I Wanna Iguana

Title: I Wanna Iguana

Author: Karen Kaufman Orloff

Description: Alex really wants an iguana, so he writes letters to his mother trying to persuade her to say “yes.” The entire book is the letters back and forth between Alex and his mother.


  • Perspective Taking
  • Conjunctions
  • Social Skills: humor, reading body language
  • Written Language: letter writing, persuasive writing

Why I like this book: I use this book for so many goals, and kids really enjoy the humor in the story. Alex uses the phrase “burps and poops,”…bathroom humor is always a hit:)

Ideas for this book:

  • Have students write their own “I Wanna X.” They have to generate reasons why they think they should have X, and reasons why Mom or Dad wouldn’t want them to have X. A great perspective taking activity. I’ve been having students create on the Story Patch App which allows you to import your own pictures, and email home as a PDF.
  • Great examples of personal letters. Lots of exposure to appropriate style, language and punctuation for letter writing.
  • Introduce the concept of persuasive writing. What language did Alex use to help convince his mother? Point out how he thought about ways to make mom happy (more perspective taking), and how he used that to help make a case for himself. Pair with persuasive writing graphic organizers like through Mindwingconcepts to help organize their ideas.
  • Help students practice the use of conjunctions (and, so, because, etc.). They generate sentences using these conjunctions in their writing (i.e. I should get the iguana so I can learn responsibility). The story has great examples as well.
  • The illustrations are awesome. Great examples of body language throughout the story to have students interpret. Add thinking and speaking bubbles to the pictures, and have students generate what goes inside.
  • There are a couple examples of this story read on You Tube if listening to the story with pictures would engage your students better.

Submitted by; Meghan G. Graham M.S. CCC-SLP

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me first

Me First

Title: Me First

Author: Helen Lester. Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger

Description: Pinkerton the pig always has to be first. No matter what! He learns a lesson that “being first isn’t always best.”


  • Perspective Taking
  • Figurative Language
  • Narrative Language
  • Social Skills

Why I like this book: In our social groups we have many kiddos who HAVE to be first.  A good silly story to address the concept. Also a great story for language flexibility, and narrative skills.

Ideas for this book:

  • Discuss and demonstrate the body language when Pinkerton pushes past them to be first. Use thinking bubbles (a white board, regular paper) and discuss how those characters feel and why. What are friends thinking of Pinkerton? Problem solve ways to cope when you aren’t first.
  • A great story to tie to discussion around personal body space. We have used after reading Personal Space Camp by Julia Cook. Practice lining up in a group, managing space, and using words to negotiate who is “first” and next in line.
  • “sandwich” vs. a “sand witch” is demonstrated in this story, as well as “care for” meaning want vs. taking care of. Great example of language flexibility. The author makes a great picture of what Pinkerton was thinking vs. what actually happened. Tie to discussion around idioms and other figurative language. For more examples (check for age appropriateness of course) see Proverbidioms app. Also can pair with other figurative language stories reviewed on all4mychild. Click on “figurative language” on our home page for more.
  • Great for narrative skills. Have students “retell” the story using the pictures to help. I use with Mindwingconcepts “Braidy,” to help students identify story grammar elements.

Submitted by; Meghan G. Graham M.S. CCC-SLP

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The Pigeon Wants a Puppy!

Title: The Pigeon Wants a Puppy

Author: Mo Willems

Description: The silly pigeon thinks he wants a puppy, until he meets one.


  • Perspective Taking
  • Reading Body Language
  • Tone of Voice
  • Prediction

Why I like this book: The pigeon always entertains children, and allows us to address some goals along the way.

