24 May My Placement with C&D: Hannah
Hannah, a first-year speech and language therapy student from the University of Essex, has been on placement with Natalie this term. Here, she shares some of her experiences and tips for future students on placement.
Did you have any rewarding moments with a client?
There were so many! It really was a privilege to be a part of such a variety of children’s journey. There is one particular moment that stands out in my brain when I think back; I had been working on the /v/ sound with a child for quite some time as this particular child replaced /v/ with /b/. In one session we were playing a game of ‘find the van’ and I was extremely proud to witness the moment the sound ‘clicked’ for him. He had been saying “ban, so I asked him “is it ban or van?” He proceeded to be able to tell me it was “van” using his /v/ sound from thereon! Although this may sound small, having worked with this child on the sound up until this point it was really amazing to see that moment when it clicked into place and to know that I had been a part of it.
What ideas for therapy did you get that you’d like to use again?
Because of the age of the children I was working with (3-4 years), I learnt so much about the value of play in therapy. There are so many ways that games and stories can be incorporated into a session to engage the children and help them learn. Having read the Pop-Up Pirate blog on the C&D website, I promptly bought my own version of the game to take with me going forwards. I really liked the way it can be used in such a lot of different ways to make therapy fun for the children. Another invaluable prop I will definitely always be equipped with in the future is bubbles! I found that they can be used for a range of things; from practicing the /p/ sound “Pop! Pop! Pop!” to improving turn taking and requesting skills.
This placement has really highlighted to me the importance of mixed modes of communication and intervention during therapy (singing, signing, looking at books, looking at videos, playing with real objects) and especially taught me that therapy can be fun for both children and the therapist alike!
Did you have any worries or concerns when you started the placement and how did they pan out?
Before starting the placement (and only having seen the timetable) I felt some trepidation about being so independent during the placement and delivering therapy on my own without my practice educator in the school! However, in my first week I was given plenty of opportunity to observe sessions, gather ideas and find my feet a little bit. In the school that I was placed in everyone was so welcoming which really helped. Although my placement educator wasn’t always with me physically, I knew she was always a phone call away and was happy to help me with anything I needed so I always felt super supported. We also met once a week where I had the opportunity to undertake assessments and discuss what I had been doing that week: these days were really helpful for my development and I felt like I learnt lots from my placement educator. Looking back, I know now that I needn’t have worried!
Was there anything that surprised you about the placement?
As I mentioned previously, I was a bit worried about having my own caseload and delivering therapy independently – as it turned out I was surprised how much I enjoyed having the responsibility and how quickly I was able to get to know the children and tailor my sessions suitably. Another welcome surprise was seeing the variety of techniques that can be used during sessions to engage the children; there are so many different ways of working on the same target!
Which client group did you like working with the most?
This is a hard one! I think each client group had their own set of unique features that made them enjoyable to work with. I particularly enjoyed working with children whose targets were based around vocabulary enrichment and signs. There are so many ways that this can be worked on and I really enjoyed the challenge of being creative and planning a session that encompassed a range of total communication techniques. As well as this I found working with children on their speech sounds especially rewarding, particularly when they were able to produce a sound they had otherwise struggled with as a result of my intervention!
What are your top tips for students about to go on placement?
- Be prepared! Especially if you are delivering lots of therapy sessions it’s really important to have plan written in a structure that works for you so that you can refer to it when needed (e.g. with step-up and downs included).
- Be adaptable: I think it’s really important to have your plan but know that sometimes things will change and not go quite according to that plan which is okay! It’s key to be able to carry on even if everything is happening a bit differently to how you had imagined.
- And lastly, have fun! Working with children opens up so much opportunity for being creative with intervention techniques. If you can create an activity that the children find super engaging and fun, chances are you will have fun delivering it too!
What types of assessment did you get to use?
I had the opportunity to use a variety of assessment: I administered the RAPT, TALC and speech screen with a number of children but I also had the chance to undertake some more informal assessment such as observations within the classroom. It was really interesting to see how both informal and formal assessment can be used together and complement one another.
What would you like to know more about or have more experience of since going on placement?
I had loads of opportunity to work within the school setting with nursery age children which I really loved- however I would be interested to see how different (if at all) therapy looks in both the clinical setting and with older children.
How has this placement prepared you for future placements?
I think the learning that I have undertaken in this placement has been invaluable to my development of a professional identity. Although I was nervous about being alone to begin with, I think this has actually been the best way to learn; the set-up of this placement has been really useful in helping me to develop my confidence when working as a speech and language therapist. Working independently creates a sense of autonomy which I’m not sure would have occurred otherwise; this will be really useful going forwards into future placements.
What has been the most interesting part of your placement?
I found it really interesting to see how wide the scope of a speech and language therapist is. I really enjoyed not only delivering the therapy but also seeing the importance of working with all of the other professionals and parents to get a holistic view of the child and adjust therapy accordingly. I also found it really interesting how different kinds of assessments can be used to help with this, from formal speech screens to informal observations within the classroom.
Would you recommend this placement to others? What would you change about it?
I would definitely recommend this placement to others! The company make you feel so supported and also ensure that loads of opportunities for learning are created. The environment of this placement was really positive and helped me to feel like I could give things a go! I feel really lucky to be given the opportunity to experience everything that I have in this placement, the only thing I would say is that it might have been interesting to have a day in a secondary school to see how the therapy varies with older children. But overall, I am taking so much away from this placement; I only wish that I could keep working with the children for longer so I could continue to see all the progress they are making!