Project Search Intern’s blog by Donell Walter

I am Donell a project search intern from Hackney. For the past 10 weeks I have been working with the Hackney Speech & Language Therapy team and I have written a blog which you can read here.

Day 1

I started the speech and language placement today with an open mind as I was introduced to what the placement has in mind for the next 10 weeks and what is speech and language in general with my mentor Jenny.

This placement is the first I have ever done online so it was a great opportunity for me but also for my mentor and my fellow colleagues at speech and language Hackney to see how this placement will work out. If successful it will open the gateway for other people who have a disability like me to have the same opportunity that I have.

Day 2

I worked on a project with my mentor jenny on how to improve speech and language social media accounts as it is important nowadays to have online presence, particularly in lockdown. I gave my feedback on their social media accounts and how they could be improved.

Day 3

The best thing that I did today was the website project. The website project is about making changes to the Get Hackney Talking website so that it benefits young people like me in the future. The website project involved me giving my opinion about the website and asking young people themselves about how to improve the website as whole. I have learnt loads of new skills doing this website project such as using software to produce a questionnaire which will help the speech and language website team to make changes.

Day 4

Earlier today I prepared a presentation on powerpoint about my internship.

In the afternoon I done a presentation to the speech and language team about who I am as a person, what is my internship about and how me being in the team is going to improve speech and language in the future. I presented my presentation on zoom to about 88 speech and language therapists which is an achievement to me as I have never done this before especially virtually as well. The new skills that I have learnt is how to do PowerPoint slides to a high standard and learning how to present presentations on zoom.

Day 5

Today I met more of the speech and language therapist team virtually via zoom as it’s necessary for me to know who the other members of the team are and what speech and language therapists do daily. This has really helped me understand how my work as an intern will help and benefit the young people in Hackney. The difficulties today were the technical problems during the meetings especially when important information is being said. The new skills that I have learnt is booking and doing meetings virtually via zoom.

Day 6

Since my time as an intern with the speech and language department I have been speaking to some therapists about youth justice and the connection that youth justice has with speech and language.

In addition to it I had a meeting with a barrister about youth justice and the system which I found really interesting and it helped me to understand better.  Also, I learned about his job as a barrister and how that’s been affected by the coronavirus.

I think it’s very important for people of all ages but especially young people to understand how this system works as it is essential information that is not known to a lot of people. As a result I created a quiz so that people can brush up their knowledge about the youth justice system with an easy quiz.

You can take a look at the quiz here.

Understanding what  youth justice is and how the system works is really complicated for anyone who isn’t in criminal justice to understand it and it is hard to find the information as there are so many bits of information for one specific topic.

Day 7

Today is my final day as an intern on this project. This placement has been a real learning curve for me as a person who had speech and language therapy in the past to see the behind the scenes of it. I am very grateful that I had an opportunity to work with the speech and language team in Hackney to improve the services that young people will use in the future. 

The only two problems that I could think of is just understanding the task fully and technical problems that I had during the placement since I was working from home.

On this placement the new skills that I have learnt is….

  • To book meetings on google meets and zoom and present them
  • I leant things about how speech and language work in a more in-depth
  • Learning about user experience
  • Learning about youth justice system
  • Learning about how digital marketing especially in social media works
  • Dealing with data
  • Learnt how to use WordPress and Surveymeets
  • Know what a blog is and how to write one.
  • How speech and language links to crime
  • Different types of speech and language therapist

I am very grateful that I had an opportunity to work with speech and language to improve the services that young people will use in the future.

From D

Word Aware Success In Hackney Secondary Schools

A pilot study in one of our Hackney Secondary schools led by Word Aware Trainer Emma Eaton-Rosen has shown promising results for the use of the Word Aware programme within the English curriculum for Year 7 students. Word Aware originated in Hackney with its authors Stephen Parsons and Anna Branagan although previously it has been little used in Secondary schools despite the increasing vocabulary demands year after year.  

In this study students were taught using the word aware programme and resources for a term and showed improvements on their ability to recognise and define a variety of targeted words. The confidence of students also improved.  Teachers reported that they had enjoyed using the approach and were using it more widely than with their Year 7 cohort. 

Although inevitably due to Coronavirus there were some barriers to overcome we are very excited to continue to expand the use of this evidence based approach for all students to support vocabulary learning.

