World Prematurity Day- 17th November 2021

The speech and language therapy team provide support to the neonatal unit for premature babies. The speech and language therapy team work alongside the parents, the wider therapy team and the medical team. One of our Speech and Language therapists has designed these images to support the work we do on the neonatal unit.

During our time on the neonatal unit, the therapy team meet the parents in the early days and offer support around developmental care. This is a strategy used to help reduce the amount of stress a premature infant may experience on the neonatal unit and to help them to rest, grow and get better.

The speech therapy team can also support parents to promote effective early communication and interaction skills with their premature baby helping to improve attachment and maximising speech and language outcomes for these premature babies after discharge and into childhood.

The speech therapy team can also support parents to promote effective early communication and interaction skills with their premature baby helping to improve attachment and maximising speech and language outcomes for these premature babies after discharge and into childhood.

Bliss is a charity (for babies born premature or sick) that a lot of the families we work with use.

International Stammering Awareness Day-22nd October 2021

As part of International Stammering Awareness Day, our Specialist Speech and Language Therapist Lauren McCormick is sharing her own experience of stammering:

After developing my interest in stammering, and working with children and young people who stammer, for nearly 10 years, I now find myself to be the parent of a 3 and a half year old who stammers. It’s an interesting perspective.

It’s hard to see your child struggling with something and, of course, we want to help them. With children who stammer, as with all children, we want to help them believe in themselves and boost their confidence by focusing on their wonderful ideas and what they are saying, rather than how they are saying it 🙂

I really notice with my little boy, that he needs to take more time to think about what he wants to say. It helps him if I bob down face-to-face to let him know I am listening, there’s no rush.

Obviously, we have to live in the real world – and sometimes we really are in a rush!!! So it isn’t possible to do this all the time. It can be helpful to try to think about it for 5 minutes a day (or 3-5 times a week) when you are playing or talking together. In Speech and Language Therapy we usually call this Special Time (or 5 Minute Time, for older children).

Getting Face-to-face

Lots of children start to stammer when they are developing their language skills, about 5% of the population. 4 out of 5 children who start to stammer will stop stammering naturally, and 1 out of 5 will need some support, and may continue to stammer in their later childhood and adulthood. However, this doesn’t have to be a problem. You can be an excellent and confident communicator and have a stammer. Getting the right support at the right time is important.

If your child has started to stammer, or is finding it hard to talk, and you are worried about it, please call us for some advice or to make a referral. We would love to hear from you!

By Lauren McCormick, Specialist Speech and Language Therapist

Below are links to a new campaign and interesting videos featuring children, young people and adults who stammer:

Watch the film and sign the petition pushing for greater representation of stammering in the media

No diversity without dysfluency campaign:

Listen to Tash’s VLOG covering topics such as managing virtual meetings to dealing with peoples’ lack of understanding about stammering:

Tash’s vlog: Stammering Virtually | STAMMA

Listen to a range of bite sized videos for parents addressing a range of common worries including ‘is it my fault that my child has started to stammer?’

Videos | STAMMA

We need to consider the language we use when we talk about stammering:

Using neutral language with children who stammer – Bing video

Watch 15 year old Erin Stoner perform her poem about stammering for the ‘Speak Out Challenge’

DLD Awareness Day – 15th October 2021

When and how did you use your communication skills today? Some of the things on my list are:

  • Buying a ticket at the station and working out how to get to a new school
  • Sending texts and emails
  • Talking to my family – sharing news and stories
  • Asking for help to reach something in the supermarket
  • Writing my shopping list and planning what we are eating this week
  • Sharing reports and information for the schools and families I work with
Helen Wilson Clinical Lead Speech and Language Therapist (DLD) and South Locality Manager

The list goes on …

Today is DLD Awareness Day, where Speech and Language Therapists all work to raise awareness of this little known condition.

DLD, or Developmental Language Disorder, affects around 14% of children, which is equivalent to about 2 children in every class of 30. It is a lifelong condition affecting children and young people’s understanding and ability to use language, and it can impact on lots of other areas of life, including mental health and wellbeing, their behaviour, their social interaction and their learning. But lots of people have never heard of it!

Speech and Language Therapy in Hackney work with children and young people with DLD, their families and other professionals such as school staff to support them both with their language and communication skills, and to make sure they develop the life skills they need, now and for adulthood.

Have a look at the video below to find out more about DLD and how you can support someone:

And if you know someone who finds it difficult to understand and use language, have a look at our DLD Leaflet for more information, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter, and speak to your Link SaLT (Speech and Language Therapist).



My child is starting school!

