What is Speech And Language Therapy?
The ability to communicate is central to all that you do, to who you are, how you learn and how you relate to others. Speech and language therapy is the process of enabling you to communicate to the best of your ability ... Here at Wordswell, we look at the needs of both you and your family ... treating the cause of the problem as well as the symptoms whenever possible. So, when you know that you have a problem with speech, language or communication, you need to be sure that you can access the speech and language services you need ... NOW. You see, at Wordswell we want to understand your whole problem and we make time to listen to you and discuss all your concerns throughout your involvement with us. We have developed comprehensive assessment and therapy services which are always based on current theory and best practice ... so you can be sure that you will receive the best therapy for your particular condition.
Why Do Speech And Language Therapists See Children?
As communication skills are crucial for intellectual, educational, social and emotional development Speech and Language Therapists work with children and young people who have problems with understanding, expressing themselves and using communication to socialise appropriately. They also work with children and young people who have difficulty with eating, drinking and/or swallowing.
Who Do Speech And Language Therapists Work With?
Speech and Language Therapists work in close partnership with the child or adult with a communication disability and their family, education, social work, other healthcare professionals and the voluntary sector.
What Are Your Fees?
All your fees are agreed in advance, so you'll never be surprised by our charges. A full breakdown of our fees appropriate for your individual circumstances will be discussed with you at your free discussion appointment or given in writing in our terms and conditions letter confirming your first appointment.
Fees are based on you seeing your therapist at the clinic in Little Downham however, if your therapist travels to your own home, school or nursery, travelling expenses are usually charged. Travelling time is also charged in addition if the journey is more than 1 hour each way.
Our cancellation charges are:
more than 7 days no fee
2-7 days 50% of the fee
Less than 2 days 75% of the fee
It is now possible for you to receive a full 20% discount on payments made more than 7 days ahead of your assessment or therapy appointments. Last-minute administration and chasing outstanding amounts is a time-consuming task, so this discount is our way of saying "thank you" for letting us focus our resources and energies where they really count - on delivering the levels of service and support that you have come to expect from us, and in applying therapies which make such a real difference to the daily lives of all our clients.
Can Therapy Be Funded By Medical Insurance?
If you are insured and you want to be certain of being fully reimbursed, you should check beforehand, the extent and terms of your cover. The reason for this is that we cannot suspend collection of fees or claim fees directly from the insurers.
Most insurers require therapists' work to be authorised by a "specialist". This may be a GP or consultant. It might be a good idea to check with your insurers on your cover for 'type of appointment' and their recognition of the referrer. We are BUPA registered providers.
What Is Your Policy On Data Protection?
This Statement sets out Wordswell's policy in relation to holding and using information about you which may be obtained from you or other sources during your treatment.
How Do I Refer My Child To Speech And Language Therapy?
Speech and language therapy has an open referral system. This means anyone can refer a child for assessment, providing there is parental consent. Parents can refer children as well. Your GP, Health Visitor, local school or playgroup supervisor should be able to give you details of your local clinic.
Will Using A Dummy Affect My Child's Speech?
Many children who use a dummy do not go on to have speech or language difficulties and dummies can be a vital comfort for tiny babies. However, once your baby is over 6 months, the following should be considered:
- How much is your child using a dummy? If he uses a dummy frequently while he is awake, this may discourage him from talking or exploring with sounds.
- When is your child using a dummy? Dummies should only be for sleep time or for comfort. If he uses the dummy a great deal during the day, your child might try to talk through it and it will also encourage his sucking reflex, both of which can be damaging to the correct development of speech sounds.
My Oldest Child Always Speaks For My Youngest Child. What Should I Do?
This is a common problem. Older children always like to show off what they know! This won't cause a speech and language difficulty in the younger child, but it may affect their confidence. Try to give your younger child space by suggesting to your oldest: "Shall we see if your sister knows this first? You can tell me is she's not sure." Try to have some time alone with your youngest, perhaps while the older child is at school or playgroup. Try to teach your children about taking turns to talk.
Will Watching TV Help My Child To Talk?
Generally, watching TV does not help children to talk. Children learn to talk through communication with the people around them. You cannot communicate with a TV! However, watching programmes aimed at young children together can get both of you talking and that IS a good thing.
My Child Can't Speak Clearly. Does This Mean She's Not Intelligent?
No. Children of all abilities can have a speech or language difficulty.
My Child Has Had Lots Of Colds And Ear Infections. Will This Affect His Speech?
If your child suffers with a lot of colds or ear infections he may be vulnerable to middle ear blockage (glue ear). This means his hearing may fluctuate. There is some evidence that children with chronic middle ear blockage are at an increased risk of a speech and language delay. If you suspect your child is not hearing well, contact your Health Visitor or GP.
