Tuesday, 18 October 2016

NLP: Neuro what?? More mumbo jumbo or a great asset for a therapist's toolbox of tricks? What do you think?

Guest blog post by Sarah Ellison, Specialist Speech and Language Therapist

Do you ever find that some days are better than others?  Or find that there are some situations in which you would like to feel more confident but don’t?  Do you ever find yourself not getting on with certain people?  Or situations that you would like to handle better or differently?  And have you ever asked yourself, “Why can’t they be just like ME and do it MY way?!” 

 NLP stands for Neuro Linguistic Programming.  It allows you to have more of the good days by changing things about yourself and improving communication and relationships with others. 

NLP shows us how we take in sensory information in order to make sense of the world, and how this personal representation of reality affects our physiology and behaviour.  With approximately 2.3million bits of sensory information available to us every second, it’s no wonder that we all process things in different ways – in our own unique way.

The use of language patterns (to ourselves as well as other people) also varies from person to person and how we express ourselves greatly affects our behaviour and feelings. 

Habitual, and often subconscious, patterns of thoughts and feelings developed through our life (and especially in childhood) affect our behaviour in the present.  NLP can help to change these patterns – often quite quickly and easily.

My name is Sarah Ellison and I’m a Specialist Speech and Language Therapist.  I have been using NLP in my speech and language therapy clinical work for 15years now – mainly in my specialist area of stammering.  I have found it absolutely invaluable and it has frequently reduced the length of therapy input required.  I find that it enhances confidence, well-being and resilience in children and adults alike.  On a personal level, I use some aspect of NLP every day of the week – it’s now so much a part of me.  I am incredibly grateful that I knew about NLP language patterns before having my daughter – despite having years of experience as an SLT at that point, I still learnt so many invaluable NLP tips for how best to communicate with a child.

My next one day course for SLTs ‘An Introduction to NLP in Speech and Language Therapy’ is on Saturday 4th March 2017 in Accrington, Lancashire.  Please find details  if you want to learn about the wonderful world of NLP and how it can enhance both your life and the lives of the children/adults you work with.  You will leave this fun and interactive day with some quick and effective ways to increase therapy effectiveness and improve communication with others.  Complimentary lunch and refreshments are provided.

Please feel free to contact me if you require any further information.
Sarah Ellison – Tel: 07934 677750 – sarah@profluence.co.ukwww.profluence.co.uk

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Logical Thinking

Guest blog post by Georgina Smith

Sometimes I wonder why the majority of students I see are boys.  There are many arguments about why boys are often seen to be struggling with literacy more than girls.  I think there are way too many complex issues in the mix to singularly give one causal link to this.

However it’s been suggested that girls play more at office and school.  Boys are said to not want to sit in a classroom environment and prefer to be outside.  It’s argued we often buy girls books and stationery as gifts more than we do boys.  There is also the opinion that we have more female role models in primary schools and the lack of male role models in primary school etc also has an impact on boys being interested in literacy.

I can already imagine some of you read this and raise your hands in agreement and others are shouting and reacting strongly against these opinions.  As I suggested, there is no one causal reason why we may see boys struggle more.  In fact is it the fact that more boys struggle or is the fact that we identify less girls?  Girls can be great at covering up mistakes and mimicking.  Maybe we identify more boys as they demonstrate more behavioural issues in the classroom?

However we can also consider the male and female brain.  Girls are more language orientated and more creative where boys are said to be more logical and mathematical thinkers.

It was during some of my 1:1 sessions with primary school age boys that the parents have started to mention that their sons seem to be thriving using a more logical way of learning spelling and reading than just based purely on sounds.  Parents have commented they feels schools may touch upon the rules of why to choose a c,k,ck to make a /k/ sound at the end of a word  such as ‘peck, stick, tank, think, picnic, arctic’ but they rarely stay on the rules long enough and allow them to practice the rules in the context of reading and writing.

When I teach using CodeBreakers I try to emphasise the logical rules such as /k/ at the end of a word.  Surprisingly there are lots of rules in the English language, many of the students really enjoy this method of learning along with all the games and play we utilise when delivering in a multi-sensory way.

Georgina is a member of PATOSS and an Associate Member of the British Dyslexia Association. She is also the author of  Code Breakers

Sunday, 9 October 2016

The pressure to 'do eye contact': do you do it?

I met a lovely, bright young man of 12 this week who has a diagnosis of ASD. I asked him if he found it difficult to listen to what the teacher is saying in class. His reply: 'It depends if they insist on eye contact, if they do then yes if they don't then no,' We then got into a discussion about eye contact. I told him I never make eye contact primarily due to a mild hearing loss but also as I neither want to stare into someone's eyes or they stare into mine (not at work anyway!). He thought I did 'good eye contact' but I explained I actually concentrate on mouths but you can't tell if I'm looking at the mouth or the eyes. He insisted we did a test to see as he didn't believe me. Convinced, we carried on the session and he commented at the end how easy it had been to both listen and talk to me.

When we are having a conversation there are so many things to consider, see the speech chain below, we need to make it as easy as possible for those who already find it hard. This speech chain is from Elklan's excellent working with under 3 course:
We insist on children giving us eye contact in western cultures but how many of you do it constantly and if you've just said yes, why? Does it feel natural, does it feel OK?

