MSHA members in action.

MSHA Monday-Summertime Teletherapy Update

Diane Simpson and Rachel Stansberry offered another webinar on “Getting Started in Montana Telepractice” on June 27, 2017. Diane and Rachel have been offering these two-hour webinars several times each year to help MSHA members add telepractice to their service delivery models.  Telepractice offers us a chance to reach areas in our state that are not receiving speech therapy and audiology service and Diane and Rachel are committed to getting services to these areas.


Each webinar contains four parts. First, they discuss the Montana telepractice Law and the Rules and Regulations governing telepractice in Montana. Next, they cover the expectations of privacy for HIPAA and FERPA compliance. The third part deals with the equipment, platforms and physical needs to provide telepractice and they conclude with web-based resources, both for therapy sessions and for getting additional training. Diane and Rachel will continue to offer these webinars as long as there is interest. They will are also planning to present a poster on telepractice during MSHA’s fall convention in Missoula


MSHA will host another webinar on Telepractice on September 19.  This one will be taught by Tracy Sippl. Tracy is a telepractioner who offers a variety of services to telepractioners. She has a course through ASHA and she does individual consultations.  Rachel recently consulted with Tracy to get more ideas for online therapy materials to share. “Tracy was a great help and shared techniques to help me better utilize my teleconferencing platform and she gave me a list of online activities I could use in therapy,” Rachel reported, “and all for a reasonable price”. You can check out her site and blog here. Watch the MSHA Facebook page for more information on the September 19, 2017, webinar.

Her latest Blog was on e-helpers.–Continued

ASHA also sent this information on Sig 18 that I thought was worth sharing.

“Advocacy State-by-State pages have had a new edition – Telepractice/Telesupervision!  This has been a big initiative to track the laws and regulations specific to telepractice to assist members in their endeavors to provide appropriate services within the confines of the law.  Go to the Advocacy Tab, Click on State-by-State then select the state you would like to research.  Telepractice is listed as one of the subsections.  Contact Cheris Frailey  with questions at ”

Are you looking for ways to incorporate more authentic materials into your current telepractice? ASHA has a recorded webinar and has a lot of good ideas for making your own materials as well great tips for managing technology and using web based resources.

If you’d like to be listed as a telepractioner on this website, be informed of the next webinar,  or receive periodic emails about telepractice resources, contact Rachel at or Diane at


MSHA Monday: Speech Therapy and Sensory

Hello MSHA Members!

I am slightly shocked over the cooler weather we’ve been experiencing as summer approaches. This is my last week of ESY, and I wanted to reflect on some career changing ideas in regards to speech and the importance of understanding and incorporating sensory needs. If you have worked with a student or adult that needs information presented in a more kinesthetic or tactile fashion, you may be able to relate to some of the ideas and activities I’ve used this year!

This year my fellow OTs showed a video about the “Sensory Funnel” ( CAREER CHANGING. I was hooked immediately from listening to these guys explain how targeting executive function and social skills are the last skills to target (SLPs will say ‘WHAT?’). They introduce a hierarchy to work on social and executive function skills with bringing our focus to the foundation deficits before targeting the more metacognitive skills.  I full-heartedly see the benefit of targeting learner’s sensory, emotional, and awareness skills before getting to social and executive function skills. Take a moment and listen to their explanation and please comment on your own ideas!

With taking this information into consideration, I made my New Year’s Resolution for my work to be “More Fun”. How many of you sometimes get into that rut and do the same games/activities? Taking the Sensory Funnel, previous pool-based speech therapy training, and participating in the SLP Summit’s training, I started by searching in my basement for plastic containers, rice, beans, pasta, and straws. I made my first sensory box! I am going to reflect on the best ideas when using sensory boxes and check out and I am sure there are many other posts about sensory boxes in speech, so make sure to do a Google search!

