Can you see my child at school?

Yes I can, provided the school are happy for me to visit. The Mobile Therapy Room makes school visits very easy as there is no need for the school to find a room for me to work in. If you would like me to see your child in school without you being present, I will make sure that we arrange for me to give you feedback on how the session went and what you can do to help your child at home. We can do that however suits you best whether that’s by phone, email or in person.

Is it true that some people just don’t communicate?

In 10 years of working with some of the most profoundly disabled people, I have never met anyone who does not communicate at all! Some individuals don’t have any speech which leads people to say things like ‘they don’t have any communication’, but a closer observation reveals that they usually have a huge range of non verbal methods of communication. There is so much more to communication than just speech – please see the About Communication page for more details.

Will using sign language or symbols for communication stop my child from talking?

No, in fact many studies have shown that using sign language and symbols actually helps bring on a child’s talking. Indeed, many nurseries now use signed English routinely to support the development of the children in their care.

If you are interested to learn more, you can find an easily readable review of a scientific paper reviewing the effect of signing on speech & communication development by clicking here.

Are signs and symbols the same thing?

No they are not. In terms of communication, signs are shapes or gestures usually made with the hands as part of a ‘sign language’ like Signalong, Makaton or British Sign Language.

Symbols are simple pictures that stand for words. There are lots of different symbol ‘vocabularies’, a bit like there are different alphabets for some of the world’s languages. It doesn’t really matter which one you use as long as you are consistent.

Is there more than one kind of sign language?

Yes. There are many different formal sign languages including Makaton, Signalong, Canaan Barrie, British Sign Language and American Sign Language. There are 2 kinds of formal sign language:

  • Key word signing – here only the key words of a sentence are signed to support understanding of the main spoken language being used. If you are speaking English, this can be called ‘signed English’. Sign languages like this have large vocabularies of naming, action and describing words but very little by way of grammar. Examples are Makaton, Signalong and Canaan Barrie signs.
  • Sign Systems that are languages in their own right like British Sign Language (BSL) and American Sign Language (ASL). These have their own grammar, word order and culture associated with them. BSL is as different from English as Greek or Spanish are. Interestingly, BSL and ASL are also completely different from each other, much moreso than British and American English. There are also different ‘accents’ and regional variations within sign languages like BSL and ASL.

What’s the difference between expressive & receptive language?

  • Expressive language is the ability to use vocabulary and to put words together into sentences to express yourself. It covers vocabulary, use of grammar and reasons for communication (asking for things, making comments, getting attention…)
  • Receptive language (or comprehension) is about understanding what is said to you. In typical development, understanding always develops ahead of expressive language. For example, a child who understands 3 key words in a sentence may only speak in single words.

My child has difficulty pronouncing certain sounds, will this affect his/her school work?

It can, yes, although this does depend on the type of speech problem your child has so do ask your child’s speech & language therapist for their opinion. Phonology problems are more likely to and often do go along with difficulty reading and spelling. As described in the previous question, Phonology is a bit like a computer program that tells your brain how to break down words and how to add sounds together to make words. If there is a ‘bug’ in that computer program, you are likely to have problems first with speech, then with reading and writing.

Early treatment by a speech & language therapist can help reduce the impact of a speech problem on literacy learning.

What’s the difference between articulation and phonology?

  • Articulation is the physical act of producing a speech sound. This is affected by how your mouth and tongue are shaped, how strong the muscles in your mouth are and how well you can co-ordinate fine oral movements.
  • Phonology is a bit like a computer program for producing speech. When you speak a word, your brain has to work out which sounds you will need, what order they go in and how your muscles will need to move to make the sounds. Like all computer programs, this can sometimes get a bit muddled!

Mobile Therapy Room gets a mention in forthcoming book!

Jena Casbon, a speech & language pathologist (therapist in the UK!) in New Orleans, has been working hard and is putting the finishing touches to her new book, The Independent Clinician Guide to Creating a Web Presence. The book aims to guide independent healthcare clinicians to help them build an effective website and develop their web presence. Jena has pulled together examples from the personal experiences for over 100 clinicians worldwide and Blethers is included!

I think that Jena’s book will be an invaluable resource for Independent SLTs as we really can’t afford to ignore the power of the internet today. I know from my own experience that building good website is a steep learning curve and I welcome any help and advice I can get. I’ll certainly be buying a copy of The Independent Clinician Guide to Creating a Web Presence when it is published!

Click here to tell Jena about your experience of promoting your business (or not!) using the internet.