How SBT helps people with developmental language disorder (DLD)

Speech Therapist Helps The Girl How To Pronounce The Sounds

Here at SBT, we are very passionate about providing the best support possible to children with developmental language disorder (DLD). DLD is a condition that affects 7.6% of children – two pupils in every class of 30 – in which they find it difficult to understand or use language, with no outlined cause and no other biomedical condition present, such as a hearing impairment or autism spectrum disorder.

Without a specialist understanding, DLD can be mistaken for autism spectrum disorder, as they both result in delays to the development of language and difficulties in understanding higher-level language such as idioms. It can also commonly be mistaken for behavioural difficulties, because children with DLD often find it difficult to follow instructions and to respond appropriately to questions.

These and other difficulties in identifying DLD can significantly affect a child’s experiences at school, as well as the building of healthy relationships with their peers and staff.

The role of Speech and Language Therapists

Speech and Language Therapists are trained to assess, diagnose and provide bespoke support for children with DLD. We:

  • Provide targeted activities and programmes to develop their language skills.
  • Create learning strategies to support their language needs.
  • Educate and empower teaching staff to tailor their own language and the curriculum for them.
  • Provide helpful strategies for families to best support their children’s language development.

What SBT does

  • Follow best practice: We follow regular and current evidence-based guidance from professional bodies such as the RCSLT.
  • Research and evaluation: We conduct personal clinical research and clinical evaluation regarding assessments and interventions with children with DLD.
  • Clinical supervision: We participate in clinical supervisions, where we discuss cases involving DLD.
  • Share best practice: We regularly hold staff meetings where we raise and discuss general enquiries about language disorders. We also share best practice with one another.
  • Training: We frequently receive in-house and external training, to develop and refine the support we can give children with DLD.
  • Campaign: We encourage active involvement in campaigns such as #devlangdis and #DLDandMe to help spread awareness of DLD.

SBT is committed to providing positive outcomes for children with DLD and their families. Knowledge is power! We will therefore continue to use our ever-growing, combined knowledge to support this area of our work.

The SBT Summer Term newsletter is now available

In the sixth edition of our newsletter we have all of this in store for you:

  • The launch of the 2019-2020 SBT Student Grants scheme
  • Canadian student Alison writes about her placement with us
  • Upcoming training
  • What we did for the RCSLT and ICAN #PhotoChallenge

You can read all of that in the newsletter above or download it as a PDF.

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The SBT Spring 2 2019 newsletter is now available

In the fifth edition of our newsletter we have all of this in store for you:

  • SBT team updates
  • Gemma writes about her Speech and Language Therapy student placement
  • Upcoming training
  • Feedback from our Work Experience workshop

You can read all of that in the newsletter above or download it as a PDF.

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The SBT Spring 2019 newsletter is now available

In the fourth edition of our newsletter we have all of this in store for you:

  • Meet the team members who have joined us in 2019
  • Find out what our recent clients think about our clinic services
  • Olivia Walker writes about The Zones of Regulation
  • Communication Boosters: feedback and upcoming training opportunities

You can read all of that in the newsletter above or download it as a PDF.

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The SBT Winter 2018 newsletter is now available

In the third edition of our newsletter we have all of this in store for you:

  • Find out about our 2018 student grant winners
  • Meet the team: meet our new team members and Shivani Lad, Speech and Language Therapist (SLT), who talks to us about her experience of working at SBT
  • Lucy Pollard (SLT) writes about speech and language difficulties in toddlers
  • Communication Boosters: training opportunities for prospective students, those entering the speech and language world and educational staff

You can read all of that in the newsletter above or download it as a PDF.

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Bercow: Ten Years On by Rosey White

In March, I CAN (the children’s communication charity) and The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (the professional body for speech and language therapists in the UK) published Bercow: 10 Years On – a review of support for children with speech, language and communication needs in England. This report is a follow-up from the original Bercow Report: A review of Services for Children and Young people (0-19), which was released in 2008. The 2018 report outlines current provision for children with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) across England.

