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I know I say this a lot, but I am so excited about this week’s podcast episode! I had a chance to talk to a bit of a unicorn for our guest speaker, and she shared so much goodness about working with students who are on the autism spectrum.

We spend a lot of time talking about interventions with preschool and primary age children at SLP Now, but today we are going to go all-in talking about high school students! Specifically, we’re focusing on more of the life skills — like social, basic academics, vocational and communication skills.

Now, let me introduce our guest!

Rose Griffin is an ASHA-Certified Speech-Language Pathologist and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. There are very few SLP, BCBAs out there in the world so she’s definitely unique, and she has an amazing set of experiences + a wealth of knowledge to share with us.

She’s the founder of ABA Speech, creates therapy materials, and has a tremendous amount of resources she’s made available to other professionals — pretty much everything that we would need to work with students with autism. She’s super passionate about helping those students increase their language skills., and she does it in such a skillful way.

Rose really has a way of breaking these strategies down in a way that is practical, effective, and just makes so much sense. I learned a ton from our conversation, and I just know that you will too!

So grab your beverage of choice (I’ll have a chai latte!) put your feet up, and listen in.

Key Takeaways and Topics Covered

> The importance of shared goals
> Embedding communication with vocational goals
> Why you have to be a detective in your own building when you work with high school students
> Generalizing soft skills and preparing students for competitive employment
> Why we need to build leisure skills, and the ripple effect those skills have
> Examples of video modeling
> Setting goals for leisure activities
> Working with students who are non-communicative and only exhibit problem behaviors
> Goal-setting for vocational skills
> The importance of small talk
> Using graph assessments with students who have more intense needs

Links Mentioned in the Podcast

> The Assessment of Basic Language & Learning Skills
> The Communication Matrix
> Rose’s course, Help Me Find My Voice
> Rose’s course, Modified Leisure for Grades 6 to Adult
> Melissa & Doug Hangman activity (affiliate link)
> Preference assessment blog post
> The Action Builder Cards
> Double Up Vocabulary & Leisure Game
> For any info on the assessment graphs or data sheets Rose mentioned, visit her at!
> You can also find Rose on Instagram @abaspeechbyrose.

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Thanks so much!


Marisha: Welcome to the SLP Now Podcast. We are in for a treat today. We have a bit of a unicorn for our guest speaker. Rose Griffin is an ASHA-Certified Speech-Language Pathologist and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. There are very few SLP, BCBAs out there in the world, so she's definitely unique, and she has a very amazing set of experiences and just a wealth of knowledge to share with us. She's the founder of ABA Speech. She creates therapy materials, and she has a tremendous amount of resources, everything that we would need to work with students with autism. She's super passionate about helping those students increase their language skills. She just does it in such a skillful and practical way. Without further ado, I'm excited to introduce Rose Griffin.

Rose Griffin: Hi, happy to be here.

Marisha: I'm so excited to hear from you about all things high school. You have a really amazing breadth of experience in that area. Can you start us off just telling us a little bit about your experience, and which population you work with now, and what it's looked like over time?

Rose Griffin: Yeah, definitely. I've been a speech-language pathologist for about 16 years now. I can't believe it. I feeling like I'm seasoned. I can use that word to describe myself. Also, it's been eight years since I've also been dually certified as a board certified behavior analyst. I really loved working with students with autism. I can remember my first student teaching experience. I had a mentor who had some very severe students, who had autism. I really just loved working with them. I thought it was very challenging, very rewarding, and so I've really focused on that population and trying to help them.

Rose Griffin: I love working with all students, but it seems that when you love working with students with problem behavior and students with autism, that you tend to just get a lot of clients like that, because it can be really hard to reach that population. Right now, I'm currently a school-based therapist, three days a week, and I work in a middle school high school. Then I work one day a week at an ABA type school for students with autism. I really love both those different settings, because both have their pros and their cons, and I like seeing the students thrive in both of those settings.

Marisha: That's so amazing. What does your caseload look like at both of the locations?

Rose Griffin: Yeah, so at the middle school/high school, I have... I'm three days a week there, so I have all different types of students. I have students with more severe autism up to students who have stuttering as a disability and up to students who just need somebody to check in on social skills or comprehension and all those higher level skills. I work a lot, collaboratively, with the intervention specialists, the teachers, and I really love that, and being able to push in, more so when the students get a little bit older, for students who are a little bit higher functioning, to see how they're applying the skills and things like that.

Rose Griffin: It can be anything from real intensive, more ABA type instruction to things where I might be checking on somebody quarterly for their fluency. I really like being able to serve each student really individually. I'm really able to do that in the district that I work in. Then, at the ABA-type center, that's a year-round program, and so my students there range from elementary through high school age. It's more intensive, and so I work real closely with... A lot of those students have somebody who's a one-on-one instructor, and so I work real closely with showing them modeling, how to work on communication, because the communication is worked on, really, in both places, but it's worked on when the student is not in speech therapy. I know that somebody is also working on those communication programs when I am not around, which is really exciting, because that's how we really make progress for students with more intense needs.

Marisha: Yeah, no, that's so important, and I love the... because there's a lot of research on that piece too, where we need that many more repetitions for them to be able to put all of those new concepts together. That's super smart.

