Speech therapy life looks at working together, to make life better, for the individual and the community around them.
For those with concerns regarding Covid, please see the "Online Teletherapy" section.
Speech therapy is so much more than just talking!
SLT looks at all area’s of the communication pyramid to identify an individuals profile and plan how best to support it. This enables us to unlock learning potential and develop good emotional wellbeing. Speech and Language Therapy will look at why behaviours are occurring and how we can prevent them from happening so the individual is happier and communicating in a more appropriate manner. Speech and Language Therapists also specialise in dysphagia (eating and drinking abilities).
HOW WE WORK
We are a research driven service. We look at a persons strengths and build on these in areas that matter for the individual and the community around them. We will work together to assess, set targets and implement support.
There is no magic cupboard therapy or secret boxes! Instead we work functionally within the individual’s environment. This is what has impact.
Services are at both an individual and whole service level.
Teletherapy (or telehealth) enables us to use video communication to offer face-to-face speech and language therapy in your own home, without direct contact. We can gain a speech sample, observe social interaction, assess language development and collect information as required.
Teletherapy can also be a very motivating medium for input. Sessions can be recorded to aid both the client, and the speech therapists, evaluation of progress.
Teletherapy lets us play a vital role in our clients journey, even without meeting face-to-face. We can flexibly schedule sessions to fit in with the other commitments of day to day life.
Teletherapy, even in these early phases, has a quickly emerging evidence base. The American Association of Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) has looked at 40 peer-reviewed studies that confirm teletherapy produces outcomes that are as good as direct contact for services including:
- Expressive and receptive language therapy
- Parent coaching and strategy implementation
- Articulation therapy
- Fluency/stuttering therapy
Telehealth is an exciting medium allowing assessment, training and delivery of speech and language therapy in a highly flexible manner.
How we work for families
We can set up a personalised service at home and in the environments the individual functions in to gain maximum impact of input. This may be direct modelling, video feedback, training, and information sharing across disciplines and environments.
A family case study (Epping Forest, Essex)
- Step 1: We were desperately worried about our 2-year olds communication development and contacted Speech Therapy Life. They suggested we self-refer to the NHS, which we had done, but there was a long waiting list. Vicky booked us in for an initial assessment at our home.
- Step 2: Vicky came and took a case history whilst our little boy played with his Aunty. Vicky gave us verbal feedback and talked through all the questions we had. Vicky then emailed us a report with recommendations for us to follow. She put us in touch with a private paediatrician as well as helping us access the local NHS services she recommended.
- Step 3: We decided to book in with Vicky every other week as we wanted some guidance in carrying out the suggestions. Vicky worked in collaboration with us until we felt confident enough to reduce direct SLT involvement. Vicky was very clear that she didn’t want us to keep having to buy her, or her team in, but that she wanted us skilled up to deliver and monitor input ourselves.
- Step 4: We received some NHS input and Vicky worked in collaboration with the NHS to achieve consistency of input.
- Step 5: As our confidence grew as a family we funded Vicky to go in and meet with nursery. Vicky delivered whole nursery training for us and modelled strategies to the nursery team. We finally felt like we were getting consistent strategies across all of our son’s settings.
- Step 6: Vicky has helped us share information with potential schools for our son. She has guided us in the very overwhelming process of getting an EHCP (Education and Health Care Plan) and helped us make sure that it is a document that truly reflects his profile and required supports.
- Step 7: We continue to have some top up sessions both at home and at nursery with Christina one of Vicky’s SLT assistants. This has proved a very cost-effective way of keeping on top of the delivery of the SLT program. Christina has worked with occupational therapists, physios and music therapists as well as SLT. She has been an invaluable source of information and also helped the OT reinforce the importance of getting our son’s sensory needs meet.
Overall: We feel we have been able to give our son fantastic foundations for his transition into school. Speech Therapy Life has given us a service that has improved both our sons, and our own, quality of life. The service worked hand in hand with other services and we hope to continue to use Vicky to build on the fantastic results we have achieved as we go forward on this journey with our son.
How we work for whole services
Services can be tailor made for your settings requirements. This often involves joint target setting, modelling, review, training and information sharing.
A school case study (North East London)
- Step 1: As a school students with EHCP’s were receiving NHS SLT support. We wanted to extend SLT support in the school and an ex-colleague of Vicky’s put us in touch with her service.
- Step 2: As SENCO I, and the head teacher, met with Vicky to discuss what the options were. She talked through her service level framework and the evidence base behind how the company works.
