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 🙂

Advertisements

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…

Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 09.00.29

Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 09.01.29

Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 09.02.00

Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 09.02.06

Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 09.02.56

Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 09.03.04

Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 09.03.10

Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 09.04.07

Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 09.06.39

Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 09.04.14

Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 09.05.17

Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 09.05.23

Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 09.05.03

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 🙂

School’s Out For Summer!

It’s the end of the summer term, which means……. it’s the summer holidays!!

It’s been a very busy year for the Communicate team; we’ve been working in lots of existing and new schools, working alongside lots of families, running new groups, attending lots of events, as well as welcoming a few Communicate babies who have joined the team!

As the end of the academic year has been approaching, lots of families have been asking what they can do over the summer holidays to continue supporting their child’s speech and language skills. Lots of the children we’ve been working with have had plenty of formal therapy sessions throughout the year, and therefore instead of giving out traditional ‘activity packs’ to families, this year, I’ve been setting ‘Summer Holiday Challenges’! This means that they can enjoy their summer holidays, hopefully with some sunshine! The children have been very excited by the challenges, with some saying they can’t wait to come back in September and share how it’s gone! Here are a few of the challenges which have been set:

  • Snap snap! This was given to one child who has been working on their Screen Shot 2017-07-17 at 12.35.27phonological skills throughout the year, including identifying words which begin with specific sounds. The challenge was to take lots of photos of things they do or see throughout the holidays, and then put them into an album, grouping them by their initial sounds. The school were really supportive, providing the family with a blank scrapbook to use for their photos! We look forward to seeing what they’ve been up to over the summer!

 

  • Treasure Hunt! This challenge was given to a family who have twin boys. Both boys have some comprehension difficulties and have been working on following Screen Shot 2017-07-17 at 12.35.50instructions of various lengths, containing a range of concepts. The family were given some instruction sheets (some were visual instructions for the children to use themselves, and others were to be read by the parents, or each other). Instructions like ‘find the big rabbit behind the swing‘ and ‘collect the red teddy bear from under the bucket‘ were provided, focusing on language which the boys have been practicing in school. This will hopefully support them in maintaining what they have recently learnt and generalising these skills into everyday activities!

 

  • Outside Story Time! One little boy I have been working with in Nursery, will be moving up to Reception in September. His attention and listening skills are limited and his family have been worrying about how he will cope with things like ‘carpet time’ when he starts school in September. As well as strategies being recommended to Screen Shot 2017-07-17 at 12.36.26school for supporting this, we set the family a challenge over the summer! We have given one of the school cushions (which the children sit on during carpet time) to take home with him over the summer, and have suggested practicing ‘carpet time’ outside (because he loves being outside!), so that he starts linking this activity to experiences he enjoys. We have talked about making carpet time fun in the garden, or places like the park, by asking him to take a favourite book and making the story as interactive as they can! Books such as ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’ are brilliant for this!

If you’re practicing speech and language targets over the summer holidays with your children, try to make them as fun and informal as you can! We all learn best when we’re enjoying something!

We hope you have a great summer holidays and look forward to seeing you in September!

The Team @ Communicate! 🙂

Another Great SEND Show!

On Monday 19th June, two of our therapists, Hannah and Zoe, attended the 3rd East Region SEND Show run by AcornTree Psychology and Consultancy Services. We had a great day, meeting lots of new faces, as well as catching up with others!

IMG_2878

Hannah delivered a jam-packed 45 minute talk to an enthusiastic group of delegates. The talk, “Why did you do that?” Exploring the Link Between Behaviour and SLCN, looked at why children with SLCN may also have difficulties with behaviour, social and emotional development. The session was very interactive, allowing everyone to share their thoughts on what a child’s behaviour may look like if they have difficulties with various areas of speech, language and communication, across a range of ages.

IMG_2886

We were very impressed by Mighty Writer who attended on the day, giving us a demonstration of their brand new resource! Mighty Writer transforms the way children learn to write – enabling children of all ages and abilities to become independent, confident and capable writers. It simplifies the traditionally complex process of learning to write. It does so in a manner that inspires children of all abilities; nurturing the skills of speech, story planning and writing. Although it is set up for writing, we think it would also be great to develop all sorts of verbal language skills!

Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 16.45.52

Thank you to AcornTree PCS for organising another great day and we look forward to attending next year! (Oh, and so do Francis and Fred!)

