We are often contacted by people who are looking into Speech and Language Therapy as a career and wondering if they can shadow us to see what a Speech and Language Therapist actually does on an average day! Firstly, there’s never really an ‘average day’! Secondly, it’s impossible to show someone in a day exactly what we do!
So, over the next few months, we are going to bring you some ‘daily diaries’ from the team, to give you a glimpse of how our days sometimes look…..here we go…..
9am – It’s Monday morning and I arrive at my first school for the day. I’m at the same school every Monday, so the school reception staff are always expecting me and I get a lovely greeting each time! I’m passed a message straight away to say that the SENCo is free to catch up with me during break time, which is great as I was hoping to catch up about one of the children I am seeing there.
9.15am – I am set up and ready to see the first child, a 5 year old girl with speech sound difficulties. We have been working together for about 6 months, so she is very familiar with our sessions, and knows that we always spend the first 5 minutes talking about our weekends (she is always very keen to know what I’ve done too!) Where possible, I always integrate these 5 minutes into my sessions, as it can help children to settle, as well as helping me to get to know them as individuals! That is one of the things I love about independent working, we get the time to know the children! We then start working on our activities which are based around practicing the ‘s’ sound at the ends of words. We use ‘Sid the Snail’ to practice this sound, emphasising that it’s a looonnggg, slloooooww sound, and not a short, quick sound like ‘d’ (which is what she can confuse it for). At the end of the session, we go back to her class and she helps me to tell her teacher what we have practiced. Again, where possible, I always encourage this, as it shows me what they have learnt in the session, and also fills the teacher in on progress!
10am – After a quick resource change, I am now about to see another child, a 6 year old boy with expressive language difficulties. We have been working on developing his verb tenses, particularly his past tense endings. We do some table-top activities to practice this, before finishing with a game of ‘Simon Says’. We alter the game slightly so that after each action, we have to say what we did, so ‘I hopped’, ‘I jumped’ (practicing our ‘ed’ endings without him even realising!).
10.45am – Break time! I meet the SENCo in the staff room to go through some of the children’s targets and talk about a new referral. The referral is for a 3 year old boy in their nursery, who is only using a few words to express himself and mostly pointing to things that he wants. We see such a variety of children within mainstream schools. We agreed for me to observe him for a little while later this morning.
11am – I rush out of the staff room to the next child I am working with. Another speech sound session, this time working on front (‘t’/’d’) and back (‘k’/’g’) sounds.
11.45am – Nursery observation! Within a few minutes of being in the nursery, a group of children have made their way over to find out what I am doing in there! I join in with a game, whilst observing the little boy who doesn’t yet know me and therefore isn’t aware that I’m observing him. I find this really useful to do before meeting children in a 1:1 situation, as you see them for how they are in their natural environment. The nursery staff then gather the children for carpet time before their session ends at lunchtime. I end up joining in with the songs; it always surprises me how there’s always that one ‘new’ song that I’ve never heard of, yet attempt to sing along with!
12.30pm – I write up my notes for the morning, then make my way for lunch at the next school. I am seeing a new referral first, so I tactically sit next to her teacher in the staff room to get a bit more information. The little girl is 4 years old and has been with the school since the beginning of term, yet she has not been observed to be talking to either children or adults. Alarm bells are ringing – selective mutism?
1.15pm – Observation in class. Again, lots of children wondering why I am in their classroom! I spend some time observing the little girl from a distance, before joining her and a friend who are looking at a book in the home corner. She is happy for me to join, and after a while passes me a book to indicate she would like me to read it. We look through the book together, and I start thinking about her comprehension by asking her to point out certain pictures as we turn the pages. I look at the clock and remember I have a therapy session arranged for 2pm, so discuss further observations with the teacher before making my way to the meeting room for my next session.
2pm – This session requires little setting up, as we are working on inferential thinking through short stories which the child chooses in advance of the session. He is 8 years old, and presents with social communication difficulties. We have been working together for around 18 months, and have in the past worked through a range of grammatical elements, but are focusing more now on those higher level language skills. We are looking at the book ‘Never ending birthday party’, which is great for helping develop those inferential thinking skills! Plenty of opportunities to think about what might happen next, why something has happened, and also some non-literal language to discuss!
2.45pm – I have a meeting arranged with the parents of my 2pm therapy session, to discuss arranging a further visit to the GP with the hope of a referral being made to the paediatrician, to further investigate his difficulties. We discuss the fantastic progress that he is making, but that it would be helpful to visit the GP in terms of getting future support for him.
3.15pm – End of the school day! Admin time! I finish writing my notes before making some calls to parents then head home! It’s been a busy day, but I love the fact that I’ve spent a whole day doing therapy and observations!
Keep an eye out for more ‘daily diaries’ from the team!
The Team @ Communicate 🙂