Meme Use in Speech-Language Therapy Sessions With Clients in the Y and Z Generations

Meme Use in Speech-Language Therapy Sessions With Clients in the Y and Z Generations image
When I was first introduced to memes, I thought they were all for comedy and that they were image-based on the internet. However, I later found out that the term “meme” is actually more complex and broad than what you can find online. The word “meme” originates from science, noted first in Richard Dawkin’s book The Selfish Gene (1976), where Dawkins (an evolutionary biologist) discusses how in genetics a meme is a self-replicating unit with significance in explaining human behavior and cultural evolution (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme). He discusses that a meme is a cultural entity that might be replicated or imitated based on its ability to be retained, transmitted, and their aptitude to be replicated. In this article about memes and their use in speech-language therapy, I will be mostly discussing memes passed through social mediums including the internet, television, and radio through audio, video, images, and text as well as combinations of these mediums.

The Selfish Gene image

Memes passed through the social mediums of the internet, television, and radio are different than other memes. These can be saved to be found later and generally tracked back to the original source. This can show scientists, researchers, and marketing specialists how they transform over time, how many people have viewed or heard a particular meme, and what types of actions, in particular the continuation or dormancy of the meme, occur following a person being subjected to the meme. Scientists and researchers study how memes evolve and predict which will survive and spread throughout a culture.

To learn more about popular memes and how they can be used in speech-language therapy sessions, continue reading!

Meme Use in Speech Therapy Sessions image

(Above is my cat and I used "Impact" font, generally used in memes; maybe this post will become a meme in the SLP community!)

It is important for speech-language pathologists of the 21st century to have background in the area of memes not only from a social and behavioral standpoint, but to be able to use them in a therapy setting to educate those who are identified as Generations Y and Z. Throughout my experiences in different therapy settings with older and younger populations, I have found it beneficial to teach what they know – choose everyday topics and situations to base therapy around so that there is more meaningful carryover into everyday life. Effective therapy involves knowledge of not just speech-language therapy techniques, but the interests of clients including, but not limited to, in my experience - football, Polish heritage, Spongebob Squarepants, Super Mario, die casting, and texting. Whether it’s putting a picture of a cute kitten in the corner of a worksheet for motivation or translating a letter into a client’s native language, it is important to keep culture, age, and interests in mind during therapy. Memes, for Generations Y and Z, are a part of their everyday lives. They are exposed through advertisements as well as their peer groups. In order to influence these generations the most, one must determine an appropriate motivational tool that will provide the most retention of skills and carryover taught during therapy.

One type of meme that is useful in speech-language therapy is a static image-based meme. These can be spread through visual means of pictures, posters, newspapers, television, and the internet and can be read via text or seen as an image. Static image-based memes can be used in speech-language therapy in many different ways including:

I Can Has Cheezburger image

(Cheezburger Cat is a popular meme on the internet at - http://icanhas.cheezburger.com/)

  • Grammar – Find an image-based meme with text on it, such as a comic or funny image, that uses incorrect spelling or grammar. Have the client fix the sentence to be grammatically correct. Discuss if the image creator intentionally used incorrect grammar or not and why. LOLCats are the easiest to do this with as they are generally more appropriate, and adorable, than other memes and use incorrect grammar. You can find more of these images at - http://icanhas.cheezburger.com/
Bubble Talk game image

  • Expressive language – Find a image with no text on it, such as from a popular television show or product, to have your client create a caption for or narrative based on. I have used the board games Domo: Caption This! Game and Bubble Talk with younger clients and The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Game with older clients in therapy in this manner.
  • Figurative Language – Use an image-based meme, such as a comic, that shows an illustration depicting a pair of homophones/multiple meaning word/idiom. Discuss the various meanings of the word and how it can get confused/interpreted.
Grumpy Cat image

(Tartar Sauce, aka. Grumpy Cat, is a popular meme on the internet)

  • Inference – Have your client make an inference based on the body language, text, or situation in an image. He or she can also infer what happened before or will happen after the image.
  • Feelings/emotions – Clients can view the character in the image and determine based on body language, facial expression, and text (use of italics, bold font, type of font, color of font, etc.) what the character is feeling.
Funny cat image


