Please contact me with any suggestions for information sheets or resources you’d like to see on this downloads page. When I’m doing a world tour of Edinburgh, Haddington, North Berwick, Dunbar, Aberlady, Tranent and Bonnyrigg (in no particular order!) I often have 10 or 20 minutes to spare here and there and I like to spend that time putting together free advice sheets and resources for people to download here. I know what I want to put on from a speech & language therapist’s point of view but it’s always useful to get ideas from, you, the people who use my website!

I have grouped the resources together under some broad headings to make it easier for you to find what you are looking for. You can also use the ‘search’ box top right to help you find what you need.

Communication Development

  • How will I know if my child has a communication problem? (0-5years) This information sheet describes typical communication development up to the age of 5 and lists key points of concern. It will help you to decide if you need to contact a speech & language therapist for advice. The sheet is designed with both parents and nursery staff in mind. Any NHS or private speech & language therapist will be happy to talk to you on the phone to discuss any concerns you may have. Click on the link below to download: How will I know if my child has a communication problem?
  • How to “Correct” your Child – Using Positive Correction Correction is something I think everyone asks about when they have a child with a communication problem. The temptation is to do things like say ‘No it’s not this, it’s that’ or ask the child to say it again correctly. This sort of negative correction puts a lot of pressure on the child and can have very negative consequences for their self esteem, confidence and desire to communicate. So how can you help your child get it right? Well, the good news is that there are lots of positive correction strategies that are very effective and, with a little bit of self-monitoring, easy to incorporate into your daily communication with your child. Find out about positive correction strategies by clicking on the link below to download the Top Tips Sheet: Top Tips For Correcting Your Child
  • Language Building Games for Holidays and Trips Days out and holidays are ideal opportunities for building your child’s vocabulary and language skills. This information sheet lists 10 really simple games you can play to support language learning. They might just keep you sane on a long car journey! Click on the link below to download: 10 Great Games for Holidays and Trips  
  • The Fundamentals of Communication If you have a child or are working with a child who doesn’t speak yet, then this post is for you. I often hear comments like ‘He doesn’t have any communication’ in relation to these children when I think, in reality, what people actually mean is ‘He doesn’t speak yet’. Before we think about the Fundamentals of Communication, it’s very important that we understand that speech and communication are not the same thing. Communication is essentially about getting a thought from your head into someone else’s head. To do this, we make our thoughts into messages that other people can understand. Those messages take many different forms from gestures and facial expressions to noises like laughing or spoken words. Speech is simply one of many forms of communication that are available to human beings.   Typically, human communication is a rich and complex thing. Communication is a skill that we typically learn and use subconsciously. Like any other complex skill, communication requires a strong foundation of basic skills to support the development of increasingly complex skills. I like to think of it like a tower, without strong and established foundations, a tower will fall down. In the same way, adult communication relies on ...
  • Top Tips For Early Sound Awareness This sheet is for parents or carers who are working to develop a child’s early listening skills. The are activities are broadly intended for children aged 2-5 whose speech is unclear. Click on the link below to open the file: Early Sound Awareness
  • Top Tips for Pre-Literacy Skills & Phonological Awareness What is Phonological Awareness? ‘Phonological Awareness’ basically means the awareness of how words can be broken down into parts and how sounds can be put together to make words. Phonological awareness is essential for literacy. Most young pre-school children are aware of words as whole chunks that help them communicate with others. They are not typically aware that each word is made up of smaller bits. As they approach school age, they start to become more aware that there are divisions within words and might start to experiment with syllables and rhyming (word endings). These broad divisions are the beginnings of phonological awareness for literacy. Why do we need Phonological Awareness for Literacy? Our spelling system is ‘alphabetic’ which means that there is a letter or sometimes a group of letters (like ‘sh’) that correspond to each spoken sound. To be able to match sounds to letters to read & spell, children need to be able to divide words up into individual parts, a bit like taking apart a jigsaw to see how many pieces there are. Because the first and last sounds in words are emphasised by virtue of being the first & last sounds you hear, children typically learn to ...