Meanwhile, remember these strategies:
- Make sure the home environment is quiet. Turn off the TV and radio so that your child has the best chance of listening to what you say.
- Make sure you are face to face with your child before you speak to him.
- Don't speak too fast and make sure your sentences are short and clear.
- Make sure you are aware of speech milestones so that you can check whether your child is falling behind with is speech. Your Health Visitor will be able to give you the information you need.
How Does A Stammer Develop?
Too many demands, which the child is not mature enough to meet, can increase dysfluency which can develop into stammering, especially if the child is very sensitive to failure. There are also things that a child may think and do that can make the problem worse, for example:
- A belief of feeling that speaking dysfluently is shameful or wrong
- Concentration on the detailed mechanics of speaking may lead to self-consciousness and more mistakes
- Trying harder to speak fluently may turn relaxed repetitions into tense stoppages as the child tries to force the word out
- In trying to understand stammering certain words, people or situations may be blamed. Avoidance of these to reduce stammering may lead to constant scanning ahead and changing of words and so to less and less confidence in speaking abilities
- The experience of a loss of control while speaking can be humiliating. As a society we think badly of people who are unable to control their body and its functions. A feeling that they are seriously different from others may make children feel isolated and lonely.
What Can We Do To Make Speaking Easier For A Child?
- Look at the child and get your face on the same physical level
- Speak in language that can be understood easily
- Talk about the present and things that can be seen
- Reduce the number of questions that you ask, allow your child to choose when to tell you things
- Give your child time, slow your own speech, show that you are listening and interested
- If your child is very dysfluent then reduce demands. May be return to some of the favourite books, rhymes, games and activities to help your child feel the security of the familiar
I Understand What My Child Says But No One Else Does. Is There A Problem?
It depends how old your child is. As a rough guide, by the time your child is 3 years old, most people (including unfamiliar adults) should be able to understand most of what your child says. Your Health Visitor has a guide on speech sound development if you want to know more.
Is There A Problem? My Child Has A Lisp.. What Should I Do?
"Lisp" describes an immature pronunciation of "s". The "s" is produced as a "th" sound. Children often find "s", "th" and "r" difficult sounds for quite a long time. It is not unusual for these sounds to sill be produced as "th", "f" and "w", even when the child is 4 or 5 years old. As long as your child is easy to understand there is no need for speech therapy.
My Child's First Language Isn't English. Will He Manage When He Starts Playgroup?
As long as your child is speaking well in his first language, he will learn English quickly as soon as he is exposed to it. When we speak to young children we use a lot of facial expression and gesture to help them to understand. This will help your child to understand the new language too. Children also use facial expressions and gestures to "talk". For children who are learning English as a second language, these are useful tools to help them to communicate before they can say much in the new language.
My Youngest Seems To Be Learning To Talk Much More Slowly Than My Eldest. Should I Be Concerned?
Comparisons between children can be misleading as each child learns to communicate at a different rate. It is likely that there isn't any problem but if you are worried talk to your Health Visitor or arrange a visit to your local Speech and Language Therapist.
I'm Still Concerned About My Child's Speech And Language. What Should I Do?
Arrange to see your local Speech and Language Therapist for some advice. She wants your child to reach his unique potential with his communication skills and become a confident communicator.
What Is Normal Dysfluency In Young Children?
Pausing, repeating words or sounds ("can, can, can I", or "mu mu mu mummy"), stopping and starting again are the sorts of dysfluencies that occur when children are learning to talk. Many have episodes of obvious dysfluency during the years of very rapid language development (2-5 years) and at other times during childhood when there are extra pressures to speak well. A child who is slow in using sentences or in speaking clearly may be particularly sensitive to communication pressure.
What Is Stammering (Or Stuttering)?
When normal dysfluencies occur so often that they interfere with talking or cause distress to either the speaker or the listener, then stammering may develop. If relaxed repetitions or stretched out sounds become very tense and the child struggles to finish a word then he or she may be stammering. However, there are many children who experience these problems with talking who don't develop a stammer. It is impossible to tell for sure which children will pass through a stage of stammering and which will not, so it is always best to do whatever we can to make speaking easier for the child.
Is Stammering Inherited?
As far as we know, it is not so much the stammer that is inherited but rather particular patterns of language development and particular strengths and weakness in different areas of language skill. This means that some children need more support and fewer demands in order to develop their speaking skills in their own good time.
Once a child has developed basic language and articulation skills, it is easier to deal with more complicated ideas and communication pressures.
Why Do Some Children Have Problems With Speaking Fluently?
