same…right?

I attended elementary school in a suburban, middle class neighborhood on Long Island. Thinking back, it wasn’t extremely diverse, but I did have some exposure to children from other cultures. One year, there was a girl in my class whose family came from Pakistan. I didn’t know anything about Pakistan, but I did notice that she dressed differently…always wearing long sleeves and pants, even when it was hot outside. I wondered why she dressed that way, if she was ever uncomfortable…but it seemed rude to ask. I overheard her speaking an unfamiliar language with her parents…again I wondered, but didn’t ask. Continue reading

Bilingual Story Board: The Very Hungry Caterpillar


The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle, is a delightful and beautifully illustrated story for young children. Focus on early academic concepts and vocabulary, such as size, days of the week, counting, colors, and food items. This simple story is also a great way to introduce animal life cycles and sequencing skills. Check out the bilingual story board/sentence builder I created: Continue reading