SpeechRight is now successfully running teletherapy sessions which do not involve face to face contact. Please get in touch for more information.

Teletherapy What is it? Can it work for my child?

The private speech and language therapists at SpeechRight have always offered teletherapy but it has generally been with those clients who live outside Nottinghamshire/abroad. However, now with the coronavirus outbreak and the ensuing restrictions on social contacts and distancing, teletherapy is becoming our main means of meeting our clients’ speech and language therapy needs.

Teletherapy is using technology to link a SpeechRight private therapist with the client in a separate location i.e. their home. This prevents the risk of  both the private therapist and the client from catching/spreading the virus as there is no need to leave your home.

Private therapists at SpeechRight use ‘Zoom’ to connect with their clients. Zoom is GDPR compliant and data protected. It is a safe and secure environment for completing speech and language therapy sessions encrypting the information that is shared. Each SpeechRight private therapist also has a virtual ‘waiting room’ for the client to be admitted to the session and every client needs a password to enter. This ensures that nobody but the intended users can access the session.

Some parents may be concerned that they will not be able to manage setting up a Zoom session (especially if they are a technophobe like me!). However, do not worry, the process is very simple and easy to complete (even I managed to do it first time!). Only the SpeechRight private therapist needs a Zoom account; clients do not have to create an account or ‘join’ Zoom. All that is required is to download the Zoom mobile/tablet app or the Windows or Mac desktop application. This is easy, quick and free!

When it is time for your child’s session, you click on the Zoom link that your SpeechRight private therapist has emailed to you and you will then be taken into SpeechRight’s virtual clinic room on Zoom. 

Okay, that is the detailed boring bit over with, now onto the fun part- what actually happens in the teletherapy sessions……

To begin with, your therapist may start by greeting you and your child from a zoo, a farm or last week, I was in the Jurassic Age. Thanks to virtual backgrounds, the SpeechRight therapist will ,no doubt, be in a place that they know your child is interested in. This immediately creates lots of opportunities to engage and interact with your child. Last week, the child I was working with happily labelled all the dinosaurs that were around me and took great delight in telling me they were carnivores so I needed to be careful!

The exact activities which follow will depend on what specific speech and language needs your child has. The SpeechRight private therapists have lots of toys and resources at hand and online to work with your child. Running through some of the games that I was involved with last week (names changed for privacy):

  • I had a big area of ground that I had hidden treasure in (a large box with brown crushed crepe paper balls). Jack had to keep instructing me “Emma keep digging” and then he had to label all the different treasure we found such as “a small doggy” “a yoghurt pot” “a scary alligator” and “a blue lego piece”. Jack’s speech therapy target was ‘g’ in the middle of words and this activity resulted in Jack producing lots of these target words. His mum later sent me an email to say he had ‘loved the activity and she had found Jack digging to find some ‘treasure’ in her garden that afternoon.’
  • We went to the hairdressers and styled a lion’s mane. First, Sam and I spoke about what activities you have to do to have your haircut, such as, you need to ‘wet’, ‘wash’ ‘dry’ cut’ and ‘brush’ your hair. Sam then practised using these ‘action words’ in his talking to instruct the lion what he had to do. Both Sam and I were giggling when we watched the lion using a hairdryer! Importantly, Sam was enjoying the activity so he was really keen to include the action words in his sentences, he no longer simply said “lion”, he was saying “lion wash” “lion cut” and even “lion brush hair” which showed brilliant progress in his language skills.
  • Evie has just developed a stammer so I completed a therapy session with Evie and her dad. I watched Evie and her dad playing together at home using her favourite toys. I then coached Dad with strategies he could use to support Evie’s fluency. I was able to record parts of their play so Dad and I could watch the recording together and talk through all the great things he was doing and some things we could alter slightly. All three of us really enjoyed the session and both Dad and I are now fully versed in all the Disney princesses’ names and dress colours!
  • George and I went and knocked on 6 different front doors (thanks to ‘Melissa and Doug’s latching board game’). Behind every door, there was a surprise picture of somebody who George knew. George had to tell me who he was “talking to…..”. George loved opening each door and seeing who was behind and it gave him a lot of practice at saying an accurate ‘t’ sound in ‘talking’ and ‘to.’
  • Ethan and I had a pretend race to the park. Ethan rolled his dice and then we moved our counters along the board game we could both see. As we moved, we had to think of the name of every object we passed. I was very disappointed to lose this game, I am sure the dice got stuck on ‘6’ when it was Ethan’s turn! Mum was really pleased that she was then able to continue to play the board game at home with Ethan on the days in between his next session.
  • Finally, I also finished my week in Ella’s living room. Ella has recently been diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder so I was coaching her parents on strategies they could use to support her speech, language and interaction skills. Firstly, I spoke to the parents about what their communication targets were with Ella. I then talked them through a key strategy for them to use and showed them videos demonstrating the strategy. The parents then put the strategy into use with Ella as I watched them playing together. I was able to give them online coaching as they were doing this. For the first time in 18 months, Ella verbally requested “more” in the session which was a lovely experience to share with the parents.