Rose Griffin: Yes, thank you, yes. It's very collaborative, so that's really, I think, the longer that I've been in this field... If you're newer to the field, I would say that's my best piece of advice is to make sure that you know everybody on the team. Sometimes when you're working with students with more intense needs, the team can be 15 people, because it could be a school-based therapist, a private therapist, an outside consultant, a parent, parent advocate, it gets job coach.

Rose Griffin: It gets really complicated, and just trying to touch base with those people and know who they are and having an open dialog, even if we're not always agreeing on everything, I think is a real important piece into helping students, especially students who are older, who might be getting ready for competitive employment and vocational sampling, and then you're dealing with adult services, and people from outside agencies, and things like that as well.

Marisha: Yeah, wow. That's a lot, lots of people to keep track of.

Rose Griffin: Yes, it is.

Marisha: I'm really curious now, because we're focusing on more of the life skills students in our talk today. I want to start from the very beginning, what recommendations do you have when planning assessments for those students?

Rose Griffin: That's such a good question. I think what's so important is the ABA center that I work at sends out a questionnaire for parents. We in the public school also talk with their parents. We have really open communication. I love the questionnaire, because sometimes, even if you're communicating with parents, you may not understand exactly where they're coming from, or you may not understand what's really important to them.

Rose Griffin: I've had meetings before where maybe I'm working on a device with a student, and then you get to the IEP meeting, and the parents are happy, but then they ask you to put on a vocal goal, to work on a to work on a Coach training or verbal imitation, and then you are thinking, well where did that come from? I think having that, starting with that parental piece and seeing what's really important for the parents, it's obviously your clinical expertise, and we do assessments, and we collaborate with all the staff.

Rose Griffin: But I do think having an idea of really what's important for the parents is so very important because I just think now that I have three kids of my own, how much pressure it is to come into an IEP meeting, especially when there may be a lot of people around the table, and we're talking about potentially all the things that are really troubling and difficult for your child, that's going to be really daunting.

Rose Griffin: I realize that the more that I get into the field. Making sure that we listen to the parents, we hear them, we make sure that they get a draft early of the IEP so they can give us feedback, I think that's critical and working with these students. As far as assessment, I think that when we're working with students with more intense needs, I like the communication matrix, I like the functional communication profile. Those are things that we usually readily have available. But there are other things from the other world that I'm in the behavioral world, there's an assessment called the AFLS, A-F-L-S and it's a really cool assessment because it has a whole section on leisure.

Rose Griffin: It has a whole section on ideas related to activities of daily living. It would be something that you do collaboratively with a teacher and there are things on social skills, basic academics, communication, and I think it just is a little bit more specific and let's you tease out what would be important for your students to work on. I really like that assessment and so sometimes we will use that, and I really think it helps you get a really robust intervention plan for students.

Marisha: Can you tell us a little bit more about the communication matrix, and the functional communication profile?

Rose Griffin: Yeah. The communication matrix is a free online tool that inaudible

Marisha: That's so amazing.

Rose Griffin: I think I started using it maybe seven years ago just cause I had a student who I knew was not going to be able to perform on a standardized tests. We weren't going to be able to get much information. I like to use those types of tools. If I'm working with a student who is really about language level that's so impaired that you want to use something like that, I remember sitting and working with the teacher and also the pair of professionals that we're working with that student, because while I may be servicing the student and seeing the student maybe even twice a week, there are other people who are going to be working with the student and may be able to answer some of the guiding questions that they have on that measure. If you just Google that, it comes up, and it's a free online tool. It's a really cool tool when you need it.

Marisha: Yeah, and what do you do... Can you tell us a little bit more about what it actually looks like and how you use that tool?

Rose Griffin: Sure, yeah. I haven't used it in a couple of years, but there're guiding questions that help you set up a user profile and then it will ask you different questions and it's all dependent upon how you answered it and it will give you information on what level learner you have and then ideas for what would be potential intervention goals for that student. I think that's nice because sometimes when we have students who are not going to perform on a standardized test, it's just not going to give us a good snapshot. It's not going to be powerful information to plan intervention but that can be a really nice thing to set up.

Rose Griffin: The functional communication profile is more of a booklet and it goes through all the different types areas of language, and it looks at social skills and all the different parts of language and it can be nice because you can just go through with paraprofessionals and teachers if you're able to include them, and you can go through and say like, "Oh, this is something that's a strength. This is something that we could work on." Because a lot of the times if you're not going to get a standardized score for a student and if you're working in a place where you don't have to administer a standardized test, those other resources might be more powerful as far as planning your intervention for students.

Marisha: I love a lot of different things about that because it gives us an opportunity to open up that conversation and get feedback from the team and then if they were in on the evaluation and identifying the needs, then there'll be more likely to collaborate with us. Then it's also really nice from an IEP perspective because it's breaking things down where it's really easy to identify the needs, but also the strengths. Because if we give them a standardized test and they don't even get any items correct, then it's really nice to be able to bring up those strengths in the meeting too.

