Thursday, 18 May 2017

ASPERGER’S SYNDROME IN 13-16 YEAR OLDS – a review


Image result for ASPERGER’S SYNDROME IN 13-16 YEAR OLDS – review 


This easy to read informative book is written by Alis Rowe, the founder of The Girl With The Curly Hair.

There are many different books available on autism spectrum conditions, but not so many which are written by those who have an Autism Spectrum Condition themselves, so that makes this book all the more helpful. Unless you experience first-hand you can never fully understand, so the best resources and research you can find are those that are written and offered by those the condition themselves. Alis gives a real insight into Asperger’s syndrome and some of the hurdles teenagers with the condition may face.

With this book focusing on the early teen years, age 13-6 years, it gives a more direct look into Aspergers and what that can mean for this age group. Not only does this book offer information, reassurance and comfort to those with Asperger’s themselves, I also think this book could be a great help in allowing parents, siblings and family/ friends of the person with Asperger’s to grasp a better understanding.

Asperger’s Syndrome In 13-16 Year Olds, is written in such a straight forward way, it’s a very easy read but it still manages to focus on so much valuable information. It really gives you a clear idea of what living with Asperger’s can be like and it encourages you to learn about the similarities and differences between people who are neurotypical and those who have an ASC. Alis Rowe has given some useful advice and reminders, which will be really helpful to many. Alis has also encouraged the readers to see that difference is not wrong; it is something that a person should be aware of and there can be many positives with being different. She has included a very simple but effective illustration of an example of thinking in an alternative way, which shows that difference is something that can be embraced. This illustration also includes the caption “She sees the world differently”.

It’s almost as if this book has been stripped of unnecessary detail, which allows it to focus on key points and key messages, which is extremely beneficial. Alis talks about many aspects of having AS, including: sensory challenges, friendships, feeling lonely amongst others, the stresses of the school environment, the difficulties of the journey of adolescents, special interests and why those with AS might have some, or all, of these differences and challenges. I think this book is a must have for all teenagers with Asperger’s syndrome who are feeling confused and alone in being different.



Natasha Dale


Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Doing what it takes........ a holistic approach

I am a speech and language therapist who sees children with ASD and/or complex communication difficulties including selective mutism. If I was in the NHS I would be called highly specialist. I see children who have many challenges, some of which are speech, language and communication but many also have extreme anxiety. It's a chicken and egg situation because if they didn't have Speech, Language and Communication Needs, they wouldn't be so anxious, if anxious at all, while the anxiety blocks their abilities both to understand and to express themselves. Therefore, to do my job properly, I have to know about anxiety and be able to address some of the issues alongside. Consequently,  have studied and  I use animal assisted therapy (AAT), CBT and NLP as part of my approach with traditional approaches including Social Thinking by Garcia Winner.

I discussed this recently at a RCSLT clinical excellence network. The responses were very interesting: completely polarised. Almost half the audience wanted to know more, took the references and 'where to go from here' information readily, the other half raised their eyebrows and shook their heads. There is a wealth of clinical evidence about all the approaches for counselling but they were disturbed because there isn't in speech and language therapy.

I use the animal assisted therapy by having Ralph (a certified PAT dog) in on sessions where I need the child/teenager to be relaxed so I can get on with the 'other stuff'. It works like a dream as he sits by them while they answer my questions or complete assessments. They can stroke him or ruffle his neck as they think or cry into his neck if they feel like it....he doesn't mind a bit.

The CBT is really just looking at the problem and breaking it down into baby steps, which is actually what most speech therapy is, while the NLP helps to shift negative mind sets.

The Social Thinking is a brilliant way of introducing the idea that social cognition is a vital area for us to get along with our fellow man even if we never wish to have a conversation with him.

I believe that we need to be more creative: there is no one-size fits all approach to these children and young adults. They've usually tried everything else by the time they come to me.

I know this blog-post will receive a polarised response too but I make no apology because my goal is to make a difference and not be just another professional who says they can't help because they don't fit traditional methods. As the saying goes: if we always do what we've always done, we'll always get the same results. We're lucky because we are not bound by commissioners or bureaucracy which imposes limits on what we do.

As a team, we have a wealth of clinical based evidence and that's sufficient for me: we achieve good, if not great, results!


Thursday, 27 April 2017

Why I love baby signing!

