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Speech and Language Therapist

Each issue a different professional shares their expert advice and gives information to help you support your child. This time Alison Kendall, a Speech and Language Therapist, shares her insights.

Alison Kendall standing against a green wall smiling at the camera

What is a speech and language therapist (SLT)?

An SLT works with children and adults who have difficulties communicating and want to improve their speech, language and communication skills. Our work can range from helping them understand and use language to developing listening and even social skills.

How and when do you work with deaf children and young people?

I work with deaf children up to the age of 25. I’m based in schools and work in both a primary unit and a post-16 college. My colleague who works with early years children is based in a clinic. I might see deaf children and young people on their own, in a group or work with them in the classroom. But I also work with those who support them such as their teaching assistant.

What support can deaf children and young people expect from their SLT?

It varies and depends on what their difficulty is and how it impacts on their everyday life. Usually the deaf children I work with can struggle with listening, language and speech so we help to improve the impact of their deafness. With the older students we might want to work on their speech and language or communication for a job interview or for an English exam.

What attracted you to working with deaf children and young people?

My grandma became hard of hearing in her older years and never wore hearing aids so I became interested and did some deaf awareness training. After that I did my Level 1 in British Sign Language and then I did a placement in a deaf school during my SLT training.

What are the most rewarding and challenging parts of your job?

The most rewarding part is seeing progress in the children and young people I work with. We set a goal together and I like to see them enjoying themselves as they advance towards it. It’s also great to see change in people around the child, like their family or school staff. The biggest challenge is that often we only get to see deaf children once or twice a week. I also find motivating teenagers to practise between sessions a challenge!

How can a family prepare for a meeting with their SLT?

It’s similar to how you’d prepare for any medical appointment. It might be a good idea to jot down any questions you want to ask and any concerns you have. It’s also good to think about what you want to get out of the session.

What advice would you give to parents of deaf children or deaf young people working with a SLT?

I always say it’s a bit like football training: you have to go out and practise if you want to achieve your goal. For example, if working on speech, an adult can write down what the child is saying and check they’re saying it right. It’s always good to make any practice as visual as possible.