Ideas for this book:

  • A great story for kids to “act” as the person the Pigeon is talking to. Have them converse with the pigeon. Given the Pigeon’s responses, what do they think the conversation partner said?
  • A great post by Sean Sweeney at about a “fake texting” activity where you could do just this.
  • The pigeon is very expressive, have children interpret body language and act out. You could even take pictures of these emotions and body language and  have kids create their own “body language” story with various emotions. Try apps like Story Patch to create this story.
  • If working on Tone of Voice, have kids speak with the Pigeon’s emotions. Use a recording device to give students feedback. Is that how they wanted to sound? Does it match the Pigeon’s body language? We love the easi-speak microphone for recording and so do kids!
  • Have student brainstorm what responsibilities you would have taking care of a puppy? Can they generate a list of other pets? What are the responsibilities? What are reasons why parents may not want you to have a pet? Can they take another perspective?
  • The pigeon decides that he’d rather have a walrus. Have kids generate what a walrus might need? What could be “scary” to the pigeon about a walrus? Would a walrus be a good pet?
  • Students could write the “next” book as the pigeon attempts to explain why he wants a walrus.

Submitted by; Meghan G. Graham M.S. CCC-SLP

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Chosen for Duty

Jury duty takes me back to my childhood…and not in a good way.   For the past 4 days, I have felt like a child in a grown up and somewhat foreign world.

I am required (not asked if I want to, nor excused for any reason that I deem important) to sit for 2 hours at a time in the back row in a jury box.  The air conditioner distracts me each time the fan starts.  One of the lawyers is so quiet and mumbles that I can’t hear him.  I get discouraged because I can’t follow the line of questioning so begin to fade out and miss whole chunks of testimony.  At the end of the first day, I manage to ask the court officer if something can be done about this situation.  But I missed a whole day!!

We are not allowed to have food in the courtroom.  This wouldn’t be too big a deal except that I overslept and neglected to eat breakfast before coming.  My stomach growled relentlessly which distracted me, and probably everyone around me.

I am expected to sit in the same seat next to the same people each day.  The woman directly next to me keeps trying to catch my eye.  When I finally gazed in her direction, she used facial expressions to communicate something to me about the lawyer.  I was mortified!  We are not supposed to talk at all about the trial but to do so in the middle of the courtroom terrified me!  I thought we would be humiliated and thrown out on the spot!  (We weren’t).

One of the lawyers talks too slowly, which drives me crazy.  Another one is quite aggressive, which makes me very uncomfortable.  The third is quite theatrical.  Each one discusses details about dates, e-mails, and contracts, interminably with every witness.  I am not a detail person and the actual business or content of this trial is not at all interesting to me.  Although I intensely attempt to follow the line of questioning, when I hear legal jargon, my brain begins to shut down.  I find myself watching the lawyers and witnesses with interest, letting go of the words.  Look how angry he got.  Wow, that lawyer’s hands are shaking. Hmmm, she looks different without her glasses.  I wonder if the judge is following all this or thinking about something else.

Finally, the sitting… I cannot sit for 2 hours at a time with nothing to do!  I shift in my seat, cross and re-cross my legs, bite my lip, look at the clock, play with the bracelet on my wrist, and yawn a lot.  I’ve even resorted to pinching myself to stay awake and sitting on my hands to keep from fidgeting!  I’ve almost sighed out loud at times and am working hard not to show emotion on my face.

Just when I think I understand kids, I have an experience like jury duty.   Our children may have trouble sitting still, don’t always understand what is being asked of them, aren’t particularly interested in the content, are distracted by background noises, are intimidated by adults around them, want to do the right thing but get side-tracked by other kids, or are distracted by their own physical hunger or discomfort.  In the grown up world, they are basically powerless.  I will head back to my job with gratitude that I am NOT a child and with greater respect of the challenges inherent in every day life for our children.

by Jill Perry, MHA, MS, OTR/L

Photo by j Jury Duty

Dont_Bullying (1)

The “B” Word

Last weekend I was blessed with the opportunity to participate in my daughter’s high school church youth group service project.  We did yard work for people in the area; many of whom were elderly or had faced recent physical set-backs such as hip replacements or strokes.  The work was hard…really hard… and the high schoolers were amazing!  They worked from 9:30 until 6:30 without complaining.  I thought I’d have to manage their fatigue, goofing off, and messing up, but they functioned like work horses and earned my utmost respect.