Rose Griffin: Yes, yes. I think that's really nice because we want to be able to say, this is what the student can do. This is where we want to get for the student to help them really be the most independent communicator that that can be. Especially as a student gets older, we know that we may not necessarily be able to close some gap for students, but as they get older, really think about how can I help this student be the most independent communicator? How can I help this student learn vocational skills, so they could potentially have competitive employment and how could we help the student have leisure skills? Because a lot of the times the students that we work with have very impaired leisure skills and that really isolates them even from their family. If there is not shared things that they can do together, it makes them feel very isolated in the community, should they have problem behavior that is a barrier to them accessing the community.

Rose Griffin: We try to do a lot of community based instruction that has... One year we took all the kids, it was amazing right to the library because it was right by our school and so we did a whole task analysis, which is just breaking up in a very baby steps, how to check out a book using a self scan with your library card. We took a video, so it was video modeling and then we had baseline all the kids being able to do it. Then before we would do the checkout, everybody would come and watch me, this video I had completed and then they would go and do the skill because there's so much research on video modeling and so we really want to just make sure that everything that we're working on for students that we can really explain why it's so functional for them, for their life.

Marisha: I love that. It's really looking at what do they need to have a good quality of life and have a good life, a happy life.

Rose Griffin: Exactly, happiness. That's important.

Marisha: Yeah, that's amazing. You get to play a part in that every day, which is really awesome.

Rose Griffin: Yeah, for sure.

Marisha: I love it. We started touching on this a little bit, but so you've gathered all of this data, you know what the parents' priorities are, you've collaborated with the teachers and getting their feedback on how the student is performing, what the strengths and needs are, how do you put that all together? Do you have any favorite strategies in terms of generating goals for the IEP?

Rose Griffin: Yeah, I think that what's so important if you're able to do it, and I think everybody has different ways that they write goals. But what I try to really do with my teachers for even higher students, lower students who are struggling, is to have shared goals with the teachers. If we're working in a public school trying to discuss with the intervention specialist, or special education teacher whatever, you call them in your state, ways that you could have shared goals. If we have a student who has a vocational goal and maybe they're working on recycling or they're shredding papers, how can we come up with a step by step way to teach them those skills and how can we... Obviously communication is going to be embedded in there. I have a student who's working on shredding, so she orients to the teacher, she uses a device to say, do you have any shredding?

Rose Griffin: She makes that all on her own. I have another student who's working on recycling. So following the one step direction, it's time to do recycling, get the recycling box, can they do that independently? There's so much communication that's embedded that I try to make sure that the goals are shared when possible because I know that during my time with the student, I'm working on those. I also know that when I'm not present in the classroom that they're also being run either by the paraprofessional who I collaborate with to make sure they understand the vision for the goals and how we should be prompting and things of that nature, and also will be run by the teacher if possible.

Marisha: Yeah, that's so smart. Can you give us just a handful of different ideas? You talked about writing goals around shredding around recycling, what other types of areas might you focus on?

Rose Griffin: I think it's really important to have a vocational goal, especially as students get older, and I think what's so hard at the middle school high school level is you have to be a detective in your own building. You have to seek out these opportunities for work within your own building because as students go into high school, then they might have other opportunities based on your district to jobs sample outside of the school. Then in middle school you really need to set those up. We have students who work in our cafeteria, who are stocking snacks and stocking silverware. We have students who are making copies for teachers, and we have a student who... I loved this one goal, I had a student who is working in the library.

Rose Griffin: I was really almost like a job coach. I hung back and try to give the students space and they had to say I'm here for my job. Every week it was something different and we made a video model for that, how to sort the books by color and alphabetical order. Why I love working with older students, it's this culmination of all these things that we work on. We work on matching, we work on maybe ABC order, and then to really apply those skills into a more general setting, a more natural setting. It's really exciting because you're getting the student ready to potentially have competitive employment. I really love seeing that application.

Rose Griffin: I think vocational skills are super important because there's so much communication, or I have a student who's working on greetings, can definitely greet familiar people, but as soon as they are outside of the classroom, they're not generalizing that skill, and that's such an important, we call that a soft skill, something that you need to do. I'm sure that we've worked with adults who maybe don't have the best social skills either at work, but it's important because you can get yourself in a lot of trouble if you don't have those types of pleasantries worked on. That's something that we're working on for that student.

Rose Griffin: I think if the student has language issues and they need more intense instruction and that's super important too that making sure that we have vocational programming, and then leisure skill building is really important because if you think about our lives as adults, and that's what I always try to do, it's like what is my life comprised of? My life is comprised of work and my life is comprised of obviously taking care of my kids, but it's comprised of leisure. I have a lot of different things I like to do. I like to work out, I like to spend time with my kids. I like to play music, things like that and trying to make sure that our students have those same opportunities and oftentimes may need direct instruction on how to engage in leisure skills, to make sure that's something that we look at.

Marisha: What are some examples of things that you do with leisure skills?

Rose Griffin: For leisure skills, I've had students who work on independent leisure skills. If students... Because you think of somebody having competitive employment, maybe they have a 15-minute break and what would they do during that break time? Now the iPad is amazing, I became a speech therapy before that even existed, I think as a tool but not every student likes to watch movies or do they like to listen to music? It can be really hard to be the detective to say these are things that are important for a student.

