Our Specialisms

Speech

Many children have difficulty with speech sounds and in making themselves understood. There are many causes. The difficulty could be with:

  • Listening
  • Understanding
  • Making sounds
  • Articulation
  • Using sounds correctly

Sometimes we just don’t know why children are having problems. Speech sound difficulties can be associated with several conditions such as:

  • Hearing problems
  • Dyspraxia
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Learning difficulties
  • Down’s Syndrome
  • Brain injury

Symptoms can be mild to very severe.  The impact, even for mild conditions, can be huge. Research has shown that children who have speech sound difficulties persisting beyond the age of five years old are at risk of having difficulties in literacy. If children can’t make themselves understood, they can become frustrated or withdrawn. Even minor articulation difficulties can affect children’s confidence in speaking.

The good news is that with the right therapy at the right time, children can make progress.

Here at The Talking House, we have team members who are trained in a range of specialist interventions who will:

  • Thoroughly and accurately assess your child’s speech
  • Devise the most effective, personalised intervention plan for your child
  • Make therapy fun and engaging
  • Work with families and teaching staff to provide practice programmes to support children with achieving their individual goals
  • Provide coaching and support to parents and teaching staff to support children with speech sound difficulties
  • Offer specialist therapy approaches such as:
    • TalkTools
    • PROMPT
    • PETAL
    • Core Vocabulary
    • Phonological Awareness Training
    • Nuffield Dyspraxia programme
    • Kaufmann Programme

Take a look at our specialist techniques page to find out more.

Language and Social Communication

Many children and young people have difficulty with learning language and in communicating socially. It can be very worrying for parents and can impact on many aspects of their child’s life. There are many causes of language and social communication difficulties. The difficulty could be with:

  • Listening
  • Understanding
  • Knowing the words to use
  • Knowing what to talk about

Sometimes we just don’t know why children are having problems. Language problems can be associated with many different conditions such as:

  • Hearing problems
  • Dyspraxia
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Learning difficulties
  • Down’s Syndrome
  • Language delay
  • Developmental Language Disorder
  • Brain injury

Symptoms can be mild to very severe. The impact, even in mild conditions, can be huge. Research has shown that children who have language difficulties persisting beyond the age of five years old are at risk of not achieving their potential in school and having problems with friendships and relationships. Language difficulties can also impact a person’s emotional wellbeing. If children can’t have a conversation, they can become frustrated or withdrawn.

The good news is that with the right therapy at the right time, children can make progress.

Here at The Talking House, we have team members who are trained in a range of specialist interventions who will:

  • Thoroughly and accurately assess your child’s language
  • Devise the most effective, personalised intervention plan
  • Make therapy fun and engaging, practical and relevant whatever their age
  • Work with families and teaching staff to provide practice programmes to support children with achieving their individual goals
  • Provide coaching and support to parents and teaching staff to support children with language difficulties and offer specialist therapy approaches such as:
    • Colourful Semantics
    • WordAware
    • Vocabulary Enrichment Programme (Joffe)
    • Shape Coding (Ebbels)
    • Derbyshire Language Scheme
    • Social thinking curriculum interventions
    • Social Communication Intervention Programme (SCIP)

Take a look at our specialist techniques page to find out more.

Autism

Autism, along with its associated autism spectrum disorders (ASD), is relatively common. In the U.K., approximately 1% of the population is known to have some form of the condition.

ASD is a wide-ranging condition which affects the ways in which people see the world and interact with others. It is characterised by impairments in social communication and social interaction and repetitive and restrictive behaviours, known collectively as the “triad of impairment”. However, although all individuals share these features, each presents with a unique set of strengths and challenges. Some are severely impaired with associated learning disabilities and other conditions, often remaining non-verbal. Some have good language, but have problems with social communication.

Social communication difficulties are integral to the autism syndrome. This means that children can have problems with making their needs known, managing the back and forth of conversations and understanding others people’s intentions. Even at a mild level, the impact of these communication difficulties on a child can be profound, affecting their social functioning, relationships and emotional wellbeing. Additional anxiety and depression are often seen.