IMG_2898

The Team @ Communicate! 🙂

Communicate Excellence Award

Without the support from Teacher’s, Teaching Assistant’s and other education staff, the children we work with wouldn’t make nearly as much progress as they do! Because of this, we like to recognise the wonderful staff we are working with and a few years ago, we created the ‘Communicate Excellence’ award to demonstrate this recognition! Our team of therapists nominate staff members throughout the academic year and each term, we announce our termly winner! The winner is presented with a certificate, a voucher to use towards our training courses, as well as a fun prize! Here are some of our winners so far…

  • Karen Canham! “For always having such a positive and inspirational attitude towards all her work. She continues to support and develop the people around her about SLCN. She conscientiously takes on any challenge given to her and puts 17457907_1408789012497668_4208944882736013508_n100% of thought and effort into working with the children. Without Karen lots of children would not be progressing so well and becoming such confident communicators. Additionally, she always looks after me and others within the school SLT team and has the flexibility and kindness to help out with other SLCN interventions when needed.”

 

  • Emily Last! “Since 2013, Emily has been part of supporting the children with SLCN with COMMUNICATE. She has been involved with identifying appropriate children, running groups, working with individuals, supporting me as a therapis17637065_1408790665830836_7262352265788126988_ot, and making me feel welcome. She is always keen to learn more and has attended some of COMMUNICATE’s training. It is lovely working with someone who is so enthusiastic about Speech and Language Therapy, which results in improved outcomes from the children!

     

  • Mel Thomas! “In September 2015 we began implementing the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) with the young man Mel was supporting. She embraced it from the start and worked so hard to get the student using PECS on
    a daily basis, even spending hours of her own time making him his o17626240_1408790802497489_1522309174705688519_nwn PECS folder. The student now has an effective way of expressing himself thanks to Mel and the
    other staff in the class. I’m really grateful for Mel’s enthusiasm, and her dedication to the students she works with!”

 

  • Ruth Hatcher! “Ruth is The Early Years Lead and the Teacher of Ducklings, one of the Reception classes at Piper’s Vale. Ruth is an absolute joy to work with an17621788_1408789545830948_5150544652084235095_od has made me feel very much part of the Early Years Team. Collaboratively, we have provided “No Pens” days, as well as weekly Makaton sessions that work alongside the curriculum. Ruth is always keen to support the children on their speech and language targets within the classroom and actively seeks to make speech and language targets part of her classroom teaching!”

 

  • Donna Dowsing! “Donna works incredibly hard with all the children w17553835_1408790689164167_6325235737719068992_nith speech and language difficulties in her class. She only needs to be shown something once and then she carries out the therapy tasks and supports the children in cla
    ss and 1:1. She is bubbly and fun and the children love to work with her. She is a real asset to the school and to the children!”

 

 

With the summer term nominations now rolling in, be sure to look out for our next winner soon!

The Team @ Communicate! 🙂

Eggcellent Easter Time!

It’s the Easter holidays, which means trees are colourful, flowers are blooming and birds are chirping away (oh, and there’s also lots of cake and chocolate about!). This is a great time of year to engage all 5 of your child’s senses! We have come up with some ideas for developing speech and language skills through the senses, all whilst being outside!

  • Hearing! Create a list or collect some pictures of lots of things you might hear outside at this time of year. For example birds chirping, children playing outside, people mowing their lawn and sheep bleating. Then, go for a spring walk with your list, and ask your child to tell you when they can hear one of the sounds on the list. This is a great way of developing your child’s general listening skills and is fun and easy for everyone!
  • Seeing! There are endless questions you could ask your child about springtime outside. Work on developing their understanding of a range of questions by asking things like “what colour is this flower?”, “where is the sheep?”, “when can we fly a kite?”, “how many different colours of flowers can you see?”, “which tree is the tallest?”.
  • Smelling! There are all sorts of smells in the air at this time of year. Some of the best things to smell during Spring are flowers, garden soil, freshly cut grass and worms! Talk to your child about these smells, ask them whether they like the smell or not. Make a list of smells they do and don’t like! Something else that starts to be in the air at this time of year is the smell of barbecues, mmmm!
  • Touching! Time to get muddy! Get out in the garden and do some gardening together. Let your child get mucky fingers from the mud and touch worms! Make mud cakes and act out being bakers in a shop, which is full of language opportunities! Also, feel the rain on your face and the wind push against you!
  • Tasting! The yummy part! When the sun is out, find an ice cream van! Talk to your child about their ice cream, using descriptive words like cold, tasty, big! Ask them how it feels on their tongue and teeth! As well as ice creams, we’re sure you’ll be eating Easter Eggs too! These are also great for talking about different language concepts, such as “you’ve eaten half of the egg”, or in our case “the easter eggs have all gone!”