Rose Griffin: For people on the outside, they may think well, why would that even be important? But, well, I'll tell you what, it's important for that parent that the parents, let's say that that student has decreased leisure skills and doesn't enjoy the iPad and they have to go see family, and it's an hour car ride, can you think of how horrendous that would be for them? Can you think about maybe having to go on a family trip and staying in the airport? You know how hard these things are and if we have those leisure skills, those things that we can enjoy either independently or with others, there's really such a ripple effect.

Rose Griffin: I think that's the important thing to think about too. It's like we are the speech therapist. We were advocating for why these things are so important. It's not only important at school, but it's important in all these different environments, and it's really not only going to have an impact on your students, it's going to have an impact on their family life, their access to the community, all those different things.

Marisha: I also heard you talk a lot about modified leisure, and what does that look like?

Rose Griffin: Yeah, I think modified leisure is so important for students, especially students who are older because we can teach the student these skills maybe in a one-on-one session and then we can generalize it to a group and then we could also generalize it to the home environment, so they could have some more of those shared experiences with their family and friends. A couple of the things that I've done with students in the past, I had a student who we played Connect Four, but instead of strategically trying to get four in for this student that would have been too difficult, so what we did was he chose a color, either red or black, and he put it in a red one. I put in a black one, he put in a red one, I put in a black one.

Rose Griffin: It was cool because I was seeing this student, I've had him in a lot of different training videos that I do and for my course, Help Me Find My Voice, so you may be familiar with him and so we would do that. Then I was able to talk to the parent as well cause I saw him also for outpatient therapy and it was the coolest thing he told me, they celebrated Christmas and she said, "For Christmas, we bought so-and-so Connect Four so he could play with his younger sister" and I thought, "Oh, that's so cool." That is more important than how... It had such an impact on the family that they could actually purchase something for their son, that could be shared with them and as a family experience, so that really was exciting.

Rose Griffin: Then another game that I love to modify for my store students is UNO, which most of us have at UNO. What I do for students who are at the matching level is I take out all of those special cards, draw to and skip and reverse, and I put one color, one green one, one yellow, one blue, one red, and then we just make a main pile, and we pick and then we match by color. That's been really cool. I made a video model of that. I have a little YouTube channel called ABA Speech, and so I would show my students when we're learning how to play UNO that way, I would show them that video as a video model and then we would play that game together. Those are some really easy things that most of us have laying around, and sometimes things just have to be modified for students to be successful so that they enjoy those activities.

Marisha: I love that. It's amazing cause I think a lot of times they have a hard time connecting with peers and other family members and being able to bridge that gap through a game I think is really powerful. I'm also curious because the games obviously have different rules. Do you have any strategies, cause I imagined it would be really frustrating for a kiddo with autism who is used to playing it a certain way and then the peers and family don't know how that is, how do you communicate that and share that?

Rose Griffin: Yeah, that's a great question. Well, in one of my blog post I wrote about leisure skills and I have a leisure guidebook that's for older students. I also have all these different videos that can be used as video models, meaning you can show the students before you engage in the activity. There's a lot of research that says that, that will help students learn skills. I have another video that's Hangman. For Hangman, which is a little bit higher, but I would write out the entire alphabet and then when a student guesses a letter or points to a letter, then I just cross it off.

Rose Griffin: Instead of having to have all the recall of thinking of a letter and putting it out, we're drawing it themselves, I'm just always trying to think of how can I insert prompts with that being a visual prompt to help this student be successful, because oftentimes when the students get to be in middle school and high school, we realize that they may never be able to play the UNO correct way. They may never be able to play Hangman the correct way, but that doesn't mean that they can't engage in those activities with other people in their environment and enjoy themselves and be happy.

Marisha: With the UNO game, you could just send home the instructions for how to play it and the Hangman thing, you could make a template and just print that out and send that home or put it in the classroom?

Rose Griffin: Uh-huh (affirmative). Long time ago, when I first was a speech therapist, there was a little notepad for Hangman. It was set up that way. Just the whole alphabet and had the little picture in the Melissa and Doug, they're hard to turn over, but there's some, listen Doug, Hangman activity. There's apps for that. It's something that you can really use easily when there's downtime as a parent with your students if it's something they enjoy.

Marisha: Even if you just had a laminated version, that'd be perfect to bring on the plane or in the car.

Rose Griffin: Right, can be easy.

Marisha: So cool, so fun. I love it. Then we're getting all that engagement and all that good stuff. Then I'm curious, what would a goal look like if you're working on those leisure skills? Do you pick something really specific or can you get some variations?

Rose Griffin: Yeah, I think a really good goal would be to, if you've done your assessment and you determined that leisure skills are something that are a deficit for a student, that you could set a goal for engaging in so many different activities. So maybe based on your learner's ability to learn, maybe three to six novel activities they will engage. Then I think what's so important for those types of things that are very specific, maybe we see how they're doing currently. So maybe we play UNO and we take data on an attendant session, how many prompts does that student need? If that student needs 10 prompts, maybe we say within one IEP cycle the student isn't getting engage in a leisure task for 10 minutes with peers, with no more than two prompts. We want to find out how are they doing currently and then with our specific intervention with video modeling, direct instruction, shared goal setting with the teacher, what can we expect them to be able to do after one, I think an IEP because I work in a school, but within one year.