  • Top Tips for Pre-verbal Communicators This sheet is intended for anyone who is working with someone whose communication is at the pre-verbal stage of development. This is someone who doesn’t use any words and may communicate using non-verbal channels like facial expression, non-speech noises or other physical methods like pulling your hand to something. It will give you some good hints and tips how to get the best out of communication at this stage. Click on the title below to download it. Top Tips for Working With Pre Verbal Communicators
  • Top Tips for Speech Work If your child gets their sounds mixed up when they are talking you should always speak to a speech and language therapist first to get an assessment and advice that is specific to your child. This sheet is useful for parents whose child has started in therapy and gives some ideas for activities that you can do at each level of difficulty when working on speech production. Click on the link below to download it: Top Tips for Working on Speech Sounds
  • Top Tips For Vocabulary Building There are loads of easy things you can do as part of your day to day routine that will support your child’s vocabulary development. Children need a wide range of vocabulary to be able to build longer and longer sentences and to express themselves clearly. That means that they need to know not just object names but also action words, describing words, location words and greetings. This help sheet will give you some ideas of easy activities that you can build into your daily routine. Click on the link below to download: Top Tips for Vocabulary Building
  • Working With a Speech & Language Therapist Speech and language therapy sessions work best if parents and speech and language therapists work collaboratively. Therapy has to be a 2-way relationship after all, while the speech & language therapist is an expert in communication, parents are THE experts on their child! Speech and language therapy is different form some medical treatments where a doctor can ‘fix it’ by giving you a specific medicine that will make your condition go away. It is more like physiotherapy where the therapist guides you but carrying out the recommended exercises between sessions is what really fixes the problem. Working with a Speech and Language Therapist is an advice sheet for parents. It gives you some handy tips and ideas about how to work well with your child’s speech and language therapist to get the most out of your child’s treatment programme. Click on the link below to download it: 10 Top Tips for Working with a Speech & Language Therapist  

Autism and Asperger’s

  • Communicating with Young People who have Autism In this information sheet you will find some general advice that will help parents, carers and education staff to get the most out of communication with a young person whose autism is more severe and affects them significantly day to day. This might be someone who has limited or no spoken communication and who needs support to engage successfully in day to day activities. This is a general information leaflet so you may find that some of the points are not relevant for your child but hopefully you will find something that is helpful for you! Click on the link below to download the information sheet: Top Tips for Communicating with Someone who has Autism
  • Top Tips for Communicating with Someone who has High Functioning Autism This sheet contains some general advice to help you to communicate successfully with someone who has high functioning autism. The strategies are also relevant for people who have Asperger’s Syndrome. The list of ideas is not exhaustive however I hope that you find it a good starting point and perhaps helpful when you are explaining your child’s communicative style to others. The sheet is primarily aimed at parents but it will also be helpful for professionals and carers working with young people who have high functioning autism or Asperger’s Syndrome. As always, any feedback is much appreciated! Click on the link below to download: Top Tips for Communicating with Someone who has High Functioning Autism
  • Top Tips for Pre-verbal Communicators This sheet is intended for anyone who is working with someone whose communication is at the pre-verbal stage of development. This is someone who doesn’t use any words and may communicate using non-verbal channels like facial expression, non-speech noises or other physical methods like pulling your hand to something. It will give you some good hints and tips how to get the best out of communication at this stage. Click on the title below to download it. Top Tips for Working With Pre Verbal Communicators
  • Top Tips for Using Visual Supports Using visual supports can be very effective in supporting understanding and expressive communication. How you use visual supports will be specific to each individual and this advice sheets lays down some key points that you should consider when setting up a visual support system for an individual who has a communication disorder. Click on the title below to download it: Top Tips for Using Visual Supports

Visual Helpers

  • First, Then Card A first, then card is the first step in developing a visual timetable system for your child. Visual timetables help development of all sorts of important concepts like ‘finished’, sequence vocabulary and moving on from one task to the next. They are also useful for developing independent working for children who wouldn’t otherwise cope with being left to complete a task independently. A visual timetable prepares a child for what is coming and can be used to reduce anxiety by giving warning of surprise, a change of plan or an unusual activity. Download an example of a first, then card by clicking on the link below. First, Then Card
  • Top Tips for Using Visual Supports Using visual supports can be very effective in supporting understanding and expressive communication. How you use visual supports will be specific to each individual and this advice sheets lays down some key points that you should consider when setting up a visual support system for an individual who has a communication disorder. Click on the title below to download it: Top Tips for Using Visual Supports
  • Using Picture Communication Systems Often children who have communication difficulties need to use some kind of picture system to support their communication. This information sheet for parents gives some general advice on using picture communication systems (including PECS). Click on the link below to download it: Using Picture Communication Systems
  • Working For… Card Some children have a bit of difficulty staying focused on activities that they haven’t chosen themselves.  A useful strategy for many is to use a little reward system where the child collects tokens as they work to get a reward when they’ve finished. Download the one I use by clicking on the link below: Working for… You’ll need to cut out and laminate either the 3 or the 5 token card, whichever you choose to use, and the set of tokens your child likes. You’ll also need some pictures of whatever your child might like to work for. There are some general ones in the download. To stick your tokens on you can use either blu-tack or self adhesive velcro, whichever you have to hand. You can even use sellotape if everything is laminated.

