Tag Archives: parents

Becoming Independent: Fees, Payments and Accounts

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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: ways for clients to contact me

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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

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?

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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.

Reflecting on 3 months of independence: trying to be myself

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Three months ago I left a job in the NHS and started working for myself, as an independent speech and language therapist. It’s been an adventure. First I found two lovely therapy rooms and got myself kitted out with kiddie sized furniture, toys, assessments and a laminator! Then families began getting in touch and my caseload started to grow.

I’ve been reflecting on how things are going. Two blog posts I read recently feel relevant to my situation.

You Are Not a Large Corporation A manifesto for the self-employed by Paul Jarvis, is a list of things that self-employed people can do with their new freedom. I love it! It includes:

You can let your personal values and ethics guide your work and who you work with.

You can be yourself, even if you think it’s not professional. Being authentic draws others in and can be quite contagious. Your personality is awesome enough to let shine in any and every situation.

He also talks about defining success for yourself, breaking the rules, learning from mistakes, and not having a plan.

The post made me think: I spent 7 years working in the NHS, I became accustomed to the NHS way. I’m constantly asking myself, am I doing it this way because it makes sense or because that’s the way I’ve always done it? I’m grateful that I can work in a way that reflects my values rather than having to follow rigid protocol. I’m thrilled by the progress my little clients are making, now I’m able to tailor therapy to their needs.

What about being myself, being genuine, letting my personality out? Nobody told me that I couldn’t do that in the NHS. Perhaps I didn’t have time, or keeping part of myself back was a coping strategy for an overwhelming job. But clients value seeing our personalities. I read this post (follow Dana’s blog, she talks a lot of sense.) It’s a lovely letter from a mother to her daughter’s therapists, she finishes by thanking the therapists for loving Maya:

The therapists loved Maya, despite the fact that they weren’t obligated to do so, and that expression of love gave me the hope and belief that others would see how amazing she is and love her, too.

I’m thrilled that my new role allows me to really get to know the children and their families. We see each other every week and are building relationships. I’m worrying less about being professional and instead I’m focussing on being genuine, because that’s how we connect with and learn from each other.

It’s not all roses and children magically putting two words together. When things go wrong I’m trying to practise mindfulness, remember not to dwell, and move on. Sometimes I find I’m questioning everything, including my skills and sanity! I’m new to this running a business malarkey, it can be tough.

 

Parents want a speech and language therapist who has time for them

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I’ve been thinking about how parents choose a therapist for their child (I’ve recently set up my private practice). What are they looking for? What do they want? I used feedback I’ve received from parents to make a list, then arranged my ideas into themes.

First there are ‘logistical’ factors. Parents want an SLT who:

  • is punctual,
  • is professional – doesn’t cancel appointments at the last minute,
  • is reliable – does what she says she’ll do,
  • gives appointments at a convenient time,
  • communicates in a convenient way, for example by email,
  • completes reports in a reasonable time frame,
  • has time to listen to them.

Next there are ‘therapist’ factors. Parents want someone who:

  • can build rapport with their child, so therapy is fun & their child likes going,
  • can facilitate progress, so their child develops new skills,
  • is flexible, if something isn’t working she’ll try a different approach,
  • is responsive to changes in the child or family,
  • is experienced,
  • is consistent (this is a big one) they want the same therapist, not a different person every block or visit.

Interpersonal factors are also important. Parents value therapists who:

  • listen to their views and respect them,
  • believe in their child’s ability to make progress and offer hope,
  • can give advice and support around wider issues such as school placements,
  • can work well with the other professionals their child sees,
  • can admit when they don’t know something and ask a colleague,
  • are transparent, with an open, honest, straightforward attitude.

A magic wand and the evidence base

I thought of two more things that don’t really fit in above: the magic wand and the evidence base. Some parents want to find an SLT with a magic wand, someone who can simply make their child’s difficulty disappear. If you find one, let me know, I’d love to interview him or her for my podcast!

Finally, there’s evidence based therapy. I’m not sure how much of factor the evidence base is for parents. Although I’ve never been asked to support my therapy plan with research papers, I have been asked: do you think this will work, how has this approach worked with other children, and which approach will have the quickest result? So some parents are evaluating different therapy options, it’s really encouraging.

When I look over this list, I’m struck by how many of these depend on a therapist having enough time. Perhaps that’s the key, parents want a therapist who they feel, has time for them.

What have I missed? SLTs, what do your families tell you they’re happy with and what do they complain about? Parents, what is most important to you when you’re looking for a therapist? I’d love to hear from you!