The complexity of ASD and its underlying causes are still being researched. This means that we don’t have a ‘one size fits all’ therapy. There are many intervention approaches available, some have more evidence behind them than others and some will be more effective than others. This is dependent on what works best for your child.

The good news is that with the right therapy at the right time, children can make progress.

Here at The Talking House, we have team members who are trained in a range of specialist interventions who will:

  • Thoroughly and accurately assess your child’s communication
  • Devise the most effective, personalised intervention plan for your child
  • Make therapy fun and engaging
  • Work with families and teaching staff to provide practice programmes to support children with achieving their individual goals
  • Provide coaching and support to parents and teaching staff to support children with ASD
  • Offer specialist therapy approaches such as:
    • TEACCH
    • Visual communication approaches – PECS, PODD
    • Social Communication Intervention Programme (SCIP)
    • Hanen
    • Parent-Child Interaction
    • Intensive Interaction
    • SCERTS
    • Using visual supports
    • Augmentative and Alternative Communication approaches such as PECS and PODD

Take a look at our specialist techniques page to find out more.

Our therapy programmes are unique to your child and use a blended, holistic approach using a SCERTS (Social Communication, Emotional Regulation and Transactional Support) model to evaluate and measure progress.

We draw on evidence-based techniques as used in Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) and social interactive programmes such as Intensive Interaction and Lego Therapy as well as incorporating ideas from other disciplines such as sensory integration to get the best outcomes for your child.

At The Talking House, you can be assured that you will receive the most up to date, research-based therapy for your child.

Developmental Language Disorder (DLD)

DLD stands for “Developmental Language Disorder”. This was previously known as “Specific Language Impairment” (SLI). ​DLD affects how children and young people understand and use spoken language. It’s a life-long condition which can first be diagnosed in childhood. Approximately two children in every class of thirty start school with DLD. There is no known single cause, although evidence suggests that biological, genetic and environmental factors play a part.​

What are the signs of DLD? ​

  • Word-finding difficulties and/or a reduced vocabulary ​
  • Difficulties with sequencing thoughts and ideas and clearly expressing a message ​
  • Language appears immature for the child’s age
  • Unable to understand, or remember, spoken information
  • Difficulties with phonics, reading, spelling and literacy as well as using written language​
  • May appear to ‘switch off’ within class, present with behavioral problems or exhibit signs of anxiety
  • Difficulties engaging in conversation, understanding social rules, jokes and figurative language

What is the impact of DLD? ​

  • Left unidentified and untreated, DLD can affect a child’s education, employment prospects and relationships
  • Difficulties in making associations between words and ideas may affect a child’s ability to learn vocabulary and understand what is being said
  • Difficulties finding the right words can result in frustration when a child can’t express themselves clearly
  • A child with DLD may have difficulties organising their thoughts and ideas. As a result, it can be difficult to follow what they are saying. This can cause a breakdown in conversation. ​
  • Reduced attention, listening and language processing may affect a child’s ability to follow classroom instructions, curriculum content and conversation ​

The good news is that with the right therapy at the right time, children can make progress.

Here at The Talking House, we have team members who are trained in a range of specialist interventions who will:

  • Identify, assess and diagnose communication difficulties
  • Provide therapy, make recommendations, and provide programmes and resources to support children with DLD
  • Aid school staff in the use of classroom strategies to support children with DLD
  • Deliver training on how to support children with DLD
  • Provide advice and support to parents of children with DLD following a diagnosis

Take a look at our specialist techniques page to find out more.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)

Augmentative and Alternative Communication includes all the ways we naturally share our thoughts and ideas with others without talking. Only 7% of human communication is verbal (spoken words). The other 93% is non-verbal (body language, gesture, facial expression, eye-gaze, tone of voice etc.).

Some children and young people rely on AAC to communicate. People can have difficulty using spoken language for many reasons. Physical disabilities and motor coordination problems can make the production of speech difficult and learning difficulties can make it hard to use spoken language.