  1. VISUALS. Have a visual for pre-teaching the fundamental use of the sensory box! I have each of my learners use hand sanitizer and review the rules of the sensory box before using it. Every student, even the ones who will buck directions, will follow and use hand sanitizer!
  2. MATERIALS. Use what you have! You can use those articulation cards or make fun ones from different TPT store creators! I found a great box of objects on Amazon that were organized by speech sounds in the initial, medial, and final position. Etsy had miniature objects for I Spy and these have been a great hit this summer for ESY. How many of you are vying for tangible objects after using the iPad so often?!
  3. PLAY. My favorite use for the sensory box! I find creating play based activities in the box provides significantly more opportunity for language! I used my rice and glass gems to create land and water and then sorted water versus land based animals. Then we increased the complexity by making decisions of wild versus zoo animals and made a zoo in the rice. I had the opportunity to use spelling goals, math goals, and speech goals within this one activity! PLUS my student, who usually gives the aide a difficult time to work on adult directed activities, followed EVERY direction. It was the most positive session with teaching opportunities and conversation!

Go for it, try it, and tell us what you think about using sensory boxes! I use these with pre-schoolers up to high schooler depending on their needs. Go for a hike this summer and collect! This does not need to be a pricey addition to your daily practice, but is a possible one!

MSHA Monday: We’ll be posting a blog each Monday…stay tuned.

This summer, MSHA plans to post a blog every Monday. Our goal is to share and compile information that will be useful to your practice. If you’d like to guest blog on any therapy topic, let us know. Our schedule for June is June 5-Books for Therapy, June 12 Board Update, June 19-Sensory Boxes and June 26 Implementing AAC.

“If you know me, you know I love stories.  I read stories, I listen to podcasts that tell stories and I use stories in therapy to work on every aspect of language.  Each year I add to my list of stories that are good for developing specific skills.  While I have favorites for working on pronouns and past tense verbs, I thought I’d offer a list of books that I use most frequently for narrative and expository development.   I’m a big fan of the Story Grammar Marker. I use it to help me to focus on specific stages of narrative development. The icons really help build memory for the key story components and kids love to hold the actual story braid. If you aren’t familiar with this tool, check out this site. I’m a random abstract person, so these are in no particular order

  • Waiting is Not Easy by Mo Willems. Well, really anything by Mo Willems is great because the story elements of character and setting are so obvious that it is then easy to teach the temporal sequence and/or perspective taking. Elephant and Piggie have so many great adventures and their emotions are easy to read. I try to use at least one a month. If you haven’t discovered these books, do it. Right now.
  • High Wire Henry by Mary Calhoun.  Henry is another go to character for me and I use at least one of his stories each school year.  He typically has one problem in each book and this offers a great opportunity to teach the critical thinking triangle for the kick off, emotional response and plan that then leads him through the temporal sequence to a solution.  There is also opportunity for a two person perspective between Henry and The Man of the family.  Enjoy.
  • Titch by Pat Hutchins.  The original Titch is great for character and setting. Once again, the pictures support the elements of the story. The subsequent stories, Titch and Daisy, You’ll Soon Grow into them Titch and Tidy Titch,  offer a complete episode that is simple enough for  my kindergartens to retell.


  •  For those students who are into non fiction, these books by Gail Gibbons are perfect. They can be read and discussed in a twenty minute session and they offer great practice for expository structures. This one is good for a List as well as Problem/Solution.   There are also books about Hurricanes, Sea Turtles, The Moon, Frogs, From Seed to Plant and the Reason for Seasons.


  •  Finally, for the past three years, I’ve been using more classic comic books.  Calvin and Hobbes are great for teaching emotional vocabulary, critical thinking triangle and problem/solution.  After seeing the movie, Life Animated, I am even more committed to using a child’s interests to teach what he/she needs to learn.  I have one student with ASD who has taught me how to make this happen with this book in particular.


Our first Summer Blog  is from Rachel Stansberry. Rachel works as an SLP in rural schools in Central Montana. She is a past MSHA board member and a current member of the licensure board. If you have books you love, write them up. We’ll post your list along with this one. Email it to MSHA’s web manager,  Emily at