Tuesday 21 October 2014

Talking to toddlers: it's not an option, it's a necessity!

I was unfortunate enough to be stuck in an A and E department for 2-3 hours the other afternoon. The only thing to do was people-watch. There were several elderly  ladies who had had falls, a teenage girl who was constantly being sick, two workman who were limping and many more walking wounded. Among them was a mother and her baby with a rash, who was probably about 18 months. He was strapped in his pushchair with nothing whatsoever to occupy him. His mum was talking on her phone, texting, listening to music on her head phones and looking out of the window which was too high up for him to see.

He had nothing to occupy him whatsoever! The best thing he could have had was otherwise occupied with her own things.

The only words she said to him were 'no' and 'stop that'.

He tried making her laugh to get her attention, he tried wriggling to get out, he cried, he made eye contact and jargoned, he pointed....indeed he tried every bit of his communicative repertoire but all to no avail. In the end he just screamed and then sobbed!

This made me feel really sad. The mother obviously cared for him. He was clean, fed and his physical needs were met but he was being neglected! The mother would not have sat there for all that time with nothing to do yet that's what she expected of her son.

I maintain that all parents want the best for their children but they need to know what that is. Let's have a public information drive so parents realise they should be talking to their babies and young children! It took a while before 'clunk, click every trip' took off but now everyone wears their seat belt. What catch phrase can you think of to headline the campaign?

Tuesday 14 October 2014

Working with other professionals... not just a nicety, it's essential!

There are more speech and language therapists moving over into independent practice each week, which is great because it gives parents more choice. However, it also makes it difficult to know who to choose. We'll cover that aspect more in a later blogpost but one of the factors must be whether they work with other professionals. It is vital they do not just work in isolation.

Unless, the problem is extremely simple, it is essential that the speech and language therapist can call upon other professionals. Here at Small Talk we work with Specialist Teachers, Counsellors, Clinical and Educational Psychologists and Occupational Therapists.  
If a child has a communication problem, it impacts all areas of their life. This slide from the ELDP shows that it impacts learning, behaviour, social development and emotional development. Similarly if a child has problems with learning, behaviour, social development or emotional development , it will affect their  communication. In a nutshell, communication difficulties do not exist in isolation so the remediation cannot exist in isolation.

We are finding that more and more we need to call upon Alison Hart and her team at Children's Choice Therapy. Very few people really understand what a Paediatric OT does so we do get some resistance initially from some families. However, once they meet Alison or her team they find her advice and support invaluable.

Occupational Therapists address the question:- "Why does this person have difficulties managing his or her daily activities (or occupations), and what can we adapt to make it possible for him or her to manage better and how will this then impact on his or her health and well-being?" 

Paediatric Occupational Therapists help children develop skills in the areas of self-care, school and play. These are seen as a child's main areas of occupation. By supporting children and enabling them to achieve their maximum potential, Paediatric Occupational Therapists indirectly work on developing confidence, self esteem, social skills and general well being. 

If we are concerned about attention control, potential sensory needs, sleep issues, we call in Alison and her team.They assess the child at home or school and draws up  a plan of action.

We had a joint team meeting last week and it really brought home how we can give a much better service if we can work as a team around the child.


Tuesday 7 October 2014

Should you be worried about your 18 month old's language development?

Many people feel that 18 months is too young to worry about a child's communication but in actual fact, if there is a problem, the earlier you get help the better.

We know that 'normal' language guidelines are very loose so that each child is different but generally a  18 month old:
  • has a short attention span i.e. can concentrate for short periods on an activity
  • Shows some early pretend play 
  • Enjoys playing with other people 
  • Plays with a range of toys/activities 
  • Likes routines but can be flexible 
  • Follows simple commands and understands simple questions as part of an everyday routine
  • Uses babble or some words which family understand 
  • Communicates through gesture rather than words (e.g. pointing, waving)
  • Eats lumpy food with no problems

However, the following could indicate a problem and could do with investigating further:
  • Does not seem to understand what is said
  • Does not demand much attention
  • Pays attention for only a few moments
  • No pretend play
  • Reluctant to let others join in their play
  • Interested in everyday objects rather than toys. eg light switches, plug sockets, opening/ shutting doors
  • Unusually distressed if there are changes to routine
  • No babble or words

Small Talk are very happy to see young children to give advice or support you further.