Practical Ideas

  • Building Communication Out and About Wow, this year is passing quickly! I can’t believe it’s nearly May already. It’s been a busy couple of weeks for Blethers what with Little Listeners Group running in North Berwick and getting out and about across Edinburgh & East Lothian to see clients and visit nurseries. As the weather improves, there are lots of opportunities to enjoy being out and about with your children in the lovely Lothians. Why not try adding a few language building activities into your days out! Here are a few suggestions: Play ‘I Spy’ – this is a brilliant and versatile game for building language skills which is really easy to play on the bus, in the car or while walking somewhere. You can do lots of variations like ‘something beginning with…’, ‘something that rhymes with…’, ‘something that is (add a colour)…’, ‘something that (add an action)…’ Scrapbooks or Treasure Boxes – if you go on a trip somewhere, collect objects, tickets, photos etc that remind you of the trip. You can stick these into a scrapbook or put them in a ‘Treasure Box’ when you get home. Encourage your child to draw pictures of the things they enjoyed about their day out. As you talk about ...
  • Communication Games 1 – Bubbles I was describing how I use bubbles with children to my husband the other day and he was genuinely surprised at how many different communication skills you can target with this one simple tool. On that basis, I thought I’d do a series of posts telling you about my 6 of my favourite resources and how I use them! Every game or resource I’m going to cover is readily available to buy from most toy shops so it will be easy for you to try the activities at home if you want to. Without further ado, let me share with you how I use that most simple of toys, bubbles. Using Bubbles to Develop Communication Bubbles are available in most shops that sell toys or, alternatively, you can make your own with washing up liquid. The Early Learning Centre produce the best bubble mixture I’ve found so far and you can buy it in 1 litre bottles which is brilliant if you use as much as I do! ELC and other manufacturers also make a wide range of different equipment for blowing bubbles from simple wands of various sizes and colours to bubble guns and bubble blowing machines. Something to bear in mind ...
  • Communication Games 2 – Pop Up Pirate And now the second instalment of Isla’s favourite communication games! Pop up Pirate is good fun and adds that element of the unexpected that may children love. If you’ve not seen the game before, take a look at this promotional video by the manufacturers, Tomy. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWu_gsyjiQ0 From a speech & language therapist’s point of view, there is an awful lot you can do with Pop Up Pirate and here are my top 5 uses for it: Looking and attention – This is a good small group activity for reinforcing the value of looking at the person who is talking and paying attention. Put the swords in a box and put it next to the pirate in the middle of the group. The rules are that you can take a sword and put it in when I look at you and wink. AND if you’re doing good looking you might get more than one go. It’s amazing how even the most distractable wee person will focus when you play like this! Colour and number comprehension - work on these areas by giving instructions like ‘Take a blue sword’, ‘Take 2 swords’ or ‘Take 3 red swords’. You have a nice simple carrier phrase in ‘Take…sword(s)’ and ...