Guest post by Hannah Lindahl – Little Signers Club Leader for North Nottingham




As a ‘Baby Signing’ teacher I see, and am truly honoured to be a part of, countless occasions when the little people realise that they can communicate with the big people. The smiles on those tiny faces as the grown ups exclaim praise and joy as the little one shows that he is enjoying the ‘BUBBLES’ or that she would like to sing the song one ‘MORE’ time.

We all know that being a parent is a wonderful job but we also all know that at times it can be really hard work! Unfortunately, after approximately 9 months of baking, these tiny little beings are thrust into our lives with no instruction manual and no ‘standard issue’ crystal ball.

So when the tears start it’s a case of trial and error – a guessing game until a suitable solution (milk, a clean nappy or maybe just a cuddle) can be found.
Having embarked upon the ‘signing journey’ with my own children, I know just how invaluable having a method of communication with your child can be at times like this.  Seemingly endless tears from a frustrated, red faced, angry baby can be simply replaced with a gesture, indicating easily and succinctly that ‘MILK’ is required.

Which in itself is fabulous, amazing, and less stressful for everybody involved - but what if it was more than just signing? …….

One morning, when my smallest bean was approximately 9 months old, we took her older sister to nursery. At this time, the sign of the moment was most definitely ‘DOG’ , frantically signed at every passing husky, every mutt in a book and even in response to the dog barking next door! So safe to say that small bean was delighted  to see that there was a dog outside the nursery building, secured to the fence waiting patiently for it’s owner to return. Cue a happy child and a lot of excited signing for ‘DOG’!

And then our day continued pretty much the same as any other day. With big sister at nursery we were able to enjoy some ‘mummy and baby’ time and we passed the next few hours quite happily.

And then it was time to pick up big sister. We got ready, I explained where we were going and we got into the car. And as we drove towards the nursery I noticed something absolutely extraordinary – she was signing ‘DOG’!  We were not even there yet but she remembered?! She’s ONLY 9 months old – surely babies are not that clever? Oh, but they are! 6 hours after the original event, this tiny little person was showing me that she remembered what we had seen and she was excited about the prospect of a repeat encounter!

And it didn’t stop there – on arrival there was sadly no dog to be seen, which instead of upsetting her just resulted in a confused face and some signing ‘WHERE’?

And this was it – this was my BOOM, light bulb, WOW moment.  I already knew signing was fantastic at allowing my child to tell me if she would rather have a cup of ‘WATER’ or a drink of  ‘MILK’ , but at that moment I realised that it was so much more - She was now able to actually show me what she was thinking!

And that’s the incredible thing – even at this young, delicate age, when people assume they just sit and play and cry and sleep, babies are so capable and clever and able. The synapses in their brain are developing at breakneck speed and giving them the ability to think and question and process what they are seeing and learning. And all of the learning and new experiences just work to encourage more synapse development and new connections.

It’s like a vicious circle – but not vicious at all! – in fact quite the exact opposite! – A wonderful circle of development and encouragement and learning and bonding. And by signing they allow you a sneak peak into this world, like peering through a little skylight into their minds and seeing what wonderful ideas and thoughts are zooming around in there!


Signing with little people – why wouldn’t you do it? 

Hannah

Monday, 27 March 2017

HEALTH VISITORS REPORT INCREASE IN CHILDREN’S COMMUNICATION DIFFICULTIES

Evidence submitted to the Bercow: Ten Years On review into children and young people’s speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) from the Institute of Health Visiting (iHV)[1] has revealed an 8% rise in health visitors reporting that they are seeing higher numbers of children with delayed language, with the number increasing from 64% in 2015 to 72% in 2016.
The iHV evidence shows that nearly three quarters (72%) of health visitors that responded to the 2016 survey reported an increase in children with delayed speech and communication development. This means they may use simpler sentences, fewer words and struggle to understand the same instructions as their peers.

This evidence submission coincides with the launch of the parent and carer consultation for Bercow: Ten Years On – an independent review into the state of provision for children and young people’s SLCN run by I CAN and the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT).
The final report and recommendations will be published in 2018, marking 10 years since the Government published The Bercow Report: a Review of Services for Children and Young People (0-19) with Speech, Language and Communication Needs. 

Jean Gross, Chair of Bercow: Ten Years On and former government Communication Champion for children, said: “In 2008, the original Bercow Review showed that around two-thirds of parents and carers that responded felt that information about support for children was not easily available, and nearly 40% said that the quality of information was poor. That was damning evidence that things needed to improve. But have they? That is what we need to find out.

