Becoming Independent: Using Cliniko to manage appointments, record keeping and invoices

As I mentioned in the last post, I use Cliniko to manage my appointments, invoices and case notes. This is the only online practice management software I’ve tried and it’s working for me. I use it on my desktop computer at home, and my phone and iPad when I’m out and about, which means I always have my client files with me. Continue reading

Becoming Independent: Deciding what resources to buy

Mr Potato Head

I kept two principles in mind when deciding what I needed to buy or borrow to start my therapy business:

  • Wait and see what I need and then buy it – with internet shopping lots of things are available on next day delivery.
  • Buy things that can be stored easily and used for multiple purposes – as I’d need to store everything at home and then carry it to therapy sessions.

Continue reading

Becoming Independent: Fees, Payments and Accounts

PayPal Here card Reader

I feel uneasy talking about money here on the blog and in real life with clients. Kathleen Shannon has some useful advice in her Money Mojo post. Kathleen works with creative entrepreneurs and while that’s not how I’d describe myself, the Braid Creative blog is a wonderful resource. Kathleen encourages readers to “sell your goods with confidence” and talk about money, so here goes. Continue reading

Becoming Independent: Choosing where to work and finding a therapy room

A therapy room

I don’t have space to see clients at my flat. I needed to decide if I’d go and visit people, or rent a therapy room and have clients come to me. When I calculated how much time I’d spend travelling from family to family, I realised I’d only be able to see 4 or 5 clients in a day. It made more sense for me to rent a room, I’m able to book in between 6 and 8 clients a day.

There are of course advantages to seeing clients in their own home or educational setting. There are also advantages to seeing people in a distraction free, neutral space where both children and their parents can focus on the therapy session.

I work part time, so I looked for rooms I could rent by the hour or day. I’ve used 5 different therapy rooms and learnt what’s important to me, here are some things to consider. 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

Becoming Independent: ways for clients to contact me

Skype icon

Several therapists working in the NHS have emailed me to ask my advice about starting their own therapy business. I thought I’d share what I tell them here, in a series of posts. I started working independently about 18 months ago, I’m not claiming to have all the answers! I’ll write about what works (and doesn’t) for me, here in London; you can decide if it’s relevant to you and your situation. Continue reading

Language processing in sign language


The Wellcome Trust hosts a series of lunchtime discussions with local scientists. Last week Dr Mairéad MacSweeney was talking about her work in the Deafness, Cognition and Language Research Centre, at UCL. The Wellcome Trust recorded a podcast of the discussion, so check it out when it’s published.

Mairéad explained that she uses brain imaging techniques, with people born severely or profoundly deaf who use sign language, to investigate language processing. In deaf native signers (deaf children born to deaf, signing parents) children move through the same developmental milestones as children learning spoken language, and show similar brain activation. Mairéad explained that (in native speakers) the brain treats language as language.

I was interested to hear that in some parts of the country parents of deaf babies are being advised not to use sign language as this will stop babies learning to speak when they go on to get a cochlear implant. Mairéad suggested that research into the plasticity of the brain doesn’t support this idea. Instead, as with children exposed to more than one spoken language, children simply need good quality early language stimulation. They can then use this first language as a base to build another language on top of.

Mairéad told us that deaf children find it particularly hard to learn to read, she quoted a figure: at 16 years old the average reading age of a deaf teenager (with normal non-verbal IQ) is 11 years. Researchers have found that lip reading skills predict reading ability, so Mairéad’s team is developing a computer game to teach young children lip reading, and investigating the impact on reading. If teaching lip reading supports reading, it could be used with other children who struggle to learn to read, such as those with dyslexia.

I asked Mairéad why lip reading predicts reading skills. She explained that lip reading supports identifying phonemes and developing phonological representations. I wondered about children with autism, some who learn to read early. These children aren’t known to face watch, and therefore probably aren’t lip reading. Interesting!

It was a lovely way to spend a lunchtime, keep an eye out for any other relevant talks and go along. 

Photo by Image Editor

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.

Little Bee Speech’s Articulation Test Center

Little Bee

The team at Little Bee Speech kindly gave me their new Articulation Test Center to try out and review. I haven’t used an app to assess a child before, so I was intrigued to see how it would go. 

I used the Test Center with a 4 and a half year old girl, who I know well. I watched the comprehensive video tutorial of how the app works before I began. Read this post on the Little Bee Speech Blog for a detailed description of how to use the app and all its features. Continue reading