NAPLIC Conference 2018
Sophie and Shivani at the NAPLIC Conference 2018

It highlights positive and negative changes to the way children with SLCN have been supported since the initial review.

The report is organised into five key themes and gives recommendations within each theme:

  • Communication is crucial;
  • A strategy for system change;
  • An accessible and equitable service for all families;
  • Support that makes an impact; and
  • Early identification and intervention are essential.

Although the report discusses some positive changes that have been implemented since the original Bercow report, it also serves to highlight just how far we have to go before we can claim that, as a nation, we providing adequate levels of support for children with SLCN and their families. So what now? Get people talking about Bercow: Ten Years On!

Visit for some great ideas for starting discussion in your workplace or network. Also on this website is a link for you to sign the petition which calls on the government to implement recommendations and for MP’s to support the findings from the review.

For more information on Bercow: 10 years on,
visit or search #Bercow10. For further information on I CAN and their work, visit or follow on Twitter @icancharity For further information on RCSLT visit

Supervision – What’s it all about? by Hannah Sullivan


Most of us will have experienced some form of supervision within our studies or career, or maybe even had the responsibility for supervising others. These arrangements may have been structured or they may have been more informal and developed organically. Within the team at Sarah Buckley Therapies Ltd. we hold supervision in high regard and strive to deliver quality supervision for all our staff.

What is supervision?

The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) defines supervision as ‘the formal arrangement that enables you to discuss your work regularly with someone who is experienced and qualified’ (November 2017).
This type of supervision can be referred to as ‘Professional supervision’ or ‘Clinical supervision’. This sits separately from any kind of managerial supervision or line management. Professional supervision provides ring-fenced time to focus on the needs of the therapist. Sessions can cover a range of topics from specific client queries, supporting decision making as well as promoting staff wellbeing.

Supervision may take the form of:
• One to one sessions: therapists discuss their work with ‘someone who is experienced and qualified’ (2017).
• Group supervision: multiple therapists discuss their work with one identified supervisor.
• Peer supervision: therapists meet to discuss their work with each other with no, one therapist taking the role of formal supervisor.
With all three types of supervision these can be conducted face to face, on the phone or through other modes such as skype.

How does it benefit me?

As a therapist the value of regular, quality supervision is huge. Here are just a few benefits to therapists:

• Supervision provides a non-judgemental environment in which to encourage reflective practice. It provides regular opportunities to celebrate achievements and jointly problem solve potential issues.
• It is an opportunity to develop skills and increase confidence engaging in multi-disciplinary working and managing novel situations.
• It provides a supportive role in enabling therapists to link theory with practice and draw on evidence based practice.

With these benefits it is not surprising to learn that ‘supervision has been associated with higher levels of job satisfaction, improved retention, reduced turnover and staff effectiveness’ (November 2017)

As well as these benefits supervision is also pivotal to an individuals continuing professional development and therefore adhering to HCPC standards.


Whilst the RCSLT continues to promote the importance and value of supervision, I think its fair to say a number of misconceptions still exist.

“My time is better spent with clients”: As is often the case there is never enough time in the day to complete all the things we want to do and therefore we have to prioritise tasks. Whilst some may feel their time is best spent face-to-face with clients the RCSLT point out ‘Supervision is important to service user safety. This has been highlighted in a number of recent health service reviews, for example, the Winterbourne View Hospital final report’

“I am an experienced therapist, I don’t need supervising”: Whilst ‘on the job’ experience will provide therapists with the confidence and skills to work with a range of clients it is crucial that as clinicians we continue to take time to review our practice in order to continue to develop our skills. The RCSLT state ‘Supervision is essential as a place for exploring personal and emotional reactions to work. These occur regardless of levels of experience or length of time working’.

“As a newly qualified practitioner (NQP) I am worried about working for an independent organisation as they might not have a the level of supervision I need”: Whenever you are looking to take a new position always ask about the organisations professional support arrangements. It is important to seek clarification as to how a company organises its supervision and such questions will give you an insight into the supervision culture. The RCSLT recommend that NQP’s receive professional supervision from an HCPC-registered SLT who has certified membership of RCSLT in accordance with best practice guidance.