We hope you all enjoy the Easter break and have nice weather!

The Team @ Communicate  🙂

The Wonderful World of Instagram!

The team at Communicate are now on Instagram, and WOW, it’s amazing! It’s a goldmine of inspiring ideas and fantastic tips from enthusiastic therapists and educational staff, who we can tell love their jobs as much as us!

We know that as therapists, if we ourselves become bored of resources, it’s very likely that the children will too! So, every time we look on our newsfeed, we see some amazing, new therapy ideas which re-inspire us to get creative and keep our little ones motivated!

Although we have already got so many ideas from many of the accounts we are following on Instagram (thank you!!), we have been in touch with 5 of the favourite pages we follow to check we can share their pages with you. Whether you’re a Speech and Language Therapist, someone working in a nursery/school or a parent/carer, these pages will give you some amazing ideas!

  • The SLT Scrapbook! We love following this UK based page! The ideas Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 09.21.42that are shared on here not only look great for therapy, but also look great with their creative and colourful posts! The resources shared are low prep, so they can be great for last minute planning or passing on ideas to parents. The SLT Scrapbook also share inspiring quotes and facts which help get us through tough days! https://www.instagram.com/thesltscrapbook
  • Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 09.22.02speech_materialgirl! Wow! We love the ideas and resources shared on this page, especially the little flip books which have been made to work on all sorts of speech, language and communication skills, such as speech sounds, adjectives, ‘wh’ questions, categories and so on! As well as photos, they also share little video clips of their resources being used which is great. https://www.instagram.com/speech_materialgirl
  • Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 21.18.12monaesspeechhouse! This page provides so many fun activities using everyday games such as the Orchard Toys games which are great for therapy, in more ways than imaginable! The regular ‘SLP TIPS 101’ posts have provided us with some alternative ideas to our practice. For example, we loved the idea of using stamps to stamp the children’s hands and remind them to use their specific sounds throughout their day! We’ve tried this and the children love it (more so than a sticker!!). https://www.instagram.com/monaesspeechhouse
  • adventuresinslp! Rebecca is an Australian SLP sharing fantastic ideas Screen Shot 2017-03-11 at 16.48.21and adventures! As well as all the therapy ideas (especially the silly sentence activities!), we love the posts showing us this SLP’s adventures around the world! There’s also some cute ideas for using finger puppets to elicit sounds. Plus, Rebecca studied part of her Speech and Language Degree in the UK!
    https://www.instagram.com/adventuresinslp
  • phoneticspeak! This page is a great way of staying fresh with all Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 21.26.11things phonetics! Every post and picture provides quotes using phonetic transcription. This is one of our favourites, can you work out what it says…..? /aɪ wɒnə biː ə ʃwɑː ɪts nevə strest/. https://www.instagram.com/phoneticspeak

Be sure to check out some of these pages which we’re sure will inspire you as much as us. You can also follow our page to keep up to date with what the team are doing! (https://www.instagram.com/communicate_slt).

The Team @ Communicate! 🙂

Meet our Students!

We have two Speech and Language Therapy Students working with us throughout the Spring Term. They are completing their final placements from the University of East Anglia, before graduating to become Speech and Language Therapists! During this placement, they are visiting a number of settings with various members of our team.

We wanted to get to know our students a little better, so we’ve asked them a few questions! Meet Kate and Carissa….

screen-shot-2017-02-07-at-17-01-27Kate

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

I’ve always enjoyed working with people and so when I first heard about SLT I was really excited to get to learn about a variety of different client groups. I was also excited to study a course at uni that was constantly different and challenging.

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

I wasn’t aware that SLT’s helped with swallowing difficulties! It’s not obvious in the title ‘Speech and Language Therapist’!!

  • What other placement experiences have you had?

