Speech and Language Therapy

Communication is at the core of what we all do at home, in school and in work.

For children and young people, good communication skills are essential for learning and making friends.  All children need environments which support the development of speech, language and communication skills; not just those with identified speech, language or communication needs.

If your child is already known to a Speech and Language Therapist outside of school, I will work closely with your child’s therapist to oversee their support in school.

Otherwise, if you have any concerns about your child’s speech and language skills, I am happy to discuss these with you and can be contacted via the link on the right.

Here is some links to useful websites and advice sheets.

Advice sheets:

Strategies for receptive language

Strategies to Improve Attention and Listening

Unclear speech

Word Finding Difficulties

 

Websites:

www.talkingtrouble.info

www.stammering.org

www.talkingpoint.org.uk

www.afasic.org.uk

www.autism.org.uk

www.makaton.org

wetalkmakaton.org

Leeds NHS Speech & Language Therapy – This website has lots of information and also printables to be able to use with your child.
Mommy Speech Therapy – This website has good printable speech sound sheets to print if your child needs to work on specific speech sounds.
I have been a qualified Speech and Language Therapist since 2016. I have worked previously for the NHS in a variety of areas such as Special Schools, ASD units, Early years settings, Mainstream primary and secondary schools. I have been at Westhaven since September 2019 and have loved every second of working with the team and supporting the children. I am a believer in making Speech and Language as functional as possible in order to equip the children with some independence in being able to communicate.

Within a day I will carry out 1-1 or group therapy, whole class activities such as Bucket Time and Shape Coding, append time in classes observing and supporting teaching staff how to adapt the classroom environment and language as well as developing training for staff. I am trained at level 3 in Makaton and will be developing this further to provide all children with an extra visual support.

I am more than happy to answer any questions from families of the children that we support at Westhaven, no question is ever silly. I will be working towards improving the consistency of Speech and Language between school and home.
Communication Pyramid:
This is a great visual representation of how children develop their speech and language skills. The bottom layers are the ‘foundations’ to communication, without these layers at the top of the pyramid won’t develop. This is important to remember, for example, if your child has difficulty making certain sounds it may be that they find listening and attention hard so are unable to listen to sounds and pay attention to how sounds are made. In this case you can work on developing their attention and listening skills first. This is just one example, but I find it a great visual to refer back to to remind you what to work on 1st.
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Colourful Semantics:
For any children that have been recommended to use colourful semantics to help building sentences or any children that struggle to make up sentences with key information. Colourful semantics is a visual scaffold to support basic sentence structure.
This link is for great free resources that can be downloaded and printed. They have lots of familiar children’s stories and seasonal topics to help build sentences.
Parents/carers can get Twinkl for free
Attention & Listening 
  • Reduce environmental distractions as much as possible: think about the student’s position in the class, materials on the floor and wall surfaces to absorb excess background noise, room dividers to create smaller spaces.

  • Get down to the student’s level when interacting with them and establish eye contact.

  • Ensure that you have the student’s attention before giving an instruction or making a comment, for example by saying their name and gesturing to prompt listening and looking.

  • Work in a small group for activities that promote listening skills, such as listening to a short story and then answering questions about what has happened.

  • Use visual systems such as a visual schedule to support the student to stay focused on the part of the routine.

  • Use Makaton signs to draw the student’s attention towards you when you speak

  • Use auditory cues such as banging a drum to indicate that it is ‘tidy-up time’ or ringing a bell for ‘lunch time’.

  • Encourage the student to ‘have one more turn’ before moving on to another activity or extending their interest by showing them what else you can do with those resources.

  • Use a sand-timer to show how long you will spend on an activity at the work station and giving the student lots of praise for staying and playing/working for this time.

  • Use specific prompting to encourage the student to listen and remain focused on the task i.e. “show me good listening” “show me good sitting” etc.

  • Ensure activities are short with frequent changes to maintain the student’s attention.

