Monday, 24 May 2010

A well kept secret... - Guest slot, Wendy Lee, Professional Director

I’ve had the privilege of working with some pretty remarkable individuals over the past 20+ years in my job as an SLT. Though I have worked with some brilliant, wonderful colleagues (present company very much included), the most amazing individuals (by quite a long way – sorry guys) are children with SLCN.

Without exception, these children have been amazing... Incredible...Remarkable... wonderful (look up amazing in a thesaurus and you will get the idea).

They live in a world where pretty much every aspect of life depends on their ability to understand and to talk. For many, just listening to the language filling the air around them is a challenge. These children are often judged, misunderstood or just missed! ... and often they can’t let people know.... Frustrating really doesn’t cover it!!

Walk yourself through your average day without the ability to talk and you get a flavour...
My job as a practising SLT meant that I got to work with these children - and it is really hard work (for them, not me). For many, I saw them develop, talk more, express themselves, make friends – I saw the anxiety that sits over many of these children dissipate. What an amazing thing!

For other children it meant a tougher route, a more difficult challenge and the acceptance that this was always going to be difficult – that they would always need to work harder than the child next to them to get to the same place and despite monumental effort may never get to that place – and that very few people around them would really “get” that.

I’d love for this well kept secret to be shared – for everyone to “get” SLCN, for these kids to be understood, no longer misjudged, misinterpreted or missed, for people to feel, as I do that they are amazing, get the picture.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Communication is really important – yes, really it is - Guest slot, Lisa Morgan, Professional Director

Generally speaking, I like soap box opportunities, so writing a blog seemed a gift. However, it has been remarkably difficult but I couldn’t work out why. Just north of Market Harborough, it dawned. Usually, when I step up and start rambling, there are other people there. Admittedly, many drift off along the way, but there are always other people there. Writing this on my own, as if I’m talking to people who aren’t here, is, quite frankly, weird. However, it does lead into what I wanted to say in the first place…

Through work, I’m well-versed and completely committed to communication being important for many reasons –expressing needs, learning, social and emotional development and so on. But I’m having a bit of a renaissance about how truly vital communication is to our relationships, our belonging and just pure enjoyment. Everywhere I go, I see people linking with others through talking about stuff - sharing, with others, through communicating. For some people, though, communication causes challenges which makes that sharing, that belonging, that enjoyment way more difficult.

We have a favourite family joke. From confused beginnings it now contains the key elements of a joke - makes sense, has an ending and is funny (ish). Their joy as my children tell it over again, reminds me, in a tiny way, of how we must not undervalue the importance of communication as something enjoyable, which makes us in touch and helps us belong. It’s so vital that everyone can have the skills they need and the opportunities they want to do just that. It doesn’t mean that all the other functions and roles of language become less important, just that we need to continue expressing from a giant pile of soap boxes that for everyone, for many reasons, communication is really, really important –it really is.

‘Why did the banana go to the doctor?’
‘I don’t know, why did the banana go to the Doctor?’
‘Because it wasn’t peeling very well!’

Monday, 10 May 2010

Diamond Lights - Guest slot, Andrew Ball, Campaign Director

This week marks my 10th anniversary of joining the voluntary sector. In that time I’ve been fortunate to have met some very remarkable people (and some pretty unremarkable ones too) but probably none more so than the parents and professionals working to support children who need help to communicate. As anyone that has ever volunteered, worked for or supported a charity will tell you, personal experience is one of the most important reasons why they give their time and support to their chosen cause.

Since I joined The Communication Trust it’s become very clear that for a long time so much of the great work that goes on in the children’s communication sector is a result of the passion and dedication of a small number of individuals – most of whom have firsthand experience of the struggle that they, their children or children close to them have faced because of some form of speech, language and communication need. What’s more, this relatively small band of people have faced the uphill task of creating a better understanding of this issue without the media spotlight or glare of publicity that many other causes have benefited from at various times over recent decades – despite this being an issue that impacts on more lives in the UK than most of the big cause célèbres we could all name.

Help, however, is now at hand with the fast approaching national year of ENTER WORKING TITLE OF CHOICE HERE! This awareness campaign will shine a big, bright light on our sector and build on recent successes in emerging this cause. The national year will increase broad understanding of how children’s communication skills should be developing , what the effects are of speech, language and communication needs and what local services parents and children need in order to make a real difference to such needs. If you have anything in particular that you would like to see happen during the national year then please do get in touch – you can tells us your views at .

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

You always remember the good ones - Guest slot, Nicola Matthews, Project Executive

I work at The Communication Trust and do a little bit of everything and anything! I have a number of friends who are primary school teachers and thought, since I work for a charity whose one of their main audiences is teachers, I would go and watch one of them in action and get a taste of their day to day life.

So the other week I went to visit my friend Nikk (or Miss Dimes to the children) in her classroom and got to spend the morning watching her teach a bunch of very active and enthusiastic 5 and 6 year olds.

And it as brilliant, I watched the children being tested on the vocab they had been learning, helped out with one of the groups doing an maths addition activity and spoke to some of the other teachers in the school. But most importantly I got to see firsthand the impact a teacher can have on a child’s life. These children hung on every word Nikk said, they were incredibly engaged with the activities she was giving them and were so well behaved.

I’m sure when these children are older, in 20, 30 years time they will look back at their school years and will remember Miss Dimes. I still remember the name of my Year 2 teacher; Mrs Moulsham who read us Charlotte’s Web and had the most amazing cage for the class hamsters! In fact, I remember all the names of the teachers who taught lessons which I actually enjoyed going to and learnt something from. Which goes to show you always remember the good teachers.