One of the rewards of the day was transporting one particular girl from house to house along with the yard tools.  I only had room for one person in the car other than myself, and this kind soul offered to ride with the old, boring, adult.  We talked about a lot of things: college plans, current activities, likes and dislikes, and the “B” word.  This talented, kind, mature, determined young lady had been bullied in middle school.  She explained her sister had been subjected to similar treatment, and her brother had been a victim of bullying so serious that he no longer fit in at all in school.  When he was bullied, the siblings ended up being bullied too.  She stated, with a very accepting attitude and somber expression, that it was really difficult.  I offered my genuine and heartfelt sympathy to which she responded, “It’s OK.  I’m a lot stronger because of it.  I know who I am and nothing bothers me anymore.”

I decided to ask this insightful teenager if she had any solution for the bullying problem that faces so many youth.  We discussed the fact that many teachers don’t see or realize when kids are bullied.  Victims and observers are afraid to talk to adults about it – afraid that they will be preyed upon even more.  Finally, we considered what life would be like throughout the middle and high school years if kids truly learned how to respect one another and appreciate their differences beginning in preschool.

In the groups at our clinic we teach young children how to initiate and maintain interactions, advocate and compromise in school and on the playground, self-regulate, interpret non-verbal communication, negotiate space, and use and appreciate humor.  One of the ways that we help children appreciate that everyone wants to be a good friend, even if their interactions don’t always give that message, if through the characters in our IMAGINE! Stories for Social Success. This book of 9 poetic stories is just one of the components of our Social Adventures program. Each of the stories introduces an adorable character who is struggling socially until an understanding friend comes along to help them try things a different way.   With help, our kids are learning how to be friends and make friends which strengthens bonds among the kids and deters bullying.  Through this process we hope to create a safer place for all children in a social world of understanding.

I was encouraged this weekend by young adults who have learned these lessons the hard way and have chosen to use their empathy and experiences for good.  I hope the future won’t be as hard for the young kids who are just beginning their social adventures.

photo by: By Alejandrasotomange (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


Hey, Little Ant

Title: Hey, Little Ant

Author: Phillip and Hannah Hoose

Illustrator: Debbie Tilley

Age: early elementary, elementary, middle school

Description: A boy has to decide whether to squish an ant, or not. He is persuaded by friends and the perspective of the ant itself.


  • Perspective Taking
  • Social Skills
  • Narrative/Retelling
  • Tone of Voice

Why I like this book: A good story to clearly show perspective taking. It also leads to great discussion in social groups across the ages.

Ideas for use:

  • Act out the story. One person be the boy and the other the ant. If you’re in a group- there are friends as well. Switch roles.
  • While acting out, practice tone of voice and body language. How would the ant look, feel, sound like if he was about to be squished?
  • A great story to pair with “Braidy” through Mindwing Concepts. Use to retell the story from different perspectives (boys, ants, friends). Can create thinking and speaking bubbles to pair with the story where necessary.
  • A great story for discussion with older kids about “early peer pressure” (as the friends want him to squish the ant). Could also pair to introduce with Michelle Garcia Winner’s Social Behavior Maps to show how behaviors have consequences for yourself and others.
  • The books leads to discussion as the ending isn’t told. Would be great to discuss causality- what would happen if he does? If he doesn’t? How will he feel? What would happen to the ant’s family? This can be modified based on the age of the child
  • If you’re musically inclined there is a song that goes with the story- sing along and enjoy :)
  • Use for writing. Do compare and contrasting paragraphs with a graphic organizer and/or venn diagram. What the same about the boy and the ant? What’s different?
  • Could pair with curriculum topics about insects, protecting species, etc.
  • A nice post on activity ideas to go along with this story, geared towards elementary school and beyond teachers guide to the Little Ant

Submitted by: Meghan G. Graham M.S. CCC-SLP

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Ten important lessons my SLP colleagues taught me:

