Tag Archives: Gina Davies

Therapy Ideas Live 2011 Wrap Up

It’s been a big year here at Therapy Ideas Live HQ. We’ve held three free evening events in London, each of which sold out, featuring 30 amazing speakers in total. They used their five minute slots to talk about diverse topics ranging from therapy approaches and new resources to goal setting and counselling, and everything in between.

The events were featured in the RCSLT bulletin: I was interviewed for My Working Life (page 34) in September and Janice Tucker wrote a lovely letter about the events in the November issue (page 4).

We’ve drunk wine together, socialised with our SLT colleagues, and recorded all the talks on video! It’s completely exceeded my expectations.

What’s next for 2012?

The first Therapy Ideas Live of 2012 is on March 14th, when we’ll be returning to City University. We’re keen to mix things up, Therapy Ideas Live with a twist: added speed dating! Okay, not the dating part so much — watch this space.

We’re publishing all the videos from the last three events and integrating them with some new features on the website. And I’m starting a podcast, so get in touch if you fancy being interviewed. It’s exciting stuff!

Thanks for all your support this year, hope to share ideas with you in 2012!

Watch the first ever talk

Watch the talk that started it all: Gina Davies at the RCSLT in July, which has been viewed more than 870 times by therapists all over the world!

Next Therapy Ideas Live event: City University London, 20 Sept. 2011

The first Therapy Ideas Live event on 5 July 2011 at the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists in London was fantastic: the speakers were amazing, the format was engaging, and attendees left feeling inspired. The RCSLT bulletin is featuring the event in their September issue, so check it out!

Watch these videos of Gina Davies and Louise Coigley giving their stunning 5-minute lightning talks:

We’ll be publishing more videos of the presentations over the next few weeks, so stay tuned to the blog, or follow us on twitter.

Next Therapy Ideas Live: City University London, 20 Sept. 2011

The second Therapy Ideas Live event takes place on 20 September, hosted by City University, London. Sign up to our email list to be the first to know when we release the tickets. And if you fancy getting up on stage and sharing your experience, send us your talk idea by 23 August 2011. See you there!

Therapy Ideas Live: “Enlighten us, but make it quick!”

Although there’s plenty of formal education for Speech and Language Therapists (SLTs), we need more opportunities to share ideas, learn from each other, and develop our skills in an informal environment. I had a blast at Ignite London last year, and it inspired me to organise a similar event for SLTs. Meet Therapy Ideas Live.

With some friends and colleagues I’m trying something new: an evening of informal and informative lightning-style talks presented by ten SLTs from a range of backgrounds. Broaden your perspective, learn from others, share your own experiences, and socialise over a glass of wine—it’s a more inspiring version of CPD!

The first Therapy Ideas Live is happening on the evening of 5th July 2011, hosted at the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists in London. Ten amazing speakers–including Gina Davies, Marie Gascoigne, and Stephen Parsons–will each present for 5 minutes, with slides that advance automatically. Find out more on the event page.

Amazingly, all 50 free tickets for this event sold out within 24 hours, and we closed the waiting list when 50 more people had signed up. Thanks for your support! We plan to film the presentations and share them on this website.

We’re also planning another event at City University in the autumn. Register your interest and be the first to hear when tickets are released. And if you fancy sharing your experience, perspective, case study, or challenge, send us your talk idea using this form. You don’t need experience of public speaking: anyone can give a lightning talk (read this post for some handy tips), and we’ll give you plenty of help.

You can follow the event live on twitter, using the hashtag #therapyideas.

See you there!

Where’s my visual timetable?

A recent experience gave me a powerful reminder that the children we work with need to feel calm in order to learn and develop their communication skills.

We were about to fly to South America on an evening flight. I’d planned to come home from work and travel to the airport with my partner. But for some technical reason, we couldn’t check in online. Panic! Suddenly the plan needed to change.

When my partner suggested a new plan—going directly from work to the airport—I started mumbling incomprehensibly about not having the right shoes on and my ID badge. I said it was impossible and insisted that the original plan was better. The more anxious and angry I got, the harder it was to think rationally.

Looking back, I realise I needed a visual timetable! If my partner had used symbols to talk me through the sequence of events, it would have reduced both my anxiety and my difficult behaviour. I would have been able to think more clearly, see that the steps were logical, and realise they allowed me to reach my goal: getting to the airport on time.