  • Communication Games 3 – Fishing and Springy Spiders For my third post on games, I’ve put fishing and Springy Spiders together because they are basically variations on the same theme and I use the 2 games in much the same ways. Turn-taking – as with any game with 2 or more players, you can use either of these games to develop turn-taking skills. They have the added advantage that you need a specific item (fishing rod or spider) to have a turn. That means you can help impulsive children to wait by using only one fishing rod/spider shared between all the players. Colours – like you did with Pop up Pirate, you can give instructions using colours to reinforce use and understanding of this vocabulary – eg ‘catch a blue fish’ or ‘use the pink spider’. Picture naming – You can either put paper clips/Velcro on your pictures so they stick to the fishing rod/spider or just put the fish/bugs on top of them, As you ‘catch’ each picture, say the sound or word it shows. Picture sorting – Instead of naming pictures as you catch them, you can sort them by category for vocabulary work, by initial sound, for speech or phonological awareness work or by number of syllables for phonological ...
  • Communication Games 4 – Click Clack Track A Click Clack Track or Car Run as they’re sometimes called is great for preschoolers and young people whose communication is at an early stage of development. It’s a really simple toy which is great for practising a variety of fundamental communication skills and you can get them in almost all toy shops. You can also use Marble Runs in the same way although they sometimes need building up first which is a bit of a pain if you just want to get going! If you want to learn more about fundamental early developing communication skills, please read my post called The Fundamentals of Communication. Anticipation – anticipation in familiar routines is an essential part of communication development. The car run is a motivating activity for doing just that! Hold the car at the top of the track and say ‘ready, steady…’ then pause before ‘go’. You’ll know that the child is anticipating what comes next if you get eye contact, smiles, vocalisation and/or obvious signs of excitement. You will find more information about this and other building blocks of communication in my post titled ‘The Fundamentals of Communication’. Choosing – Most car runs come with at least 2 cars so here ...
  • Communication Games 5 – Jumpy Frogs Jumpy Frogs are a really simple toy but children really love them! You can buy several variations on the theme but the basic principle is the same. To my mind, the best way to use them is to have the child make the frog jump into a pot that you are holding. That way you can ‘help’ by catching the frog thereby avoiding being there all day! Here are the things I use jumpy frogs for most often: Choosing a picture - Lay your pictures out face down on the table. Put a frog in the middle and make him jump. Name or talk about the picture he landed on. Discriminating between 2 or more options – Lay out the pictures showing the speech sounds or words you’re using then ask your child to make the frog jump onto the one he/she heard you say. Colours – most sets of frogs come in a variety of colours so you can use them to work on colour vocabulary – eg ‘Make a red one jump’. Prepositions – if you are working on position words like in/on/under, you can ask your child to make the frog jump in these different locations. Treasure hunt for pictures – hide your ...
  • Communication Games 6 – Slinky A slinky is is a really engaging sensory toy which works well with a wide range of children. There are many different sorts of slinky on the market nowadays, from rainbow coloured plastic ones to traditional metal ones to miniature ones. Keep your eyes peeled in toy shops and gift shops! Most often, I use my slinkies for: Reinforcement – I find lots of children who are learning to use PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) enjoy a slinky and it motivates them to exchange their picture for a go with it. Eye contact – As well as waiting for eye contact as a request for a turn with the slinky, you can have some fun looking down it at the child you are working with. It looks pretty inside, especially if it’s a rainbow slinky, and you get eye to eye contact. if you would like to learn more about basic, fundamental communication skills like eye contact, please have a look at my post titled The Fundamentals of Communication. Parallel Play - This is the stage in play development where a young person is happy to play alongside but not actually with someone else. Slinkies are good for developing this stage as it is ...
  • Creating A Good Environment for Communication Work Even the most able children have difficulty focusing in some environments. If you are trying to work on communication with your child, it’s really important to bear in mind the surroundings you are working in. To get the most out of a learning experience, any child needs to have the best opportunity to concentrate easily. This might sound obvious, but the first thing to check is that the child’s basic needs are met. That means making sure that he or she is warm enough, isn’t hungry and doesn’t need the toilet. The next questions to ask yourself are: Is the child able to hear the sounds and words they are being asked to listen to? Can the child focus on the target task without being distracted by irrelevant distractions? Can the child maintain a comfortable body position without wasting too much mental effort? How do communication difficulties affect concentration? Many children who have communication difficulties have additional problems concentrating due to difficulty with one or more of the following factors: Maintaining attention to an activity they haven’t chosen and following adult direction. Auditory processing – discriminating speech from background noise and making sense of the sounds they hear. They may not be able to filter out what ...