 

Alongside, all the activities, formal assessments can be completed online – it is just like completing the assessment in the clinic but your child is now doing it in their home. The SpeechRight private therapist will present your child with the assessment on your screen for your child to select the right answers from. As the assessment is being completed, the SpeechRight private therapist can physically see your child as well as the answer they choose, which means they do not miss any non-verbal clues your child may be giving. Lots of the companies who design the speech and language assessments are now ensuring their assessments can be completed online in light of the coronavirus.

Before any teletherapy session, your SpeechRight private therapist will send you any paper resources that your child may need in the session. At the end of the therapy, your SpeechRight private therapist will discuss with you, activities to practice following the session and will confirm this information in a written email to you at the end of the appointment.

If you have any further questions about teletherapy, please get in touch. If not, please use the ‘book appointment’ tab on the webpage to get your child’s teletherapy session sorted so they can begin/continue their speech and language journey.

Teletherapy What is it? Can it work for me?

The private speech and language therapists at SpeechRight have always offered teletherapy but it has generally been with those clients who live outside Nottinghamshire/abroad. However, now with the coronavirus outbreak and the ensuing restrictions on social contacts and distancing, teletherapy is becoming our main means of meeting our clients’ speech and language therapy needs.

Teletherapy is using technology to link a SpeechRight private therapist with the client in a separate location i.e. their home. This prevents the risk of the private therapists and the client from catching/spreading the virus as there is no need to leave your home.

Private therapists at SpeechRight use ‘Zoom’ to connect with their clients. Zoom is GDPR compliant and data protected. It is a safe and secure environment for completing speech and language therapy sessions encrypting the information that is shared. Each SpeechRight private therapist also has a virtual ‘waiting room’ for the client to be admitted to the session and every client needs a password to enter. This ensures that nobody but the intended users can access the session.

Some adults may be concerned that they will not be able to manage setting up a Zoom session (especially if they are a technophobe like me!). However, do not worry, the process is very simple and easy to complete (even I managed to do it first time!). Only your SpeechRight private therapist needs a Zoom account, clients do not have to create an account or ‘join’ Zoom. All that is required is to download the Zoom mobile/tablet app or the Windows or Mac desktop application. This is easy, quick and free!

When it is time for your teletherapy session, you click on the Zoom link that your SpeechRight private therapist has emailed to you and you will then be taken into SpeechRight’s virtual clinic room on Zoom. 

Obviously, for adults the assessment and therapy sessions are very similar to what happens in SpeechRight’s clinic but it is now done from the comfort of your home through a screen. 

Lots of the companies who design the speech and language assessments are now ensuring their assessments can be completed online in light of the coronavirus. As the assessment is being completed, the SpeechRight private therapist can physically see you as well as the answer you choose, which means they do not miss any non-verbal clues you may be communicating to them. 

For example, I am working with Tom (name changed for confidentiality) who is wanting to correct his lisp. We have been able to complete the Zoom sessions in the evening, around Tom’s work commitments and he has, therefore, been able to continue to make progress in achieving his ‘s’ sound during this coronavirus period. He is hopeful that when restrictions are lifted, his friends will notice a real improvement in his spoken communication.

Before any teletherapy session, your SpeechRight private therapist will send you any paper resources that you may need in the session. At the end of the appointment, your SpeechRight private therapist will discuss with you activities to practice following the session and will confirm this information in a written email sent to you at the end of the session.

If you have any further questions about teletherapy, please get in touch. If not, please use the ‘book appointment’ tab on the webpage to get your teletherapy session sorted so you can begin/continue their speech and language journey.

Children talking at a table

Benefits of Speech Therapy for Adults and Children

As a Speech Language Therapy Service, our aim is to help both children and adults with speech complications. Whether an individual is having problems with stuttering or pronunciations, speech therapy can help advance communication skills in many ways, shapes and forms.