The same principle applies to the children we work with: they need to feel calm in order to learn and develop their communication skills. We should take the time to prepare a visual timetable for each session, to minimise anxiety and create the right conditions for learning.

In one of her workshops, Gina Davies reminded me that visual support can be quick to produce and low-tech. She demonstrated using an A4 sized whiteboard to produce a “now” and “next” style timetable in front of the children. This can also support the development of early literacy skills if you hold the board so the children can see you drawing and writing.

At the other end of the technology scale there must be visual timetable style apps on the iPhone or iPad. Have you used any? I’d love some recommendations.

Two communication approaches for children with Autism: Intensive Interaction and the Attention Bucket

On Friday I attended a conference: “Intensive Interaction and Play Techniques: encouraging Communication for Children with Autism”. I came back inspired — I can’t wait to try out the ideas!

Here’s a summary of two of the presentations.

Intensive Interaction

The keynote presentation was given by Dave Hewett, who, along with Melanie Nind, developed the Intensive Interaction approach. He pitched his talk at just the right level — making great use of video clips, the talk was both clear and fun.

Dave talked about the fundamentals of communication, such as enjoying being with another person, taking turns in exchanges of behaviour, and using and understanding eye contact. He questioned why most of the approaches we use to teach communication don’t attempt to teach these fundamentals of communication first. It seems obvious: if a child hasn’t acquired the fundamentals, it’s very difficult to learn anything else. So why do we tend to start by teaching symbolic representation?

Dave & co started working on Intensive Interaction because they felt the existing curriculum was inadequate — this was in the 1980s. He asked us to think about whether this is still the case today. We don’t expect babies to follow a timetable, so why do we expect this from children with Autism, some of whom are at the same developmental level?

Dave’s visualisation of communication learning and performance showed how complicated the process is. He suggested that the conventional linear teaching approach probably won’t work for something this complicated. He uses the idea of a spiral to describe learning through Intensive Interaction and play: learning takes off and spirals upwards; repetition means that each activity builds on what has gone before.

Again, this seems obvious to me. However, I often identify a target, and then consider which therapy activities I will use to work on it. Which takes me back to the linear model! I’m going to need to think about this: Dave suggested using video as a progress outcome, but I can’t write that on my goal sheet…

Attention: the Bucket

I also attended a workshop called: “Attention: getting it, building it and sharing it — the Bucket and Beyond”. Gina Davies started her session with a dancing chicken, giving us what she gives the children: “an irresistible invitation to learn.”

Like Dave, Gina also used video clips: she showed us a group of children with autism, before and after her 6 week program of attention work — it was amazing. The children in the ‘after’ clip were able to maintain such good attention that the Teaching Assistants in my group didn’t believe they were autistic.

As I understand it, Gina’s program works like this:

The children sit on chairs in a semi-circle facing the lead adult. The adult has an opaque bucket, with a lid on, containing highly motivating toys. She must be the most interesting thing in the room, so anything more interesting must be put out of sight. Along the same lines, the supporting adults should be boring! When a child gets up out of his chair, he must be slowly and calmly guided back to his seat — without verbal instructions.

The adult at the front takes out a toy from the bucket and demonstrates it to the children. The children’s reward must be intrinsic to the activity: the joy of watching a dancing pig! Gina suggested using 4 or 5 different toys in each session.

When the program begins, the children are only able to cope with sitting in their chairs for around 5 minutes, but after 2 mornings each week for 6 weeks they are able to maintain focussed attention for between 10 and 20 minutes. Each morning session is made up of around 4 cycles of 5 minutes bucket time and then a period of free play. Gina also said that at The Little Group, where she devised the program, they take the children running before they start the bucket time!

Gina was an outstanding presenter — I came home rambling on and on about buckets, and was so excited I had to text a friend, to share the bucket idea with her! I will definitely be giving this a try. I will also use it to support me in my quest to get the child-height sink removed from our therapy room; it’s competing with me as the most exciting thing in the room, so it has to go!

Gina also had lots of great ideas about motivating activities to do with the children once they had integrated attention. I need to email her and ask if I can add the flour castle, spagetti fireworks and lemonade fountain to this site!