“The Institute of Health Visiting’s evidence highlights a worrying trend in health visitors reporting a rise in children with delayed language. Now is the time to find out how parents and carers really feel about the reality of the SLCN support they have received for their child so we can understand what, if anything, has changed over the past decade. We are asking them to speak out so we can ensure that the Bercow: Ten Years On recommendations about information and provision are firmly rooted in their experience.”

Elizabeth Stanley, National Rep for the National Network of Parent Carer Forums (NNPCF), said: “Ensuring that parents and families have a good understanding of how best to support their child’s development is vitally important in improving outcomes for children and young people. Being able to communicate is an essential part of life; we need parents, carers, professionals and organisations to listen to each other and work together in a collaborative way to improve the lives of our children.
Bercow: Ten Years On needs to learn from those families receiving good support for their child as well as those who feel it is not so good. This will ensure that recommendations can include ways to replicate best practice. It is therefore imperative that parents and carers use the survey as a platform to share their experiences and contribute to the evidence base.”

The iHV statistics follow the recent announcement that health visitor checks will remain mandatory in the early years, which includes checks to identify language difficulties in children at a young age.
Parents and carers can directly take part in Bercow: Ten Years On by completing a short survey online (closing June 2017). In addition, practitioners can access early-years, primary and secondary activity packs that can be carried out with parents and carers in local settings.
Further information is available at www.ican.org.uk/Bercowsurvey.
Find out more about Bercow: Ten Years On visit www.ican.org.uk/Bercow or follow #Bercow10years on social media.

[1] Institute of Health Visiting (iHV) survey of 1251 health visitors in 2016 and 1413 in 2015 
 

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Announcing the launch of the Bercow: Ten Years On parent and carer consultation


In January  the first phase of evidence gathering was launched as part of the Bercow: Ten Years On review. Aimed primarily at those working with children and young people with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) the evidence submitted has provided rich information about the experiences of those supporting children and young people with SLCN.

We’re pleased to announce that the second phase of evidence gathering opens today, giving parents and carers an opportunity to share their views of information and provision for their child’s SLCN. Seeking the views of parents and carers of children with SLCN will help us to ensure the Bercow: Ten Years Onreview recommendations are firmly rooted in the reality of their experience.

This comes at a time when evidence submitted to the Bercow: Ten Years On review by the Institute of Health Visiting shows that nearly three quarters (72%) of health visitors that responded to the 2016 survey reported an increase in children with delayed speech and communication development. It’s essential that we find out if and how the picture of support for children’s early language has changed. What information is available for families? How easily available is it?

There are two ways to take part in the inquiry.

If you are a parent:
We would like to hear about your current experiences of support for your child’s difficulty with speech, language and communication. Support could be from a speech and language therapist, or other experts like advisory teachers. It could also be the way that staff in your child’s early years setting, school or college/training provider work with them. Fill in this short survey to share your views.

If you are a practitioner:
We would like to make sure we capture the views of all parents and carers, including those who may not normally complete a questionnaire or who may need extra help. We have designed activity packs for parents and carers to respond in a practical way, with the support of a familiar practitioner or member of school staff. If you would like to complete the questionnaire with a parent please download a pack suitable for the age of the child: early years, primary, secondary and beyond . The parent’s response can be uploaded by you to the survey here
 .

If you have any questions about the Bercow: Ten Years On inquiry, please email Bercow10@ican.org.uk.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

SMRA 2017: a great day!


The Smira conference yesterday was a great success, as usual. It is a coming together of professionals who have an interest in the field, parents whose children suffer from this very debilitating condition and children and young people with SM. Margaret and I went along again this year.

There is a  balance between current trends, though provoking topics and success stories.

We heard from Anita Mckiernan, SLT about resilience. Resilience is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes. She linked it beautifully with SM.  I could listen to her all day as her presentation style is so easy and her knowledge amazing. 

Then our own Natasha Dale stood up for 30minutes in front of that huge audience and gave a fabulous insight into what has helped her be where she is today. It dove tailed so well with the resilience talk because Natasha is the embodiment of just that. She didn't speak out side the house for years but her desire to help others has enabled her to come so far. There were many quiet tears in the audience both of relief and also respect. She even managed to take questions! We were extremely proud of her.

Then came Lucy Nathanson, Child Therapist, with a summary of what she'd seen at Brave Buddies, which is just one of the many intensive courses for SM available in the USA. It's typically American with activities and styles that wouldn't fit with what we do or believe in at Small Talk but is apparently working for many there. We'll publish Natasha Dales' views on this next time.