Marisha: Yeah, that's super helpful. Because in the goal then if you just write, they'll participate in this number, I assume you have a menu of different go to options, how do you figure out which ones are the best choice for a particular student? Especially the more challenging ones?

Rose Griffin: That's a really good question. I have always loved group therapy, that's my jam. I have students now that we have just tried different activities together and this group of students that I'm currently working with really have enjoyed a lot of the different things that I'm telling you. We worked on UNO, we worked on hang man and things like that. We worked on weight lifting with water bottles. I was talking about that before. That was fun for me because in a former life I thought I was going to be an aerobics instructor at some point. But I don't see that in the cards now. No time. But yeah, I just try to see like is it something that the students enjoy?

Rose Griffin: Two years ago, we did have students who I was trying to teach yoga too, and they just really did not like it, they were enjoying it. I really do believe in following the student's motivation. What are their preferences? I don't want to teach them something that they're going to hate. I don't want them to have problem behavior and think they're going to get out of every task that maybe is unpreferred, but I really I'm going to analyze that and say this leisure activity, this is supposed to be something that's fun and if this group of students doesn't like this particular leisure activity, then we're going to work on something different.

Marisha: Do you have any favorite... Are there any assessments or tools that help you, especially for the students who... Sometimes I know I've come across students where it feels like they don't like anything, do you have any? Cause I feel like I've heard you talk about something.

Rose Griffin: I think that when we're working with students like that, we really need to look at a preference assessment. I've talked about a preference assessment, that's something else that I've put in my blog. But it's really like finding out what does your student love and enjoy and then trying to, which I love that about students who are hard to reach is analyzing, okay well, this kid really likes listening to music so how could I turn that into something that might be a leisure activity? One year with my students we learned how to operate Spotify and Pandora on the classroom iPads. I had the tech person make sure that was added to every single iPad in the particular classroom.

Rose Griffin: Then these students were a little bit higher so they could understand a little bit more. We talked about different genres of music. I made them listen to country music, probably the old-school music that I like. Then we practiced getting on Spotify, picking a song, we listened to it as a group. I like that ability to analyze. I had another student who was very difficult, had a lot of problem behavior and we did something like name that tune. I would have the YouTube and she could not see the iPad and I'll pick a song and she would have to guess what it is. I would pick something relevant that I knew she loved, like Justin Bieber, this was a couple of years ago then I would pick something that was old school that maybe I liked that I thought she would know.

Rose Griffin: I seriously drive around in my car sometimes and think about these students who are difficult to think about, what does the student love and enjoy. How could I make this into... Cause this particular student I'm talking about with that name, that tune really didn't even want to engage in me on a one on one setting. We really worked on that together and then we were able to generalize it to like a very preferred peer in the school. I love piecing those things together. It's like a puzzle. What does the student love now? How can we build that into a cooperative activity? That would be something they can do and engage with others and practice their communication skills embedded within that opportunity. It's really individualized for everybody but I love thinking of these things.

Marisha: Yeah, that's amazing, cause some of the students are more challenging and at first glance they're like, "Oh my goodness, there's nothing" but there always is something. Have you ever come up with a student where you couldn't think of anything?

Rose Griffin: Yes, I had a student, this is the same student.

Marisha: If you think it out.

Rose Griffin: inaudible my videos, it came to me and the ABA Center, it was eight years old, had no way to communicate, just engaged in problem behavior. That was the only way unfortunately he could communicate, didn't like watching YouTube or anything. Over time, we discovered that he really liked music, and so that really it changed his life. It changed his world and us to know what he's motivated by and being able to use that as a reinforcement to him to be able to work on requesting, that's the same student I was telling you that eventually we taught how to play Connect Four with his sister. But when I first met him, he just engaged in problem behavior, would not try to communicate, was very difficult. Now he is able to use this device to request and get some of his needs met and his family can took them to Disney world. It really over time, it didn't happen overnight. It's been like a 7-year process, but it's completely changed his life, being able to tap into what he loved and enjoyed and segue that into working on leisure skills.

Marisha: That's amazing. That's so exciting. Then I also wanted to circle back a minute to the vocational types of skills, cause I loved how you talked about the vocational skills, your goal might be to work on whatever set of leisure skills with this level of prompts, and then what would that look like with the vocational skills? I know it varies a lot depending on the level of the student, but how would you start to approach that?

Rose Griffin: Sure. We might say something like, the student will engage in three vocational jobs with a 100 percent accuracy or out of so many steps. If we're talking about maybe the shredding job, we might have a task analysis, which is just a way to break down that very large skill. So it may be putting on the student's device or having them ask, orient to the teacher, asking do you have any shredding? Getting the shredding, walking down to the office, counting out five, that's embedding all that one to work in correspondence, shredding the items, and then walking back to the classroom. There's so many different pieces and parts and we might say, well the student may need to complete that task analysis, all those steps with 80 to 90% accuracy for so many different consecutive sessions and then we'll move on to a new job. That's typically how we set them up in my work settings.

Marisha: Do you do the task analysis and everything before you write the goal?