  1. Give direct, clear feedback when you don’t understand what a child is saying.  The honesty does not offend but helps the child know you WANT to understand.  It also serves as a role model to other children who may want to play and talk with that child but not know how to communicate and provide feedback.
  1. Use clear body language when conversing with children.  If the child is talking on and on and on, don’t be afraid to exhibit a “bored” expression.  Use the opportunity to illustrate the importance of listener feedback through facial expressions.
  1. Be exceeding patient with the child who has difficulty coming up with ideas and expressing herself.  Don’t try to fill in the blanks or hurry the child along.  Showing patience and explaining to other children that “Suzy is thinking and we can wait” is a lesson in civility and helps the anxious speaker to think and speak with greater ease.
  1. Help children organize their thoughts and comments with words such as “First… next… last…” It’s wonderful to see a child’s frustration turn to triumph when these three little words are presented as a guide.
  1. Don’t assume the quiet child who nods his head understands what you just said.  Provide opportunities for that child to repeat directions in a non-humiliating way.  Give him permission to say, “I didn’t hear you.  Can you say that again?”
  1. Behaviors that appear to exemplify motor planning deficits may, in fact, be language difficulties.  I continue to learn from my SLP colleagues about the impact of language challenges on movement, sequencing, and learning new skills.
  1. Teach voice volume control.  Just saying “Use an inside voice” is not enough for many kids.  Help them practice and don’t stop until they clearly understand the ways in which our voice volume and tone convey many different meanings.
  1. When a child achieves average scores on speech and language testing it does not necessarily mean that he has effective functional use of language in varying settings.
  1. Not all SLPs address pragmatic language… but I wish they did!
  2. All kids WANT to communicate and EVERY listener has a responsibility to help make that happen.

With love and thanks to all the fantastic SLPs with whom I have had the pleasure of working!

by Jill Perry, MHA, MS, OTR/L

image  By Jarry1250  (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


All4mychild To “I Wish I Didn’t Have Aspergers”: An #AutismPositivity2012 Flash Blog Event

For those of you who may not be aware, today is an important day.  It is “I Wish I Didn’t Have Asperger’s”: An #AutismPositivity2012 Flash Blog Event.  You can read more about this project, here.

Since reading about today’s flash blog, I have been thinking about what I would write.  I have worked with children with Autism Spectrum Disorders for over 20 years and have enjoyed every minute of my work.  I have been thinking about why. ..

The answer that I have come up is two-fold.  One more of a macro thought and one is more of a micro thought.  The macro thought is that working with individuals with ASD has made the world a more interesting place for me.  I fall more into the neuro-typical category and as such, my life experience is a lot like that of many other people.   I am often constrained by the mainstream.

This notion of mainstream has me thinking and I’d like to explore this metaphor a bit.  I recently visited the rainforest and for most of the trip, we stayed in the “mainstream.”  We visited the most popular tourist spots where everyone spoke English and accommodated our “American culture.”  We ate in restaurants that served familiar food and we stayed on the main roads when traversing the country side.  The vacation was wonderful, but what did we miss by not exploring away from the mainstream and “off the beaten path”?

Working with individuals with ASD has provided me with an opportunity to explore “off the beaten path” of life.  My life is enhanced by the observations of those who see life through different lenses.   Their fresh perspectives keep my world expanding and for that I am thankful.  When I listen to an interview of someone who has dedicated his/her life to one specific subject and has made amazing discoveries because of this “compulsive interest,” I am reminded that if we all stayed in the mainstream, progress would be slow.

None of us can change who we are at the core.  While I sometimes wish that I was more comfortable “off the beaten path”, I’m not.  I challenge myself now and then to go there, but it is scary and uncomfortable and I tend to get right back in the mainstream as soon as I can.  I believe this is true of most of us.  We work to explore the things we are not, but then return to our comfort zone… and this is okay because by sharing our uniqueness with one another, we enhance one another’s lives.

