March 5, 2018: are Speech Therapists Miracle Workers?
Well last Friday was an enforced 'Snow Day' here in Shrewsbury!!
So instead of my usual day of seeing children, parents and teachers I was in my office catching up on paperwork. So how lovely when my computer inbox pinged to show me the following email (anonymised) from a parent:
"Hi Victoria. I'm really pleased that you had such a positive session with O this week. I am so pleased with how much O's speech has come on and her confidence. She will now talk to people while waiting in line to pay at shops. She seems to be interacting better with other children too. You are truly a miracle worker."
I started seeing this little girl for therapy in September last year (6 months ago) aged just 3 years old. Parents were very concerned as she was using virtually no words that could be understood. From my perspective I was concerned because she was often not giving eye contact, had limited play and liked to follow her own agenda. This made it difficult for her to listen or take turns, and so children and adults were finding it difficult to interact or play with her. The childminder, preschool staff and a visiting SENCO were considering an autistic spectrum diagnosis.
6 months on and O is a chatty and communicative little girl. Her speech is clear and she is using sentences and has small conversations. She enjoys playing with friends at preschool.
A "miracle" is defined as a remarkable event or development that brings very welcome consequences. So has a miracle occurred for O? Is this due to me as this parent suggests? ........ YES, communciation is wonderful and essential. BUT the miracle workers are all of us as a 'team' working together: parents, preschool staff, the childminder, O and me. What a fantastic job I have. Please do contact me if you think I can offer some support for you and your child.
February 2, 2018: early intervention and specialist support is crucial
In 2008 John Bercow was asked to lead a review into the provision for children with Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN). At the time, many services were highlighted to be very variable and some inadequate. The report made 40 recommendations, all of which were accepted by Government. Some changes were made but meeting childrens' needs remains an issue still in 2018.
There is no doubt about the importance of Speech, Language and Communication as an essential life skill. Language development has a profound impact on all other aspects of life. Yet still so many children are struggling. A recent study showed that 7.5% of all children have a language impairment. This is 2 children in every Year 1 class of 30 children. This compares to 1% of all children affected by autism and 2% affected by Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
The new Bercow Report now 10 YEARS LATER has found that more than half of children with language difficulties are not being identified meaning they miss out on the crucial support they need. These children are likely to have problems with reading, learning in school, socialising, making friends, and understanding and controlling emotions. Without the right support at the right time, a child's life chances can be significantly hampered.
Please get in touch with me if you are concerned that your child is not getting the help they need. Timely and appropriate therapy for YOUR individual child is my specialism.
March 14, 2016: winning the Parent's Award!
Today I received an email from the BCA team congratulating me on winning the Parent's Award. They very kindly sent me the full comments from the judge of my category, Julia Allinson, who wrote:
Victoria Everall - Speech and Language Therapist as Parent Category Winner
I was so hugely impressed with the support and care Victoria so clearly gives to all her clients. She makes huge changes to the lives of these children and ultimately their parents. Improving their outcomes educationally and their overall life chances.
Victoria brings about a powerful change through her work, which is centred primarily on the child, whilst working incredibly closely with their parents, empowering them to bring about huge developments in the speech and language capabilities of their child.
Her client testimonials were outstanding and a true testament to the outstanding work she does.
Watch the moment Victoria won the award:
Thank you again to all the wonderful families and education colleagues that I work with who support me in the work that I do to help children develop their communication skills to their full potential. Partnership working is essential.
March 13, 2016: The Businesses for Children Awards
Last night I attended the BCA ceremony and the build up to the night was so exciting. We were told that the evening was not just about the Awards, but was also about honouring each and every one of us there for the work that we do with and for our future generations. It was a fantastic evening and amazing to hear about the work that so many businesses offer for children and parents. I am very thrilled to be able to write that I won the Parent's Award. There was a short video clip of all 5 short-listed candidates in true Oscar style(!!)and then an announcement of why/how the Judge chose the winner. How my heart was pounding! I will try and upload some videos and more photos later in the week........
A little different from my usual Speech and Language Therapist attire!!: I am with Paul and Andy from 360Skylens who sponsored the Parent's Award and were responsible for all the video clips for all businesses.
What a great night and a huge thank you goes to all the wonderful families and teachers and teaching assistants that I work with. What a fantastic job I have and thank you all again for the amazing testimonials that so many colleagues and parents wrote to support my nomination for this Award.
