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Chatsworth Road Festival 2015

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chats rdChatsworth Road Festival 2015

It’s that time of year again, the Chatsworth Road Festival is nearly here and at Chatter we have planned some exciting events for you all. This year will be the 4th year of the festival, where local businesses, charities, services and the community come together to celebrate living and working on and around Chatsworth Road. This year we are offering 3 events and there is a brief summary of each below. A link to all the other fantastic events happening during the festival will be available soon.

Beth and I look forward to seeing you soon!!

Friday 2nd October

Little Chatterboxes Nursery and Preschool Groups.

45min slots all day – call/email in advance to book

Calling all Day Nurseries and Preschools… Do you have concerns about a child’s communication skills? Chatter SLT are offering free taster Little Chatterboxes groups. We will come to your nursery or preschool and bring our fun, engaging group activities with us. Our groups support the children in your nursery to become happy, confident communicators aged 18months to 5years

Location: Various Nurseries / Pre-schools by advance booking.
Contact: Claire West or Beth Atkinson 07841862439 & 07834829869 || chatterslt@gmail.com

SATURDAY 3rd October

Little Chatterboxes fun and games for all

1pm to 3.30pm

Come and join Chatter Independent Speech Therapy for an afternoon filled with fun activities for the kids. All the activities are focussed around developing children’s speech, language and communication skills. Craft, story telling, singing, signing and more. All activities free and for all abilities, plus chat to our Speech and Language Therapists.

Location: Brampton Therapy Centre, 349 Chatsworth Rd Chesterfield, S40 2BZ: courtyard and therapy room.
Contact: Claire West or Beth Atkinson 07841862439 & 07834829869 || chatterslt@gmail.com

Saturday 3rd October

Speech and Language Therapy Clinic- FREE advice and screening assessment

1pm to 3.30pm

Do you have concerns about your child’s speech, language and communication skills? Chatter Independent Speech Therapy are offering FREE advice and screening sessions to help local families. Sessions last 20mins, and are for parents, carers and their children aged 18months-15years. Please contact us to book your slot now, some walk in slots will be available on the day.
Location: Brampton Therapy Centre 349 Chatsworth Rd Chesterfield, S40 2BZ: Therapy Room.
Contact: Claire West or Beth Atkinson 07841862439 & 07834829869 || chatterslt@gmail.com || www.chatterslt.co.uk

We look forward to hearing from you and meeting lots of local families in October. Come and meet us at the festival and let us help your child become a happy, confident communicator :)

Thanks for reading!

Claire x

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THE LANGUAGE PYRAMID SERIES- WK 4- UNDERSTANDING WORDS AND SENTENCES

understanding

Does your child understand what you say to them?

Can they follow instructions in school or nursery?

Can you ask them to do more than one thing e.g. go upstairs, brush your teeth and get your school bag?

Children need to understand what is said to them before they can start using words and sentences accurately.  Following instructions is a vital skill for learning and keeping safe.  Children who have difficulties understanding can be labelled as naughty but it could be that they don’t know what they are supposed to be doing.

Some instructions are easy to follow e.g. go get your shoes- your child may know that before they go out they need their shoes; they will have done this many times and can see the other people around them putting their shoes on.  As they get older, children are expected to follow longer, more complex instructions e.g.  Put your books in the red box, wash your hands then sit down on the carpet.  They need to remember lots of information, know the vocabulary used (box, wash, hands, red) and understand the smaller grammatical words (in, then).

Speech and Language Therapists are highly skilled at assessing comprehension (understanding language) and highlighting where any problems may lie.

If you are concerned about your child understanding language there are lots of strategies you can use to help them:

  • Break instructions into smaller chunks e.g. brush your teeth; get your school bag
  • Repeat instructions multiple times
  • Get your child to repeat back what they have been asked to do
  • Encourage your child to ask for help e.g. putting their hand up in class
  • Contact us to arrange a full assessment
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Creating Communication Friendly Schools

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Education is an area that is constantly meddled with by politicians and in the lead up to this year’s General Election there will, no doubt, be many changes proposed in the hope of securing votes.

