Speech and Language Therapy (Knowsley NHS Paediatric Therapies Team)
Louise Paul and Esther Millington are our Speech and Language Therapists who support Alt Bridge School across 3 days a week.
Speech and Language Therapy support the students at school with a wide range of speech, language and communication needs using a ‘Wave model’ approach:
At Wave 1, school continue to take the lead on supporting the students’ communication skills across their day, for example using visual supports and adapting language to support communication.
At Wave 2, students may receive more targeted intervention, for example engaging in a group activity alongside their peers which focuses on social-communication skills.
At Wave 3 (essential for a few), the student may require more focussed intervention and support.
Speech and Language Therapy continually work with school to identify how the student’s communication is best supported.
I really enjoy working with children and young people with a range of speech, language and communication needs in a school setting. I support the individual to achieve their goals, for example to build their confidence communicating with others which leads to a positive impact on their daily activities and life. It is great to feel part of the wider team who are involved in the pupil’s daily life, for example by delivering training sessions to school teams and working alongside other therapies.
I support children with a wide range of speech, language and communication needs. I also work with children who have feeding and swallowing (dysphagia) needs.
I’m passionate about promoting communication and enjoy working alongside children and their families to establish what is important to them and help children achieve their communication goals.
I love working as part of a school team to support the holistic needs of the families we work with.
Social Communication Provision
Social communication is a key skill which can support positive outcomes into adulthood. We use social communication skills in employment, at home and with our friends.
Being able to understand the social world, can help all individuals to communicate their needs, seek support, perform well in work, maintain positive relationships, maintain good mental health and enhance self-esteem.
We work to ensure that our students are able to communicate their views and have their voices heard as key members of society. We do this by opening up opportunities for them but also by helping them to strengthen their communication skills. Our social communication provision is a vital part of our unique offer.
For many years, Alt Bridge has provided social communication support to our students. Our work recently, has focused on enhancing this support and developing our specialist offer through co-production with parents and carers.
In 2021, Alt Bridge School undertook a whole school review of our social communication provision and commissioned support from specialists in the field. Those specialists, worked with our experienced staff, parents/carers and our LA link advisors to develop our universal, targeted and specialist approaches to social communication. The programmes that we offer students are outlined in the table on this page.
Assessing social communication needs
All of our students have Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs), which outline their needs in relation to communication and interaction. Their plans may specify outcomes to be reached in relation to communication which enables us to focus our support.
In additional to EHCP information, considerable work has taken place to assess students in relation to their social communication abilities and needs through the use of our new bespoke school social communication assessment tool. This tool has been designed specifically for our students and enables us to direct provision and support through a variety of approaches.
Approaches and programmes to develop social communication at Alt Bridge
Blank Levels provides a framework to assess student abilities in relation to language comprehension. An understanding of blank levels, enables our staff to adjust their use of language and also learning resources to ensure that learning is accessible. We use blank levels within our universal offer.
UK Military school
We have a Service Level agreement with the UK Military School to provide weekly sessions to groups of learners. The provision focuses on self-esteem, resilience, team building and problem solving skills. It has a focus on students being able to communicate effectively and the practice activities create an engaging environment for them to develop their confidence.
ELKLAN is a structured speech and language therapy approach. Members of staff have been trained to deliver ELKLAN programmes and approaches.
Lego-based therapy (LeGoff et al 2014) is an evidence based approach that aims to develop social communication skills in autistic children, such as sharing, turn-taking, following rules, using names and problem-solving. More information can be found at the web address below;
Language for Behaviour and Emotions
This practical, interactive resource is designed to be used by professionals who work with children and young people who have Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs and Speech, Language and Communication needs. Gaps in language and emotional skills can have a negative impact on behaviour as well as mental health and self-esteem. The Language for Behaviour and Emotions approach provides a systematic approach to developing these skills so that young people can understand and work through social interaction difficulties.
Social Thinking is an approach to understand and develop social abilities. The Social Thinking Methodology addresses the questions: How does the social world work, and how can we help our students better navigate to regulate within it? How do our social emotional learners function within the social world? We use a variety of tools based on a Social Thinking model, including our whole school Zones of Regulation approach to emotional self-regulation.
Circle of Friends
The ‘circle of friends’ approach works by mobilising the young person’s peers to provide support and engage in problem solving with the person experiencing social challenges. It is primarily a peer support programme with a child-centred approach around one student who is the focus.
The Talk About programme
Talkabout is a structured programme for teaching and measuring social skills. It is a whole scheme of work which uses a hierarchical method of teaching social skills. This means, that having assessed the child using the Talkabout assessment, teachers will choose the appropriate level or book to start work at. The full programme teaches students self-awareness, conversation skills, non-verbal behaviours, assertiveness and self-esteem.
Since 2020, we have held a Service Level Agreement with Music Place North West to provide our learners with Music Therapy. Music Therapy has been shown to be an effective approach to improving communication skills, particularly with students who may be reluctant to communicate verbally. Music therapy can provide new insights into the way someone functions and the way they relate to other people. Essential to the process of Music Therapy is the building of therapeutic relationships within safe professional boundaries. Over time, through the music therapy process, the music therapist works to help the person to develop and to fulfil their potential.
Speech and Language Therapy
Speech and Language Therapy is available to students through the NHS and we work closely with any allocated therapists to support the work they do. In addition to this, and since 2019, Alt Bridge School have commissioned speech therapy from external providers in order to provide an enhanced offer of support.
In 2022, selected students will be invited to engage in a research programme focused on the use of 3D printing to develop social communication skills. If successful, we hope to be able to continue this provision as one of the many programmes we have on offer to our students.