March 3, 2016: World Book Day
Books are for us all, for every day...........social media will have lit up today as proud parents will have posted pictures of their children dressed in a whole variety of costumes to go to school dressed as a favourite book character.
Reading and sharing books is so important for young children's language development. Here are some top tips:
- Even the youngest children benefit from the sounds of your voice. Start reading to your child at birth!
- Don't let a day go by without reading to your child
- The more animated you are, the more your child will follow the story
- Don't rush. It takes time for your child to settle into a story
- Don't be afraid to veer from the text. Improvise! This can be really important if your child has a short attention span too....you can keep your language simple
- Encourage curiosity and questions
- Never stop reading aloud. Even when your child has mastered reading on his/her own, they still benefit from more complex stories and the sound of your voice
- Enjoy books together: sit your child on your lap or cuddle up together
This afternoon in my job as a Speech and Language Therapist I was working with a little boy who presents with both speech pronunciation difficulties as well as selective mutism. Gradually over sessions we have been using a therapy technique called 'sliding in' which supports him to feel confident to use language in more contexts and with more people. Today we used a feely bag of a variety of toys: we found and labelled them and then took turns developing a story. Three of us (the child, his father and myself) taking turns to use our imagination, listen to others and develop our very own story. It did not matter if it was silly, scary, funny, happy or sad. We were having fun and this little boy used full sentences with me for the first time today!!
So.......books AND TOYS are for us all........stories are fun........let your imagination go................
February 29, 2016: Mother's Day this weekend!
I'm sure we all know that it is Mother's Day this Sunday 6th March. But did you know that it is also the European Day of Speech and Language Therapy on the same date?? This day aims to increase the awareness of the Speech and Language Therapy profession throughout Europe.
I don't know the statistics for the whole of Europe, but in the UK there are over 1 million children with a communication difficulty. Too often taken for granted, communication is the fundamental skill children and young people need to learn, make friends and develop the skills needed to manage behaviour and emotions. Speech and Language Therapists support children, their families and teachers.
At the end of January, the newscaster Jon Snow presented a short appeal on behalf of the communication charity ICAN on BBC Radio 4. If you didn't hear it, then please do listen to it here........
Jon Snow is raising awareness of both the ICAN charity and also the work of a Speech and Language Therapist. As a profession we want to be sure that no child is left out or left behind because of a difficulty speaking or understanding.
January 24, 2016 - Happy New Year - achieving, praise and thanks
Firstly, seeing the date of my last entry, it would seem appropriate to set a New Year's resolution to write more frequently on my website Blog!
Next, I would like to announce how humbled, delighted and excited I am to have been shortlisted for two Businesses for Children Awards:
Back in November 2015, I arrived home from a weekend away to receive a beautiful bouquet of flowers in the post as a thank you from a family I'd worked with over the last 6 months and an email from another family nominating me for the Businesses for Children Awards (BCA). I have since been short-listed in 2 categories: The Parents Award, and the Supportive Business for Children and Young People Award. I have received such tremendous testimonials from colleagues and parents alike in support of my short-listing.
The results and winner will be announced in a ceremony on March 12th this year. I have been interviewed on film already, and this week will be interviewed by 2 judges as part of the process prior to final decisions. Exciting, but nerve racking!!
I am hugely grateful for all the very kind words of support in praise of my services... THANK YOU. I am very passionate about the job that I do in supporting parents, children and educational settings to maximise each child's communication skills. Communication is the foundation life skill on which children learn, achieve and make friends... it is not an easy skill or journey for some children or their parents. I love the job I do and am so lucky to work with a range of fantastic children and their families.
As I think about accepting/hearing this praise for my job, it reminds me how important praise is for the children I work with. Things don't always come easily to these children, and their motivation can wane. The children, their parents and their teaching staff are so deserving of praise for their accomplishments and achievements.
Like last year, two lovely Teaching Assistants that I work with gave me another delicious chocolate present at Christmas.
I don't know whether the judges for the Awards will vote me the "Star SALT" (SALT = Speech and Language Therapist!), but I hope the children, their families and schools continue to think so!
February 8, 2015: A new year
Welcome to a new year. I have been working privately for nearly four years and loving it!
I have had some wonderful comments and thanks from children, their parents, their teachers and teaching assistants.
This chocolate bear was such a lovely present to receive from a 7 year old boy I work with and his Teaching Assistants.
