Happy New Year!!

Just a note to say Happy New Year to everyone from all our team. We hope 2019 continues to bring fun, excitement, and laughter. Getting us through any challenges we might face.

Some exciting things coming up this year, one being The Beginners’ Workshop in Makaton.

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Contact Hannah: communicate.hannah@gmail.com

See you in 2019! @communicatesltblog

Family Life of a Speech Therapist- Early Morning


This is me thinking

I am Johannah one of the therapists in the Communicate & Care team. The blog writing duties have recently been passed to me.

I have found it hard to think of what to write for my first entry. So after many minutes of thinking, resulting in mild brain ache, I decided to describe a typical morning in my house…

This is inside knowledge into the wonderful chaos and beautiful carnage of having a gorgeous one year old and a dream job as a speech and language therapist. In this months entries I hope to highlight, inspire and reassure people in ways to support language development within a typical family routine. Most activities and play ideas have been inspired by the amazing people around me!


A pretty morning picture to look at…


Firstly, the sounds of a waking baby are heard! Our Main priority is to get that first bottle of milk ready and get that nappy changed.

One of my FAVOURITE nappies!

Currently our nappy changing routine is a great way to introduce new vocabulary , for example; wriggling, rolling, sitting, standing, smelly, wet, hands, arms, head, nose, ears, toes, bottom, tummy, reading, waiting.

I like to commentate on what baby is doing such as “baby wriggling”, “good girl standing”,”reading book”, “pressing button”, “stretching”, “eating zebra”, “throwing teddy”, “teddy cuddles”.

Baby is now one so I want to try and model phrases with two key words in them e.g “baby sitting”, “mama nose”, “smelly bottom”, “teddy sleeping”.

Once baby is changed it is time for milk…

Now I don’t know how other families have do it but when making up milk, it takes what seems like hours to cool down! We were able to use this time to introduce and reinforce  “waiting”, “hungry” and “hot”.

We began to use baby signing/Makaton around 9 months. It doesn’t work for everyone but it has taken off in our family, even grandparents are a fan of Mr Tumble and how he teaches new signs. We have found signing key items and concepts useful especially ‘hot’, ‘tired’, ‘more’, ‘stop’.

Within a very short space of time during repetitive everyday tasks lots of simple strategies to support language development are used without even knowing!!

See you next time @communicatesltblog

“Loving Language”

On the 20th September 2018, 9 learners joined our therapists, Hannah and Gemma, at Notley Green Primary School in Braintree for the launch of our *NEW* “Loving Language” training programme!


Designed to assist support staff in identifying and providing intervention for a range of speech, language and communication needs, this full day practical course aimed to meet the following learning outcomes;

*Identify and understand the complex skills that work together to facilitate the development of robust communication skills 

*Understand how SLCN can manifest across year groups by studying and discussing “real” children Identify core strategies that work across all aspects of SLCN 

*Plan specific intervention activities for three studied children with SLCN so that you have practical ideas to draw upon.

The day was full of discussion and laughter, with lots of shared ideas across the group. Everyone took something new away from the session (including the therapists) about the different ways to provide support both in the classroom and on a one to one basis. There was also an opportunity to identify and write targets for EHCP plans and/or IEPs.

Here is what some of our learners said about the day:


“This gave me a better understanding of the problems some of our Reception children are facing – It’s not just speech”

“Interesting, educational, fun and appropriate”

“It was excellent!”

Having a “context around the strategies / intervention. Relating principle to specific children we teach” was the most valuable part of the course.

ALL learners gave a 5/5 score for the Course Leaders level of knowledge, communication and responsiveness throughout the session, which we are extremely proud of!

We would love to see even more people enjoying and taking part in this fun, practical day which is also open to parents who want to find out more about speech and language. Our next two sessions are due to take place in Norwich on the 20th November and in Ipswich on Monday 3rd December.

Bookings are now taking place, with a few places remaining, so if you are new to supporting speech, language and communication or just want some fresh ideas, why not come and join us. It’s easily accessible at a very modest £80 for a full days training!

Not working in a Primary School? Then look out for our “Loving Language”, Pre-school and Secondary Editions that are being launched in the New Year.

The Team @ Communicate! 🙂

Thera-P…..practical, parent centred and not a picture card in sight!

At the end of the summer term, the Communicate team were very lucky to be joined by Specialist Speech and Language Therapist, Lyndsey Allen, from the Ear Foundation for a day of training; “Thera-P”. I think it’s fair to say it’s one of the best CPD days we’ve had and we were so inspired hearing Lyndsey talk about her passion for Speech and Language Therapy!

The day was focused around how we can make therapy inspiring with no ‘bag of magic tricks’ or ‘flashcards’, just the power of conversation, play and everyday routines!

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Throughout the day, we looked at the power of conversation and how we can enrich language through different communication strategies. We discussed how we feel as communicators and how education staff and parents feel and how this can impact on the  quality of language being provided to children. We also looked at the link between cognition, language and motor skill development and what motivates us all to learn, and how we can apply this to children’s development……….. and therapy!! This led us nicely on to the really fun part of the day, practical therapy activities!

