As is often the case, I come across great resources and services for children with special needs on Twitter. I then cheekily ask them if they’d like to contribute a guest article for Special Needs Jungle and I’m delighted to say, today and tomorrow, we have a two-part article from two Speech and Language Therapists who run SpeechBlogUK.
Helen & Elizabeth have written their top tips when using Speech and Language Therapy services.
Hi. We’re Helen and Elizabeth from www.speechbloguk.wordpress.com .
We’re two speech and language therapists living and working in the south-east of England. We both have experience of being employed by the NHS and working independently. We’ve recently started our own blog, and we were thrilled when Tania contacted us about writing a guest post for Special Needs Jungle. Below is some advice about accessing SLT and making the most of your appointments.
Many children have speech and language problems at some point and this number seems to be rising. If you have concerns about your child’s development, the most sensible thing to do is seek out a referral to a speech and language therapist. However, as many of you may be aware, sometimes this can be harder than it sounds.
There are a number of places you can get good, sensible information from, both on development and ideas to help at home.
- Ican: Ican are the children’s communication charity. They have some brilliant resources and advice. They also offer a range of services and support.
- Afasic Again offer support and advice to parents and have a range of services available.
- Talking point Has some lovely information and developmental checks and information
- Mommy Speech Therapy: This is an American blog and has some great advice sheets and ideas
WARNING: be a little careful when searching the Internet. As with all things there is also some misleading information out there. Try to go to known associations and organisations.
There are a number of ways to get referred to most NHS speech therapy departments. There may be local variations but generally:-
- Preschoolers can be referred by a GP, nursery, paediatrician, health visitor OR parents.
- School aged referrals can become a little more complicated. Normally referrals have to come from schools or paediatricians and fewer trusts will accept parental referrals (although it’s always worth trying!). You may also find that your child may need to be referred to other education based services first, before they can be referred on to speech therapy.
You can also access independent speech therapy; however, you have to pay! A few health insurance companies will pay for independent initial assessment, but I have yet to find one that will fund ongoing therapy for developmental issues.
In some circumstances, parents can get help towards the fees from Cerebra. To ensure the therapist you find is appropriately qualified and insured, use the ASLTIP website www.helpwithtalking.com . This is the association for independent therapists and, to be a member, you have to prove that you are qualified and keep all memberships/ insurances and skills up to date. Most independent therapists will happily talk about your concerns over the phone and some offer a free brief consultation – so it’s worth ringing around. You are paying so you want to find someone you can work with.
WARNING. Some schools say they have a speech therapist and they don’t. They may have a TA with some training or some of the local authority education workers who support language, but few mainstream schools have a qualified speech therapist.
REMEMBER: you know your child best. If you have concerns you should follow up on them, even if it’s just reading up a little. If you are finding it hard to get your child referred, keep going!
Read the second part of this article on Special Needs Jungle tomorrow.