In this article, you will learn about the key benefits that come from speech therapy and the importance of speech development for young children.

Tailored to you

Professional speech therapy can help improve numerous types of speech problems. To name a few, we can help with:

  • Language and speech delays
  • Fluency disorders
  • Social communication difficulties
  • Mild to moderate learning difficulties

Every person has a unique way of learning and processing the things that are happening around them. Therefore, a “one-size-fits-all” approach to speech therapy simply would not work. We ensure all of our sessions are tailored to suit the individual’s needs.

Everyone’s ideal outcome from speech therapy differs from person to person. In order to build confidence, sessions have a personalised structure to help improve the way you communicate.  For example, a 25-year-old woman may benefit from breathing exercises to improve the speed of speech and fluency; whilst a 5-year-old boy may need to go through a series of repetition and imitation to help him pronounce words better and improve speech muscles. Depending on what your goals are, speech therapy aims to cater to you in the way you learn best.

 

Positive Reinforcement from an early age

It can be really frustrating for young children who are finding it difficult to communicate their thoughts and feelings. Not only does it weigh down on their confidence, but it may also give them a negative connotation towards speaking.

When a child attends speech therapy, they are developing a better understanding of language. Frequent visits can help improve the ability to communicate with others whilst they define a strong sense of identity and independence. If you suspect your child is struggling with speech, we recommend you seek help sooner rather than later. Delaying speech development may run the risk of missing the important maturing and learning required for the brain.

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Benefits to you in other areas of life

Speech therapy provides an intelligible level of speech so you can communicate effectively and be understood by others. It teaches you the ability to express your thoughts, ideas and feelings.

For children, developing the correct speech structure can increase their ability to problem-solve. The new level of growth in language prepares them with the vital skills that will aid them in their academic career.  The practical social skills help them build stronger bonds with future peers and friends. Even those with mild speech delays will find a massive benefit with the development of strong communication skills.

For adults, speech therapy may be another way to develop their professionalism. If you are someone who is nervous answering phones at work, speech therapy can help develop the rate at which you speak or the way you listen and respond under pressure. Alternatively, you may be someone who needs to debrief a team every morning and wants to develop a strong, clear and concise way of communicating.

We aim to enhance the learning of language through positive reinforcement and stimulation. Regardless of the reason for why you want to partake in speech therapy, if you believe you, or someone you know, are displaying symptoms of speech difficulties, please feel free to get in touch with us. There are many types of speech difficulties and disorders that speech therapy can help with.

 

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A girl sat at a table writing on a piece of paper

What is Speech Therapy used for?

The main purpose of Speech Therapy is to improve communication disorders and difficulties in children and in adults. Regardless of how small a concern may be, our core aim is to build up confidence and a solid foundation in speech and language. This extra help and guidance will allow children and adults to progress with their social communication and potentially structure new ways of expression.

It is common for parents to have slight concerns about their child’s language development. If you are a new parent or unaware of what it’s like to have speech difficulties, it can be hard for you to identify the first telltale signs.  Without the right source of information, it is difficult for you to fully support yourself or your child when it comes to improving their communication.

With that said, speech therapy isn’t purely here to help those who are in the early stages of speech development. We are no strangers in helping adults who need extra support becoming a stronger communicator.  Currently, there is still the misconception that speech therapy is there to only help individuals with noticeable disorders. However, this isn’t the case. Speech Therapists also help individuals who need guidance with their speech so that they can convey their thoughts clearly and concisely.

In this short guide, you’ll have a better understanding of the various speech disorders there are and the ways you can identify the key symptoms. To help you out a little bit more, at the end of each description we’ve included ways to help improve the detected speech issue. But as always, if you need extra guidance, a professional diagnosis is best to confirm your suspicions.

Types of Speech Difficulties and Disorders

Resonance disorders

With this disorder, the quality of sound vibration in speech is affected by the inconsistency/obstruction in the airflow passing through the throat, mouth and nose. “Normal” speakers tend to have good airflow through the mouth when pronouncing the majority of sounds. An individual with Resonance Disorder will have problems with the quality of their voice due to Velopharyngeal Dysfunction.

The common cause of resonance disorder is the craniofacial disorder like those with cleft palate. However, enlarged adenoids, neurological disorders and/or childhood apraxia of speech may also develop into the resonance disorder.

