Category Archives: Inspiration

Thinking about time and my intentions for 2017; get moving and get outside

Movement Matters

My partner has taken the kids out for a walk, so I have time to sit down and write this blog post. I’m reflecting on time. What do I want to use my time for? How can I use my time in a way that serves my purpose?

I haven’t written anything here on the blog for 4 months. I enjoy using writing as a tool for reflection, and ‘blog regularly’ features on my Goals for 2017 list. I meant to write earlier in the year about my intentions for my practice in 2017, but I didn’t make the time. I have two children, the youngest just 6 months old: quiet time to concentrate is rare. But I don’t want to think about time with a scarcity mindset, and I don’t want to live my life that way, rushing from one thing to another, frantically trying to do everything. That’s not connecting with my power. Continue reading

How do you measure the success of your therapy business?

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A discussion with a therapist friend prompted me to think about how we measure the success of our independent therapy practices. There seems to be a tacit assumption, here in the UK, that as independent therapists we’re aiming to grow our practices, hire a team of therapists, and that more (employees and clients) is best. Continue reading

Homemade therapy resources: Toilet roll Octopuses

Painted toilet rolls

One of my goals for 2016 is to make as many therapy resources as possible. I’m trying to spend more time rummaging through the recycling box and less time browsing on Amazon. I want to keep my clients interested, so I need a variety of materials. Continue reading

Speech and Language Therapy and Professional Identity

Cover of J Stokes book

In the conclusion to their book, Jane Stokes and Marian McCormick wrote that they hope it makes you think “Hmmm…” – it certainly does.

As Jane and Marion designed the curriculum for a new postgraduate course in speech and language therapy they collected stories, and then wrote this book to add to the conversation about issues that underlie the SLT profession. The book has 10 chapters, 5 written by Jane and Marian, and 5 contributed by other people. It raises challenging questions and explicitly invites the reader to examine their professional beliefs. Continue reading

Using music to engage children with Autism: tips, techniques and resources

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I recently attended a workshop at The Music House for Children on introducing musical learning to children with Autism. I was energised and inspired by the session and left with several practical ideas I’m keen to try out. The workshop was led by Kirsty Keogh, it was refreshing to hear from a professional outside of speech therapy. Kirsty is experienced at working with children and young people with Autism, I could see from the videos examples how well the children responded to her. Continue reading

Improvising when a haircut doesn’t go to plan

"Cutting" with Toca Hair Salon

Last week I had what I thought was a winning therapy idea, when it didn’t pan out I had to improvise.

Two of my kiddies are working on verbs and we’d been practising “cutting.” I’m targeting /sn/ clusters (“snip!”) with another child. I was inspired by some recycled packing materials to try a hair cutting activity.

I drew faces on paper and taped wavy, strings of cardboard packing stuff on for hair, it looked great. I handed a pair of children’s scissors to the girl working on “snip” and she gave it a good go. But the scissors were too small and not sharp enough to cut the “hair” – oh dear. We started snipping other bits of paper, and then rapidly moved on to sticking things on to a picture of a “snail.” For the two boys working on “cutting” it was Toca Hair Salon to the rescue – phew.

Therapy is all about improvising: therapy sessions rarely go exactly to plan. We can’t follow a recipe, instead we spontaneously make communication opportunities from whatever is available, and teach parents to do the same.

Being the client: knowing what to expect and listening to my gut

The tiniest member of the Therapy Ideas teamThis is the first time I’ve blogged since I had a baby 8 weeks ago. I’m delighted to be sharing my life with this tiny person, although he sure does change the landscape of my days. Spare moments are scarce, when I find them, I hop into bed for a nap!

I’ve been told by parents I’ve worked with that I didn’t understand particular things because I didn’t have children. In my foggy mental state I’ve reflected on a few things I’ve learnt as a new parent.

I’ve realised how dedicated some parents are. I’ve known families come to therapy sessions with their older child when their new baby was just days old. In those first few weeks I called it a successful day if I could shower and comb my hair. These families had a legitimate reason for cancelling sessions but they didn’t: they came along, took part, and supported their older child. Wow.  Continue reading

Teach Me With Pictures: pictures scripts for children on the Autism Spectrum

Teach Me With Pictures

A friend has published a practical resource for developing play and communication skills in children on the Autism Spectrum. Ruth Harris, along with two colleagues, has written Teach Me with Pictures. It’s a book of picture scripts that are ready to use – you can photocopy them or print them from a CD-ROM. Ruth has been working on the book for a while; she spoke about it at the initial Therapy Ideas Live event back in July 2011. Congratulations Ruth, Simone and Linda, it’s wonderful!

The book begins with an introductory chapter, explaining what picture scripts are, their benefits and how to use them. Continue reading

Speech therapists can learn about collaboration, facilitation and leadership skills from other disciplines

Rhiannan impro workshop dareconf

At a recent study day (Child Talk What Works consensus event) I heard Dawn Smith, Healthcare Professionals Advisor, talk about commissioning SLT services. She suggested we tell stories about the impact our services have, with compelling headlines and concise evidence. She talked about the importance of making “effective relationships … across increasingly complex systems” and said that the services thriving under the new commissioning arrangements have “transformational leaders.” It was an interesting talk. Continue reading

Ageing with autism and managing expectations in therapy

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On Wednesday evening I attended the National Autistic Society’s Ageing and Autism launch event. Francesca Happé talked about the huge gaps in the research, and outlined the things we don’t know about what happens when people with autism age. As autism was first used as a diagnostic label in 1943, the children diagnosed then are now approaching their 60s and 70s.

Saskia Baron’s brother Timothy, was one of these children. In 1961 he was diagnosed with “Childhood Psychosis” which later became known as Autism Spectrum Disorder. He is now 57 years old. Saskia talked movingly about growing up with a sibling with autism, and her worries about Timothy’s future. She described how difficult it is for Timothy to let people know when he is unhappy or in pain. More positively, she talked about how she’s observed that Timothy is still able to learn new skills. Saskia agrees that early intervention is important, however, she feels it’s not justified to remove therapeutic resources in late childhood or early adulthood, as the door to learning is still open.

My clients with autism are between 3 and 6 years old, they’ll be approaching old age in 60 years! Saskia’s presentation made me think about two things, how can I support the siblings of my clients? And how can I teach my clients ways to express their pain?

This week I also had a wonderful conversation with Keena Cummins. I’m using her VERVE technique with several families and was thinking about how to manage parents’ expectations. All the children have been making great progress due to the efforts of their skilled and perceptive parents, yet these parents often express frustration that their children aren’t using more words. Keena suggested I’m clear about what I want parents to focus on:

 “During these therapy sessions I want you to focus on his playing, I’ll worry about his talking. I want you to think about how you’re supporting him to play, explore the toys, and try out his ideas. We’ll be thinking about his words later.”

This makes sense to me, I’ll try it out this week.