The PAW Strategy for Structuring Your Session

Therapists (hopefully!) spend a lot of time carefully planning goals and activities for each Auditory Verbal Therapy session, but professional planning is not enough.  Parent coaching is the heart of AVT.  It is not enough for you, the professional, to know what’s going on.  Parents deserve this information, too!  Below, I’ll detail a strategy I came up with called “PAW” that can help you structure your sessions for maximum engagement.

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AG Bell 2018 Presentation Slides

This summer I had the opportunity to present with some incredible friends and colleagues at the 2018 AG Bell Convention in Scottsdale, Arizona.  Below are PDFs of the slides from our presentations.  Enjoy!

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“Minimally Invasive Therapy” (Rethinking Equal Talk Time)

When I began studying auditory verbal therapy, one concept I learned was the “equal time pie” or “equal talk time,” — the idea that all three participants in an AVT session (child, parent, and therapist), should each be doing roughly 1/3 of the talking during the session.  For years, I tried to self-monitor during my intervention to make sure this was happening.  But then I started teaching students about AVT at the university level.  After weeks of hearing me drive home the point that families are their children’s first and best teachers, one student raised her hand and asked a question that revolutionized the way I think about sharing talk time in sessions…

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Use Your Voice, Make a Choice

Young children love to be in control (who doesn’t?).  Think about it: so many aspects of their lives are decided for them — what and when they’ll eat, where they go each day, when they take a bath, etc.  For children with hearing loss, parents may tend to be even more directive, giving short, simple commands to head off any misunderstandings by a child with limited language.  But challenge yourself!  Giving choices can help meet an important developmental need while growing language skills as well!

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A Figure of Speech

Figurative language: idioms, metaphors, similes, and the like, can be one of the most difficult aspects of language for English language learners, and children with hearing loss, to master.  How can we help children learn, understand, and use nonliteral language in a way that is natural?

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DO Try This At Home

If you provide services to families in the home or via teletherapy, you have the advantage of helping them apply AV techniques to their natural environments in real time.  But that’s not always possible.  How can center-based clinicians or teachers make what they do with families “translate” once the families leave their clinic or school?  How can we make center-based services realistic for parents?

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Listen While You Work

Life is BUSY!  While it’s fun to read books and play with games and toys in therapy, implementing these activities at home can sometimes seem challenging for families who don’t have a lot of extra time.  If you’re a therapist who does home visits, you may even run into a situation where parents feel they “don’t have time” to participate in your sessions and have to use the time to catch up on chores while you interact with their child.  How can we make this work?

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Give a Toolbox, Not a Nail

Imagine you are working on a big carpentry project (this will be more of a stretch for some of us than others!).  What would be more helpful to you?  A person handing you just one nail at the right time, but nothing else, or a person who gives you a whole toolbox from which to choose after first showing you how to use each tool?  Kind of obvious, right?  A nail helps you in this minute.  It gets the job done but nothing more.  A toolbox, on the other hand, has infinite uses and gives you more control (you’re not waiting for someone to hand you the next nail).  Coaching parents is much the same. 

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Three Bears, Thirty Ways

When I coach other professionals, I tell them to work smarter, not harder!  I like to pick just one book and make it work for ALL of the children I see in a week.  My schedule is filled with listeners of all different ages, developmental levels, and needs, but with some creative thinking, you can take a classic story like Goldilocks and the Three Bears and find a gold mine of goals inside.  Here are THIRTY ways to make the Three Bears work for (nearly) everyone on your caseload. 

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