Symptoms

  • Excessive amount of sound/air coming from the nose when talking OR decreased airflow through the nose due to blockage (individual may sound like they have a constant cold)
  • Weak pronunciation with consonant sounds
  • Short utterance length due to the loss of air coming through the mouth
  • Pains when speaking
  • Their speech may sound muffled due to obstruction of airflow

Speech Therapy Treatments

Speech therapy is a great option for those who have mild resonance disorder. Typical sessions may consist of teaching the child/adult on how to use their lips, tongue and velopharyngeal valve correctly in order to communicate better.

 

Articulation Disorders

Articulation disorder is where individuals have difficulty articulating certain sounds and syllables. The spectrum of this disorder can range from a person slurring their speech to someone substituting a sound to something similar.

As speech difficulties can develop at any age, we believe that it is important to recognise the key symptoms during the early stages of the disorder.

Symptoms

  • Slight stuttering when trying to pronounce certain sounds
  • Sound substitution (e.g replacing the “s” in sorry for “thorry”)
  • Sound omission (e.g for the word “blue” the sound “oo” is pronounced instead)
  • Sound distortion (e.g the “r” in rascal is pronounced like “wascal” instead)
  • “Baby talk” is still prominent after the young child phase

Speech Therapy Treatments

Although there is no instant cure for Articulation Disorders, there are still a range of treatments available. Depending on the severity of the disorder, sessions will be tailored to restructure speech patterns in a relaxed environment.

 

Fluency Disorders

Fluency Disorder is where individuals have behaviours of repeating words, sounds and/or syllables when trying to communicate. As stuttering is the common form of Fluency Disorder, many of us are very aware of what the symptoms consist of.

However, Cluttering is another form of Fluency Disorder. Less spoken about than stuttering, this disorder is where an individual has an irregular or rapid rate of speech; causing them to delete or collapse certain syllables when speaking.

Symptoms  

  • Stuttering
    • Whole word repetitions
    • Part word/sound repetitions
    • Excessive struggling when pronouncing words
  • Cluttering
    • Rapid speech
    • Excessive deletion of syllables or word endings
    • Excessive use of filler words
    • Unnecessary pauses in sentences.

Speech Therapy Treatment

Just like all the other speech disorders mentioned above, there is an assessment made which helps decide which treatment is best suited for the patient. The sessions will work on specific goals that’ll help reduce and/or eliminate fluency difficulties without developing negative emotions/memory.

Helping your child & Loved ones

After over 10 years of experience working for the NHS Children’s SLT services, I believe that finding the right speech therapist is important.  With that said, the involvement of the child’s parent in speech development and therapy is crucial for success. This is why we ensure that parents are fully equipped with guidance and information when it comes to helping their child succeed.

If you are interested in a learning more, be sure to check out our previous articles. If you believe that your child may have difficulties with their speech, please talk about your concerns with a professional speech therapist.

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Greedy Gorilla

This is the food game where you collect the ‘healthy’ foods on your place ‘mat’ and you feed the ‘junk’ food to the gorilla. The naughty gorilla then makes a burping noise!

The children (and adults!) find the Gorilla hilarious. As well as having fun listening to the Gorilla, the game can also be used to develop lots of the childrens’ speech and language skills:

Attention and Listening

Sometimes, children really struggle to concentrate on an activity for any length of time and quickly flit from one thing to the next. This affects their language development in lots of different ways. For example, adults may be providing lots of excellent language models and talking about what is happening but the child has lost attention and is not listening to all the utterances being said around him/her.

At first, just play the game with your child and only use 10 of the food items. The game is then over when all 10 items have been posted into the gorilla’s mouth or put on yours/your child’s mat. Next time you play, use 15 food items and/or add an extra player. Your game will then last longer and your child will have to concentrate for an increasing amount of time. They will be motivated to do this as s/he will want to continue to hear the naughty gorilla!!

Understanding

Food Words

‘Foods’ are an early category of words that children develop understanding of. This game gives you lots of different food pictures to label and talk about with your child e.g. ‘ice-cream’ ‘milk’ ‘bread.’

You can then lay out a selection of the different food pictures and ask your child for one to see if they have developed understanding of the food item e.g. “Give me the apple.”.

This learning can then be reinforced in your everyday activities when you talk about what you and your child are eating ie. “Mummy’s eating an apple”/”daddy’s eating a banana.”

Action Words

As you are labelling the different foods, you can introduce verbs/action words to your child e.g. “The gorilla’s eating a doughnut” or “I’m feeding the gorilla some chips.” When your child knows the basic action words, you can expand their knowledge by talking about “The Gorilla is …… ‘licking an ice-cream’/’biting an apple/sipping some pop/crunching on popcorn.’