It is fair to say supervision is ‘an essential part of good professional practice’ (CQC) which is why the team at Sarah Buckley Therapies continues to review and invest in high quality supervision for all its team members.

Hannah Sullivan
Speech and Language Therapist

‘Information on Supervision’ (2017) RCSLT
‘Supervision: Information for Speech and Language Therapists’ (2017) RCSLT
Supporting information and guidance: Supporting effective clinical supervision (2013) Care Quality Commission

LEGO® Therapy by Danielle O’Sullivan

LEGO® is an incredibly popular toy with children all over the world. It is also a fantastic learning tool particularly for children with autism who are often motivated by this fun, systematic construction toy. LEGO® therapy is a therapeutic approach for children with autism and related social communication difficulties which utilises their interest in this toy to help them develop social skills.

How does LEGO® therapy work?

A group of 3 children work together to build a LEGO® project.

Each child takes on a different role:

  • Engineer – oversees the design and makes sure it is followed
  • Supplier – finds the bricks requested by the engineer  and gives them to the builder
  • Builder – positions the bricks as instructed by the engineer.

LEGO® therapy groups also have an adult facilitator whose role is to keep the children focused and on-task, help resolve conflicts, encourage positive interactions and prompt the children when needed

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Idioms – your guess is as good as mine by Shelley Parkin

idiom: a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words (e.g. over the moonsee the light).

A group of words which have a different meaning when used together from the one they would have if you took the meaning of each word separately.

The world of idioms can certainly be a minefield for some individuals- those with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), pragmatic language difficulties and Developmental Language Disorders in particular, can find themselves in the dark over it. It’s a topic I often hear mentioned to describe the challenges faced by individuals with ASD, e.g. ‘A person with Autism may take “bite your head off” quite literally and become frightened.’ In my personal experience, I haven’t yet met anyone who has taken those more extreme idioms literally, but I’ve certainly come across many children who find certain idioms a pain in the neck to decipher!

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Speech and language difficulties in toddlers by Lucy Pollard

Speech and language difficulties in toddlers.

Here at Sarah Buckley Therapies we often get calls from parents of young children (age 3 and under) who have concerns about their child’s speech and language development. Sometimes parents are concerned that it is difficult to understand what their child is saying. Sometimes they are concerned that their child doesn’t talk at all, or talks less than children of the same age.

So what is the best option with these toddlers? At ages 3 and under, there’s a huge difference in children’s language abilities. Some children take a little longer than others to learn how to talk. Lots will catch up with their peers without the need for speech and language therapy.  Some won’t catch up by themselves, and will need to be seen by a speech and language therapist to help them overcome their difficulties. With toddlers, it’s not always easy to tell which will be which! But that doesn’t mean you should do nothing.

One of the best ways parents can support their child’s language development is to put aside at least 10 minutes for special talking time every day. During this time it’s good to:

  • Minimise distractions (turn off screens, reduce background noise).
  • Get down on your child’s level.
  • Let your child decide what to play with and their lead.
  • Comment on their play using short, simple sentences, e.g. ‘Carla is building’; ‘building bricks’; ‘brick on’; ‘brick off’; ‘big brick’; ‘red brick’; ‘mummy is building’; ‘up, up, up’; ‘bricks fell down’.
  • Use comments rather than questions, e.g. ‘red brick’ rather than ‘what colour is this?’ This will really help your child to match the words to the object.
  • Repeat, repeat, repeat those words! Some children need a bit more practice hearing new words than others in order to learn them.
  • Don’t worry about being quiet too! Sometimes when children are slow to talk it’s natural to fill in the gaps. But by leaving those gaps empty, we give the child lots of opportunity to talk.
  • If the child makes mistakes in their talking, don’t correct them. Instead, you can model the correct version, e.g. if they say ‘tat’, you can say ‘yes, it’s a cat’.

Continue reading “Speech and language difficulties in toddlers by Lucy Pollard”