As the term AAC suggests, some methods are used as an alternative to spoken language, meaning they replace spoken language, whereas others are used to support and enhance (or augment) an individual’s spoken language.

Our therapists work closely with children and families to assess and to support language skills and trial various forms of AAC. This may quickly lead to a referral to the local Specialised Hubs for a high-tech device or they may continue to be supported by our team with low-tech AAC such as communication books.

At The Talking House, we have members of the team specialising in supporting children and young people to develop and use AAC systems. We have experience in supporting children and young people using:

  • Aided AAC
    • Electronic voice output communication aids (VOCA) using the following vocabulary packages:
      • Proloquo2go
      • Snap Core First
      • Touch Chat
      • Unity
      • LAMP Words for Life
    • Paper-based communication aids
      • Communication books
      • PODD (Pragmatic Organisation Dynamic Display)
      • Aided Language Displays
      • Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)
    • Objects of Reference
    • Sound Buttons/Switches
  • Unaided AAC
    • Makaton

We work closely with the Leeds Communication Aid Service and Barnsley Assistive Technology to provide assessment and intervention to children and young people across the region. We use C.O.D.E.S. Framework (Competency, Opportunities, Driving Communication Forward, Engagement, Skill Acquisition) and DAGG-2 (The Dynamic AAC Goals Grid 2) to inform target setting and ensure a functional and holistic approach to intervention.

It is well evidenced that a child or young person using their AAC system for only 10 minutes per day, five days per week, will take 80 years to reach the language competence of a typical three-year-old. Thus, it is essential that the communication partners of the AAC user are confident to immerse the child/young person in AAC throughout each and every day. So, we invest time into training and supporting parents, carers and education staff in the use of communication aids. We focus on facilitating communication partners to:

  • Create opportunities for communication
  • Model relevant vocabulary and how to combine symbols
  • Demonstrate a range of communicative functions

In addition to work with parents, carers and education staff, we offer direct therapy as appropriate to develop children’s skills in using their AAC systems successfully and functionally.

Take a look at our specialist techniques page to find out more.

Hearing Impairment

Deafness or a hearing loss happens when one or more parts of the ear aren’t working properly. There are different parts to the ear:

  • The outside of the ear is called the pinna which funnels the sounds waves as they pass through the air towards the ear drum which vibrates
  • The middle ear is behind the ear drum and has three tiny bones known as the hammer, anvil and stirrup. These work together to increase the strength of the vibration to pass them to the next part
  • The inner ear or cochlea is the part that converts these vibrations into electrical signals which then go to the brain to interpret as different sounds

There are two main types of deafness:

  • Sensori-neural deafness is a hearing loss to the inner part of the ear. Damage to the cochlea is permanent. Sometimes it can be genetic and the child is born with some deafness or acquired through physical damage or illness
  • Conductive deafness means sound cannot pass easily through the middle ear section. This is usually through some type of blockage such as wax or a build up of fluid (Glue ear). Glue ear is very common in young children. Conductive deafness is most often temporary but permanent damage can be caused

Hearing loss can be in one or both ears and can be anywhere from mild to profound. Most children do have some hearing, but sometimes it can be very limited. Some types of deafness can benefit from hearing aids or cochlear implants.

Whatever the cause and level of hearing loss, there is some degree of impact on a child’s communication. Sometimes, in cases of profound hearing loss from birth, children can find it difficult to acquire intelligible speech (speech that is fully clear and consistently understood by the listener). But that does not mean they can’t learn to communicate as well as hearing children. Anyone who has known people who sign will acknowledge this.

Children with hearing loss may have difficulty with the following areas of communication:

  • Listening
  • Understanding
  • Making sounds
  • Using sounds correctly
  • Learning new words
  • Making sentences
  • Following conversations
  • Social interactions such as knowing when to take a turn in a conversation or understanding jokes and sarcasm

Research has shown that children with Hearing Impairments can miss out on learning opportunities in the classroom, and are at risk of lower academic achievements. They may also have later difficulties with forming friendships and relationships.