As well as different types of foods and action words, you can also support the length of instructions which your child understands. ‘Key words’ are words which we have to know in order to follow a sentence e.g. if I put out a picture of a ‘banana’ and an ‘apple’, held my hand out and said “Give me the apple”, there would only be one key word (‘apple’) that the listener would have to understand, ‘give me the’ are irrelevant as they can be worked out by the hand gesture.

By giving your child a choice of ‘food’ and ‘people’, you can encourage them to understand sentences with two key words e.g. “Give the banana to mummy” “Give the sweetcorn to the gorilla.” The child has to make a choice with two words – the ‘food’ item and the ‘person’ to give the item to.

Talking Skills

Once a child understands the food and action words, they then need to be able to use the words in their talking: putting the words in the right order and moving their mouth into the right positions to articulate the words. The child can become the ‘director’ and can tell you what to do e.g. “Give the chips to the gorilla”.

Depending on your child’s level, you can make it easier for them by holding the ‘naughty gorilla’ up and asking “What should the gorilla eat?” They can then simply label the ‘food’ item.

Grammar

You can make your Gorilla into a ‘female’ or ‘male’ and give them an appropriate name e.g. “Geoff the Gorilla”/”Holly the Gorilla”. You can then reinforce the pronouns, ‘he’ and ‘she’ throughout the game e.g. “She is eating an apple/He is eating some peas.”

Turn-Taking

Lots of children find it difficult to wait their turn. Playing Greedy Gorilla with a sibling/friend, gives the child lots of opportunities to practice waiting to have their turn. As they are excited to hear the naughty gorilla, not only are they motivated to wait their turn but they also want to carry on playing the game until it is completed.

So overall, Greedy Gorilla is a very simple and fun resource that can be used with a variety of age groups. It can be used to develop a range of speech and language skills as everyone enjoys playing it: who cannot help smiling when a naughty gorilla burps!

Who have Speech Right been supporting this week?

Week Four Spotlight

Name: Archie

Age: 3:2

Difficulties: Suspected Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Archie is currently going through diagnosis with his paediatrician.

Background: Archie and his parents completed an initial speech and language assessment. This identified that Archie was showing difficulties with his language, speech, play and imagination skills and his social communication. Archie struggles to use his language socially. For example, he:

  • Uses language for a limited range of functions. Archie will request things he wants but he will not ‘greet’, ‘comment’ ‘question.’
  • Struggles to shift his attention from one focus to the next. Does not respond when his name is called.
  • Does not appear to notice those around him and rarely allows his parents to join in his play.

Hearing: All assessments passed

Session: Therapy 2 with Mum, Dad, Archie and Emma.

Archie and his parents are taking part in the Hanen More Than Words Parent-Child Video Interaction Therapy. This therapy involves parents being given strategies to use to develop their interactions with Archie. The therapy is being carried out at the family’s home as this is the place where Archie is most relaxed and comfortable and, by using Archie’s toys, parents are more easily able to carry on the therapy after the session.

Today, parents were introduced to 2 of the 4 ‘I’s of Interaction.’ These 4 I’s are strategies to use which encourage Archie to notice his parents more and allow them to join in, in his play. When Archie is noticing his parents and allowing them to join in his play they will start to have fun together and when Archie is having fun, he is more likely to be able to learn and develop his language skills.

First I – Imitate

This involves parents copying what Archie does in specific play activities e.g. with his bricks.

Second I – Intrude

This involves parents insisting on joining in Archie’s play e.g. by being the ‘keeper of the pieces’: parents take control of the toy items (e.g. bricks) as Archie will be motivated to communicate that he wants them.

Parents were videoed playing with Archie for 5 minutes each as they tried to put the ‘intrude’ and ‘imitate’ strategies in place. We then watched the videos together and paused at points to highlight their excellent use of imitation/intrusion. We also stopped the video at points where we both felt parents could have done something slightly different.

The session ended with both parents being given specific targets to work on during their ‘Special Times’ with Archie (‘Special Time’ is a specific 5-10 minutes that parents identify daily when they play with Archie and focus on their strategies).

Emma will return to the family home in a fortnight to complete Therapy session 3. We opted for fortnightly therapy sessions to give parents enough opportunity to practice the strategies around their work commitments.

Speech and Language Therapists at SpeechRight are Hanen Trained. The Hanen Centre is a leading resource for specialist training and research into children with language delay, disorder and autistic spectrum disorder. Read their article for further information about the benefits of parents with children on the autistic spectrum taking part in the More Than Words Parent-Child Interaction Therapy:

http://www.hanen.org/Helpful-Info/Articles/The-Power-of-Parents-in-Autism-Intervention.aspx#.

