Speech and Language Stall at Ann Tayler’s Art Exhibition and Fun Day- 25th July 2022

Our very own Specialist Speech and Language Therapist in DLD (Developmental Language Disorder) Nathalie Said, held a wonderful stall to represent our service at Ann Tayler Children’s Centre’s recent Art Exhibition and Fun Day!

Click here for links to all of our Early Years leaflets.

Autism Acceptance Week 28th March- 1st April 2022.

World Autism Acceptance Week is a chance for us to highlight the importance of increasing knowledge around Autism as we try to make the world a better place for people with Autism.

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability which affects how people communicate and interact with the world.

To find out more visit National Autistic Society Website https://www.autism.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/what-is-autism

What are the different areas we work in to support Autistic children and young people?

How we support Autistic children and Young People in Hackney provisions.

Every child is different and will require a tailored approach to interventions.  We use the SCERTS framework to help us do this.  This is a multi-professional and research based approach.

 It focuses on building skills in Social Communication (communicating with others), Emotional Regulation (helping the child stay calm and alert) and Transactional Support (how people and visuals support the child to understand and cope with their world and experiences). We tailor the transactional supports within the student’s environment to make the day more predictable, create opportunities for communication and support their emotional regulation.

Some examples of different approaches and interventions we use alongside the SCERTS framework:

  • PECS
  • Intensive Interaction
  • SMiLE
  • Social thinking
  • Attention Autism
  • The Transporters
  • Core vocabulary boards
  •  Social Stories.

Here are some therapists who work in the Autism team on supporting Autistic children and young people:

My name is Emma, I’m a Highly Specialist Speech and Language Therapist and I work across the three diagnostic pathways; Complex Communication Clinic, Social Communication Assessment Clinic and the ASD/ learning difficulty clinic.  I work alongside the Multi-disciplinary team to carry out the assessment to differentially diagnose Autism Spectrum Disorder. It’s amazing to meet so many unique children and young people talking and playing with them to look at their strengths and needs.  It is important to ensure that we are making sure that the right diagnosis so we can support families on their journey in understanding that their child is neuro-diverse and see the world in a different way.

My name is Fran ffrench-Mullen and I am an Early Years Specialist Speech and Language Therapist at Wentworth Nursery School and Linden Children’s Centre. In early years I enjoy working with parents and practitioners to understand each autistic child’s strengths and needs, so that they feel empowered to support the child’s communication every day at home and at nursery. This could range from play-based therapy, to using visuals to support transitions, to setting up AAC systems

My name is Deirdre. I am an ASD specialist Speech and Language Therapist and I work in mainstream schools. I love being able to support staff with understanding the student’s communication profiles that they are working with and supporting them to adapt and develop their communication skills to support the student in expressing themselves . This leads to the student being able to express their wants and needs and make comments and requests such as ‘I need a break’, ‘I’m hungry’ or ‘I’m happy’.  It is amazing to support a student develop those skills and develop a relationship with the staff and peers using a communication style or system that is suited to their needs.

My name is Leah, I am an ASD specialist speech and language therapist and work across two special schools in Hackney. In Special Schools, I love supporting Autistic Young People to work towards functional goals that they have identified. This could range from asking for help in a shop, ordering food in a cafe or feeling more confident in initiating and making friends at college.

My name is Amelia and I’m a specialist Speech and Language Therapist working in Autism Resource Provisions (ARP). I love working with children with ASD because every day is interesting, full of surprises and a lot of fun! I try to make therapy sessions as engaging as possible and centred around each child’s interests. One of the best bits of my job is seeing the progress that children can make with the right support. For example, when a child starts to talk in sentences using a Core Vocabulary Board.

Sign Language Week 14th-20th March 2022

This week we are celebrating Sign Language Week. The British Deaf Association have launched a lovely website for the occasion with some great resources: https://signlanguageweek.org.uk/lessons

Happy learning! 

Lessons – Sign Language Week Each day this week, we will publish a new BSL lesson, as well as daily facts about BSL, and videos from this year’s SLW Ambassadors. signlanguageweek.org.uk

Children’s Mental Health Week 7th-13th February 2022

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/

Here are some helpful resources for parents and schools:



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. https://www.bliss.org.uk/

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: