09 Jul My Placement with C&D: Alice
Alice, a first-year speech and language therapy student from the University of Essex, has just completed a placement with C&D therapist Natalie. Here, she shares some of her experiences, favourite moments and tips for future students. As this was a paired placement, Alice was working alongside a fellow student – stay tuned for Shannon’s blog later this week!
Did you have any rewarding moments with a client?
It was really rewarding to see one of our clients achieve an SVO (subject-verb-object sentence) target after just a few weeks of therapy with us. She has made such an effort to focus on ‘is’ in her sentences and no long requires much prompting thanks to us using the “magic is.” All of the children have tried so hard to achieve their articulation sound targets.
What ideas for therapy did you get that you’d like to use again?
I bought a Worry Monster before the placement began and knew that I could use it for a huge number of activities. I found that these really bright and fun toys are very versatile, and used these in countless verb sessions with the younger children, who rely on the actions to accompany our explanation of these action words. ‘Monster Time’ could then be used as a reward after completing the talking portion of our sessions. I also bought a stretchy pink caterpillar toy, which was fantastic for practicing sounds in isolation in track activities, and was a great visual aid for the child.
Did you have any worries or concerns when you started the placement and how did they turn out?
I was slightly anxious as to what it would be like working for a private practice, having had solely NHS school-based experience beforehand. I realise now that I had nothing to worry about and Natalie has been the most wonderful Practice Educator, and despite Shannon and I working quite independently throughout the week, she has always been happy to answer our questions and assist us when her help was needed.
Was there anything that surprised you about the placement?
I didn’t have much experience previous of working with the nursery age range in therapy -based sessions, and surprised myself by how much I managed to engage with them. I was so impressed with how much effort such young children put into their therapy sessions and we loved finding suitable games and resources for them. Paying attention to their personal interests helped us to establish rapport.
Which client group did you enjoy working with the most?
I enjoyed working with a low-functioning ASD client who is non-verbal and requires a great deal of signing and games/activities to access his learning. I have never worked with a child on a similar level before and it has been a fantastic learning opportunity for me. I feel a lot more confident in my ability to work with younger children as a result. It has been great to practice some of the Makaton signs that we have learnt at university on our course.
What are your top tips for students about to go on placement?
I have been fortunate on this placement that Natalie has given us access to some great resources, but I would always advise anyone to try and collect their own before they begin, it is always good to have something to fall back on. Always consider suitable step-up and step-downs for children in your session planning, as things don’t always go to plan and it makes life so much easier if you have another game or resource within reaching distance. Always have something printed before you turn up!
What types of assessments did you get to use?
I have loved getting back into administering standardised assessments after a short break since our last clinical placement. We got to use the TALC, CELF, a speech screen and the Renfrew Action Picture Test (RAPT). I have also been able to complete lots of informal assessments in this setting, which is another great item to tick off my clinical skills log! It was good to practice my phonetic transcription at word level and in longer utterances.
What would you like to know more about or have more experience of since going on placement?
I have had the opportunity to work with several autistic children on this placement and these were a combination of verbal and non-verbal level. I would love to learn more about working with autism in practice having learnt some of the key theory in our course.
How has this placement prepared you for future placements?
This placement has made me so much more confident in my professional SOAP note writing capacity. I have learnt to write in a much more concise manner that is easy for all team members to access and retrieve information. I have also been invited to contribute to writing written reports following assessments and care plans, which I have no doubt will benefit me in my eventual SLT practice. It has been great to receive tips on how to improve written care plans. I also had the chance to practice writing SMART targets for children following the results of assessments.
What has been the most interesting part of your placement?
The best part about this placement has been the variety involved. We were lucky to be dividing our time between several primary schools and this meant that we had quite a mixed case load in terms of speech and language needs, and we were able to work with children of different age ranges. Every session had different aims and each child was working towards different targets.
Would you recommend this placement to others?
It has been really lovely to have a Practice Educator who is so good at providing us with constructive feedback and has allowed us such freedom to find resources, run therapy sessions and write notes, whilst being so supportive of us. It worked really well having one contact day a week to ask any questions we had and I have really enjoyed having a placement partner available to observe my sessions.