What is Narrative Therapy

‘Narratives’ are something which we all use a lot every day. They are what we use to correctly tell a story or explain a sequence of events to a listener.

Think how many times we ask our children to tell narratives each day e.g. “What did you do at school today?” “What happened at playtime?” “What did you do at after-school club?” “What did you do at football/swimming/dance?” “What things did you do at the weekend?”

Your child has to use lots of different skills to produce the narrative:  they have to remember what actually happened, they have to put the events into the correct order, they have to work out what key pieces of information the listener needs, they have to select the correct words to use to describe the events, they then have to put these words into the right order in sentences and with the correct grammar. Phew – telling a narrative is actually a pretty tricky task!

Sometimes, children can struggle with telling narratives. They can:

  • Use general/non-specific vocabulary e.g. “I went in there and got it”
  • Use short sentences e.g. “Did painting”
  • Confuse the order of events e.g. “got my coat and came home and then went to assembly”
  • Not introduce the topic/people properly so the listener cannot work out the story e.g. “did it yesterday”
  • Only talk about things in the ‘here and now’ and not respond to questions about things they have done earlier e.g. ‘at school/at the weekend.’
  • Not understand the question words e.g. “who?” “where?” and give the wrong type of answer e.g. “Where did you go at the weekend?” “with mummy”
  • Not understand the ‘time’ words e.g. ‘day’ ‘night’ ‘yesterday’ ‘tomorrow’

Narrative Therapy can support children with all of these difficulties. Here is one group that was run last week:

Name: Narrative Therapy

Session: Number 9

Participants: 6 children aged 5 years old who all have difficulties accurately telling narratives.

Activity One: Attention and Listening Rules

At the start of each session, the children remind themselves of the ‘groups listening rules.’ This helps them all to use ‘good looking, sitting, listening and thinking’ so they can take part in the activities and learn.

Activity Two: When concept?

‘when?’ is introduced to the children. A colour-coded visual symbol is used with the ‘when’ Makaton sign. The visual clues and spoken word support all the children to understand and remember the concept.

Each child was then asked different ‘when?’ questions. They got to collect ‘clock’ stickers every time they answered questions like: “When do we eat chocolate eggs?,” “when do we brush our teeth?” “when do we eat cereals?”

Activity Three: Day and Night Stations

A feely bag of toy objects was passed around the group and each child took out and labelled the object e.g. ‘pyjamas’ ‘sun’ ‘lunchbox’ ‘moon.’ They then had to work out if that object would be seen at ‘daytime’ or ‘night time’ and take their object to either the ‘day’ station or the ‘night’ station.

Activity Four: Birthday Spiders!

A big spider diagram was drawn with a birthday cake in the middle. The children then had to think of different things that would be seen or done when it is a birthday and these were drawn at the end of the spider’s legs e.g. birthday card, birthday presents, birthday party. If the struggled and needed some help, there was a box full of birthday objects to help them. The children came up with lots of brilliant ideas – it’s just a shame the therapist’s drawing skills were not quite as brilliant!

Activity Five: ‘Five Minutes Peace’

A lovely story reinforcing the ‘night time’ concept was read to the children. It tells the difficulties of Mr.Bear trying to find 5 minutes peace at night time!

Activity 6: Stickers

This is when the children get to decide which sticker they want: do they want the ‘ears’ for ‘good listening’? ‘the pair of eyes’ for ‘good looking’ or the ‘brain’ for ‘good thinking’?

Narrative Therapy can be completed in a group or individually. Narrative groups run by SpeechRight are especially popular in school settings. Work completed in the groups can be carried over into the classroom supporting the childrens’ understanding of topic stories, their vocabulary, their spoken narratives and their written narratives too. If your school is interested in finding out more about the support SpeechRight offers, see the School Support leaflet.

Mr Potato Head

This is the toy potato that comes with a suitcase of body parts and accessories ie. ears, nose, mouth, moustache, glasses, hat. Children (and adults!) love to build their Mr.Potato Heads and, as they are building, they can be developing lots of their speech and language skills:

Attention and Listening:

Sometimes children struggle to remain focused on an activity for any amount of time. Mr.Potato Head can be used to slowly increase the length of time that they attend.  If an adult keeps hold of the suitcase of parts, they can control how long it takes the child to build their Mr. Potato Head. Each time the game is played, the adult can gradually build up the amount of time the child is taking to complete the task. The child will be enjoying the activity so will not realise their attention is being developed and before they know it, they have been focused on the game for 15 minutes!