A child is likely to feel confident and happy when there is a balance between the demands that are made, the child's ability to meet these and the amount of support that is given. Here are some examples of the demands, abilities and supports that can affect speaking:
Can arise from what people actually do or say as well as what the child thinks they want.
People may demand: good, clear speech, answers to lots of questions; information grown-up behaviour; quick replies.
The child may want to: do things well; please parents and other adults; be liked by other children; talk frequently about needs, wants, hurts and pleasures.
The situation may be: noisy, busy, frightening, exciting, tiring, competitive, there may be interruptions and lots of talking.
To speak in fluent sentences children need to know lots of words, know how to put words together (grammar), think quickly of the "right word" or correct sentence to say what they really mean, listen and understand what others say; learn which sounds we use in our language and how they are put together to form words.
They must also develop motor or mechanical skills so that they can: copy the sounds that others use in order to be understood; coordinate all the muscles used for breathing and speaking; control the muscles to move quickly and smoothly from one sound to the next.
These abilities are affected by how the child feels as well as by the demands placed upon him. When the child feels: happy, confident, listened to, sure of the content etc., then it's easier to speak well. When the child feels: upset, tired, unwell, over-excited, unimportant etc., then speaking can be difficult.
It can be difficult to offer support to others when we are anxious ourselves. However, trying to take the child's view changes our focus and makes helping possible. Then we can do those things that make the child feel loved and wanted as well as all the little things that help in particular situations, for example:
- Listening attentively
- Helping the child to feel safe
- Responding kindly and uncritically
- Being encouraging
- Offering physical support when needed
- Helping others understand our child
- Speaking is easier when Abilities and Support balance Demands
What Sort Of Speaking Situations Can Lead To More Dysfluency?
- Speaking to adults who talk very quickly
- Speaking while having to look high up to see the listener's face
- Speaking when you think you will be interrupted
- Speaking to someone who is not really listening
- Speaking when you fear the consequences of what you say
- Speaking when you do not want to or when you have nothing to say
- Speaking when very tired, upset, or feeling unwell
- Speaking in a rush when you have a lot to say or a complex idea to express
How Can We Take The Focus Off Speech?
Find time to do things with your child that do not require much talking and where the activity or looking or listening is more important than speaking. Spontaneous, easy talking may occur naturally as a result of the shared experience.
Is There Anything Parents Should Avoid Doing?
Try not to get stuck with responses that you know are not helping. You can experiment with ways of helping especially if you can discuss them first with a speech and language therapist. Try to put yourself in your child's shoes, look at speaking situations from his or her point of view and think about what may help. Avoid encouraging tricks, that Is, things that we do not normally do in relaxed conversations but which improve fluency for a short while, for example: taking a deep breath, shutting our eyes or speaking with an accent. Other, more usual ways of increasing fluency can be tried. If something helps then continue, if not then stop and think again. For example, you may find that slowing your own rate of speech helps whereas telling your child to slow down just increases frustration. Do not correct mispronunciations or grammatical mistakes. Just say the correct version for you child to hear.
Do not blame yourself, you have not caused the stammer. Try to think optimistically about all the things that you can do to help your child speak more fluently. To say "don't worry" is unfair since it is probably impossible not to worry. However, if you can remain attentive and calm when your child gets stuck while talking, then your positive attitude may help him or her to feel confident.
Are There Other Things To Do?
Discuss with your partner the things that each of you find influences how comfortable you feel when talking. Children often respond to similar pressure. List the factors that have a negative and positive effect on your child.
Try to put into words your child's upset and difficult feelings, which will help him or her to feel understood and supported. Do some of the things that you and your child enjoy and where speaking is not especially important.
Be encouraging. Stammering can undermine children's confidence so that they fail to notice their achievements and everything becomes overshadowed by failures with speaking.
Reduce the pressures on all members of the family including yourselves. Do not worry about "good manners", just give a good example and your child will learn.
Do anything that makes talking and listening enjoyable. If your child seems aware of stammering then talk gently to him about it. Some adults who stammer felt during childhood that there was a "conspiracy of silence" which made them feel ashamed of their stammering. Uncritical and open discussion can help.
Try to be consistent in your handling of all your children. Being clear about family rules helps everyone to feel secure.
Consistency with bedtimes, eating, discipline, etc., can reduce battles and also help to avoid excessive tiredness and irritability. Do see the help of a speech and language therapist at your local health centre. In most districts you can make direct contact, there is no need to go to a doctor or a health visitor first. It does not matter how young your child is, most therapists like to see a family as soon as they are worried rather than wait until the stammering is developed an so harder to deal with. Therapists are careful not to increase a child's awareness of stammering so they often work mainly with the parents, though an older child may be more directly involved in therapy.