  • Conversational skills – Regardless of whether or not there are speech or thought bubbles in a comic or image, have the client add speech or thoughts to the image based on inference or discuss what the character in the image might be thinking/talking about.
  • Problem solving – Find an image that shows a problem (either between two characters, a social debate, an accident waiting to happen, etc.) and discuss possible solutions with your client.
FANBOYS mnemonic image

  • Vocabulary – Image-based memes can become visual cues or be used to teach definitions of age-level vocabulary. There are common images used in textbooks or posters to help clients recall and retain information. In addition, there are mnemonic strategies that can be shown visually to help clients recall information.
  • Voice – Clients can infer the type of voicing used by a character in an image or read text on the image using vocal strategies.
Alliteration comic image

  • Articulation – Find an image-based meme with text on it that includes sounds your client is working on to have them read aloud. (Don't mind the grammar in the one above, I did not create it - the credit is on the side of the image)
Memes can also be spread via audio and video sources including the internet, television, and radio. These are considered dynamic in nature. Audio and visual based memes can be used in the following ways in speech-language therapy:

Bub the Cat gif

(Lil Bub the cat is a very popular cat on the internet)

  • Inference – Play a video-based meme for your client and have him or her infer the setting, mood of the scene, emotions of the characters, what happened prior or will happen after the scene, etc.


  • Nonverbal Communication - One can determine the tone of the scene, thoughts of the characters, sarcastic comments, and feelings of the characters based on the non-verbal communication of the actors throughout the scene of a television show or movie. A favorite television show of many speech-language pathologists is The Big Bang Theory. There are a lot of jokes centering around tone of voice, body language, eye contact, and more within the show, primarily centering around the character Sheldon. Playing a clip of a video and having clients take note of various types of non-verbal communication is a great way to use a popular show or film in therapy.


  • Grammar - A popular video series that I remember from my childhood is Schoolhouse Rock! It taught parts of speech and sentences through songs which I still remember, and teach, today! You can find many of the Schoolhouse Rock videos on YouTube today! A newer series that is similar to Schoolhouse Rock, teaching parts of speech through characters and music, is Grammaropolis.
  • Vocabulary/Memory – Jingles, songs, repetition, and catch-phrases in audio memes or a sequence of events, type of visuals, or distinctiveness in video memes can assist in helping clients recall information. Find a song or video that explains a concept you want the client to remember and play it for him or her. You can also use jingles in advertisements to work on recalling numbers in sequence for a phone number.
  • Voice – Have your client record his or her voice via a video or audio recording device and play it back to analyze his or her vocal strategies. This can also be used to focus on sarcasm, prosody, and emotions.


  • Social Skills – Clients can view various video models displaying appropriate and inappropriate social skills. They can determine whether an action or wording is appropriate or inappropriate. In addition, they can either practice social skills based on the video model or create their own video model.
Now that you know how to use memes in therapy, I would like to discuss how memes can be used to further your career as a speech-language pathologist. We all know that memes can be used in advertising and to further brands. Most of us have seen the viral videos of the Super Bowl, have read the Sunday comics in the newspaper, and have passed along a YouTube video or a pin on Pinterest. Here are some ways to use memes to your advantage when advertising your speech-language pathology blog, career, or private practice, or to involve yourself in a professional learning community:


YouTube icon

Twitter icon

  • Twitter – There are some great Twitter users that have hundreds and thousands of speech-language pathologist followers including PediaStaff and Sublime Speech. Both of these Tweeters get tons of retweets making what they retweet go viral in the speech and language community. To find more speech-language pathologists on Twitter, or to have other SLPs be able to find your tweets, use the #slpeeps hashtag! Who knows which famous SLP will re-tweet you?
Facebook icon

  • Facebook – Many companies that sell products to speech-language pathologists are using Facebook to promote their products! Super Duper Publications is a wonderful example of great marketing through Facebook as they post free worksheets daily, Handy Handouts to send home with caregivers, and discounts on their products. It is no wonder that they have over 25,000 followers! Also, many bloggers are also using Facebook to connect with their followers to answer speech-related questions, provide free materials for their followers, and to promote their blog posts! When blog posts or Facebook statuses are shared, this makes them viral and hundreds of speech-language pathologists will see posts from that account!
Instagram icon