This time last summer, I was eagerly awaiting the start of Reception for my daughter. I remember having such a mix of feelings; excitement, worry, joy, sadness, nostalgia. It felt like such a big jump for such a little person and I wanted to do the best I could as her mummy to help her have a soft landing! Here are some top tips for parents of school starters to help prepare your child for this big change.

jengaSpecial Time, and play, play, play!

Make sure you find 5 minutes every day to play with your child in the run up to school starting, following their lead with their favourite toys, staying present, quiet and fully focused, creating a calm unpressured environment for connection and support. Your child will need this now more than ever, as it will help them feel regulated and have space to communicate with you about whatever they need to. Also it’s a great time to make the most of your days together, before life gets very busy in September!

Play will be the main way your child will learn in Reception, so it is good to get them ready by creating lots of opportunities for them to explore objects, words and imaginative ideas. Welcome opportunities to play together, whether at home, out in nature, or in the car!

sofaTalk about it!

Your child will hear this word ‘school’ everywhere in the weeks approaching their start date, but won’t really know what to imagine! You can help them by taking small calm moments in the day, using simple language to describe to them things they might experience at school.

“In the morning you will all sit down on the carpet”

“You will have your own peg with your name on it”

“You will walk in a line with your class to the room you eat lunch in”

“Your friend Charlie will be in your class, you can sit together”

“When you want to say something in class, you might have to put up your hand like this”

“Your teacher’s name is Mr Jones”

If your child has difficulties understanding language, why not use photos (stock photos from the internet would be fine!) or draw pictures together. You could make a visual timetable together, sticking pictures in order to show how a typical day might look.

Take walks together

Walk past the school; show your child the front office, the gate they will go in, and the playground they will play in. Take the walk to school a few times to get them used to it, make it feel familiar, and help your child imagine what it will be like.

Get them involved

Do practical preparations together, e.g. packing their school bag, laying out their uniform, preparing their lunchbox. Label the objects as you do this and talk about what they will use them for. This will give them a feeling of independence that will prepare them for the classroom, and also help them recognise their own things.

Acknowledge emotions

On the way to school, if your child screams, cries, runs away, pushes back or says they don’t want to go, this is probably the only way they have to express that they are feeling anxious, or experiencing some separation anxiety. They will feel best comforted if you recognise their feelings by saying “I’m sure you feel nervous/sad/worried”, and then reassure them by saying something like “I will be here waiting for you at the end of the day”. You might be feeling quite anxious too, which is completely normal! Notice your own feelings, but try to show your child steady confidence that everything will be OK.

I remember on the first day of school for my daughter, she bounced and smiled all the way, but then when we reached the queue to go in she started to cry. She told me she felt like she didn’t know what to say to other children after they said hello, like she was lost for words. I hugged her (which helped comfort my own emotions in that moment too!), said that I related to that same feeling when I meet new people, and reassured her that once she was inside and playing she would know what to say. She came out grinning and excited to go back the next day, and every day after that.

In early weeks there will be wobbles, maybe lots of them, and there may be days that your child doesn’t want to go to school. But most days they will be contented and happy to see you at the end of the day. After a few weeks, once your child knows the school and the school knows your child, it will all begin to feel like normal life for everyone.

Freya Brett

Early Years Speech and Language Therapist

Summer Holidays 2021 Countdown and Holiday Planner

Our Speech and Language Therapist Emma Anstee has created a Summer Holiday Countdown Calendar to help your child understand how long the holiday lasts for and when they need to go back to school. It can help prepare your child for starting school again and to settle back in to the school routine.

The next part of this calendar is a way for you to plan activities over the summer holiday with your child.
This can help your child to understand when an activity will happen and also help them to know what they might be doing on different days.

The full calendar can be downloaded by clicking on the link below:

Deaf Awareness Week 2021

Happy Deaf Awareness Week!

Here is a link to a fantastic children’s TV show called Magic Hands, which is presented by four profoundly deaf presenters. Some of them use BSL and some use talk and sign:

Additionally, check out this great article by our Speech and Language Therapist Martina Curtin (Homerton University Hospital NHS Trust and Deaf Instructor Helen Pine (Hackney Education).  It highlights the importance of connecting with the Deaf community and viewing sign language at an equal status to spoken language.

Hackney Education awarded Placement of the Year Award for Speech & Language Therapy by City, University of London

Hackney Education has been awarded Placement of the Year for Speech and Language Therapy, as part of City, University of London’s Practice Excellence Awards 2020. The awards celebrate and reward the outstanding achievement of practice providers, and the contribution of practice colleagues who provide support to City students learning in practice.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been the defining global health crisis of our time, and in a virtual message of congratulations, Professor Debra Salmon, the Dean of the School of Health Sciences, and Judy Brook, the Associate Dean for Partnerships and Placements, praised the incredible commitment of staff, students and practice partners to work collaboratively to ensure the education of our next generation of healthcare professionals.

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