  • East Lothian’s Secrets! While watching Coast on BBC2 the other week, I was really surprised to find that the wrecks of 2 World War II miniature submarines lie in Aberlady Bay, East Lothian. Ever curious and making sure we checked the tide times first, Tom and I decided to go and have a look yesterday. Thankfully our trip across the sands was not just timed well with the tide but also with the weather! We made it out to the wrecks and back to the car (a 2 hour round trip) without getting rained on. An achievement in itself! If, over the holidays, you are looking for a nice day out with older children that will support their language and vocabulary development, this is a really nice activity. As you walk out from the car park through the nature reserve and across the sand, you will see a wide variety of birds, sea creatures and plants & flowers – a great opportunity for vocabulary building. The World War II Midget Submarines themselves provide a topic-based discussion point where you can develop general knowledge, vocabulary and story-telling skills. It’s difficult to see here, but the submarine is only about 6m long. These subs had a crew ...
  • Free Online Autism Training! I am always looking to update my knowledge of autism and any evolving support strategies. As I was looking for online training modules and ‘webinars’ (much as I don’t like the word!) last week, I came across an excellent resource that I feel the need to share. It is called Autism Internet Modules (AIM) and it’s a free – yes FREE! – library of training modules on a variety of topics relating to autism. The site has been developed by Ashland University in the US. A very big thank you from Blethers to Ashland for this amazing resource! Whether you are a professional working with people on the spectrum, a parent/carer or indeed a person who has a diagnosis of autism, you will find some high quality information on the AIM website. All you need to do is register with your email and a password and you’re off! You can access certificates and academic credits if you want to but you do have to pay for these. However, all of the information is free. So far, I have used the Pivotal Response Training module which took me about an hour and three quarters to read through. The information was presented as ...
  • Goals aren’t just for Olympic athletes! Lots of people get very intimidated and bogged down in setting targets or goals so I thought I’d do a little guide to make you (hopefully) feel a bit calmer about it. For the sake of simplicity, I’ll talk about ‘goals’ in this article but you could equally call them targets or aims. Setting goals is really important for lots of things including working on speech and communication skills. You don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to need goals! Even children benefit from having clear goals although they may need an adult to set them, especially if they are younger. That’s what sticker reward charts are all about! So what’s so great about goals then? Well, having one in mind helps both adults and children to: know and remember what they’re trying to achieve stay motivated and focused feel good about achieving something There are two main types of goal, long term and short term. A long term goal is something ‘big’ that you think will take a long time to achieve. Short term goals are smaller things that can be achieved quickly and are often steps on the way to reaching your long term goal. So how do you set a good goal ...
  • Intensive Interaction Video If you work with people who are at a pre-verbal stage of communication development or you have a family member whose skills are at this level, I strongly recommend that you check out an approach called Intensive Interaction. I’ve been using this approach for 10 years and in 2007 completed Dave Hewett’s Intensive Interaction Co-ordinator training (in my maiden name!). Intensive Interaction was developed in the 1980′s by Melanie Nind and Dave Hewett in Harperbury Hospital School, an establishment for young adults with severe learning difficulties. It is a way of communicating with someone who is at an early, often pre-verbal, stage of their communication development and of developing their communication skills further. Often this is someone who may be considered ‘difficult to reach’ or communicate with. Intensive Interaction is based on principles of natural parent/baby interaction and is very well supported by a wealth of academic research. Between being born and the age of about 5 years, humans typically go from being unable to communicate intentionally (on purpose) to becoming highly complex and versatile communicators using and understanding not just speech but a massive range of non-verbal and social communication skills. The most amazing thing about this is that we ...
  • Looking After Your Back Like many other speech & language therapists, teachers, classroom assistants and anyone who works with little people, I have had my fair share of back problems. Shortly before I started Blethers, I had my worst ever attack of back pain in the form of a bulging disc and the accompanying sciatica. As anyone who has had the same will tell you, the pain is excruciating, relentless and utterly debilitating. The good news is that it does usually get better. I’m back to normal now, but it takes months and, for some people,  years to feel normal again. I have written this post because I want to help you avoid the nightmare that is a bulging disc if I can! We often spend our days working at low tables, sitting on chairs that are designed for children, working on the floor and humpfing heavy bags of files/resources around. This will hurt you eventually! The good news is, there are a couple of really simple things you can do to help yourself avoid destroying your back! If you work for an organisation, you will have mandatory manual handling training. Yes, no-one likes having to make space in their diary to do this but it ...
  • Making Speech & Language Activities Easier or Harder I was asked recently about how to make activities easier or harder for clients. When you’re training to be an SLT or indeed working as a newly qualified SLT, this can be one of the hardest parts of the job as you often have to make adjustments on the spot. With experience this gets easier but even the most seasoned SLT will have moments where they realise a re-think is required. The bottom line is, there is no magic list of incremental steps, knowing how to step therapy activities up and down is the very essence of the specialist skills that we learn when we become SLTs. That’s what all that theory is for and one of the reasons why “Speech & Language Therapist” is a protected professional title! Having said that, understanding a few key points is helpful when doing your planning especially while you are training or in your probationary year. Before we continue… First and foremost, 2 important things to remember are: If a task is clearly way too hard for a child, you can just stop doing it! Better to stop and do something easier than to continue with something that sends a message of failure. If you have ...
  • New Resources! As I have recently started working with more clients who need support with thinking & reasoning skills, I decided it was time to splash out on some new resources. In previous jobs, I have used Super Duper Learning Fun Decks from the US a lot, so I decided to get a selection from the lovely people at Taskmaster (the UK distributor). After a good road test with some discerning clients, I can say that all of the packs have been a great success but particularly ‘That’s Silly’, ‘What’s Wacky’ and ‘What Are They Asking?’. Children love the bright, funny cartoon drawings and there are a variety of simple card games that can be played with each deck. Instructions are included with each set and the cards come in a hard-wearing tin for safe storage. The cards are very versatile in that they can easily be used with a group or an individual. The only slightly negative thing I’d say is that some of the language and pictures are very American (eg Pictures of Thanksgiving or use of words like ‘daiper’ or ‘sidewalk’). However it is easy either to translate, teach your child some new vocabulary or simply take the USA-specific cards ...
  • Play is an Assessment Tool! I thought I’d write a little bit today about the importance of play in the speech & language therapist’s arsenal of assessment tools. You’ll probably find this post useful if you are a speech and language therapy student, a newly qualified SLT or a parent wanting to know more about how SLTs work. It’s very easy to watch a speech therapist(or, for that matter, occupational therapist, psychologist or teacher) at work and to say ‘But they’re just playing! What’s so special about that?’. Simply playing with a child is not something that most people immediately think of as an assessment tool. In fact you can learn a HUGE amount about a young person’s communication and interaction skills if you know what to look for! This is where the professional training and skills come in. Play is an essential part of development and it is where we learn thousands of fundamental skills that relate to language development, motor skills, social interaction, physical skills, imagination and understanding of the world. It is so natural and ‘everyday’ that it’s very easy to dismiss as ‘just playing’ without understanding that engaging play offers endless opportunities to observe the development of a massive range of skills. Play ...
  • Practise routines for Speech & Language Therapy When I’m working with clients, lots of people ask me ‘how much should we practise?’. The answer to this questions varies depending on the individual but there are some general principles that always apply. When you are learning a new sport, craft or, like me, you are learning to play a musical instrument, you will make better progress if you are focused about your practise time. You need to practise slowly, often and repeatedly. You should also have a goal in mind for your practise session. The same is true for communication skills. Let’s look at each element of practise in turn: Set a goal – lots of us forget about this one or think it’s not important! Having a specific goal in mind when you practise is REALLY important. If you set a goal, you know what you are trying to achieve. Most importantly, working to a goal will give you (and your child) a sense of achievement which maintains motivation. If you are working with young children, the goal you give them may be different from your own and it doesn’t need to be complicated! For example, your goal may be for the child to produce ‘s’ at the start ...