Understanding:

Body Part Words

Body parts are one of the earliest categories of words that children develop understanding of. By labelling the items and talking about what your child is doing as they build Mr.Potato Head, they will start to develop knowledge and understanding of the words e.g. “Pushing the eyes in. Oh a big nose. Oops the glasses fell off!”

You can then lay out a selection of body parts and ask your child for one to see if they can understand the body part vocabulary e.g. “Give me the mouth.’

Following Instructions

As well as understanding individual words, children need to be able to understand the words within sentences. Mr.Potato Head provides lots of fun instructions to do this e.g. “put the nose on the mouth” “put the legs on the head”. Your child really has to understand what is said to them as the instructions are not always standard/expected.

Talking

Once a child understands the body part words, they then need to be able to use the words in their talking; putting the words in the right order and moving their mouth into the right positions to articulate the words. If the adult keeps hold of the suitcase, the child can practice asking for the different items “Give me the nose” “I need the mouth”

Sounds

Mr.Potato Head is a fabulous reward game to keep a child motivated to practice the different target sounds they are working on. Every time the child has a go at saying their target sound/word, they get a piece of Mr.Potato Head. With at least 15 different accessories, the child is guaranteed at to make the sound 15 times and, because they are having fun, they probably will not realise they are practising their speech.

Turn-Taking

Lots of children find it difficult to wait their turn. Playing Mr.Potato Head with a friend, gives the child lots of opportunities to practice waiting to have their turn. As they are excited to build their Mr. Potato Head, not only are they motivated to wait their turn but they also want to carry on playing the game until it is completed.

Grammar

If you use a Mr.Potato Head and a Mrs.Potato Head, there are lots of chances to reinforce to your child the possesive pronouns ‘his’ and ‘hers’ and your child has lots of reasons to use these pronouns correctly e.g. “Give Mr.Potato Head his eyes.”

Overall, Mr.Potato Head is a fun, easy-to-use resource that can be used with a variety of age groups. It has lots of speech and language development uses and, at the end of the day, who does not like building a potato with eyes in his head, a nose coming out of his mouth and a hat where his ears would be!

Meet 33 year old Jack

Each week we will put a spotlight on one of the people the SpeechRight speech and language therapists have been working with. This will give an insight into the types of difficulties we support and what goes on in a speech therapy session.

Name: Jack

Age: 33

Difficulties: Jack has a stammer. His stammer first appeared when he was 4 years old. Jack’s stammer involves repetition of the initial sounds of words, blocks (where his mouth is in position to say a word but no noise comes out) and prolongations (where a sound is made longer). Jack has never received any speech and language therapy support until he came for a detailed initial assessment 2 weeks ago with SpeechRight. This identified that Jack would benefit from therapy which:

  • gives him some direct speech strategies he can use to support his fluency
  • focuses on his general communication skills e.g. volume, eye-contact, talking speed, posture, facial expression
  • considers his thoughts and feelings around his stammer and its impact on his daily life

Hearing: No concerns

Session: Therapy Session Two with Emma

We started the session with a re-cap of how things had gone during the week. Jack reported that he had been able to try some of the activities we had suggested at the last session and he was pleased with how this had gone. Jack said he felt that his stammer had increased this week in his spontaneous conversations but when we discussed this in more detail, we realised that potentially the stammer had not increased but Jack’s awareness of it had. This is important because if Jack is to have strategies to use to support his fluency, he needs to be aware of what his talking and stammer are like now.

We had three key areas we were targeting today:

Abdominal Breathing: Breathing is important to consider when looking at our fluency. The breath coming out of the lungs ‘powers’ our voices. Therefore, if we do not complete regular, relaxed breaths we are going to be unable to maintain a steady, calm flow of talking. Together, Jack and I practised this breathing and began to use it as we slowly increased the length of our utterances from single sounds to short words, longer words, phrases and sentences.

Tallying: Tallying was used to help Jack accurately identify when he stammered. He needs to know this in order to use the direct strategies he will be taught. Jack and I held a conversation about our favourite holiday destinations. As we were talking, every time Jack felt he stammered he held his finger up. In the same way, every time I thought I saw or heard a stammer, I held my finger up. The idea is for Jack to ‘catch’ as many stammers as he could. Following practice last week, Jack achieved a near 100% record in this session. When Jack ‘caught’ his stammer, he was also able to learn more about what happens when he does stammer; he realised that in a stammering moment when he is repeating the initial sound of a word, there is a lot of tension in the top part of his throat.