Whether our schools survive the next year unscathed remains to be seen. However, regardless of any potential changes, one thing that remains constant is the research evidence that demonstrates the central role that communication skills play in education attainment and outcomes later on in life.

Good communication skills underpin all learning and this is reflected in the fact that Ofsted has a strong focus in their inspection framework on how children are developing their communication skills within a school and whether teachers are able to support them with this.

The Teachers’ Standards, set by the Department for Education, states that all teachers should take responsibility for promoting high standards of speaking and listening skills regardless of the subject they teach.

In practice, not all teachers feel confident in doing this. However, creating schools which have a communication friendly environment is a cohesive and effective way of sharing out the responsibility of driving up communication standards in schools. There are three main areas which need to be considered:

Visual support to enhance understanding of the written and spoken word
Everyone benefits from backing up writing and speech with signs, pictures and symbols. This promotes independence and helps students understand rules, routines and information. Imagine an alien landing in your school. Would they easily be able to find their way round and know how the day works?

Colour coded maps, room labels with photos of the teacher or what happens in the room and staff boards in the foyer with named photos help students and visitors navigate the building.

Classrooms with consistent colour coding for areas and pictures to show where equipment is kept reduces anxiety and helps understanding, as do visual timetables showing the structure of the day or part of a lesson, like getting dressed for PE.

The use of symbol supported learning materials in lessons makes the curriculum accessible to all. When worksheets, stories, task instructions and new vocabulary are accompanied by symbols and pictures, this helps understanding of words and instructions and allows pupils to work through tasks with increasing independence.

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Symbol supported learning materials in lessons makes the curriculum accessible to all

Ensuring that adults communicate in ways that support language development
The way that parents and teachers interact with pupils has the strongest effect on how their communication skills emerge. Information on typical language development and the strategies that encourage this should be shared with staff and parents.

Some ‘Golden Rules’ can be created, which teachers and parents agree to try and adopt, for example, allowing extra thinking time for pupils to respond to questions is a simple rule that can have wide reaching consequences for all pupils.

Creating surroundings which facilitate good communication
The physical environment has a huge impact on how well pupils can listen and talk, but schools do not always take this into consideration. It’s helpful to think about the auditory surroundings in school. What are the acoustics of the classroom like? Can the teacher’s voice be heard, if not, what would improve this?

The visual environment is also key. Are there lots of visual distractions in areas where children are expected to concentrate?

Classroom displays can bring learning to life but can be visually distracting which is problematic for all children, especially those with listening and attention difficulties. Considering placing displays away from areas where children are expected to work and having clear wall spaces there instead is useful.

Is there adequate lighting? Having the light source in front of the teacher is preferable as spoken information is heavily supported by non-verbal information like lip movements, facial expression and eye contact.

Classrooms which have clearly defined areas create a more organised environment which pupils can navigate easily. Making specific areas which are conducive to talking is beneficial for pupils of all ages.

As with any whole school plan it’s vital that a top-down approach is taken to ensure that the key features are embedded into everyday practice.

It’s helpful for school leadership teams to give staff and governors information around the links between communication skills and raising educational attainment in order to encourage an understanding of why changes need to be made.

Including actions about communication development in the school action plan ensures that adaptations to the school environment are followed through. Teacher training is also crucial and local speech and language therapy services are the best starting point to investigate training that is on offer.

A helpful resource is the Communication Trust’s ‘Communication Commitment’which provides a comprehensive guide to creating a whole school approach to boosting talking and listening skills.

Incorporating speaking and listening activities into lesson planning for all subject areas creates time for talk during the day and raises the status of ‘just talking’ to be in line with the status given to reading and writing. Celebrating positive communication skills through speaking and listening awards or communication mentor schemes also raises the profile.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, none of this would be successful without involving parents. Parental engagement is crucial to every aspect of a child’s school career. Sharing information via newsletters, bulletin boards and parent talks about what the school is aiming for and how parents can support this at home is essential.

Our schools are likely to be subjected to yet another barrage of policy changes in the near future. However, teachers and parents can safeguard the success of pupils by making consistent and effective adaptations to the school environment now, to enable all students to be able to communicate to the best of their abilities in the future.

