Speech and Language
Speech and Language Therapist (SALT)
Speech and Language Therapists ( SALT) work with parents/carers and others to assess if a child has speech and/or language difficulties, communication or eating and drinking difficulties. The therapist will consider the difficulties the child has and the impact these will have on his/her life. If appropriate the therapist will decide how the child can be helped to reach their full communication potential.
Anyone including parents can refer to Speech and Language Therapy. If anyone other than the parent is referring the child, the referral must always be made with the parent's consent. If you do have any worries or concerns about your child's speech, please speak to their class teacher, Miss Mason (SENDCO) or Mr Soor (SENDCO Assistant).
Our Speech and language Therapist is Miss Hannah Leonard and she works with us one day every fortnight.
What children do Speech and Language Therapists work with?
As communication skills are crucial for intellectual, educational, social and emotional development Speech and Language Therapists work with children and young people who have problems with understanding, expressing themselves and using communication to socialise appropriately. They also work with children and young people who have difficulty with eating, drinking and/or swallowing.
What is the process for getting SALT support for a child?
Step One: Referral
When a referral is received additional information may be gathered and a decision will be made as to the appropriateness and urgency of the referral. The parent and the referrer will be informed of the decision and given further advice as appropriate.
Step Two: Assessment
Assessment may include information gathering from parents, families and others involved in the child's life and building on what is already known about the child from other agencies such as education and social work.
Assessment will include:
understanding of spoken language and body language
expression through speaking and body language
production and use of sounds
ability to use language in a social context
eating, drinking and swallowing
This may include formal and informal assessment such as observation.
The decision whether to offer further support from Speech and Language Therapy is based on the outcome of assessment, the impact of the difficulty on the child's life and the likelihood of effecting change at this time.
Step Three: Reporting
Following assessment the outcome will be discussed with the parent and a written report will be sent to the parent and the referrer. The therapist may need to share this information with other people for the child's benefit. This will be discussed with the parents and referrer.
Step Four: Interventions
There is a range of possible ways of supporting a child. These will always involve working with, and through parents and others such as teaching assistants, speech and language therapy support workers, class teachers, nursery workers.
Possible ways of supporting the child may include one or more of the following:
Training and advice for parents/carers and other service providers (health, social work, education)
Provision of programmes of work and ways of supporting the child in different environments and by different people
Assessment and provision of communication aids and resources
Involvement with educational and transition planning
Direct therapy with child individually or in a group
Following the agreed period of support the child's progress will be reviewed in partnership with parents/carers and others and further recommendations and actions will be adopted according to the child's changing needs.
Step Five: Discharge
The child will be discharged from therapy for one or more of the following reasons,
Communication potential achieved
Child not benefiting from therapy at this time
Child/young person or family do not want to continue with therapy
At St. Michael's we have a team of highly skilled staff who deliver Speech and Language targets to children across the school.
Each child who is on our SALT caseload recieves an intensive programme of therapy specifically targeted to their needs.
Therapy is delivered through a combination of:
- Direct one to one work
- Paired or small group work
- Implementing strategies within the classroom
Some of our more common SALT interventions are detailed below.
SALT Intervention: Attention Autism
Attention Autism (sometimes called ‘Bucket Time’) is a targeted intervention used across KS1 and KS2. This programme is devised to support children who display difficulties in their attention and listening skills, it aims at developing spontaneous and natural communication through the use of visual activities. This intervention is specifically designed for children with Autism Spectrum Condition but it also benefits children who struggle generally with social communications.
This activity helps the children:
- To engage attention
- To improve joint attention
- To develop shared enjoyment in group activities
- To increase attention in adult-led activities
- To encourage spontaneous interaction in a natural group setting
- To increase non-verbal and verbal communication through commenting
- To build a wealth and depth of vocabulary
- To have fun!
The Attention Autism programme progresses through a series of stages, building on each skill level. Each new stage is introduced when the group is ready to expand attention skills.
Stage 1: The Bucket to Focus Attention
Our bucket is filled with visually engaging objects and toys, aiming to gain the shared attention of the group.
First, a song is sung: ‘What have we got in the bucket today, bucket today, bucket today? What have we got in the bucket today? Shall we have a look?” working on making eye contact with the children.
Next, the adult leader shows each item, from the bucket, to the group and uses simple repetitive vocabulary to comment on the various objects.
Stage 2: The Attention Builder
Visually stimulating activities are shown to the group by the adult leader, aiming to sustain attention for a longer period. The activities are fun, visually engaging and can often involve making a mess.
Stage 3: Turn taking and Re-engaging Attention
The adult leader demonstrates a simple activity, often modelled with another adult in the group. Some children are then invited to have a turn, but only if they are comfortable to do so.
The children in our group get a turn, which then teaches important emotional regulation skills, as well as the essential skills of waiting, turn-taking and learning through modelling.
SALT Intervention: Colourful Semantics
Colourful semantics can help children understand words and develop their language by using colour.
For any child, language is very important as it supports their ability to communicate with others. If a child is unable to communicate or struggles to interact with other people, this can negatively impact their confidence and can make them feel isolated.
Colourful semantics is an approach to learning whereby colour is used to support written and verbal language.
It was developed by Speech and Language therapist, Alison Bryan, and aims to help children develop skills when it comes to sentence structure, understanding questions, developing narrative, and understanding written text.
Whilst it is aimed at helping children develop their grammar, it is rooted in the meaning of words (semantics).
This approach can be useful for a range of children, especially those who are first learning vocabulary. However, it is particularly useful for children who struggle in the following areas:
- Confusing the order of sentences and getting words the wrong way around
- Piecing sentences together in a meaningful order
- Always sticking to the same sentence structure
- Missing out verbs and other important details in a sentence
- Frequently having to restart a sentence when speaking out loud to get it right
Colourful semantics help children identify the most important parts of sentences so that they can learn how to put them together in the right order.
Essentially, it works by ‘cutting’ sentences up into their thematic roles and then colour codes them accordingly.
This means children are taught to associate different ‘types’ of words with different colours so that they can start to build their own sentences. Generally, this starts off with a simple sentence comprising two to three words and then progresses into longer, more complex sentences.
For example, take the sentence below:
‘The man is eating an ice cream in the park.’
We can break this up into 4 different themes and use colours to help children understand its structure.
‘Who?’ – also known as the ‘subject’, e.g. ‘the man’ (orange)
‘What doing?’ – also known as the ‘verb’, e.g. ‘is eating’ (yellow)
‘What?’ – also known as the ‘object’, e.g. ‘an ice cream’ (green)
’Where?’ – also known as the ‘location’, e.g. ‘in the park’ (blue)