05 Jun My placement with C&D: Molly
Molly, a first-year speech and language therapy student from the University of Essex, has been on placement with Lizzie in the south west 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?
Lots! This placement was really independent and at first, being new to it all, it took me a bit more time to plan out my sessions. After spending lots of time preparing or inventing resources it was so rewarding to see the children getting something from them. Not only were they progressing with their speech and language skills, but they were having fun too. It brought me so much joy when I’d go and get them from the classroom and they would be pumped to come to therapy with me! It was even better still seeing their faces light up when a new resource I’d tried helped something click for them or perhaps even raised their self-esteem. A notable example was introducing a new technique (Mr Tongue story) I’d learnt from a previous placement to two children which went down a treat (lots of giggles). Blaming their speech difficulties on Mr Tongue was empowering for them, they weren’t the problem – Mr Tongue was and this motivated them! To know that the TA also valued this concept and has carried on this metaphor was also very rewarding, so it was a positive experience of inter-professional working too!
What ideas for therapy did you get that you’d like to use again?
I think the main new technique I learnt to use on this placement was cued articulation. I had heard/read about it before but seeing it and learning about it in clinical practice showed me how much the children benefit from the visual representation of the sound. I noticed that as the weeks progressed, and I got more confident in how to use the technique, the children made more progress with their speech as a result. I noticed particular benefits for children with more complex difficulties, with so much for them to concentrate on having a visual prompt of where the sound should be produced was useful for them in reducing that cognitive load.
Did you have any worries or concerns when you started the placement and how did they turn out?
When I received my placement timetable and saw how independent the placement would be I was excited – I knew that it would be great to have opportunities to give things a go myself. However, I was afraid that the schools wouldn’t want a student implementing therapy sessions and I was even more anxious about how the parents would react! Fortunately, school staff were really welcoming and even if parents were a bit apprehensive at first, I knew that I just needed to build their trust. So I really shouldn’t have worried! People were just so pleased that the children were being seen regularly for therapy, they didn’t mind that I was a student!
Was there anything that surprised you about the placement?
I really enjoyed having an insight into private SLT having only experienced NHS. I was really surprised that in private SLT you are seeing children who are just as complex as those being seen by the NHS. I had lots of conversations with my practice educator about the difference between private and NHS, even the difference in those services depending where you are in the country. I soon realised I had been quite small minded prior to placement, purely from my lack of experience in private SLT!
Which client group did you enjoy working with the most?
I loved working on speech with the children. I think this is because I particularly enjoyed getting creative with play-based activities with this client group. It was also really exciting when a child was able to produce a sound they couldn’t before. One child got so excited after producing ‘k’ for the first time in our session that he kept saying ‘k, k, k, k, k,’ at me whenever I bumped into him in the school that day which was so funny! All the children were lovely to work with though and I will definitely miss them all!
What are your top tips for students who are about to go on placement?
Be confident! Grab all the opportunities you can and don’t overthink yourself out of doing things because you will learn so much from being chucked in the deep end! Also if you’ve grabbed an opportunity and it hasn’t gone smoothly, don’t panic and take time to reflect. This is a safe place to make mistakes and you’ll learn a lot from any experience, good or bad!
What types of assessment did you get to use?
- Renfrew Action Picture Test (RAPT )with Language for Thinking levels (Language for Thinking was new to me but I thought it worked well within the structure of the RAPT).
- Speech screen
- PORIC (another new one for me!)
What would you like to know more about/have more experience of since going on placement?
I had some experience of ASD on this placement, running a Lego therapy group as well as one to one therapy sessions. These children were lovely and I tried lots of different interventions to support them. However, I still don’t feel fully confident with this client group, particularly in maintaining their attention. With more experience I know my confidence will improve.
How has this placement prepared you for future placements?
I was introduced to writing reports on this placement. I enjoyed this challenge and I learnt a lot about how to write it clearly so that it could be understood by all, not just Speech and Language Therapists. Being able to practice report writing has prepared me for future placements where I’ll no doubt be asked to write reports again. It will be great to build on these skills in future.
What has been the most interesting part of your placement?
My practice educator encouraged me to consider how theory could explain the child’s performance in a session. With theories, like the Stackhouse and Wells model, in the back of my mind, I found I was able to plan sessions better. It enabled me to specify the areas we needed to work on which meant that I saw more progress in the children as a result. Having this opportunity to apply theory to my practice was a really interesting part of the placement.
Would you recommend this placement to others? Is there anything you would change about it?
I would definitely recommend the placement to others! It’s a brilliant placement! It’s hard to find something I would change, I had so many opportunities and the support from my practice educator was fantastic! I guess it would have been fab to have some experience with secondary school age but I always knew this wouldn’t be a big part of this placement so I wasn’t disappointed. I learnt so much from the experiences I had on this placement and I’m sure that I’ll have an insight into secondary at some point in the future.