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The team took part in an aeroplane making activity (and competition!), thinking about how such a simple activity can provide so many language opportunities! We then split into groups to look at other practical, everyday activities which involve no ‘SLT’ resources but can work on so many SLT targets; making a drink, using pens/paper/magazines/scissors, and making treasure chest maps!

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Some of the team who have been working throughout the summer holidays have been starting to put into practice this ‘no resources’ type of practice and have been having great fun with families! The rest of the team can’t wait to start thinking about ways of implementing this approach in schools too, so there may be less of the dragging around suitcases full of resources from September!

We would all like to say a huge thank you to Lyndsey for a fantastic day and we will hopefully see you again in the future!

The Team @ Communicate! 🙂

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Working with The Communication Trust and Norwich Opportunity Area!

We are very excited to share with you some exciting training which is now underway! We are working with The Communication Trust Charity in delivering a range of training opportunities for the Norwich Opportunity Area!

Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 10.41.45Our first full day of ‘Becoming a Communication Champion’ took place at Sprowston Manor on the 14th July 2018, with further full days and twilight sessions being offered throughout upcoming months. Our therapists, Emma and Hannah, will be delivering these sessions and are looking forward to meeting a range of enthusiastic delegates. Here’s a bit more information about who we’re working with………..

Who are The Communication Trust Charity? Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 10.55.23

The Communication Trust is a coalition of over 50 not-for-profit organisations. Working together, they support everyone who works with children and young people in England to support their speech, language and communication.

What is The Norwich Opportunity Area? Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 10.41.26

In October 2016, Norwich was identified as one of the 12 opportunity areas by the Education Secretary Justine Greening, with the plan to improve social mobility…..

“Opportunity areas will help local children get the best start in life, no matter what their background. Ensuring all children can access high-quality education at every stage is critical. We will focus not just on what we can do to help inside schools, but also create the opportunities outside school that will raise sights and broaden horizons for young people.”

The Norwich Opportunity Area is a network of local partners collaborating on coordinated activities to increase social mobility in Norwich, focusing on;

  1. Improving speech and communication in the early years so that children have the best chance as they start school
  2. Improving teaching and attainment, from primary school through to age 18, so that young people gain the skills, knowledge and qualifications they need for the next stage of their life
  3. Advice on careers and working life, supporting and informing young people in key decisions around qualifications and skills needed at important transition points, enabling them to get on the right path to their chosen career

We look forward to sharing more photos and information on the sessions we’re delivering and would love to receive any feedback if you’ve attended or are planning to attend any of the sessions!

The Team @ Communicate! 🙂

SEND Show 2018!

When does a reluctance to talk become something that needs specific specialised support? This was the question posed at the training session delivered as part of the workshop programme at the AcornTree SEND Conference this year: “Too Shy to Speak?”


On Monday 18th June, Emma and Hannah attended the annual Acorn SEND Conference at Dunston Hall in Norfolk. This was our third year at the Conference, bringing an increasing number of people and some really great professionals for us to meet and network with.

As always, everyone was really friendly and it was a lovely opportunity to talk to people about the impact of speech and language difficulties on learning and wellbeing. The training session was really well received with people adding to existing knowledge, or increasing their understanding of “why” some children are unable to talk in particular situations but confident in others.

Hopefully, everyone took away some ideas about how to reduce pressure on children who are struggling to find their voices so that they can still be part of school activities and reduce their anxiety.

If you’re interested in finding out more about this training session, or about reluctant talkers, please contact our training lead Hannah (communicate.hannah@gmail.com).

The Team @ Communicate! 🙂

Communicake On The Road!

Over the last two years, we have been running free speech and language drop-in groups, called ‘Communicake’, at our clinic near Stowmarket, Ipswich. The groups have been a huge success and we’ve had such positive feedback from families, which has been great! IMG_5254 2

As a result of the success of the groups in our clinic, we have decided to take ‘Communicake’ on the road as well, visiting various settings around East Anglia.

We are so excited that it’s now just over a week until our first Communicake on the road trip, which is being held at Handford Hall Primary School in Ipswich on Thursday 31st May 2018, 10am-12pm. We already work closely with Handford Hall, with our therapist Gemma visiting them on a weekly basis, and we’re looking forward to hosting this free event with them too!

The group is ideal for any families who may have concerns with their child’s speech and language development. All members of the family are welcome and there will be lots of fun activities out for all the children! As it’s a drop-in group, families can attend at any time during the session and will have the opportunity to discuss their concerns with therapists in our team. IMG_8444 3

If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, or know someone that is, please do share this event with them as it’s a great opportunity to talk about their concerns and get some advice from the team.

There is no need to book a place, however if you have any questions about the group, please contact Zoe on communicate.zoe@gmail.com.

The Team @ Communicate! 🙂 Handford Hall Communicake Flyer jpeg

World Parkinson’s Day 2018

Today is World Parkinson’s Day, a recognised day to raise awareness of Parkinson’s, grow a global Parkinson’s community, and get everyone talking on social media to spread the word, #UniteForParkinsons. Every hour, 2 people in the UK are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition, for which there is currently no cure. We aren’t yet sure exactly why people get it, but it affects around 145,000 people in the UK – that’s around 1 adult in every 350.