  • Each time you work with the student, encourage them to focus for a little longer than the last time.

  • When the student’s attention begins to decrease, use verbal and visual prompts to tell them how many more things they need to do (e.g. 5 more, 4 more, 3 more etc.)

  • Ensure that the adult chooses when the activity is finished.

  • Allow the student time to process and respond to questions and requests.

  • Check that the student has understood what they have been asked to do.

  • Ensure there are specific and defined task expectations for example a time frame (until play, 10 minutes, sand timer) or quantity (5 turns, 4 letters, 3 pages).

  • Countdown with the student how much more they have to do during an activity, e.g. with a jigsaw “Only 3 more pieces X”.  Then give lots of praise when they have finished.

  • Use specific praise and tangible rewards (stickers) to motivate ___ e.g. “lovely sharing” “good talking” “nice waiting”.

  • Consider using a reward system to motivate the student, i.e. sticker chart, marbles in a jar.

  • Prompt the student to listen “show me you’re listening” or ask them directly “are you ready to listen?”

  • Use natural gesture to reinforce requests e.g. quiet, sit down, listen.

  • Encourage the student to ask for repetitions or clarification if they were not listening, forgot or did not understand.

  • Allow opportunities for short physical breaks between tasks.

  • Seat away from distractions i.e. door, window, shelves etc.

  • Be explicit about how and when to listen.

    • Be clear that they need to be quiet so they can listen.

    • Play listening games and activities.

    • Develop the student’s ability to remain quiet during 1:1 or small group tasks.

  • Make the expectations of an activity very clear to the student before beginning and remind them during the activity if required.

Stammering Advice:
  • Focus on what the student says rather than how they say it.

  • Allow the student to finish, do not interrupt them or get them to start again.

  • If the student’s talking contains a lot of stammering, listen and when they have finished talking model back what they have said to show that they have been understood.

  • Do not alter your behaviour due to the stammer i.e. say “I’m listening” rather than suddenly giving the student your full attention when they begin to stammer.

  • Model thinking, pausing and talking slowly during turn taking games and activities or when answering questions.  For example, student: “where’s my car?” adult: “Let me think… (pause) I think it’s in your bedroom.

  • Reduce the number of times the student is interrupted or interrupts others. Explain to everyone the importance of taking turns when talking.

  • Listen carefully to the student. Concentrate on what they are saying and not how they are saying it.

  • Allow the student to finish what they are saying; avoid finishing their sentences for them.

  • Allow the student plenty of time to respond to what has been said to them.

  • Try to avoid asking questions, instead commenting/describing what the student is doing/playing with/can see.

  • When questions are asked, ensure that these are ‘open‘ questions that require the student to give you some information (e.g. “what did you do at nursery?”) rather than ‘closed’ questions that require a one word answer (e.g. “did you do painting?”)

  • Avoid offering advice (e.g. “slow down”). Instead slow down your own pace of talking; children try to match others’ rates of speech. You may find pausing before talking will help you do this.

  • Use praise to reward the student for the things they do well as this will help to build confidence. Be specific about what the student has done well e.g. “what a lovely picture, the colours you used are wonderful” or “well done! Good waiting, I can talk to you now”.

  • Avoid putting the student on display in talking situations in which they are not yet confident. Talking should be enjoyable!

  • When the student is dysfluent, acknowledge this in a calm way (e.g. “Sometimes it’s hard for you to get words out. I know the words get a bit stuck. It’s OK, I have plenty of time”).

  • When the student is particularly emotional or tired and their stammering increases, bring your own language level right down to single words. At these times during play, you can start off a sentence and leave a gap for the student to complete just the last word or two to encourage their language load to stay low. Giving verbal choices at these times will also help to reduce pressure and language load

  • Keep a diary of the student’s stammering to help you establish what some of the trigger factors may be in order to anticipate and reduce these, to support their speech becoming smoother.

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