- Step 3: We now buy in a day a week of SLT from Speech Therapy Life. They continue to liaise with the NHS SLT and other school based services. They observe students in class and provide practical strategies that can be integrated for the whole classroom. They have also helped us to screen students for SLCN and set up evidenced based approaches throughout the school e.g. Talkboost by ICAN.
- Step 4: We buy in additional slots for staff and parent training which has really helped embed good practise throughout the school. Due to this we have been nominated for a communication award and are considering, with Speech Therapy Life’s help, applying for National Autistic Society accreditation.
- Step 5: We plan to continue working with Speech Therapy Life as it has been one of the most cost effective and well received services we have accessed so watch this space!
A post 19 provision (North London)
When the funding changed for older students we were able to access SLT. The SLT in our partner school did not have capacity to meet our needs. We approached Speech Therapy Life due to their expertise in Autism and experience of SCERTS. Together we have looked at embedding SLT into our functional and vocational curriculum. Speech Therapy Life has really increased our specialist knowledge regarding SLT for us as a service and for families. We have recently gone through the due diligence process to become an independent service and one of the area’s identified as being a strength was the way we have interwoven speech and language therapy into our service. The progress we have been able to show through using the outcome measures set with Speech Therapy Life has been fantastic and we plan to continue working with them in the next chapter of our service development.
A College (North London)
We knew the needs of our students were developing and with the increased provision for older students we suddenly became able to buy in SLT. We approached Speech Therapy Life due to the complex cohort of students within educational settings the service has worked with. We have a mixed cohort from early learners through to high functioning students with autism and significant mental health needs. The approach offered by Speech Therapy Life was a revelation. It was no longer endless formal assessments and pull out therapy but functional evaluation of students seeking their hopes and aspirations as well as collating feedback from those supporting them.
A program of training was devised for staff and environmental screenings took place to create optimum learning environments for the students. Speech Therapy Life taught us that we need to develop both our own, and our students, tool box of strategies to aid their SLCN. We had no idea that SLT could support us in very high level social skills work and quickly collaborated to formulate ‘an understanding your diagnosis program’. Working together we have devised an ‘emotional wellbeing program’ which has proven outcomes that organised and confident communicators not only do better academically but have reduced episodes of self-harm and emergency psychiatric support.
We are delighted to have collaborated with Speech Therapy Life and are currently securing funding to buy them into our other educational provisions
How we work for commissioners
Speech Therapy Life has a proven track record of delivering services across parts of London and Essex that are outcome-driven and cost-effective. Often working alongside existing providers we aim to deliver a seamless integration of input. We can take on whole service level agreements using our service framework based on the latest research-driven practice.
“I left university feeling like a failure. Working with Vicky around the neuroscience behind autism is helping me recognise that maybe being me is something to celebrate after all.”Adult Client
“My little girl can not wait to see Christina. Her activities are so creative and she gives me so many ideas that I can put into practise day to day.”Parent
- Gathering information from the individual and the community around them
- Meeting the individual (ideally across settings)
- Informal observation
- Formal speech and language therapy assessment where appropriate
- Spoken feedback
- Brainstorming ideas for moving forward
- Opportunity for future support from a speech and language therapist
This involves creating the best possible environment for the individuals needs.
- Setting up the environment
- Empowering the community around the individual
- Offering training
- Offering advice
- Suggesting & providing resources
Training is tailored to the needs of the individual and those around them. Accredited training offered:
- ELKLAN packages
- ICAN packages
- Therapy frameworks & approaches can also be incorporated into training sessions where licensing allows.
This involves working with SLT to:
- Establish a program of input
- Direct input - modelling
- Indirect input - reviewing
This involves closer input with the SLT to:
- Embed highly specialist techniques
- Adapt to high frequency of change
This depends on individual need but always takes place through joint working. Therapy needs to be fun, motivating and meaningful to all involved. These approaches are integrated into curriculum areas and functional activities. This is a flavour of what can be offered:
- SCERTS - Research based approach and multidisciplinary framework that directly addresses the core challenges for those with autism and their families.
- TEACCH - Supporting those with autism and other conditions using visual strategies and structure.
- SPELL - Framework used to understand the underlying needs of those with autism and related conditions.
- ELKAN - Helping people working with those with SLCN to support their communication.
- ICAN - A range of researched approaches to supporting SLCN.
SENSORY REGULATION & EMOTIONAL WELLBEING
- Sensory Integration - Learning to regulate your body to be in the best state for learning.
- Zones of Regulation - Supporting emotional development and sensory regulation.
- Developing knowledge of diagnosis - A range of approaches are used to help individuals know their learning profile and how to support themselves best.