Thank you and I hope I can continue to be a number 1 Speech and Language Therapist (SALT) for a long time to come!
July 22, 2014: Prince George's Birthday, BABBLE and first words
Today is Prince George's first Birthday. Happy Birthday George!!
Earlier this year he visited Australia with his parents aged 9 months. Prince William as a doting father thought that maybe George's first word might be 'Bilby' after George met one of these big-eared marsupials at an Australian zoo. Prince William was right that 'koala' is a harder word to say, but even Royal babies are unlikely to say a word like 'bilby' before they say 'daddy, mummy, baby' or other much more familiar words. In fact George would be unlikely to say a full word until after 12 months.
SO.....today is his first Birthday and both Kate and William will have seen George become increasingly interactive by nodding, waving, clapping, pointing, smiling and taking a keen interest in toys. We all observed these skills from footage earlier in the year when the Royals toured Australia. They may now have potentially heard Goerge's sounds changing from vowels --> experimental noises as he began to practise using his lips, tongue and jaw --> babbling with early consonants of p, b, m, w and then later d, g --> linking consonant and vowels in repetitive babble like 'ba-ba', 'goo-goo' --> more elaborate combining of syllables with adult-like rises and falls of intonation patterns 'goo-ee-yah', 'ka-du-bu-ba', etc.
Babble is so important. Whilst babies are babbling a vast network of neurological pathways are being created in the brain and the more a baby babbles in a repetitive way the more deep-routed and robust the neural pathways for making that sound will be.
First words are likely to be the everyday things we refer to, so our babies take on board the constant repetition and gradually begin to say the words themselves. Research says that it takes over 500 repetitions of a word before a child will begin to say it themselves.
So.....I wonder what will be, or has been, George's first word??....has it been 'bilby' after all?.....very unlikely!!
If you have a very quiet baby who is not yet babbling you may like to speak with a Speech and Language Therapist as this is a very crucial stage of language development. The earlier the intervention, the better.
February 13, 2014: listening and attention skills are crucial
This week the Shadow Education Secretary says "pupils' attention spans need addressing". Labour's Tristram Hunt stated that pupils need to learn the ability to concentrate for sustained periods and may need help with being able to do that. This comment comes at a time of rising concern about the impact of the internet and digital gadgets on a child's brain development.
As a Speech and Language Therapist, a core skill that I support in therapy is a child's attention and listening. This is so important in the early years when the ability to concentrate is a basic foundation skill for all forms of learning, including learning to communicate. Do contact me if you feel your child needs help with their listening, attention or communication skills.
December 9, 2013: Supporting parents as well as children: working together
Further to my blog entry last week, this is another story just sent to me by one of the families that I currently work with. You will see the story is similar but perhaps illustrates the importance of helping parents as well as the child who has the communication difficulty. When this little boy first came to see me, he had very few words and those words that he did have were extremely difficult to understand. This is the parents' story:
"When we initially contacted Victoria we were worried that our son was not talking at the age of 3. We had put off doing anything as we thought his speech would eventually happen. Now we were worried that he would not improve or that something was seriously wrong. Victoria's initial assessment of our son immediately put our minds at rest that while our son's speech disorder was significant, she would be able to help him.
We began a six week course of weekly speech therapy and after only one or two weeks we began to see improvement. Victoria was supportive, encouraging and inventive, creating new ways to engage our son in speech therapy. The use of a scrap book to show the current sounds and different techniques meant that both at home and at Nursery we could all support our son's development and chart progress; he enjoyed sharing this book with Victoria each week. The therapy sessions were always imaginative and based around our son's own interests therefore holding his attention allowing him to partake in the therapy without realising it.
The support and encouragement was not only for our son but for us as parents. We needed to learn how we could help his development. Contacting Victoria is without doubt the best thing we could possibly have done for our son. He has changed so much in so few weeks. He is so much more confident and happy as he can now communicate with his peers and teachers and is willing to try new words. In addition we have gained the skills to continue to encourage him and support his ongoing development."
Working together in partnership with parents, teachers and other professionals is crucial to moving a child's communciation skills forward.
December 5, 2013: Parents considering private speech therapy for their child
I have recently been working with a 4 year old little girl who has a significant speech pronunciation delay and disorder. She had just started school this term and parents are very worried about her speech difficulties. Some regular therapy sessions with me were the start of their speech therapy journey. I asked them to write some words to help other parents who may be considering private and/or NHS Speech Therapy for their child. Their thoughts are:-
"We realised when our daughter was approximately 2 years old that she was struggling with her speech. After a couple of frustrating years waiting for her to be seen within the NHS system, we realised that we would need to seek support privately, especially as school was approaching.
