What Am I? And Fun Games to Adjunct Speech

Posted on June 1st, 2013 by Denise | No Comments

What Am I? And Fun Games to Adjunct Speech


Denise Koonce OTR

I happened to walk in on one of my daughter’s speech therapy sessions only to find her and the therapist lost in belly laughing.  It took me a few seconds to visually take in their immediate environment.  Upon doing so, I realized they had bright blue bands around their heads with a card attached, sticking straight up.  It was funny just looking at them.  Once they regained their composure my daughter said “Come on mom and join us, this is soooo much fun!”

After working alongside speech therapists for over 20 years, I am still learning about all the areas in which they provide assistance and help.  I understand better the areas within the scope of rehabilitation because that has been my primary area of practice.  Therefore, I have a better understanding of their role in the treatment of oral motor or oral sensory deficits in feeding, swallowing and articulation.  I also have some degree of understanding when it comes to the neurological aspects of treatment for cognition and memory deficits.  Also, because of working in pediatrics, I am partially aware of what they do for fluency, literacy, and voice production within developmental staging.   However, their scope of practice is very broad and goes far beyond that of just rehab and early development.  As an occupational therapist along with a physical therapist, we tend to work in open spaces and therefore it allows us the opportunity to observe what the other is doing.  Speech therapy conversely, tends to occur behind a closed-door.  The closed-door is necessary to help the individual attend, focus and listen so progress can be achieved but presents somewhat of a mystery to others.  Recently, due to the needs of my daughter, I was introduced to some of the more finite aspects of treatment and their subtleties such as pragmatics and inferences.    But the list doesn’t stop there; it also includes syntax, semantics, phonology, expressive and receptive communication with comprehension, prelinguistic communication, and much more.  Whew, we do all of that when we talk?  It was a bit blurring in my mind when trying to decipher this into everyday life.  Now, having said all of that, I can say how much I appreciate the role of speech language pathologists and what they bring to their patients.   I am also thankful they bring suggestions to parents on how to incorporate “all that” into a parent friendly way of following through with home programs, which brings me to those silly bright blue headbands and the game called, HEDBANZ.   

HEDBANZ, by Spin Master, is only one of the games I want to mention which are off the shelf children’s games and playfully integrates some of the areas a speech therapist may want a child to work on.  The games provide a mode of learning without the child or the parent having to think about it being arduous.  Instead it is FUN!!!  HEDBANZ is a quick question game of “What am I?”  The essence of the game is to figure out what is on the card you have selected, without looking at the card, by asking questions.  You have only 60 seconds during your turn to ask as many single answer questions as possible to help you determine what is on the card.  You can ask questions such as:  Am I a vegetable?, Am I an animal?, Do I have fur?, Do I live in the water?, Am I alive?, etc.  What makes it so much fun is the fact that you are wearing the card, attached to a headband on top of your head.  (It makes me laugh simply thinking about playing it.)  The first time I played this game with my daughter and sister we giggled and giggled.  It took us a couple of times to convince dad to play but once he did, he was hooked.  We have now played it with several skeptical individuals and each time they have laughed and said we will have to play that again.  The game requires you to use expressive and receptive language, categorization, attention, problem solving, memory, and more.  The game recommends a starting age of 6-7 years but also comes in Disney characters and has an adult version.

Other games which are off the shelf, fun and provide a good supplement to speech therapy home programs are Guess Who, Dr. Seuss, and Memory (word to the wise – if you are over 30 just know you are going to lose this game to the child, be prepared), just to name a few.  In addition to the speech benefits, the time spent playing these games comes with fringe benefits, such as direct family interaction and time together, eye contact, concepts of winning and losing, and the introduction and broadening of subject matter.  From one parent to another, try these games, they are fun, helpful and you will find the resulting laughter addictive.  If you have played or recommend other games, whether you are a parent or therapist, which have a language focus and found them effective, please share them with us.  Lastly, be sure to say thank you to our speech therapists and wish them a happy Better Hearing and Speech Month!

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