Category Archives: Parents

Becoming Independent: Ways of working and scheduling

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To finish this series on Becoming Independent I’m going to write about two challenges I have: resisting doing things the way I always did them in the NHS and scheduling clients.

When I started working independently I kept asking myself: am I doing this because it meets my client’s needs or because this is the way I’ve always done it? Continue reading

Becoming Independent: how to promote an independent SLT practice

Therapy setup

People have asked me how I advertise my practice. When I ask clients how they found me about half say someone they know recommended me. Some tell me they found me via the ASLTIP directory, and the rest searched google and found my website.

Encourage Personal Recommendations

Happy clients tell their friends! I’ve worked with a former client’s next door neighbour, been contacted by a woman who said her sister’s friend suggested me, and had parents recommended me to their child’s classmates. Continue reading

Raising Awareness of Language Learning Impairments at The House of Commons

RALLi group shot

A few weeks back I found myself listening to inspiring speakers at The House of Commons. These speakers weren’t politicians or the academics who’d invited me, they were children, young people and adults with language impairments. The event was celebrating 2 years of the RALLI campaign, which aims to raise public awareness of what language learning impairments are, how to identify them and how to support people who have them. Continue reading

I’m Ready – How to Prepare Your Child for Reading Success

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The folks at The Hanen Centre kindly sent me a copy of I’m Ready – How to Prepare Your Child for Reading Success and asked me what I thought. Here in the UK advice about how to support literacy skills seems to change frequently, so I was interested to see what Janice Greenberg and Elaine Weitzman suggest.

The book has 6 chapters: Early Literacy, Conversation, Vocabulary, Story Comprehension, Print Knowledge and Sound Awareness. It’s visually appealing; the text is broken up by photographs and drawings. I read it over several days and found it easy to pick up where I’d left off. There’s a comprehensive list of recommended children’s books, coded in terms of how they can be used to support literacy. I think the ‘Try it out!’ checklists and reflection questions look useful. Continue reading

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

Online Picture Resources for making Therapy Visual

Making a Visual TimetableWhen I started my independent practice I needed the equipment to make visual resources (picture cards for speech sound work, verb pictures for posting and fishing, and colouring sheets to target comprehension.) I researched the symbol writing software I’d used in the NHS; I found it wouldn’t work on my Apple iMac and it cost £100. It was time to look at the alternatives. Continue reading

What influences progress in therapy?

Therapy setup

When I caught up with my former NHS colleagues recently, they asked me how my independent practice was going. I commented that I’d never seen children make as much progress. We started unpicking possible reasons for this rapid progress, was it that:

  • I see the children once a week on an ongoing basis? Or
  • The parents are particularly engaged because they’re paying for the service? Or
  • I’m able to tailor therapy to a child’s particular needs? Or
  • A combination of all three factors? Something else entirely? 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

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.

My favourite therapy prop: a 20 year old toy dog

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Last week was Speech Pathology Australia Week & talk on twitter turned to favourite toys for therapy. I love toys that can be used to work on several different targets. Meet Dog, he’s one of my favourites because he’s so versatile, and the children love him! Wikipedia tells me that Pound Puppies were sold in the 1980s, I think I was given mine for Chanukah when I was 8 or 9 years old. Who knew he’d be starring in therapy sessions more than 20 years later!

I’ve recently been dressing up Dog to work on the verb: wearing. Here’s what a therapy session might look like.

When I teach a new word, I begin by modelling it a lot in different contexts. The child and I take turns choosing items for Dog to wear, and I comment: “wow, Dog is wearing glasses. I’m wearing glasses and Dog is wearing glasses.”

Accessorising ourselves

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Then we start putting on funny accessories ourselves and I keep modelling the target word: “You’re wearing goggles, you’re ready for a swim.” “I’m wearing a monkey hat, it’s warm!” Children learn by doing; in this activity they’re wearing different things, while I model the word. It’s also fun to take photos of the child wearing different accessories, and talk about what they’re wearing in each photo.

Dressing paper dolls

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Next we try a paper based activity, like this doll game. We dress the dolls (while I keep modelling the target word) and then I’ll try to cue the child in to using the word himself. I’ll say something like: “My doll is wearing a yellow dress and boots, your doll is…?”

There’s an app for that

DSC_9972I found this free iPad app, which is good to end on. The child selects clothes and shoes for the doll – it’s another fun opportunity for more modelling and perhaps the child will be ready to use the word himself.

Tip: children want to keep trying different clothes on the doll. So when it’s time to talk about what she is wearing, I take a photo of the outfit and switch to the photo app. Then the child can’t change the clothes anymore and can focus on describing what she’s wearing!

Practise at home

I give the parents the paper dolls to take home, encourage them to practise the other activities as well, and remind them to talk about what they’re wearing throughout the day.

If your child is struggling to learn new words and you’d like an assessment or advice, get in touch.