Fiona Barry is a speech and language therapist and runs Talking Tips for Kids

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The Language Pyramid Series- Wk 3- Attention and Listening

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Attention and Listening

Does your child find it hard to sit still?

Do they appear to ignore you?

Do they talk when they should be listening?

Do they have difficulty following instructions?

Are they easily distracted?

Can they only concentrate on one thing at a time?

Do they move quickly from one toy to another?

Do they find it very hard to complete a game or activity?

 

Lots of children have difficulties with their attention (concentration) and listening skills.  Children’s attention develops and matures as they get older.

Concentration difficulties impact on all areas of communication:

  • following instructions
  • learning and using new words
  • forming sentences
  • listening to and using the correct sounds in words

Children with attention and listening difficulties often end up in trouble in school or nursery.  They are not being naughty; they need someone to help develop their attention and listening skills.

 

How can you help?

  • say your child’s name before giving an instruction so they know to listen e.g. “Tyler put your coat on”
  • keep activities short and interesting
  • praise them when they are listening well e.g. “great listening Evie”
  • talk about how to be a good listener e.g. sit still, look at the person who is talking, only talk when it’s your turn
  • go on a listening walk, talk about what you can hear e.g. birds, cars, a helicopter
  • get in touch with us for more Attention and Listening game ideas and further support
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The Language Pyramid Series- wk 2- Play and Interaction

pyramid play and interaction

Play and Interaction

  • Does your child find it hard to play with others?
  • Do they look at you when you are talking to them?
  • Do they like playing with one particular toy or do they play with toys in an unusual way?
  • Can you have a conversation with your older child about different topics or do they always want to talk about the same thing?

Your child may need support with their play and interaction skills. Therapists often start by developing and reinforcing these skills before moving onto other areas of language development. It may look like we are “only” playing with your child but we are helping them build an important building block for communication.  This is the largest section of our Pyramid of Language Development
Interaction is vital for successful communication.  It happens when two people share an interest in something and make a connection.  This can be through starting a conversation, asking for something or responding  to something someone has said.   Children learn and develop their interaction skills through play. They learn to play with other children and take turns.  They invite others to play with them, make up stories together and keep games going.

How can you help?
-if you are worried about your child’s interaction get in touch
-watch your child as they play, look and learn about what they are interested in, will they let you join in?
-turn off the TV, lock away the tablet and get some toys out!
– play “people games”- e.g. tickling, chasing, row row row your boat.  These games don’t need any toys so are great for showing children that other people can be fun to play with too.

 

Difficulties with interaction can be a sign that your child has more complex communication needs such as Autism, language impairment or learning difficulties.  Don’t sit at home and worry about it, get in touch with us or your GP, there’s lots we can do to help.

 

Beth Atkinson

Chatter Independent Speech Therapy

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The Language Pyramid Series- wk 1- An Introduction

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Language Pyramid Explained

Successful communication is made up of many components. Language can develop naturally for lots of children, however for around 1 in 10 children extra support is needed to help them become confident communicators.

Language can be thought of as a pyramid, each layer needs to be securely in place to support the next block. Without a good solid base, further development can be shaky. Children can have difficulties at each level and specialist input is needed to provide the correct support.

Over the coming weeks we will explain each layer in more detail and what you can do to help your child become a confident happy communicator.

 

Beth Atkinson, Specialist Speech and Language Therapist

Chatter Independent Speech Therapy Ltd

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Signs of Autism

signs of autism

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by social impairments, cognitive impairments, communication difficulties, and repetitive behaviors. It can range from very mild to very severe and occur in all ethnic, socioeconomic and age groups. Males are four times more likely to have autism than females. Some children with autism appear normal before age 1 or 2 and then suddenly “regress” and lose language or social skills they had previously gained. This is called the regressive type of autism.