  • Pre-Literacy Skills for School Starters In a few short weeks, thousands of 5 year olds will be starting in P1 at school. Central to success at school and in later life is learning to read and write. Did you know that the key skills for successful literacy development are built on our speech processing skills? Most young pre-school children are aware of words as whole chunks and that words help them communicate with others, however, they are not typically aware that each word is made up of smaller bits like syllables and individual speech sounds. As they approach school age, they start to become more aware that there are divisions within words and might start to experiment with syllables and rhyming (word endings). These broad divisions are the beginnings of phonological awareness for literacy. Our spelling system in English is ‘alphabetic’ which means that there is a letter or sometimes a group of 2 letters like ‘sh’ that corresponds to each spoken sound. To be able to match sounds to letters for literacy, children need to be able to divide words up into individual parts, a bit like taking apart a jigsaw to see how many pieces there are. Because the first sound in a word is ...
  • Summer in East Lothian! I thought about writing this post yesterday when summer had indeed arrived in East Lothian, as you can see in this lovely photo of the poppies in a field between Pencaitland and Tranent: Sadly it’s a bit cooler and cloudier today but I’m sure there will be more sunny days before the summer is out. Here in East Lothian we are blessed with many beautiful beaches including the especially popular Gullane Bents, Yellowcraigs, North Berwick and Dunbar’s Belhaven Bay. The warm sunny weather brings many families to the beaches and the obvious place to cool off is in that lovely, blue water. However, to the unwary, the water can contain hidden dangers and the conditions are constantly changing with the tide and weather. With that in mind, I would like to point you all in the direction of some helpful advice that should help you stay safe while you’re having a break from your speech and language therapy sessions. Please click here to go to the RNLI’s Respect the Water page where you will find lots of helpful advice that will help you and your family to enjoy a safe trip to the beach. At the very least: Try to go to a lifeguarded ...
  • The Small Business Marketing Minefield! This article is aimed at anyone wanting to set up as an Independent SLT or, for that matter, any small business. When you set up a small business you instantly get bombarded by people offering all kinds of ideas about how to market and advertise your business. From friends & family to cold-callers, it seems everyone has an idea about how you should advertise your services! In my experience, and I don’t think I’m alone here, it is pretty overwhelming and at least one of the following things will happen to you: People will endlessly suggest that you should pay to put an advert in a publication of some sort. People will repeatedly ring you up offering (sometimes quite aggressively) to get you to the top of the first page of Google for ‘only’ £90-100. People will ring you up asking if you would like to write a short article for their publication. In the next breath, they will tell you that they will charge you anywhere between £200 and £3000 to print it. People will ring you up asking if you want to be one of only 10 (or other random but small number) of people of your profession listed in their industry-specific ...
  • Top Tips for Pre-Literacy Skills & Phonological Awareness What is Phonological Awareness? ‘Phonological Awareness’ basically means the awareness of how words can be broken down into parts and how sounds can be put together to make words. Phonological awareness is essential for literacy. Most young pre-school children are aware of words as whole chunks that help them communicate with others. They are not typically aware that each word is made up of smaller bits. As they approach school age, they start to become more aware that there are divisions within words and might start to experiment with syllables and rhyming (word endings). These broad divisions are the beginnings of phonological awareness for literacy. Why do we need Phonological Awareness for Literacy? Our spelling system is ‘alphabetic’ which means that there is a letter or sometimes a group of letters (like ‘sh’) that correspond to each spoken sound. To be able to match sounds to letters to read & spell, children need to be able to divide words up into individual parts, a bit like taking apart a jigsaw to see how many pieces there are. Because the first and last sounds in words are emphasised by virtue of being the first & last sounds you hear, children typically learn to ...
  • Understanding Language Comprehension As a speech and language therapist, I often have children referred to me because their language is late to develop. Whilst those who know the child may feel that the main issue is lack of spoken words and may say he/she ‘understands everything’, it often becomes apparent during assessment that things are not what they seem. Children are great little detectives! In day to day life, they are constantly scanning their environment for clues that will help them understand. It is possible for a child to understand an instruction like ‘Go and put your coat and shoes on then wait by the front door’ without understanding a single, solitary word! But how? The answer is ‘Situational Understanding‘. What is Situational Understanding? From a very early age, we start to make links between things that happen around and to us, starting with cause and effect. Babies quickly learn that crying (cause) usually results in comfort of some kind (effect – often food or cuddles). As we grow and learn, we start to associate related things and we use this information to make sense of the world. Often, before children can speak much at all, they will do things like go to the table ...