We like Michelle Garcia Winner's approach in social thinking, she doesn't mention eye contact. In Social Thinking, she wants you to show the speaker you are interested so 'eyes in the group, body in the group'. The listener wants you to face them to show interest  so the body especially the shoulders should be towards them. They also want and expect you to be looking towards them or it might appear as if you are not interested but I don't know anyone who wants to be stared at. I'm hoping to meet some of his teachers who have insisted he looks into their eyes while he's talking..... that will be one occasion I do stare intently!

Monday, 3 October 2016

The national campaign to increase awareness of SELECTIVE MUTISM: ‘not being able to talk is not the same as having nothing to say’

Imagine a world where you can talk perfectly freely, normally and maybe even eloquently in some places, such as your home, but you cannot talk at school or work or social situations. The words just won’t come out, the harder you try, the worse it may become. It’s the stuff of nightmares, a bit like falling from a height but you wake before you crash-land, only this is not a dream, it’s the living hell for around 1 in 150 children in our nurseries and schools.
Libby Hill, Speech and Language Therapist, says, ‘Our knowledge of the condition has changed massively: we used to think they were choosing not to talk and were wanting to manipulate the adults around them’.

‘SM is now seen as a manifestation of social anxiety or phobia, occurring in temperamentally predisposed children who are unable to take normal life events in their stride, particularly when the reactions of others reinforce silence rather than speech,’ (Maggie Johnson, 2012).

This means they may WANT to speak but are unable to and they may become increasingly wary of any form of communication which could lead to an expectation to speak.
The national charity for information and research into Selective Mutism (SM)SMIRA are having their national awareness campaign during October, when people from all over the UK will be holding awareness events to try to increase the understanding of this very much mis-understood condition.

To raise awareness here in Staffordshire, Libby Hill and the team from Small Talk Speech and Language Therapy are providing a FREE training day at Fountains Primary in Burton on 28th October. 'We really want to help raise the seriousness of the problem but also show that there’s lots we can do to help children and young adults,’  says Libby. There are parents and professionals coming from as far away as Bristol and London.

Libby is very excited to be able to include Natasha Dale, from Uttoxeter, in the training day.  Natasha suffered terribly as a child and teenager with the condition which really blighted her early life. Fortunately with her family’s and friends’ support, she has worked hard to over-come this and one of her challenges is to speak about it in public.

‘Natasha is a great example of how awful life can be with SM but also how it can be over-come,’ reports Libby. ‘I work with many teenagers who feel that they can’t access the usual rites of passage of teenagers e.g. taking driving lessons, interviews for jobs/college etc They can’t see a way around the chains of SM. However, when we work on small steps, we can achieve what they really want. Natasha is a perfect example of what can be achieved’

Small Talk have the first speech therapy dog in the UK, chocolate Labrador, Ralph, who helps in their work with SM. He is a shoulder (or neck) to cry on or he takes part in therapy programmes. There is a wealth of evidence to show the power of animals in reducing stress and he loves to help.

If you have a child who does not talk at nursery or school, she may not be shy and may not ‘grow out of it’. It may well be Selective Mutism.

For more information: www.private-speech-therapy.co.uk

 Natasha’s Facebook page Selective Mutism Recovery - Natasha's Journey

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Selective mutism: a personal story

Guest post by Natasha Dale

After struggling with Selective Mutism for many years, I finally found the courage to film and post a video of my story (see below)

 What is Selective Mutism? – Selective Mutism is a severe anxiety disorder where the sufferer displays persistent failure to speak in certain situations. I do feel that the label ‘Selective Mutism’ isn’t very accurate, as for me and many others it isn’t purely about the inability to speak in certain situations, it’s the inability to use many aspects of communication.

 Selective Mutism took control of my life for many years and resulted in me feeling extremely trapped, unhappy and guilty. During this period of my life I could only wish to be able to sing happy birthday to my parents, to give eye contact to those I cared about, to eat in public and enjoy social family gatherings, to walk to a nearby shop independently, to clap and congratulate people who deserved it, to be able to cough when I desperately needed to, to cry when in pain, to laugh when happy, to be able to ask to go to the toilet, to answer the register, to say thank you when I was given help, to tell someone if I felt unwell, to make friendships and to live my life as myself; instead of a tiny bit of myself with a huge amount of the disorder that is Selective Mutism.
 I began my journey into recovery at the age of 18 when I joined an agricultural college and worked alongside animals. Here I was given 1:1 support every second I was on the college grounds. This intense support along with being around animals, seeing a counsellor once a fortnight and of course the constant support from my family, allowed me to begin to recover.

It is now my passion to help those with additional needs and my ultimate goal is to be able to work with people struggling with Selective Mutism. I am not fully recovered yet, but I am so very close. I am happy to be able to use my experience with the disorder to raise awareness and to help others going through what I did for all of those years.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Support the Stafford NAS and have a great night too!

As most of you know, we are a specialist team of speech and language therapists working with children with ASD and we take this role very seriously. We do what we can to support families with children with ASD. As a consequence we are sponsoring the Stafford branch of the National Autistic Society for their latest fundraiser. Mandy Binns and her colleagues work really hard  so please help them make this night a success. It will be fun too!!

Thursday, 4 August 2016

More Than Words: a 10 week course for parents of pre-school children with ASD/Social communication difficulties