As a team, we work predominantly with children and young adults, however we also have therapists within the team who work with adults and have specialist training and experience of specific interventions. Our therapist, Joanne, is trained in LSVT LOUD® therapy and here she tells us about this type of intervention and what it involves……Screen Shot 2018-04-11 at 18.08.41

“Most people with Parkinson’s disease notice an impact on their speech at some point, with loudness, intonation and voice quality all affected.  All these aspects are tackled through the administration of LSVT LOUD® therapy, with evidence showing that improvements are maintained up to two years after treatment has been completed.  

The treatment is delivered over 16 sessions over a single month and requires the individual to complete daily homework tasks as well as 4 therapy sessions each week.  Although only a single goal, to speak “LOUD!” is targeted, there are knock on effects to all of the systems involved in speech.  At the end of the therapy, the goal is for the person to have a healthy loudness, with no strain, that means that they are clear and confident again to speak in any environment.   

A recent stint of delivering this therapy reminded me of why it’s such a pleasure to deliver. Not only does it have a robust evidence base and give results that last, but also because I never fail to learn something new in the process of delivering it.  The intervention works by a ‘systematic hierarchy of exercises’, whereby the client begins with reading single words before progressing onto sentences, phrases and paragraphs.  Each time the therapy is delivered, the reading material used is completely tailored to the client’s own interests and passions.  My most recent client had a special interest in, and vast amount of knowledge of, all things historical and travel based, but in particular European history.  I found it difficult to fathom the vast time span we travelled back through during the weeks, and each day I learned vocabulary and facts about the areas and eras that were completely knew to me.  I have also updated my ‘travel goal list’ thanks to this client – and am looking forward to beginning my journey by visiting Burgundy later this year! The biggest perk, of course, was the result.  Both the client and his wife commented that the therapy had been a great success and were thrilled with the results – the change was not only demonstrated objectively by the scientific readings given during each session, but also clear to hear both face to face and over the phone.  Success all round!” 

For more information or support about Parkinson’s disease, visit https://www.parkinsons.org.uk

LSVT LOUD is delivered by certified therapists only.  To find a therapist in your area, follow this link: https://www.lsvtglobal.com/clinicians


Bercow: 10 Years On

There’s been a big build up on social media to today, the 20th March 2018, as it marked the day that the ‘Bercow: 10 Years On‘ review would be made public. It has been ten years since the first review by John Bercow MP was published, which looked at current services for children and young people from birth to 19 with speech, language and communication needs across the country. This latest review was intended to see what has happened over the last ten years and what needs to happen going forward. Screen Shot 2018-03-20 at 15.26.41


More than 2,500 parents, carers, children, practitioners and others contributed to the Bercow: 10 Years On review, which has been published by I CAN and the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists.

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Although there have been some positive changes since the first review in 2008 (see above), the report makes for a gloomy read with some of the key statistics which came out of it;

  • 42% of parents say their child’s needs were not picked up early enough
  • 50% had to wait more than six months for their child to get the help they needed
  • Support varies widely throughout England with children in a ‘postcode lottery’ as to the support they receive
  • Only 15% of respondents felt that speech and language therapy was available as required.
  • Only 29% of parents and carers felt involved in how their child’s support was planned
  • Only 12% of parents realised that their child was struggling to communicate because a professional, for example an early years worker, teacher or GP, told them
  • The research shows very little change in parents and carers’ views in the last 10 years, with 78% reporting information was either not easily available or not available at all; in 2008 the figure was 77%
  • 53% of survey respondent did not feel that the way children learn in schools supports their spoken language development
  • Almost all of the respondents to a survey of NHS children’s speech and language therapy services report that they discharge children and young people who miss appointments

    Unfortunately, these statistics really do represent what we are seeing on the ground and we are hopeful that this review will lead to better things for children with SLCN. The review has provided a number of recommendations and in their conclusion, stated that “we cannot afford to wait 10 more years”.

    If you want to find out more or read the whole report, you can find it using this link: http://www.bercow10yearson.com

    The Team @ Communicate! 🙂

SenCo CPD Day!

On the 22nd February, we, together with AcornTree PCS, hosted our first exciting SenCo CPD day!


Our therapist, Hannah, delivered a workshop all about developing children’s vocabulary. This was a fun, hands on session which identified strategies to teach vocabulary both explicitly and implicitly. Here’s what Hannah had to say about the day;

“What a fun day it was…. thank you to everyone who came and took part on what we hope will be an annual event”. 

Amanda Hull, from AcornTree PCS, also delivered a workshop about ‘ditching the cloud’. This looked at alternatives to the sun, cloud and star systems used in school for behaviour management, to provide children with understanding and consistency and tools to make better choices. IMG_6944

As well as Hannah and Amanda’s workshops, we also heard from Martin Bohn, from Solution Focussed Inclusion, who is a Solution Focused Practitioner. Martin delivered a session about how collaborative solution practice can support young people with communication difficulties.

Watch this space for our next SenCo Day in Autumn!

The Team @ Communicate! 🙂