08 Feb But Speech Therapy is just for little kids right? WRONG!
I love talking about my job. It’s probably something most Speech and Language Therapists do because the work we carry out is so rewarding. It wasn’t however, until I spent several conversations discussing my job with different people, that I realised that many still view Speech and Language Therapy as something that only young children require. Explaining to people that 80% of my job is working with students in secondary schools who have speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) led to surprise and usually these questions….
“But surely it would have been picked up earlier if they have a speech problem?”
“Why didn’t the school/parents/health professionals notice sooner?”
It’s at this point that I explain that most of the young people I work with fall into the language disorder and social communication needs part of SCLN, and so often their difficulties can remain hidden. These students find ways of covering up the fact that they don’t get a joke because they don’t understand; they’ll laugh along with you anyway. They’ll say they ‘forgot’ their homework when really they just couldn’t keep up with the instructions in class or they don’t know the vocabulary.
It’s these young people who are so vulnerable to misunderstandings, to getting into trouble because they just ‘went along with it’ or would rather get into trouble than let on that they don’t understand.
So how can we spot these students who have these hidden difficulties? Some things to look out for are:
Difficulty telling a story/events – they may be able to produce long stories but there are still lots of errors, repetitions and confusion, particularly when asked to give specific information.
Poor vocabulary – their vocabulary seems to worsen over time, although it is most likely that it’s recall or that they are not able to retain new advanced vocabulary expected for their age.
Poor social communication– such as difficulty joining in and keeping up with conversations and difficulty interpreting inference
Author: Dawn Jones, Specialist Speech & Language Therapist (C&D Independent Speech & Language Therapy)