Thursday 11 June 2015

June 2015 SEND Reforms Survey

The Communication Trust is committed to supporting all those working within the reformed SEND system to meet the needs of children and young people with SLCN and their families. As part of this work, they undertook two online surveys in June and November 2014 to find out how practitioners, service providers and commissioners were preparing for and implementing the SEND Reforms. They used the valuable information gained from these surveys to ensure we are able to offer relevant support to those working with children and young people with SLCN in the areas they report needing it most.
They are now running a third survey  across June 2015, to find out more about the perceived opportunities and remaining challenges of the reformed SEND system for children and young people with SLCN, almost a whole academic year on from the reforms coming into effect. The survey will take less than 10 minutes to complete and we would be extremely grateful if you would take the time to complete it and pass the link on to your colleagues and networks to help get the broadest response possible.
The survey will be open from 29th May - 29th June 2015 and is available here:

Thursday 4 June 2015

Billy: Born Naughty? Channel 4 series 1 episode 4

 Image result for born naughty channel 4I was asked to assess Billy as part of the programme 'Born Naughty?' to see what might be causing his bad behaviour at home and more recently at nursery. He had already been seen by the Paediatrician Dr Ravi Jayaram who had made some important observations.
Billy aged 3 years, along with his Mum and Grandmother came to a children's centre which was local to me but was a good 3 hours drive from their home. I played with him a for a short time and then screened his spoken language skills. I was looking for: his attention level, listening ability, auditory memory, understanding level (information carrying words), vocabulary, verbal reasoning and expressive language. I was also looking for his social communication/pragmatic skills which includes three major communication skills:
        Using language for different purposes, such as
§       greeting (e.g. hello, goodbye)
§       informing (e.g. I'm going home)
§       demanding (e.g. Take me home)
§       promising (e.g. I'm going to take you home)
§       requesting (e.g. I would like to go home, please)

Following rules for conversations and storytelling, such as
§       taking turns in conversation
§       introducing topics of conversation 
§       staying on topic
§       starting conversations appropriately
§       finishing conversations e.g. not walking away mid-sentence
§       how to use and read verbal and nonverbal signals
§       how close to stand to someone when speaking
§       how to use facial expressions and eye contact

It also includes Modifying language according to the needs of a listener or situation (for older children but Billy is too young for this), such as
§       giving background information to an unfamiliar listener
§       speaking differently in a classroom than on a playground
He coped really well with the assessment and scored highly on everything. I'd also put out a variety toys to see what the level of his play was like. His pretend play was amazing: he used lego as soup, made Batman and Robin from square shapes and pretended with imaginary toys too.

His family were concerned that he might have Autism as his uncle has  a diagnosis of ASD. They were worried that his behaviour was due to this. However, if we look at the older way of looking at ASD: i.e. the triad of impairment of language ability, social communication and flexibility, Billy scores so highly as to void any suggestion of ASD, this, together with Ravi's observations, meant I did not therefore do any formal ASD assessment. His mum is to be congratulated on a fantastic job done!

We needed to look for an different explanation of the behaviour and called in the wonderful Deb Sugden, sleep expert. 

Monday 1 June 2015

Impaired Perspective Taking: as seen on Born Naughty? Channel 4 28th May 2015

If you saw Thomas on Channel 's Born Naughty on Thursday, you will have seen that he has impaired perspective taking, he cannot put himself in others' shoes (Theory of Mind). I tried the first session of Social Thinking on him where I lay on the floor of the classroom while still talking. This usually promotes gasps, stares and makes the average 10 year old feel very uncomfortable ......and think I'm slightly weird. I then get up and we discuss my behaviour and their reaction. Thomas, however, didn't notice I had laid on the floor and when I got up and asked what he thought of my behaviour he said 'Nothing', I asked if he thought it was odd, he replied, 'No!' Normally, we go onto discuss expected vs unexpected behaviour and how these make people feel. It's a great way of introducing children with social communication difficulties to the idea that there is a point to conforming to expected behaviour.

The best person to tell you more about this is Michelle Garcia Winner, the founder of Social Thinking:

Small Talk Speech & Language Therapy use Social Thinking as part of their daily work