If you are interested in knowing more about word aware or how it works please get in touch using the email address huh-tr.sltinfo@nhs.net. 

World Autism Awareness Week- 29th March- 4th April

This week is World Autism Awareness week. The coronavirus pandemic has been particularly tough for many autistic people and their families. Services have closed and many people have been left stranded. The ever-changing guidelines and restrictions can be confusing to understand and extremely difficult to implement for autistic people with high support needs. 

There are lots of events happening throughout the week to celebrate and raise funds for building an awareness of Autism and Hackney is celebrating Autism as a superpower. It has been asking students to produce a piece of work about what their superpower is.

Test how much you know about Autism using the online quiz here

Sign Language Week 2021

As part of Sign Language Week, our Speech and Language Therapist Martina Curtin (Homerton University Hospital NHS Trust) and Deaf Instructor Helen Pine (Hackney Education) have created this great video in British Sign Language (BSL) to discuss working in Hackney, London and the importance of raising awareness.

If you don’t understand sign, you can add the subtitles by clicking on the CC button:

Associated links:

http://signlanguageweek.org.uk/

https://www.britishdeafnews.co.uk/

https://whereistheinterpreter.com/

www.hackneylocaloffer.co.uk/k…

World Down Syndrome Day 21st March 2021

Down’s Syndrome Awareness week takes place on 15th-21st March 2021 and ends with World Down’s Syndrome Day on Sunday 21st March.

What is World Down’s Syndrome Day? Watch this video below to find out more:

Here are some things you can do to mark the day:

  • Wear mismatching socks – every year on Down’s Syndrome Awareness Day people wear brightly coloured socks to raise awareness of Down’s Syndrome. All you need to do is choose some socks that are going to get noticed – they might be mismatched socks or your craziest and most colourful socks, whatever takes your fancy! If someone asks you about your socks you can tell them, “I’m wearing them to raise awareness of Down syndrome”. You can also buy official Lots of Socks here: https://lotsofsocks.worlddownsyndromeday.org/collections/lotsofsocks-socks. Don’t forget to post pictures on social media using the hashtags #LotsofSocks #WDSD2021 How can you help? By wearing #LotsOfSocks!
  • Read some real life stories here https://www.downs-syndrome.org.uk/about/your-stories/
  • Look up the hashtag #21thingstoknow to learn more about Down’s Syndrome
  • Watch this video on ‘Things People with Down’s Syndrome Are Tired of Hearing’ to dispel myths and stereotypes https://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcthree/clip/92a3cfc5-7078-4c21-b7e5-cb3b23b41ab7
  • For schools and businesses, there are some useful resources and packs on this website to promote inclusion in schools and the workplace https://www.worlddownsyndromeday.org/resources
  • Check out Lucinda and her mum using Makaton signs together – they have Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and Facebook pages that you can follow. Their name is @makatonlucinda

Some useful links and resources for more information about Down’s Syndrome:

www.downs-syndrome.org.uk

www.nhs.uk/conditions/downs-syndrome/

www.dseinternational.org/en-gb/

Swallowing Awareness Day 17th March 2021

Today is swallowing awareness day. This is a day designed to recognise the difficulties children and adults with swallowing difficulties have on a daily basis and to raise awareness.

Additional to all the work Speech and Language Therapists do around communication skills and development, we also work with children and young people who have eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties. The medical word for this is ‘Dysphagia’. Some children may find it difficult to chew, manage food/fluid in their mouths and swallow safely. Swallowing safely requires the use of a number of muscles, structures, senses and messages from the brain to ensure the food/fluid goes the right way when we swallow. It’s a complicated process that many of us take for granted.

Did you know that people swallow approximately 900 times a day, about once per minute whilst we are awake? Each swallow uses 26 muscles. And surprisingly people also swallow about 3 times an hour even when they are sleeping!

Some common signs that eating, drinking or swallowing are difficult during meals are; coughing, gagging, watery eyes, change of colour, wet voice or breath sounds, frequent chest infections and effort to swallow.

Speech and Language Therapy can help children with these difficulties, get in touch if you have concerns.

Sign Language Week 15th-21st March 2021

Happy Sign Language Week from the Hackney Speech and Language Therapy Team! Here’s Martina, our specialist in Deafness explaining her role in Hackney. Martina also explains why we celebrate Sign Language Week in March. If you don’t understand sign, you can add the subtitles by clicking on the CC button. 