SIGNS OF AUTISM:
•No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by six months or thereafter
•No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles, or other facial expressions by nine months or thereafter
•No babbling by 12 months
•No Gesturing (pointing, waving bye-bye) by 12 months
•No words by 16 months
•No two-word meaningful phrases (without imitating or repeating) by 24 months
•Any loss of speech or babbling or social skills at any age

EARLY SIGNS OF AUTISM:
•Doesn’t make eye contact (e.g. look at you when being fed).
•Doesn’t smile when smiled at.
•Doesn’t respond to his or her name or to the sound of a familiar voice.
•Doesn’t follow objects visually.
•Doesn’t point or wave goodbye or use other gestures to communicate.
•Doesn’t follow the gesture when you point things out.
•Doesn’t make noises to get your attention.
•Doesn’t initiate or respond to cuddling.
•Doesn’t imitate your movements and facial expressions.
•Doesn’t reach out to be picked up.
•Doesn’t play with other people or share interest and enjoyment.
•Doesn’t ask for help or make other basic requests.

Image and article from the www.nationalautismassociation.org

 

 

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10 Tips to Talking- Tip 1

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Each week we are going to post a new piece of advice to support your little one’s talking.  This advice is perfect for children who are developing their talking at an expected rate and those who are a little behind or those who are having lots of difficulties learning to talk.  It benefits all children and whether you are parents, Speech Therapists, Nursery Nurses or Teachers, we should all follow these simple yet very beneficial tips.
Week 1:
Get down to your child’s level
This may sound very simple but think about the times you have spoken to your child or given an instruction when you are stood above them looking down (or sometimes not facing them).  In this position it is difficult for your little person to listen to all the information you give, see your facial expression and see how your mouth moves to form the sounds and words.

These are all things your child needs to be able to see and hear to support their language development.  Aim to get their attention by saying their name before you speak and get down to their level so you are face to face.  This is the position where your child will learn the most from you.

This is also the best position to be in when playing. We all know how important playing with our children is but we also need to be down at the same level as them and in a position where they can see you very easily when they look up from the very interesting game you are playing.  When we play with children we use language to describe what is happening, our children learn from this language and learn even more if the person is close to them and fully engaged in the activity.  This also supports your child to see what you are doing with the toys and shows them you are interested in what they are doing and enjoying being with them.

Next time you play with your child or speak to them remember:

• Get down to the same level… bend your knees, lay on the floor in front of them, whatever it takes

• Say their name if you are unsure if you have their full attention

• Notice the difference between giving an instruction to them standing up and looking down compared to crouching down and being face to face.

• Spend this time watching what they are doing and responding to them and joining in their fun game.

• Watch what they do when they can see your face easily, do they use more eye contact, copy your facial expressions, and copy what you say?

• And most of all…. Have fun :)

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Who can help?

 

My Child’s talking is delayed….Who can help?

Do you have a concern about your child’s talking?  There are lots of places to go for help.

  • Have you spoken to a Speech and Language therapist? We are a friendly bunch and very approachable.  It can be difficult to find someone to speak to but at Chatter we always offer a free telephone consultation at a time that suits you.  We can talk through your concerns however big or small and if you want further support we can arrange assessment, therapy and support tailored to your child and family.

 

  • NHS Speech and Language Therapy- Most NHS SLT services accept referrals directly from parents and carers, if in doubt give them a call to check, they will probably send you a copy of their referral form to fill in.  Your child can have support from a Chatter therapist alongside their NHS therapy.  All Chatter therapists also work for the NHS so are experts in working with their NHS colleagues.  Often parents feel they don’t get enough contact with the NHS SLT and opt for additional support.  Alternatively some families feel they would prefer to seek all of their child’s therapy privately.  When referring to the NHS SLT service it is worth bearing in mind that they have clear referral guidelines which include what referrals they can and cannot accept.

 

  • Don’t get bogged down in a Google Search, here are some very helpful websites dedicated to language development and communication difficulties:

www.ican.org.uk The Children’s Communication Charity
www.talkingpoint.org.uk has free resources for parents and lots of information about children’s communication
www.stammering.org The British Stammering Association is the place to go for sensible advice on stammering/stuttering
www.thecommunicationtrust.org.uk supporting the communication needs of all children
www.autism.org.uk The leading charity for people with autism
www.rcslt.org The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists

 

Don’t worry about your child’s talking, we are all happy to talk about it with you!  Seeking support from a therapist is the first step.

Written by Beth Atkinson, Specialist Speech and Language Therapist

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