Rose Griffin: Not before we write the goals. We may write the goal knowing that in competitive employment and vocational sampling is something that's important for the student. Then we will analyze the environment, what the student, at that point when the students younger middle school and you're doing everything in the school environment, you want to give them different opportunities. We have students who make copies, students who work in the cafeteria, students who do recycling. One year had students, we have police officers in our school, which a lot of schools have. They're so kind and we walk around the building and they do checks, of the different doors and different areas and we've had some students walk around with them. Oh my gosh, how Fun is that?

Rose Griffin: We just have all different types of things. We had a student once that would check the copy paper and the teacher's lounge and would note how many reams of paper we're left. We just try to make it really an enriched experience so kids can understand, this is something I like and this is something maybe I don't like.

Marisha: Yeah, that's amazing. I love that and I've also heard of... This a side note, but I've heard of some schools who do little snack carts for students and/or teachers and that involves a ton of different skills with the social interaction and money and inventory.

Rose Griffin: Yes, there is so much. Our school does not do that, but we did do something one year we paired with student council and there was a store and so our students and the student council students would work together and our students would work on... These were students who had some more academic skills, but they would do inventory, and they would get all the different items ready, set up. You just think about all the different people that you encounter in your job. I think about all the different communication encounters I have daily because I'm just a nerd like that and I analyze things, but I think about people who maybe don't work and then they don't have all those small talk experiences. I engage in small talk all day. That's why I feel like it's important for some of my students who are verbalizing and things like that and will have competitive employment.

Rose Griffin: We have done lessons on this is small talk, this is what it is. This is what you can talk about and it's important to do so when you're in a job setting because people that don't engage in those things, I know you know people like that. We all do. You think to yourself like, "That's interesting. Maybe they don't like me" Or maybe you know okay, maybe that's just not their thing. It's not their strengths, but we have so many embedded opportunities to work on communication that we just don't even think about it and we need to make sure that our students have those same opportunities.

Marisha: Do you do a lot of other community types of things? Maybe if they aren't going to, if the team decides they're not doing employment for some reason because you mentioned the library, do you do any other fast food or grocery store kinds of things?

Rose Griffin: Yes, we have in the past done things like that. But the district that I work in, everybody gets to have employment opportunities when they get to the [inaudible 00:35:59].

Marisha: Okay, that's amazing.

Rose Griffin: They work with the consortium, so it's like a general place that take students from all different neighboring districts. This particular place just works on vocation. So it's amazing. The kids will go half day to their high school and then will go half day to this particular place and they work on direct instruction on vocation and they just meet the kids where they're at. Every student is working on something different and it's at their particular skillsets. Some students with more severe impairments may be working on a task at the table with a paraprofessional with them, while other students may be working within the building with less adult supervision because they can and that's something that we want to get them ready for. That's something that is real important. I'm realizing that maybe not every district has that, but I think that's really dynamic for students to be able to engage in those types of experiences.

Marisha: That's amazing. Such a cool opportunity. Yeah, I love that. Such good stuff. So there's a lot of moving pieces here, you're working on a lot of different skills, keeping track of a lot of different pieces, are there any big goal types that you wanted? Any other big goal types that you wanted to talk about other than the leisure or vocational?

Rose Griffin: Yeah, I think another thing that's so important if you're working with students, choose to think about the vocabulary that students are working on. So just making sure that students can describe. So if they're working on labeling still at that level, that making sure that those words are all really functional and tied into what they're going to be working on or have to do with work or hygiene or things that are really important in their life, and then another thing that's super important for students is personal safety. I see that a lot on social media because I'm always online, I feel like the student cannot answer WH questions and that can be so hard for students. So I would urge you, if you have students who are working on WH questions to make sure that they really can answer those so important questions like, what is your name? What is your mom's name? What's your address? What's your phone number? All those different types of things. Thinking it's really important for personal safety.

Rose Griffin: I've worked on that with students who we knew were not going to be able to do that independently, but a lot of my students in the past have worn ID tags. Some of these students are verbal, and they verbalize, but they still are never going to really truly be able to remember that information on their own. But even being able to remember it from looking at that visual because that's so important or knowing to show that visual to somebody should they get lost as a student gets older, those things are just things that could happen. Making sure that we think about that as a team as well as really important.

Marisha: That's amazing and really thinking about the whole student and their whole life, that's so cool. Okay, cool. Then with all of these moving pieces, how do you organize your intervention? What does that look like on a day to day basis? Where are you providing the services? How do you navigate between all of us different things?

Rose Griffin: Yeah, that's a great question. It's super individualized for each student. Most students, just currently with my current schedule, I don't see anybody particularly in the speech room. I try to go into the classroom. The classrooms that I work in, every student has a work area that has their materials and has all of those things readily available. I love going into the classroom because even though I might just be working with one particular student, I had access to usually talking to that student's peer professional if they're around.

Rose Griffin: When I first meet somebody, if they're new to the team, I can model how to work on different communication based goals. Or I have a student right now that's working on verbal invitation with illiteracy activities. I changed the books every two weeks and we pick targets based on literacy, based on a coax that the student can do, they can verbalize. I'll talk to the paraprofessional and say, "Hey, this is our new book and this is how we're working on it." I really like being able to model that. Then a lot of my students have vocational goals. We might work in the classroom for a little bit and then we're out in the school environment. Then that's most of the session, you know what I mean? That's one of the sessions. That's how it looks.