Though British Sign Language (BSL) was recognised as an official language back in 2003, there’s still more work to be done in order for the language to have legal status. Legal status would encourage the creation of more inclusive action plans across the UK, to promote, protect and safeguard the language, culture and people within the d/Deaf community.

Engage a little more: Check out this very cool story from Chris Fonseca about BSL and his deaf identity: 

Or here you can see some deaf poetry from Zoe McWhinney, with a really thought-provoking piece called ‘Illegitimacy’, 10 mins in:

Learn:

Do you want to learn British Sign Language? Check out this Deaf-led organisation in London called ‘Remark!’ They have brilliant deaf instructors, teaching all levels: Learn BSL – Remark! 

Perhaps you’d like to download an app to learn a few signs. We recommend these: 

BSL Alphabet  https://www.signsolutions.uk.com/elearning/bsl-alphabet-app/ 

Sign BSL https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.signbsl.signbsl&hl=en_GB 

BSL Fingerspelling https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/british-sign-language-finger/id389417770

Telepractice and Digital Technologies in Speech and Language Therapy

It was the European Day of Speech and Language Therapy on the 6th March 2021. The theme for this year was Telepractice and Digital Technologies within Speech and Language Therapy.

When the national lockdown began in March 2020, our Hackney SLT team began a careful but swift transition to offering remote services. This involved enlisting a team of teletherapy ‘champions’, creating a webinar series, negotiating with our NHS Trust on use of different platforms, developing and analysing a team survey on our adaptation to virtual practice and setting up a new service delivery approach for virtual sessions.                                      

We continued to work on this aspect of our service through the summer and autumn terms, so were in a position in January to be able to roll out a whole series of virtual group therapy sessions this spring from Shape Coding™ to Zones of Regulation™ to DLD and Me™. We received referrals for 99 children and were able to offer places to 60 across 29 schools, while the remaining children joined a waiting list. Twenty of our SLTs facilitated the groups and were aided by eight student SLTs on placement. Each group involved a careful screening process followed by a 6-12 week block of weekly group therapy.

Positives of running the groups included being able to work with children and young people from multiple settings, parents and family members having an easy opportunity to get involved in therapy, and opportunities for newly qualified SLTs to shadow more experienced colleagues. Challenges included getting to grips with the various platforms and newly acquired tech skills, and dealing with the logistics of group members being both in settings and at home.

We’ve had some really positive parent feedback, for example:

-Parent describing a young person’s response to a virtual DLD and Me group.

We are excited about the continuing development of this new branch of our service, and look forward to exploring ways to best integrate virtual sessions within our existing clinical pathways and service delivery models.

By Speech and Language Therapists Jenny Ray, Lydia Kijowska, Maya Dytch, Frances White and Caroline McCallum.

Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week 1st-7th February 2021

It’s Children’s Mental Health Week from 1st – 7th February.

There are strong links between speech, language and communication skills and mental health.  Communication skills are important for our general well-being and mental health.  If a child or young person struggles to communicate this can affect their quality of life, and impact on their mood and emotions.  Good communication skills are a protective factor against mental health difficulties.

If you are concerned about your child’s speech, language and communication it’s important to seek help early.  This can be through contacting Speech and Language Therapy directly or talking with the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator for your child’s school.

There are also ways you can support your child to develop their ability to understand and talk about their emotions.  Some top tips include:

  • When you read books or watch a TV programme or film talk about how characters may be feeling.  For example, ‘how do you think X feels? I think he might be feeling worried’.  Draw attention to clues that help you work out how the character is feeling such as their facial expression, what they say or the situation.
  • Help your child to put their feelings into words.  For example, ‘I wonder if you are feeling a bit excited right now’
  • Support your child to extend their use of specific emotion words.  For example, ‘were you feeling sad or disappointed?’
  • Acknowledge your child’s feelings even if you may not agree.  For example, ‘I can see you are feeling angry about this’

The Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families have produced a short video called ‘We All Have Mental Health’ to help explain mental health to young people:

The Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families also have a range of useful resources for parents, professionals as well as children and young people.  The ‘Child in Mind’ series contains podcasts to help parents understand and manage various child and family mental health problems:  https://www.annafreud.org/parents-and-carers/child-in-mind/