My placement last year was in an acute stroke and near unit in a hospital. This was a great experience and I really enjoyed putting my theory of adult communication difficulties into practice. I have also spent a few days in a Specialist Resource Base.

  • What are you enjoying most about your placement with Communicate?

I’m enjoying the variety of opportunities, from running individual therapy to a variety of groups. I’ve also been loving making and designing resources to use in therapy sessions, remembering to make them engaging and appropriate for the different levels of the children I’m working with.

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

I’m still working it out! I’m thoroughly enjoying working in paediatrics on my current placement, so I most likely see myself in this area but still remain open minded.

screen-shot-2017-02-09-at-13-12-00Carissa

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

Since a very young age, I’ve always known that I wanted to be in a profession which involves helping people. When I was eight years old, my best friend required Speech and Language Therapy input for both communication and swallowing in an Intensive Care Unit of a hospital. My interest in Speech and Language Therapy grew from seeing the amazing work that they did to help my friend communicate, despite paralysis and initially not being able to use her voice at all.

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

I never realised the extent to which Speech and Language Therapists can be involved with swallowing difficulties (dysphagia) following our dysphagia training. During my second year placement in a hospital, the majority of my educators caseload were made up of dysphagia patients.

I had also never considered the role of a Speech and Language Therapist with tracheostomy care, until I saw SLT input with a patient with tracheostomy on placement. Following this we also had a lecture on the subject.

  • What other placement experiences have you had?

In my first year of university, I visited a man who’d had a stroke, leaving him with some language difficulties, or aphasia. His aphasia mostly presented as word-finding difficulties. We would have a chat for an hour a week and support our conversations with props, such as photographs, alphabet charts and maps, to aid his word-finding difficulties.

In my second year of university, I had an eight week adult block placement in a hospital. I was able to gain experience in many different settings within the hospital, including the acute stroke ward, head and neck clinic, voice clinic, video fluoroscopy clinic (x-ray of the swallow) and I also ventured into the community one afternoon a week to attend a stroke communication group.

  • What are you enjoying most about your placement with Communicate?

I am enjoying everything about my placement with Communicate! It’s great to be getting such a range of experiences, from working with children of reception age to high school age. I have also been given the opportunity to carry out both individual and group therapy sessions, as well as a range of assessments. I am definitely learning something new or consolidating my learning every day and I couldn’t ask for a better placement with a better or more supportive team!

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

At this stage I am very open minded, as I have enjoyed all areas of Speech and Language Therapy that I have experienced and learnt about…so I can’t decide!

 

We are really enjoying having both students with us and sharing our passion for Speech and Language Therapy!

The Team @ Communicate! 🙂

Communicake!

We are excited to be running another Communicake Group on the 20th February 2017! Our last group was great fun and the parents and children who attended found it both enjoyable and helpful.

Below are 5 reasons why you should attend our next group!

  • It’s free to attend! The group is free to attend and you can come at any time between 1pm and 2.30pm. It’s a laid-back, friendly group and we promise there will be cake!
  • We have a taster session from Moo Music! Moo Music is a fun interactive music session which is enjoyed by babies, toddlers and active pre-schoolers, as well as parscreen-shot-2017-01-26-at-14-44-11ents and caregivers. Music is an essential part of every child’s development and the 100+ original Moo Music songs used at the sessions are positive, uplifting, fun and educational. The interactive sessions will help your child gain confidence an
    d develop memory, language and coordination skills in an exciting, enjoyable and multi-sensory way. This will take place around 1.45pm! Visit www.moo-music.co.uk/areas/sdnm to find out more about them!
  • Great opportunity for you to discuss any concerns you may have about your child’s speech and language development! There will be a number of our therapists at the group so you can discuss any concerns you may have with regards to speech and lanscreen-shot-2017-01-18-at-16-23-36guage development. We can give advice or demonstrate activities which may support your child.
  • Language enriching activities! We are setting up lots of language enriching activities to support speech and language development, and this time with a pirate theme!
  • Make friends! As the group is fun and friendly, your little ones have the opportunity to make friends, as well as you. You can participate in the activities with your children, or sit back and talk with other parents and our team, whilst your little one plays.

We look forward to seeing you on the 20th February, 1-2.30pm, at our clinic:

4 Stable Yard, Moat Farm, Middlewood Green, IP14 5HG.

The Team @ Communicate 🙂

communicake-group-flyer-feb-2017-pdf