Speech and Language Therapy
Our Speech and Language services
We offer one-on-one speech and language therapy, as well as integrating speech and language learning into lessons.
A key speech and language therapist is based in each classroom providing coaching to staff and input to children throughout the school day. Therapists are closely involved in planning and reviewing lessons, helping to tailor them to pupils’ needs. Children are offered individual or group speech and language support in therapy rooms attached to their classrooms or individual support within the classroom dependent on the child's needs. Our therapists aim to develop children’s functional communication, help them to access the curriculum, and build their confidence in communicating.
Some children benefit from the use of aids for augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). We have a dedicated therapist in place to support the use of AAC.
Our speech and language therapy staff understand each child’s difficulties and strengths. They support all school staff to use language which is tailored to each pupil’s comprehension levels.
We encourage and celebrate all forms of communication. All staff and pupils learn Sign Supported English (Makaton) and use this to support verbal communication in the classroom.
We offer a range of speech and language therapy approaches to support children in one to one, group and whole class teaching. These include:
INTEGRATED LEARNING AND THERAPIES
Teachers and speech and language therapists run joint sessions to help narrative, storytelling and news and social skills development. Find out more about our approaches which are integrated into the curriculum.
AUGMENTATIVE AND ALTERNATIVE COMMUNICATION (AAC)
These are a range of tools and strategies used to support communication. The children are provided with a ‘toolkit’ for communication which can include speech, signing, gesture, symbols and a VOCA:
- Sign Supported English: Sign Supported English is used by all staff throughout the school. This sign language is used alongside the spoken word to provide visual support to help children with their understanding of language. It also provides a mode of communication for those children who find talking difficult.
- Aided Language Stimulation (ALS) Boards: ALS boards are grids of pictures which support understanding and enable the pupils to communicate functionally, using longer sentences, during play and snack times and in lessons.
- Voice Output Communication Aids (VOCA): Voice Output Communication Aids (VOCA) are devices which are programed with a voice. VOCAs may be trialed with children who have very little speech or whose speech is difficult to understand. Currently VOCAs at Meath use Grid 3 software or the Grid for iPad App by Smartbox.
This is a signing system for all speech sounds used in the English Language. The signs help children to speak by representing the way sounds are produced. The approach is used throughout the school to support phonological awareness (awareness of the sound structure of words). This allows the children, even those with unclear speech or no speech at all, to participate in phonics sessions.
COLOUR–CODING (COLOURFUL SEMANTICS/SHAPE CODING) FOR SENTENCE BUILDING
We colour code grammar throughout the school, progressing in complexity as children’s language develops. Each word class has a colour to help children understand how words link together and how to structure sentences. This approach is used in therapy sessions, classrooms, and embedded throughout the school day.
ZONES OF REGULATION
The Zones of Regulation is a whole–school approach that helps children to understand and recognise their emotions. There are four Zones that are named the Green, Blue, Yellow and Red Zones. Each Zone includes a range of emotions. We teach children specific emotional vocabulary, the Zones and strategies to use as they progress through the school. This provides a consistent way for children to identify and share how they are feeling.
Zone boards are displayed throughout the school and we encourage children to refer to them throughout the day. As well as sharing how they are feeling, we support them to identify and use strategies to help themselves be ready to learn.
Some pupils use specialised equipment which shows contacts between the tongue and hard palate when they speak. A custom-made artificial palate is moulded to fit against a child’s hard palate, then this is shown visually on a computer screen to help the children understand how to produce their speech sounds.
VIDEO ADULT AND PARENT INTERACTION THERAPY (VACI/VPCI)
We use video feedback to allow staff to reflect on their interactions with children and reflect on the sessions. With the support of a therapist, this is used to reflect on and adapt their communication to help the child’s understanding and use of language.
We offer Video Parent/Carer Child Interaction Therapy where parents/carers and therapists work together to identify specific, personalised strategies to support and develop their child’s communication.