Rose Griffin: I have other students I've mentioned that and almost as like a job coaching model where it would be for a student who's a little bit higher level, but maybe they have a job within the building and I go in and I just see how things are going and I make sure that they're applying those skills that we've worked on interact therapy for so long. I really love that because it's cool for me to see the student in the natural environment and to make sure they're applying things. A lot of the times on those IPs I may say, is applying the skills into the natural environment and I will provide feedback and coaching as needed. If I see something that's a little wonky that the student needs some feedback on, well we all probably need feedback on something that I will provide it to the student and/or talk to their teacher about what I've been working on them with. That's really basically in a nutshell how my sessions look.

Marisha: Do you keep all the visuals for the skills? Because if they're shared goals, then the materials would be in their work area and you can just access those?

Rose Griffin: Yeah, so all the materials are typically in the classroom. Then for students who have more intense needs, who were using applied behavior analysis to really work on their language intervention, they have data binders where we really graph the data every single day, put a data point on a graph so that we can have a visual analysis of how this student is doing and all that information is kept in the classroom so everybody can take data on those same goals.

Marisha: You're like a data Ninja with your ABA background. Do you want to talk like through one example of what one page and the data binder might look like for an example student?

Rose Griffin: Yeah, we had one student this year who was working on labeling functional places. I talked with the parents about things that were really important for the students to be able to label. This particular student like to go to Costco and so we had pictures of Costco , which if you know any of my work, it's really important to show multiple examples. We printed off three different pictures from Google images of Costco because that really helps the student generalize that and so what's really nice about the graphs that were using, and people could always contact me through, my website if they would want access to this graph. I haven't like put it on the blog yet cause it's pretty specific, but we would work on labeling and so this particular graph, I could just circle it, would say Costco, and I could write the date, my initials, and then I could circle how the student did that day.

Rose Griffin: The student we baseline it the very first time and they got zero, I would mark that. Then subsequent sessions, let's say they get 60 percent, 60 percent, 80 percent, 100 percent, I can circle that. In essence, every single individual session looks like a circle, and you can see exactly how the student's doing. That's what's so important for students with more intense needs is that that graph piece, it gives us a real visual analysis of how is the student doing? Should we continue to work on this target? Do we need to troubleshoot this target or can we move on to something else?

Marisha: Is this particular student just working on labeling Costco or items in Costco?

Rose Griffin: Student is working on just labeling Costco because the student goes to Costco and so they were working on labeling functional places and so for them, because they go with their family each week, that was something happens to them.

Marisha: Do you build your own deck of images with all the places that they want to work on? Is that real?

Rose Griffin: Yeah, exactly. That's exactly how we do it. Some of the stuff is so specific that we would use Google images for that because obviously that's how you would get pictures of Costco and then we would kind of in essence make our own flash cards. That's how a lot of places are run when the students, especially students with autism, maybe you have something that's really functional for just them or they have something that's really individualized to them, so we would just make those in the classroom.

Marisha: That's amazing, and do you end up spending a lot of time creating materials for your students then?

Rose Griffin: That's a really good question. That's why I got into this whole space of having a blog and a website and all these things I do now, because I created the action builder cards, which is a physical product that I sell because I was spending so much time on Google images creating pictures. If you're not familiar with those, there's a hundred cards and they have different examples of actions because a lot of the times maybe I would have a general speech therapy flashcards set and it may have a picture of eating but I was teaching my students to label eating and then they were labeling ice cream and I wanted to put that together, eating ice cream, eating French fries.

Rose Griffin: I'm thinking of all this bad food, but things that kids like eating chips. There was nothing out there. It was like one picture of a kitty and apple, but that wasn't doing it for my kids. I was spending so much time on Google images. That's why I created those action builder cards because there's lots of different examples. I love that and people seem to like that product because it saves you so much time because it can get really time intensive to make stuff. I've just tried to make products that will save people time and are functional.

Marisha: Yeah, cause you mentioned... Those are amazing by the way. That's one huge time saver. But you also mentioned you're creating the video models, you're doing the task analysis and in my head I pictured pictures of the different steps, I don't know if you do that.

Rose Griffin: No, you don't have to do that. It really depends on the student, but for the student I'm working with currently, that visual prompt hasn't been necessary. It's almost the repeated exposure to the task with prompting as needed and then fading back that prompt as the student is doing things more independently. That's why that task analysis is so important because we can see like, I have a student right now that's working on recycling and he's doing great and he's getting the box, walking down the hall, we're going outside, he gets to the recycling bin and it's hard for him to get, he's got to lift it up and pull, push it in but that goes back to collaboration because I work really closely with our occupational therapist.

Rose Griffin: I ask the teacher just yesterday, I was like, "Hey, have we talked to so and so about how we should be prompting for that because I don't know the best way to prompt that?" I'm going to talk with our occupational therapists and it's like that's the part that he's having trouble with. Once we get that master, then he's kind of got that vocational skill, we can move on to something else.