- Intensive interaction - An approach to teaching the pre-speech fundamentals of communication
ATTENTION & FOCUS
- Attention Autism - Teaching communication and new skills through engaging, practical and fun activities.
- Sensory Stories - Making stories interactive and exciting.
- Active Listening - Developing essential listening and self help skills.
- Identiplay - extending play and narrative skills through a structured play based approach.
- P/CCI (Parent/Caregiver Child Interaction) - Play based approach to enhance speech language and communication skills.
- Makaton - Supporting verbal language with sign.
- Total Communication - Using sign/gesture, objects and photos/pictures to support the spoken word.
- PECS - Picture exchange communication system for children with ASD and other conditions.
- Colourful Semantics - Colour coded system to support and structure expressive communication.
- PODD books - personailsed static books to aid language development.
- Caroline Bowen - Researched framework to support speech production skills.
- Michael Palin PCI - Caregiver programme to facilitate smooth speech in those who are stammering.
COMPLEX SOCIAL SKILLS
- Talkabout - assessing and supporting social interaction skills.
- Socially Thinking - developing social skills and higher level thinking.
EATING & DRINKING
- Fun with Food - developing eating and drinking experiences.
These have been made, and tailored, for clients. We hope this provides ideas, and if you would like to purchase such resources please do make contact. Personalised resources can also be produced.
Augmentative & Alternative Communication Systems
- PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System)
- CS Boards/Books (Colourful Semantics)
- Talking Mats
- Cue Cards (small)
- Cue Cards (large) & Wait Card
- Now Next Board
- Task Plan
- Nursery Rhymes - Hickorey Dickorey, Hey Diddle Diddle, Jack and Jill, Row your Boat, Twinkle Twinkle, Little Miss Muffet, Baa Baa Black Sheep, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Humpty Dumpty, Mary Had a Little Lamb
- Events - 3 step and 4 step e.g. building a snowman, baking cakes
- ‘Wh-‘ Wheel
- Hooray for Fish (matching)
- Fill the gap sheets
- Magnetic scenes
Narrative using Colourful Semantics
- My Animal Story
- Mixed up Stories (He/She)
- Peppa Pig - General Peppa, My Peppa Story, A very Hot Day for Peppa
- Thomas the Tank Engine
- My Disney Story (Princess)
- Classics - The Tiger Who Came To Tea, The Hungry Caterpillar, Bear Hunt (2 levels), The Gruffalo
- Zones of Regulation Board
- Playdough Mats - various e.g. shark teeth, octopus legs
Autism work is our passion!
Autism work is our passion. We strongly believe in the SCERTS framework. This looks at the neurology behind the diagnosis and has the key principle of making intervention meaningful and motivating. It focuses on Social Communication (how we interact with the world around us), Emotional Regulation (how we manage our sensory needs and emotional wellbeing) and Transactional Supports (getting the environment and interaction style of educators right). It compliments previous approaches which we continue to utilise as and where appropriate.
WHO WE ARE
Victoria Germain is a highly specialist speech and language therapist who heads up the service.
She has worked for 2 greater London boroughs (NHS), the communication charity ICAN and was the head therapist of a National Autistic Society accredited school for 10 years. In her role as company director of Speech Therapy Life she has set up service level frameworks for nurseries, mainstream schools, specialist schools, sixth forms, post 19 provisions and social care services. Individual programs, consultancy and training also take place.
She has vast experience across a range of settings and client groups. Her particular passion is in relation to autism, post 19 provision and developing social care services. She is trained in a variety of approaches and is an accredited ELKLAN and ICAN trainer.
Christina Howell started her special needs carer volunteering for a charity supporting families with young children both in their homes and in playgroups.
She went on to work in a complex NAS school for 5 years as a specialist teaching assistant. Her potential, insight and knowledge shone through and she acquired the role as the main multi-disciplinary therapy assistant which she held for 5 years. Christina supported SLT, occupational, physio and music therapy.
Christina started working alongside Speech Therapy Life in 2016 focusing on supporting speech and language therapy delivery. Christina is trained in PEC’s, Attention Autism, Elkan and SCERTS as well as other strategies and interventions.
“I honestly couldn’t recommend Vicky enough. She is brilliant with my little boy who has autism. As a parent with a child with SEN Vicky’s support and sound advice has been a ‘life-line’.”Parent
“I’m now running language groups that are improving narrative skills results. I worked with Vicky jointly and now I run them independently. I can’t believe the confidence this has given me.”Teaching Assistant
We recognise the restrictions of budgets and aim to offer a high quality, research-driven service that provides excellent value for money. Please contact us to discuss your individual requirements.