Talking Speed: Jack uses a fast talking speed and this puts lots of pressure on his language system to: quickly workout what he wants to say, to formulate the utterance he needs to produce and to quickly move his mouth and tongue into all the correct places to make the speech sounds. This can encourage him to stammer. A fast talking speed also puts lots of pressure on the listener to keep up with and follow what Jack is saying. If Jack does stammer, combined with his fast talking rate this can have a negative impact on Jack’s ability to clearly communicate his ideas. We encouraged Jack to use a ‘good talking speed’ by using more pauses in his speech (rather than saying each word more slowly). By pausing, it also gave Jack chance to use his ‘relaxed breathing.’ Jack practised reading aloud a range of different reading passages with a special ‘syllable ball’ that gave him the pace he needed to follow.

Jack was given a number of different activities to practice linked to the exercises we had done today. Jack has a lot of work on at the minute with his business so he felt that he needed a longer time before the next session in order to complete enough practice. Jack felt a session in 3 weeks would be best.

In the Spotlight next week will be a group of six 5 years olds who are completing a Narrative Group at school. Narrative works on developing a child’s attention and listening, understanding, talking and social communication skills.

Meet Emilia, our week two spotlight

Each week we will put a spotlight on one of the people the SpeechRight Speech and Language Therapists have been working with. This will give an insight into the types of difficulties we support and what goes on in a speech therapy session.

Week Two Spotlight

Name: Emilia

Age: 3:2

Difficulties: Language Delay. Emilia communicates using some single, spoken words e.g. “juice” and lots of non-verbal communication e.g. pointing, reaching, looking.

Background: Emilia had an initial assessment. She showed that she understood everything that was said to her but was delayed in her development of spoken words. ‘Delayed’ meant Emilia was showing the ‘typical’ path of spoken language development but it was happening at a much later age for her.

Examples:

  • To request a drink, Emilia will say “juice”
  • If she sees a noisy fire-engine on the road, Emilia will look at her mum and then point to the fire-engine.
  • To request a biscuit, Emilia will gesture ‘eating.’

Hearing: All assessments passed

Session: Therapy 3 with Mum, Dad, Emilia and Emma.

Emilia and her parents are taking part in Parent-Child Video Interaction Therapy. This therapy involves parents being given strategies to use within their interactions with Emilia to support her spoken language development. Parents know they have not caused Emilia’s language difficulties but there are specific strategies they can now use with her to encourage her speaking skills.

Parents both reported how they had got on with the strategies they had been practising in their ‘Special Time’ last week with Emilia. ‘Special Time’ is a specific 5-10 minutes parents identify daily when they play with Emilia and focus on their strategies. Dad said he really liked the way ‘Special Time’ gave him the justification to take time out from work/jobs and simply ‘play’ with Emilia.

We separately video-ed mum and dad playing with Emilia for 5 minutes each. Together we then watched the video back and identified all the positive things Mum and Dad were doing to support Emilia’s language (there were lots!) and looked at how each of them had used their targets.

Video is used, as research shows, this is the most effective tool in helping bring about change in peoples’ behaviours; rather than being told they have/have not done something, the video allows them to actually see it for themselves.

After watching the video, Mum felt that she had not used her strategy enough with Emilia during her interaction. In fact, the video showed her that there were lots of lovely examples where she had used the strategy and, within the video, Emilia actually used one new spoken word which she had not said before. Dad felt that he had used his strategy a lot with Emilia but he changed his mind after watching the video as he realised that there were lots of missed opportunities for the strategy’s use.

We then agreed parents’ new targets for the week ahead before we all finished with a game of ‘animal lotto.’

This lotto gave lots of opportunities for us all to practice the language development strategies together during play. I also demonstrated the key animal Makaton signs to parents so they could now sign, make the symbolic noise and label the animal. All of this will help to support Emilia’s language development; the animal noise will grab her attention so she can listen to the animal label and, if everyone else is using signs, this will encourage Emilia to use signs/gestures herself. Research, and my own experience, shows that using signs helps to support and develop children’s talking skills.

The family left happily with their strategies to practice in Special Time and the animal lotto game to play.  I was left slightly disappointed to have lost yet another game of Lotto this week!

In the Spotlight next week will be Jack. Jack is 33 years old and has referred himself for support with his stammer.