It’s March 2020. As I write this, the coronavirus is affecting the entire globe. Schools in the UK are poised to close to all children, except those who are the most vulnerable, or who have parents who are key workers.
Many families are self-isolating already. Nearly every single family in the UK is facing the prospect of educating their children at home as of this week.
When I am at the school gates waiting to pick up my own children, I am hearing so much anxiety from parents and carers. Some people are already off and grappling with getting their children to do their maths work. They say that it is… a challenge.
Parents and carers of children with speech, language and communication needs may find this challenge is even greater. So here are some top tips on how to support your child’s engagement in learning activities.
As vice-chair, Sarah will be involved in many strategic aspects of ASLTIP, including helping to develop ASLTIP’s strategic plan with the chair, providing input into and reviewing its business development plan, helping the chair to deliver the ASLTIP Uni Tour, and assisting in the organisation of local groups’ national study and collaborative partnership day.
ASLTIP provides information and a contact point for members of the public searching for a private speech and language therapists. For its members, ASLTIP provides support and information on working as a independent speech and language therapist in the UK.
Two SBT SLTs, Michelle and Rochelle, are both conducting studies for their Master’s Degrees at the moment, with the support of SBT, and we have just started a collaboration with Abbie Moran, an SLT and PhD student at City University.
Abbie’s PhD study is investigating the impact of DLD on working memory development in six to 10 year olds. She is hoping to recruit 80 children with DLD and to compare them to 80 typically developing children. So far, she has tested around 30 children with DLD, but is hoping to recruit more – something with which SBT is helping her.
Abbie had a student placement with SBT seven years ago and it’s great to be working with her again.
But this summer we’ll be welcoming some ‘new Abbies’, as we’ll be taking a group of UCL undergraduates on placement. They’ll get to practise assessment, observation, Year 6 transition and discharge, review and discharge, creating therapy target outcomes, and working with resources.
We’re looking forward to hosting them – and maybe helping them with their own PhDs in seven years’ time!
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 past few weeks have seen SBT’s staff going on several training courses. Catherine attended a two-day course for SLTs on how to run fluency groups using the Swindon model at The Swindon Centre at the end of October. We’re very much looking forward to Catherine sharing what she’s learnt with the team!
Meanwhile, last week, Sally, Rochelle and Michelle attended a course on Shape Coding in Oxted.
Says Michelle: “The Shape Coding Course was a very interesting and engaging learning experience. The course captured many different ways that language disorders present and the variety of ways that the Shape Coding system can help to provide effective support. It was also very interactive; we had many opportunities to have a go at working with the Shape Coding system ourselves. I feel a lot more empowered to incorporate this area of intervention into my caseload, going forward.”
During Half Term, Sarah Buckley delivered another of SBT’s Work Experience workshops. These are designed to help you decide whether a career in speech and language therapy is right for you and increase your readiness to undertake training to become a speech and language therapist.
The response was great, with feedback including “Very informative and enjoyable,” “This has confirmed that this is the career I want,” and “I enjoyed the workshop and look forward to shadowing.”
We’re looking forward to attendees returning to shadow some of our therapists action and to put into practice what they learnt at the workshop.
A huge congratulations to this year’s recipients of our Student Grants! Thanks to everyone who applied – it was a tough choice.
Each year, we award one major grant of £1,000 and five minor grants of £100 each. Practice manager Sarah Buckley says: “We’re thrilled to be able to offer SLT students this opportunity and are eager to continue supporting students in various ways, at all stages of their journey.”
Here are some of the highlights of their applications:
Major grant recipient
M (name withheld on request)
‘My goal for the profession is to diversity the workforce. An ethnically diverse workforce is able to identify closely with a client’s cultural needs and norms and create and deliver assessments with a greater understanding of cultural biases’
Minor grant recipients
‘As Speech and Language Therapists, we face many obstacles, but I believe the biggest challenge we face is a lack of understanding of what we do and why.’
‘[One of the] biggest challenges that Speech and Language Therapist (SLTs) face in the UK is a lack of awareness in the general public… [I] feel that some of this is because Speech and Language Therapy is a comparatively new profession’
‘Early identification [is important]… Support for teachers in primary and secondary schools [is needed] to help identify and support children with speech, language and communication needs’
‘[One of the biggest issues is] a lack of public awareness about Speech and Language’
‘The biggest challenge SLTs face in the UK today is a lack of funding. Cuts in funding have the potential to diminish the personal, social, educational, occupational and financial outcomes of vulnerable individuals’