We heard updates from SMira from the indefatigable Lynsey Whittingham. She works so hard to organise everything. Many would like to see questions about SM in the baseline assessment which is done when children start primary school, others would like a parliamentary debate on it or feel that LEAs should be offering training via the usual list of CPD events. SMira is working with the Communication Trust to help raise awareness of all SLCN.

The day was completed with a dove release in Victoria Park with a prayer for Katie Rough, who tragically died earlier this year. She had suffered from SM.

If you are worried about your child with SM look at the FB page https://www.facebook.com/groups/SMIRASelectiveMutism/ where you'll find lots of files including where to get help. Their website is off-line at the moment.

You could also sign-post your child's teaching staff, CAHMS or any parents to our core-level training in Barton-under-needwood in May https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/an-introduction-to-working-with-children-who-can-speak-but-dont-selective-mutism-tickets-32556330862?aff=efbevent


Monday, 20 February 2017

Tricky Tongue Twisters for Afasic!

Image result for tongue twister clipart



The Afasic Tongue Twister Challenge is a fun and simple way to raise awareness of Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN). The idea for this challenge came from the children at Backstage Youth Group in Wales, which is run in partnership with Tape Community Music and Film. To view some of their videos, check out the Afasic Cymru Facebook page
Get involved today by following these easy steps! 
  • Step 1 – Choose a tongue twister (see below for some great examples!)
  • Step 2 – Video yourself saying the tongue twister
  • Step 3 – Upload your video on to Facebook so all of your friends can see!
  • Step 4 – Donate £3 to Afasic by texting ‘TWST 50 £3’ TO 70070
  • Step 5 – Nominate others to do the challenge too!
You can also make a donation directly onto the Just Giving page here!

  • She sells seashells on the seashore.
  • Flash message. Flash message.
  • Mix a box of mixed biscuits with a boxed biscuit mixer.
  • A proper copper coffee pot.
  • I saw Esau sitting on a seesaw. Esau, he saw me.
  • Toy boat. Toy boat. Toy boat.
  • Lovely lemon liniment.
  • Six thick thistle sticks. Six thick thistles stick.
  • Good blood, bad blood.
  • Three free throws.The instinct of an extinct insect stinks.
  • Comical economists. Comical economists.
  • Which wristwatches are Swiss wristwatches?
  • Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
    A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.
    If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
    Where's the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?
  • One-One was a racehorse.
    Two-Two was one, too.
    When One-One won one race,
    Two-Two won one, too.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Book review: The shyness & social anxiety workbook for teens by Jennifer Shannon

Guest Book review by Natasha Dale
 There are many different books for sale, as well as online resources, that have the purpose of helping those with social anxiety and/ or shyness, but some are better than others. After reading “The shyness & social anxiety workbook for teens” I felt quite refreshed as this book isn’t worded to over complicate anything. I think the best way to explain and describe this book is: teenage friendly. It doesn’t need to be read all at once nor does it have to be read it in order. It’s written in a very flexible way; you have the option to pick and choose which topics you read about and when. I feel this workbook has a pleasing balance of being both engaging and informative. One of the most useful and important focuses in this workbook, in my opinion, is how it takes common thoughts that have been affected by anxiety and helps you to rationalise them.

 Over all I generally think this book is great for teenagers who are letting their shyness or anxiety make decisions that they themselves wouldn’t necessarily make, such as avoiding people they want to talk to.  I enjoyed reading this book and felt it didn’t take much reading into for me to grasp the understanding that nobody is alone with struggling with social anxiety. Anxiety is common, but it can affect us all in different but similar ways. I was really pleased to see how much this workbook focuses on the reader and gives them the opportunity to engage by placing themselves, or their mind, in the different anxiety provoking situations mentioned. I think it’s a huge advantage to read though this workbook; I like how it encourages the reader to think about ways to overcome their barriers. I think this workbook gives you plenty of opportunity to involve personal situations, but on the other hand it isn’t compulsory nor does it come across too forceful. I really like how it gives you various examples of common problems associated with struggling with shyness and social anxiety, which indirectly allows you to place your own situation into the matter. I was also happy to read examples of both males and females struggling with different common anxious situations, from toilet anxiety to anxiety around speaking. There is a positive focus on the difference in how we as unique individuals react, behave and think slightly differently to one another due to our personalities and values. It’s reassuring to read this workbook and see that the aim is not to change who you are, but to change how you deal with your anxiety. In my own opinion, I think this book is definitely worth your time and effort.