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?”

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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! 🙂

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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

#UniteForParkinsons

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!

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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! 🙂

 

Meet our SLT Student 2018!

We have a Speech and Language Therapy 3rd year Student joining us throughout the Spring Term. Chloe is completing her final placement from the University of East Anglia, before graduating to become a Speech and Language Therapist! Chloe will be predominantly based in our Ipswich schools with our therapist, Gemma.

We wanted to get to know Chloe a little better so we asked her some questions…Screen Shot 2018-01-15 at 11.58.49

  • What made you interested in a career in Speech and Language Therapy? 

I originally did a degree in Psychology which I really enjoyed, and within that I did a module on speech and language development which really captured my interest. After I finished my psychology degree I went to work in the USA on a summer camp for children and adults with learning difficulties. During this time I accompanied the clients to Speech and language therapy sessions and it was here I saw the amazing, and very important support the speech and language therapists provided. I knew from that point that this was what I wanted to do.

  • Is there anything you have learnt during the degree which you weren’t expecting to? 

Before I started the speech and language therapy degree, I only had experience with children and adults with learning difficulties. Since studying I have discovered the huge range of individuals that speech and language therapists work with. I had some experience of therapy input focusing on speech sound difficulties, however I have really enjoyed discovering the vast range of language and communication assessments and intervention, including the social/ pragmatics side of development.

  • What other placement experiences have you had?

I completed an initial placement in my first year at a school, which was designed to increase my skills and confidence when communicating with children. This was part of the conversation partners module where I also spent time communicating with an individual who had Aphasia after a stroke. I also completed day placements where I gained experience in various hospital wards, in a special school setting and a community paediatrics role.  In my second year I completed a block placement at a specialist stroke ward in a hospital, where I was also able to experience an adult community setting alongside.

  • What are you looking forward to most about your placement with Communicate?

During my placement at Communicate, I am most looking forward to visiting a variety of schools and meeting a range of students, as well as working alongside the multi disciplinary staff team. I’m looking forward to new and exciting opportunities, and to learn from all the students and staff that I meet.

  • Which client group do you see yourself working with when you’ve finished your degree?

At present I have not decided which client group I would like to work with once I graduate. I have thoroughly enjoyed my placements and experiences so far which have all been very different. Because of this I am keeping an open mind, rather than limiting myself to certain areas and I am excited to gain new experiences during this placement to help with my decision making!

Chloe started her placement today and we wish her luck and hope she enjoys working with Communicate.

The Team @ Communicate! 🙂

Another daily diary!

09:00 Tuesday is a very busy morning for me so I’m straight into therapy. I see five children individually, working on a variety of targets from semantic links to final consonant deletion. Being adaptable is one of the most important aspects of being a speech and language therapist and was very important today as one of my children had achieved all their targets since my last session so some on the spot thinking was needed!

10:45 My lovely TA brings me a much needed cup of tea while I write my notes. The staff we get to work with are fabulous and really make such a difference when they follow up our targets through the week.

11:00 Two more children, both working on shape coding this time, though at different levels. I’ve just done a handover to the class teacher for one of the children about using shape coding in Literacy sessions to help support her. She excitedly tells me about using her shapes in class and it’s great to see her confidence growing.

12:00 Time to hop in my car to my next visit!

1:00 After a quick sandwich I see an individual child at school. I originally did sessions with her at home for a few months but now she’s started school I see her there instead. This means I know both mum and her teacher well which is excellent for collaborative working! She’s so pleased she’s been able to achieve her ‘t’ sound and can’t wait to show me. We have a fun hour playing games whilst working on our sounds.

2:00 Home time for me. I have the luxury of doing some admin from home on a Tuesday so take the chance to walk the dog while it’s still light.

2:30 Back from our walk I warm up with a cup of tea and work on an initial assessment report for a child I saw in school on Thursday. Though I don’t have space on my caseload for this child, I’m providing lots of strategies for the class teacher while he’s waiting for his NHS appointment.

3.15 Do some preparation for tomorrow’s sessions and look through some new resources our lovely assistant has made for me. It’s so useful to be able to get new resources that help keep the therapy interesting for the children and for me, there’s only so many times I can play pop up pirate! I also make some notes for a meeting I’m having with the SENCo tomorrow about plans for January. It’s going to be busy coordinating screenings, parent meetings, a student and a new TA! 

3:45 Finish off the day with a little planning for our next free parents group “Communicake”. This is one of the most rewarding aspects of my job as I love being able to meet with parents and immediately help them feel empowered about how they can help develop their child’s communication. The theme for the next group is going to be outer space so my next mission is to make a rocket ship! 

Keep an eye out for more daily diaries from our team!

Have a great Christmas!

The Team @ Communicate 🙂

A Day in the Life of a Speech and Language Therapist!

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 🙂

Bring on the Autumn Term!

Tomorrow marks the start of September, which means…..another school year is starting!

We are all very excited to be back working both in existing and new schools, and we therefore thought this would be a nice opportunity to introduce you to the Communicate Team of 2017/18!

So, here we go…

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You can find out more about us and how we work on our website, which has also been updated with all our training courses being run during this school year. Take a look to see what great sessions you could be attending with us!

We hope that the Autumn Term starts well for all!

The Team @ Communicate 🙂