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.

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  • 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! 🙂

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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 🙂

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!

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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.

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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!

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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!)

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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! 🙂