The good news is that with the right therapy at the right time, children can make progress.

Here at The Talking House, we have team members who are trained in a range of specialist interventions specifically related to hearing impairment who will:

  • Thoroughly and accurately assess your child’s speech
  • Devise the most effective, personalised intervention plan for your child
  • Make therapy fun and engaging
  • Work with families and teaching staff to provide practice programme to help make sure that children achieve their goals
  • Work with other professionals such as Teachers of the Deaf and audiologists to support a multisensory approach to learning and Total Communication
  • Provide coaching and support to parents and teaching staff to support children with speech sound difficulties
  • Offer specialist therapy approaches such as:
    • PROMPT/cued speech
    • PETAL
    • Core Vocabulary
    • Phonological Awareness/Auditory Training
    • Colourful Semantics
    • Maternal Reflective Method

Take a look at our specialist techniques page to find out more.

At The Talking House, you can be assured that you will receive the most up to date, research-based therapy for your child.

Acquired Brain Injury

An acquired brain injury is when the brain is injured through an accident or an illness. Examples of this could include reduced oxygen to the brain, tumours, stroke, encephalitis and meningitis. You may also hear the term ‘traumatic brain injury.’ This is where a person has a brain injury as a result of a blow or bump to their head.

What are the signs?
The signs of a brain injury in children can sometimes take months or even years to become obvious. This is unlike brain injury in adults, where the effects are obvious usually straight after the injury. This is because the child’s brain is continuing to develop. The effects of the brain injury in terms of the child’s acquisition of specific skills will not become apparent until the brain has fully developed.
The teenage years will also be a significant milestone, where the development of friendships is important alongside the desire for increased independence.
An acquired brain injury will affect children differently, depending on the place and type of injury and this is likely to change over time. However, these are some common signs:

  • Difficulties with planning, organising and initiating
  • Difficulties with problem solving
  • Difficulties with attention
  • Difficulties with remembering and understanding spoken or written language
  • Difficulties with expressing language, such as word finding
  • Difficulty with making social judgements and taking on the perspective of another person. Children may be impulsive and say what comes to mind
  • Difficulty in understanding jokes and figurative language
  • Speech difficulties
  • Difficulties with eating, drinking and swallowing

Some children may struggle with fatigue, emotional lability (crying or laughing more easily) and anxiety.

What is the impact of Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)?
All the signs of an ABI may be hidden, in that there may be no outward physical sign that the child has these difficulties. Sometimes, a child may be mistaken for being lazy, when in fact they have difficulties with organisation, planning and initiation and need support to learn these skills.

Difficulties with attention, language understanding and expression will impact upon the child’s readiness and ability to learn in school and also in making meaningful friendships. This is because they may not be able to remember what has been said or be able to initiate, follow or take turns in a conversation.

As there may be extensive physical and emotional effects of ABI such as fatigue and anxiety, the support in raising the child’s confidence and self-esteem is especially important within interventions for speech, language and communication development. This is because these skills will form a foundation in being able to engage in school and in the development of firm friendships.
Children with a brain injury need extra support and intervention to help them to work towards their goals and full potential at this crucial stage of their lives whilst their brains are continuing to develop.

The good news is that with the right therapy at the right time, children can make progress.

Here at The Talking House, we have team members who are trained in a range of specialist interventions specifically related to hearing impairment who can:

  • Pinpoint areas of communication breakdown through detailed assessment. These assessments include interactive, fun methods to gain information on a child’s speech, language and social communication skills
  • Set goals jointly with the child and their family
  • Work jointly with the multi-disciplinary team. This may include, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, case manager, teachers etc
  • Provide programmes and resources for families or school staff to help support the child in working towards their goals
  • Deliver coaching and training where this may support the child
  • Provide advice and support for parents of children with an Acquired brain injury

Take a look at our specialist techniques page to find out more.

At The Talking House, you can be assured that you will receive the most up to date, research-based therapy for your child.