We communicate with each other in many different ways; signing, speaking, facial expression, body language, gesture, using pictures and writing. Most of the time we are using more than one strategy at a time or may switch quickly from one to the other.
We want to interact with those around us and interacting can be anything from getting a simple message across to meet a need, to being able to use a language well enough to make and sustain relationships and to learn about the world.
When there are barriers to being able to communicate meaningfully and use language meaningfully, this is where speech and language therapy can help.
Building on skills from turn taking, making requests, being persistent communicators to putting signs or words together and in the right order, increasing the complexity of concepts understood, being able to follow instructions and being able to ask for help.
Higher level communication skills such as understanding others' motives, thoughts and feelings, thinking from someone else’s perspective (theory of mind) are well documented to be low in Deaf children, as these are skills usually learnt by overhearing conversations and seeing ‘mental state terms’ like ‘wonder’, ‘think’, ‘know’, ‘believe’ ‘imagine’.
Deaf young people who are BSL users will need to be supported to be as independent as possible, and this will mean being able to communicate within the hearing community, from being able to successfully order a drink at a café to understanding who to ask for help and how to do this if their train is cancelled.
After assessment which can be informal or formal, advice or therapy may be offered and will be completely tailored to the needs and circumstances of the young person. The therapist will look at the whole picture and decide on the best approach.
Many different programme are offered to support language and communication skills for example;
Speech and Language Therapists are required to do extra courses and continuing professional development (CPD) to specialise in working with deafness and hearing impairment.
Speech and Language therapy at the Academy aims at empowering those supporting students to implement programmes and understand individual language and communication needs across both languages, English and BSL.
1:1 sessions or group sessions may be advised and delivered in episodes (‘blocks’) usually half-termly or termly; this is co-delivered with someone who is able to support programme crossover in the week, and who will eventually run the programme under guidance form the therapist.
Our Speech and Language Therapist Rachel Evans works as part of the academy team.