And now for my “micro” thought… while ASD labels attempt to describe groups of individuals, they do not even come close to describing any one person.  As I reflect on what I do and don’t enjoy about the each individual person in my life, I do not think of them in categories, I think of them individually, each with traits that I adore, traits that I envy, traits that frustrate me and traits that bring out the best in me.   We all have things that we’d like to change about ourselves, but in doing so, we would also alter what makes us wonderful, so my hope is that on this day in particular, we can each take a moment to treasure what makes us unique and find peace.

by Karen S Head, MS, CCC-SLP

image by: © 2012 Shelly . Licensed under CC-BY.



Title: Hush! A Thai Lullaby

Author: Minfong Ho

Description: A Caldecott Honor winning story of a mother desperately trying to keep the animals of the jungle quiet as her baby is sleeping. However, little does she know that her baby is awake the whole time.


  • Inferencing
  • Reading body language
  • Phonological awareness (rhyming)
  • “Who?” questions
  • Retelling (early narrative)
  • Animal vocabulary
  • Perspective Taking
  • /l/ blends, /l/

Why I like this book: This is one of my favorite stories. The pictures are adorable, and the poetic story keeps kids engaged. Kids also love the animal noises that author provides (i.e. HOOM-pra, HOOM- Pra for the elephant,  Op, Op for the frog, etc.)

Ideas for use:

  • Great book to teach early inferencing and prediction. There are visual clues as to what animal could be making noise next. Have kids collect the “clues” from the mothers words or from the pictures
  • the body language is amazing in this story. Lots of examples for children to interpret, act out, and infer what she is thinking and feeling. Add cut out thinking bubbles above the mother’s head.
  • have kids fill in the blank to generate the rhyming word while reading
  • the story is a good model for “who” questions (a person or animal) as the mother is consistently wondering “who” is making the given noise.
  • a simple sequencing narrative for kids to retell. Use the pictures and have the kids retell the story. Encourage temporal markers
  • would be a good simple narrative to pair with “Braidy” from Mindwingconcepts
  • good story to discuss “setting” as the story takes place in a hut in the jungle of Thailand . Have kids generate and discuss the animals of the jungle, the plants, what they would see and hear (pair with the Visualizing and Verbalizing approach for description)
  • Carry over to pretend play: If a group- Have kids “act” it out! One “mommy” can tell the animals to “hush!” The repetative phrases are easy for kids to remember.
  • If you don’t have a group, use pretend play toys and act out. A simple pretend play house would work- what could be making noise in the house that the mommy would worry about? (i.e. mail man, the dog, cars outside, etc.) Work on sequencing of play schemes.
  • The mother never knows the baby is AWAKE. Perfect to discuss and model perspective taking. Use thinking bubbles and act out for comprehension
  • Lots of /l/ blends and repetitive for kids to practice (sleeping, black, etc.)

Submitted by: Meghan G. Graham M.S. CCC-SLP

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the cozy book

The Cozy Book

Title: The Cozy Book

Author:  Mary Ann Hoberman

Illustrator:  Betty Fraser

Age:  preschool, early elementary

Description:  This is a beautifully illustrated book that takes a child through waking up to bedtime while experiencing all the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, touches, movement and emotions a young child might live through in a day.


  • Sensory regulation
  • Perspective taking
  • Body awareness
  • Sequencing
  • Spatial terms
  • Friendship
  • Imaginative play
  • Rhyming

Why I like this book:  This is a book that must be experienced.   It is long and written in rhyme.  The illustrations have lots of detail, action, and emotion.  The book reminds us that we live in a world that bombards the senses at every turn and recognizing the “cozy” senses can help us stay regulated.
Ideas for use:

  • Read the book a little at a time and have the kids talk about what is “cozy” or regulating for them as each sense is highlighted.
  • Talk with kids about the sequence of their days.
  • The book points out that some things are “cozy” for some people and not for others.  Have a discussion about differences and taking another person’s perspective.
  • Kids can conversely talk about sensory experiences that are not cozy and what they can do about it.  (Some kids in the book are putting hands over their ears to block out noise).

Submitted by:  Jill Perry, MHA, MS, OTR/L

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