  • Instagram – Instagram is a great way to see what speech-language pathologists are up to in everyday life as well as in the therapy room! Jenna Rayburn of Speech Room News and Jenn Alcorn of Crazy Speech World even used it to promote their blogs and learn about what other speech-language pathologists were doing in their therapy rooms when they held an Instagram party and had SLPs use the hashtag “#instaSLP”. PediaStaff has also been promoting SLPs on Instagram by sharing various popular therapy ideas to make them trend!
Pinterest icon

  • Pinterest – The best way to find speech-language therapy ideas and crafts is to join Pinterest! There are a few SLPs who have reached out to tens of thousands of colleagues using this social media website. For example, Lauren S. Enders is very well known for having tons of boards related to AAC/AT, which have been mentioned on many different websites. CC of Super Power Speech had an image in which she created stating, “I help people communicate, what’s your super power?” that got re-pinned thousands of times on Pinterest (http://superpowerspeech.com/2012/01/communication-specialist.html). Finally, speech-language pathologist bloggers came together to form two different collaborative boards to promote their blog posts and products that each have thousands of followers such as SLPs on TpT (http://www.pinterest.com/speechiek/slps-on-tpt/) and Speech-Language Therapy Blog Posts (http://www.pinterest.com/speechpins/speech-language-therapy-blog-posts/). When these pins are re-pinned, this makes them viral!
  • Blogging – Blogging is a great way to share your knowledge on different topics with other speech-language pathologists. The more knowledgeable you are on a topic, the more your post is going to be shared. My posts about apps that can be used in speech-language therapy have been shared thousands of times. In addition, blogs like Speech Room News and Crazy Speech World have reached more than just SLPs and brought new opportunities including speaking at conventions, reviewing products and apps, and collaborating with other professionals their way.
Grumpy Initial Phrases

  • Materials Created by SLPs - Many SLPs are becoming popular for creating materials on Teachers Pay Teachers. Some SLPs create materials and give them away for free or create paid materials on their own websites! One speech-language pathologist who is popular for her materials AND has created materials based on memes, is Miss Thrifty SLP! She created three free materials with a grumpy cat on her blog, including Grumpy Initial Phrases, which you can find at this link - http://thethriftyslp.blogspot.com/2014/06/around-round-of-grumpy-cat.html
SLPeeps image

  • Hashtags – Hashtags can be used to follow threads of textual dialogue about a subject. Speech-language pathologists on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram should definitely follow the #slpeeps, #slpbloggers, #ashaigers, and #slpchat hashtags to keep up with what speech-language pathologists are talking about!
Keep Calm and Trust the SLP image

(Created by: Jenna Rayburn from Speech Room News)

  • Static image-based memes – Creating an image to promote your private practice, blog entry, or just for fun is a great way to get users to want to learn more information about you and your company. Jenna of Speech Room News created a great “Keep Calm and Call the Speech-Language Pathologist” meme to promote the profession (http://thespeechroomnews.com/2012/10/keep-calm.html). All Y’All Need has created various images for her Linky Parties related to different seasons that cause many SLPs to link up with her or view what other speech-language pathologists are up to at different points in the year. Finally, some of my favorite speech-language pathology memes are from Sublime Speech, made with Some-ecards' templates!
  • Video memes – Memes involving video recordings, especially based on other viral videos, can boost interest in your message or company. Some great examples of memes used by speech-language pathologists include the #SLPeeps Flash Mob (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFDulwgvR0k) and Tweet and Greets at the 2012 ASHA conference. Two more examples of using video as a means of getting your message across are the Give Me Voice video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJV2MxwnKwY) for the Giving Voice campaign and the Our 3 Words videos about stuttering on the National Stuttering Association YouTube account (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWkMX9aiHXw).
The ASHA Leader logo

  • ASHA Leader/ASHASphere – A great way to get noticed in a positive way for your knowledge in the field of speech-language pathology is to write an article or have your blog post picked up by the ASHA Leader or ASHASphere! I am always seeing my fellow bloggers and SLP friends mentioned in one or the other, and it is nice to say “hey, I know that person!"
Just for fun – Of course, I cannot forget one of the biggest ways memes are used other than to advertise something – for humor. Memes that grab the most attention and are humorous often get shared to brighten up other’s days! Since you were able to read to the end of this long post, you deserve a pick-me-up! Here are some of my favorite speech-language pathology memes:

Sublime Speech someecard

(Created by: Danielle Reed of Sublime Speech)

Comments

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...