Victoria has been extremely helpful in explaining how the NHS system works and where we should be directing our efforts in getting the help that our daughter needs. Without her advice I do not think that we would have progressed to the point that we are today: a teaching assistant support at school and our daughter moved up the waiting list to be seen through the NHS system.
Victoria has struck up a lovely relationship with our daughter in the short time that we have been meeting with her. A daunting and upsetting situation was immediately turned into a warm and friendly meeting on the first induction session. Victoria is very patient. She listens to all of our concerns, answers every question and never makes me as a parent feel as though our session time is up and it is time to go. Being invited into Victoria's home each week, I feel, has made our daughter relax all the more than if she was in a clinical/office environment (the fabulous choice of toys has also helped!) We have a long way to go in order to solve our daughter's speech needs, but can already see improvement in the few weeks that we have been meeting with Victoria. The structure of each session, the tasks/games to complete at home and the big 'special' book to record all our activities, have been a winning formula so far".
PRIVATE OR NHS THERAPY FOR YOUR CHILD?
Hopefully the above parent 'testimonial' illustrates the fact that I always work vey closely with my NHS colleagues and can support families whilst they are on waiting lists for NHS therapy, or work together with NHS Therapists at the same time. Having worked within the NHS in Shropshire for 23 years before working solely independently, I feel I am in a unique position to support families as I know the 'systems' well, and know the majority of NHS Speech and Language Therapists too.
Please do call me for a chat without obligation: 07970 191985.
November 12, 2013: National Rhyme Week
Did you know that it's National Rhyme week? Why is rhyme so important?
Rhyming promotes childrens' communication and language development. Whether you are singing Nursery Rhymes or reading rhyming books or just making up rhyming words together, you will be supporting your child's language development and also having FUN!!
Many children with speech, language and communciation needs have difficulty recognising and producing rhyme. Such a skill is so important not only for speech pronunciation, but also underpins success in learning to read and spell.
Play with rhyme this week and beyond.............it's such fun!
June 18, 2013: the first five years of life
On LinkedIn today on one of my speech therapy groups I read the following statement from Hillary Clinton in America:
"ONE OF THE BEST INVESTMENTS WE CAN MAKE IS TO GIVE OUR CHILDREN THE INGREDIENTS THEY NEED TO DEVELOP IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS OF LIFE". .......how very true. The Early Years are crucial and hence I am working closely with various Early Years settings (preschools and Nurseries), with staff and with parents to promote communication for ALL.
Did you know?... A baby can hear and recognise voice in the womb, and this helps them to interact with you once they are born
Did you know?... 75% of brain development occurs between birth and the age of 2
Did you know?... Before the age of 5½ is the "golden age" for learning to talk
SO.......I know I am always saying it, but Early intervention and input is best and............IT WORKS!
April 24, 2013: working with parents and Nurseries/preschools
During March and April I have been working closely with staff at Preschools and Nurseries. Language/communication is one of the 3 prime areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) of the curriculum, as is closer working with parents and families.
At the weekend I was invited to be involved in an Open morning at a local Nursery. This Open morning was for parents of children aged 2 and 3 years old to find out more about the Nursery day and environment, learn more about curriculum activities, and to be able to chat informally with Nursery staff. As a Speech and Language Therapist I provided some information for parents to take away about what to expect in terms of communication at 2, 2.5 and 3 years old, together with some practical ideas to support communication at home. It was a wonderfully sunny day which set the tone for a very relaxed, fun and informative morning for parents, grandparents, children and staff.
It was super to have time to informally discuss children's communication skills with parents. For some parents we were able to celebrate the fact that their child's communication skills are advanced. With other parents I could be a 'sounding board' to discuss expectations for speech pronunciation and language skill, and address questions or concerns.
The feedback from parents at the Nursery this week has been so positive and I very much look forward to further working like this in other Nurseries and preschools with the aim of promoting communication for ALL children and not just for children with identified speech and language difficulties.
Speech and Language Therapy aims to help children become happy and confident communicators. If any parent or practitioner wants to discuss further with me, then please do not hesitate to contact me: please visit the contact page on this website.
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