Tag Archives: Reflection

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

Start a Speech and Language Therapy Blog Today – Conference Workshop

Blog trello

A couple of weeks back, at the ASLTIP conference,  I led a session about how to start a speech and language therapy blog. I knew I didn’t want to stand and talk for an hour, so I included activities as we went along, which I hoped would leave attendees ready to write their first blog post when they got home. 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.

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

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

When I’m 64

A colleague recently retired. She’d been working as a Speech and Language Therapist for longer than I’ve been alive! After the bosses talked movingly about what she’d achieved, others tried to wrestle her stylish red leather briefcase from her, insisting she wouldn’t need it in retirement.

She talked about what speech therapy was like when she started out:

  • Makaton was just being developed. She got involved with the charity and ensured the signing system was widely used in our area. Recently she taught the team to sign, “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas!”
  • The Derbyshire Language Scheme didn’t exist.
  • Some children were considered “ineducable.” This changed with the 1970 Education Act, after which all school age children were entitled to an education.

I might have 30+ years ahead of me as a Speech and Language Therapist. When it’s time for me to retire, what will I tell colleagues about starting out? They may be astonished to hear that we write clinical case notes on paper by hand. We consider assessments standardised if data has been collected from 1000 children. And in this era of “inclusion” hundreds of special schools still exist.

Maybe I’ll tell them I was one of the first UK therapists to start a blog! Times are changing; what will the therapy world look like in 30 years time? (I see iPads, lots and lots of iPads!)