Speech Therapy

Mask Usage For the 2021-22 Academic Year

As we begin this new academic year, we find ourselves wondering how education is going to look. Unlike last year, most districts have made the decision to go back to in-person learning. The recent rise of the delta variant has created a concern and many states, districts, and schools have begun recommending the use of masks. As we look forward to the 2021-22 academic year, let us look back on the past 18 months.  

In an attempt to keep schools in-person, districts nationwide are updating policies or making recommendations on mask usage for students and staff. Some districts have already mandated the use of masks for all students, faculty, and staff in the buildings, while others have placed the decision of mask use on the shoulders of the parents. In many districts, fully vaccinated faculty and staff have been given the option to wear a mask or not, while other districts have relied heavily on the guidelines of their local Health Departments. Whatever decision your school or district has made, School Health is here to help you keep your students, staff, and communities safe and healthy with a wide selection of masks and PPE.

When it comes to our students and those who interact with them —whether in classroom settings or in therapeutic settings —I always recommend clear masks. Using clear masks allows the mouth to be displayed to those around you and has a lot of great benefits for learners of all ages and abilities. For teachers, it can be helpful for many students to see you smile or watch your mouth move while you are speaking. In my conversations with many Speech-Language Pathologists, they have discussed how much they have relied on clear masks for their in-person therapy sessions. When students are able to see the mouth and all of its movement, they are able to continue with essential developmental processes, while limiting some distraction from a covered face.

Students wearing clear masks can still recognize facial expressions and emotions, express themselves and their emotional state, read lips while someone is speaking, and more. It can also help teachers and staff better communicate with students by eliminating some chance of miscommunication. Another great benefit of using clear masks for students is the sense of normalcy they provide by allowing students to smile at each other, react to peers’ facial expressions, and interact with friends as they are used to doing. By eliminating as many stressors as possible, our students can focus on their learning and social activities without the added emotional and physical stressors of miscommunication or social insecurities.

While we head back into in-person learning across the country, please be aware that masks are already in high demand. The country continues to suffer from shortages in raw materials and personnel available to transport products from location to location. With that in mind, ordering supplies ahead of time and preparing for the colder months now can help ensure you’ll have the supplies you need this cold and flu season, or in case of a COVID-19 outbreak at your facility. When selecting products, it can be difficult to choose what may work best for your students and facility. We are proud to have high-quality PPE products you can trust, and our team is always here to help you find the products to best serve your needs.

We thank you for doing all that you do for our students in these uncertain times!

Incorporating Movement and Sensory Activities into Speech Therapy

by Andrea Simpson, MS, CCC-A/SLP by Andrea Simpson, MS, CCC-A/SLP

The prevalence of Autism continues to increase in our society. The diagnosis of educational autism also continues to increase within the schools. As current school speech caseloads are high, many children on the Autism “spectrum” make up a majority of a speech therapists’ caseload. It is important for speech therapists to constantly network with their occupational therapist when working with children with Autism in the school setting. In order to maximize time during speech and language sessions, it is often necessary to utilize a variety of sensory techniques during speech treatment. Quite often, the occupational therapist is the speech therapists best friend. These ideas are useful for all types of children because movement makes learning fun. Here are some useful ideas that incorporate sensory activities and movement into speech therapy.

Use of a scooter board - When using the scooter board the speech therapist can have pictures of curricular vocabulary placed up and down the hallway. The child can then scoot to pick up the pictures. Often, use of a magnetic fishing pole and buckets placed randomly in the hallway make this activity engaging for the child. For additional fine motor, the child could use tweezers to pick up objects.

Use of a swing - When working on object to picture matching a swing can be helpful to maintain joint attention with a child. Giving the child the object to hold while swinging and then holding up two or more picture choices and allowing them to cross midline to reach and chose the correct picture for the object.

Use of a weighted vest - When using a weighted vest you can tape up pictures up and down the stairs. To incorporate heavy work, have the child wear the weighted vest to climb stairs and identify/match /say pictures. Also, using pinchers to pick up objects or pictures and carry them up the stairs to buckets is fun.

Use of an obstacle course - When using the obstacle course before seat work a child can often sit and maintain attention to the task for a longer period of time. We use classroom chairs for children to climb under, carpet squares (or colored spots) for jumping and tunnels for crawling. A mini-trampoline can also be used and well as a rocking chair. When these activities are used prior to speech therapy, often a child is more vocal and more engaged.

Badge_Speech_IncorporateMovementUse of bitty bottoms for seated work - When using a “wiggly” bitty bottom during speech a child often can keep from having to stand up and avoid the task. Some children need the extra “wiggle” to learn and stay focused.

Use of a wagon or sled –Using a wagon or a sled works best with a small group of two children. One child pulls the wagon and the other child sits in the wagon and describes where to find the objects and pictures. Often this is used for work on prepositional concepts and having one child tell the other where to find pictures and objects (over, under, in, behind, above, etc.). Many children benefit from heavy pulling and movement during speech. When incorporating a third child, have that child push the wagon from behind.

Uses of a trampoline - When performing this activity do not just allow the child to jump like crazy. Have the child sing the ABC’s or other classroom songs, count or label pictures. Often, getting the child moving before entering the speech room helps maintain focus and attention to task.

Use of aspects of the drive-thru menu to maintain focus during speech- If a child is off task and having trouble focusing, often a few  quick wall push-ups, jumping jacks, or sit-ups can do the trick and bring the child back to the table to continue their seat work.

Using movement and sensory activities keeps children engaged. These activities are fun and take the pressure off of “talking”. To maximize progress toward IEP speech goals, now is the time to share ideas and develop a strong professional relationship with your school occupational therapist.  An occupational therapist makes for a good treatment partner and best friend.

For more sensory and movement products, shop our Sensory and Motor Skills categories.

4 Tools to Help Children Exercise Their "Speech Muscles"

Enhance speech therapy exercises with these four activities that can accelerate learning and increase performance.



Use a mirror to heighten the child's awareness of how muscles of the mouth are used to produce speech. The mirror provides the child with a visual image of the sounds they are being taught. By using a mirror, the child sees how the lips and tongue work to produce sounds. Children can build speech muscles by looking at a mirror and making funny faces!


Give your child a straw and ask her to blow through it. This activity strengthens the lips and cheeks. Some children allow air to escape through the sides of the mouth, and the result is "slushy speech." By blowing through a straw, the child stabilizes the jaw and practices appropriate lip closure.


This simple, break-resistant device magnifies voices so students hear themselves clearly while speaking softly. The auditory feedback helps students to focus and hear the sounds that make up words (phonemes) more clearly as they learn to read, spell, or process language aloud. Speech students can use the Toobaloo to help improve their articulation and phonology.


Hands-free, acoustical voice-feedback headsets help learners hear phonemes and their own voices more clearly. Whisper Phones strengthen the learning process by intensifying the sound of one's voice and minimizing auditory distractions. Users are able to focus much better on what they are learning and classrooms are actually quieter because children only need to use a soft voice to hear themselves clearly.
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