With our recent launched of Noala Hub, we partnered with Sarah, founder of SLCN Stories and creator of Speech Mama. The brand shares inclusive stories that are aimed at raising awareness and supporting children with speech, language & communication needs (SLCN). SLCN Stories was inspired by Sarah's son, that has walked a path with speech and language therapists in his early years of development.
For peace of mind and reassurance, Sarah shares her experience alongside her son's journey with both in-person therapy and teletherapy due to lockdown. The hands on approach through teletherapy has increased her knowledge as a parent to better support her son's needs in everyday life.
My 5 year old son had been regularly supported by a wonderful Speech Therapist for 18 months; first in a specialist nursery setting and then during his first two terms in mainstream school. We were about to transition his support to a new Speech Therapy team when March 2020 happened. During those early days of the pandemic I felt overwhelmed. My son had been diagnosed with a severe phonological speech disorder and language delay. Yet, with the expert guidance and support of his Speech Therapists, he’d made phenomenal progress. I was frightened that the progress would stop, and the already large communication gap with his peers would continue to widen.
We know that early intervention is essential for children like my son. Speech and language needs impacted every aspect of his life. At school, his teacher and classmates couldn’t understand him. He often played alone, or watched other children play together despite wanting to join in. At home, he would become frustrated when he couldn’t communicate what he wanted.
There are many parents out there in the same position. It’s estimated that 10% of children in the U.K have a Speech, Language & Communication Needs. We also know that the pandemic and multiple lockdowns have had a huge impact on children’s communication skills and their ability to access Speech Therapy. An already overstretched service, Speech Therapy waiting lists are longer than they have ever been.
To meet these growing demands and support children throughout the pandemic and beyond, many Speech therapists turned to online teletherapy. I was sceptical. How would it work? How could it engage and motivate my 5 year old? How would he sit still for the session?
I’m happy to say that this sceptical mum was wrong. Teletherapy, both during the pandemic and beyond (hello tube strikes!), has allowed my son to regularly access speech therapy. I even find his attention is more focused during the online sessions.
Speech Therapists are a special breed of health-care professionals; they’re creative, resilient and problem-solvers. Over the last 2 years, my son’s teletherapy sessions have involved online games, interactive stories, movement and virtual backgrounds. Speech therapy on the moon is pretty special!
The relationship between parent and speech therapist also benefits from teletherapy. When sessions take place at school, it can be difficult to find out happened and what the next steps are. However, with online sessions I’m able to watch therapy, learn new techniques and also ask questions. I leave the sessions feeling reassured and empowered to continue supporting my son at home.
As a parent I believe that speech therapy needs to be accessible to all families and that early identification and intervention is key. Making Speech Therapy accessible is at the core of the exciting new digital platform, Noala Hub. Their in-house Speech Therapy team guides families to support their child’s speech, language & communication needs, practising at their own pace and accessing online activities as needed.
Lockdowns, illness and tube strikes – teletherapy has changed the way that families can access Speech Therapy. Today my now 7 year old is a cheeky chatterbox who loves to tell jokes and is a passionate reader. Thanks to the support of his Speech Therapists, he continues to make excellent progress with his speech and language.
Support SLCN Stories and their mission on reaching more schools through their small, parent-led project, they are dependent on fundraising to deliver SLCN Stories book collections to schools. Follow the link to SLCN Stories JustGiving.