Marisha: Then for that example, just going back to the data, you had just be keeping track of the number of prompts that he needed to complete that activity?

Rose Griffin: Right. We have every single step listed out though on a task analysis on this data sheet, it would say, we'll get the recycling box, we'll walk down the hall, we'll go outside, we'll go to the recycling bin, we'll dump it, we'll walk back inside, we'll walk back to the classroom, put the box down instead of throwing it. That was something that we mastered this week and so once we write out the task analysis, the steps on the data sheet, then every subsequent time that we run that program, then we can just put a plus or minus on the steps. If we see that a particular step has a minus in the student's not able to get it, then we can really hone in on that step and say like, "Oh man, the kid needs more direct instruction right on this step" and then once they get that step, they've got it.

Marisha: You just put it back into the sequence.

Rose Griffin: Yeah, that's it.

Marisha: That is so cool. I want to go work in a high school right now. I'm so excited. I love this stuff. It's so amazing. It's so practical and functional and you really have a way of just breaking it down in a way that makes so much sense. I'm very excited.

Rose Griffin: I love it. I get jealous when I see other people putting sensory bins and all those fun things on Instagram, but it's not what I'm doing right now. I appreciate all those different materials that people make, but it's just so different from the world that I'm living in once the kids get older.

Marisha: Yeah, but it's so functional and it has such an important impact. I love the strategies that you're implementing and it's going to change their lives forever, that's so amazing, so powerful.

Rose Griffin: Thank you, I love that. I love it so much. It's great.

Marisha: We're getting close to wrapping up here, but I'm curious, you've shared a lot of intervention activities, but are there one or two favorite ones that you wanted to highlight?

Rose Griffin: Sure, yeah. The piece on being part of the vocational process for students and trying to be, I guess I call it being a detective, but being a detective in your own building as far as what are functional activities for your students that they could practice their communication and vocational skills in your building. Because if you don't have those relationships with your principal, with the teachers, maybe with the administrative assistance, you may not know that these certain jobs need to get to be done. So, building rapport with everybody in the building from the police officer or whatever, you have going on in your building is so important because everybody really wants to help students to do their best. I would say building those relationships, trying to be a detective in your buildings to see how the students could work within their own little building and then leisure.

Rose Griffin: Leisure is so important and it's something that we didn't talk about yet, but something else I created that was out of my own need was this game called Double Up. It's a vocabulary in leisure activity game because I was working continue to work with a lot of students who are never really going to get past matching picture to picture. I feel like when you're working with older learners, something that makes me feel really frustrated is that there isn't a lot of age respectful or age appropriate materials out there. A lot of the vocational materials are from 1985 and they're old or it's just stuff that, this may be on my students' level, but it's not age appropriate. The pictures are not real. It doesn't mean anything to the student. I created this game that my students really love and enjoy and so it's a four person player game and you can match picture to picture.

Rose Griffin: It has leisure items, there's hygiene items. If your students are more advanced, they can match picture to associate a picture. We have a picture of a basketball and on your game board would be the people playing basketball. It's really nice for mixed groups and things like that and now is another thing I created out of my own need and speech therapists seem to really like it in life skills teachers too because I feel like it's just really hard to find materials for students who may be at this level of matching and maybe they're not going to get higher than that level, which at middle school, high school, that's okay. We're just meeting the student where they are, but we want to make sure that the materials that we have are functional and meaningful for our students as well.

Marisha: Yeah, that's amazing and awesome that you get to create all of those things to save us all some time. Awesome. Well, thank you so much for sharing all of your time and wisdom. I know I'm walking away inspired and I seriously want to go apply for high school jobs now because I'm so excited, but any last takeaways or anything that you wanted to wrap up with?

Rose Griffin: Yeah, just if anybody wants to reach out and hear about any of those nerdy data sheets I was talking about or talk about anything related to vocation and leisure to make sure to visit me at

Marisha: Awesome. Then can they find you on any other social media platforms?

Rose Griffin: Yeah, Instagram on abaspeechbyrose and I definitely am on Instagram every day showing you what's going on in my therapy room and sharing my stories on Instagram stories. So make sure to come on over and like me.

Marisha: Perfect. Well, thank you so much for your time and we'll talk again soon.

Rose Griffin: Okay, sounds good. See you.

Marisha: Wow guys, so Rose definitely did not disappoint. What a wealth of knowledge I learned so much. I'm really looking forward to implementing some of these strategies with students in the very near future. If you want to find out more head to the show notes, and that's where you can find all of the things that will mention as well as information on how to earn ASHA CEUs for listening to this POD course. We'll see you next time.



Hi there! I'm Marisha. I am a school-based SLP who is all about working smarter, not harder. I created the SLP Now Membership and love sharing tips and tricks to help you save time so you can focus on what matters most--your students AND yourself.

Reader Interactions


  1. This has been great! I work at a high school and am planning to start a leisure skills group with my students. Thank you for all the ideas.

  2. I really loved this podcast! I’ve worked mainly with grades pre-k to 6th grade but this year I am in a new district and have high school. I’m so excited to try these!! The special education teacher I work with is my husband who is a new teacher. Very exciting!! Thank you for providing this resource!!

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