Speech and Language Therapy
Meet our Speech and Language Team:
What is speech and language therapy?
Speech and language therapy provides treatment support and care for children who have difficulties with communication, or with eating, drinking and swallowing.
- Attention & listening
- Expression (body language, eye pointing, pointing, switch use, signing, AAC, speech)
- Interaction & social skills
At Oakwood there is access to a dysphagia specialist to ensure children are supported to eat and drink safely if there are concerns around this
How do we work?
- We assess each child’s communication and set plans to address specific targets.
- We aim to work collaboratively with parents, teaching staff and other therapists to ensure a consistent approach to developing each child’s skills.
- Progress is evaluated and targets updated on a regular basis.
- Help children to fulfil their communicative potential
- Promote language and communication skills within the classroom and wider school
- Enable children to access the curriculum, learn and make progress.
- Support the development of children’s social interaction skills
All our children are different so programmes are tailored to the individual, but here are some approaches that we use:
- PECS http://www.pecs.org.uk/
- Intensive Interaction http://www.intensiveinteraction.co.uk/
- Makaton http://www.makaton.org/
- Aided language displays
Paediatric Occupational Therapists (OT) assess and treat children who have difficulties that affect their ability to do every day functional activities. OTs help the child achieve or maintain their maximum level of independence so they can access the school curriculum to their full potential.
Home/ school programmes and class-based interventions are used to ensure consolidation of skills and carryover into the child's daily life. Therapy outside the classroom is occasionally needed for specific assessments and interventions e.g. splinting. The OTs work as part of a multi-disciplinary team, alongside Teaching Staff, Physiotherapists, Speech and Language Therapists, Educational Psychologists and School Nurses. They work closely with families and carers and school staff to encourage continuity of programmes and goals between home and school settings, as this ensures maximum benefits for the child.
The key areas of intervention provided by the Occupational Therapist at Oakwood School include:
- Seating- assessment of posture and recommendations of suitable seating systems to enable access to the educational curriculum.
- Assistive Technology - to increase independence using of switches to access toys, computer software and communication aids (joint with SLT)
- Self-care skills including advice and equipment recommendations to promote skills in feeding, dressing and toileting.
- Sensory Processing - advice and programmes to address sensory difficulties that affect a child's ability to learn.
- Upper Limb Splinting - to maintain movement of hand and wrist joints and promote function.
- Fine Motor skills- with advice and strategies to support development using smaller muscles in the hands, fingers and wrists.
Oakwood School is lucky enough to have its own hydrotherapy swimming pool and swimming is delivered by class teachers.
Each class has a timetabled lesson in the pool and individual targets are planned for each pupil. Teachers liaise closely with the physiotherapists who advise on specific exercises for individuals which can be worked on in the pool. Sensory swim sessions are a favourite with all the pupils with lots of lights and music.
Meet our Physiotherapy Team:
Paediatric Physiotherapists are based at Oakwood School two days a week. They work closely the teaching team and with other health professionals in school including occupational therapists, speech and language therapists and the school nursing team.
To improve the function and general wellbeing of our pupils by working on gross motor development and postural management in order to maximise each child’s potential and enable them to access to the school curriculum to the best of their ability.
The Physiotherapists role
- Assess your child’s physical skills and gross motor development and devise individual programmes in conjunction with other therapists and school staff.
- Provide training to teaching staff and assistants to enable our recommendations to be carried out during the school day as well as to parents in home programmes.
- Following referral advise on the best way to position and handle your child and promote a 24 Hour postural management programme.
- Invite parents into school for assessments for suitable equipment for mobility or postural control with specialists companies, for school or home use, or we may arrange this as a home visit if more appropriate. Equipment may include walking aids, specialist tricycles, standing frames, school seating (often jointly with The Occupational Therapists), and sleep systems.
- We attend School Doctor appointments, reviews or other specialist appointments including wheelchair appointments when appropriate.
- Following referral we arrange clinics at school the Wheelchair Service as well as clinics with our local Orthotic Specialist for splints and specialist footwear.
- We also work jointly with the class teachers at Oakwood School with advice and delivery of individual swimming programmes when appropriate.
School Nursing Team
Meet our School Nursing Team:
The school has nursing cover available through the school day in term time.
- To enable children with disabilities to attend school and have their healthcare needs attended to with minimal interruption to their education.
How do we work
- We operate an open door policy, encouraging families and carers to make contact with the nursing team for advice and support on a range of health related issues.
- Our healthcare interventions are planned around the school day and class activities.
- We have a strong belief in privacy and dignity when planning children’s care and adhere to strict confidentiality guidelines.
- The team works with families to prepare individualised care plans for children with a wide range of healthcare needs such as gastrostomy feeding, tracheostomy care, asthma, skin care, epilepsy care and continence issues. These plans are regularly evaluated and adapted as the child’s needs grow and change.
- To liaise closely with parents and carers about medication to be given in school.
- To train staff to administer some clinical procedures and emergency medication.
- As nurses we liaise closely with the classroom staff if they have concerns about a child’s health during the school day.
- The community paediatricians visit the school to see children and their families for annual medical appointments which are arranged via the nurses.
- The nursing team work closely with the other health professionals in the school, including occupational therapists, physiotherapists and speech and language therapists.
- The nurses also liaise with hospital and community teams, dieticians and social services should the need arise.
- We are responsible for reassessing the children for their continence products and providing advice on products.
- We offer support to parents and carers who are always encouraged to contact us.
Music at Oakwood
Music is taught on a weekly basis by Bev Cullen, a specialist music teacher.
Music is a huge part of school life at Oakwood, the benefits include:
- increased participation and engagement
- improved communication and social skills
- enhanced awareness of self and others
- release of frustration in positive ways
- personal satisfaction and a sense of achievement
- decreased tension, anxiety and challenging behaviour
- enjoyment and improved quality of life
She is also a Makaton Tutor who specialises in using Makaton with Singing.
Class music sessions are planned to meet the needs of the pupils.
Sessions combine singing, Makaton and the use of instruments to develop pupils’ skills in the following:
- turn taking
- social interaction
- awareness of others
- spatial awareness
- physical development
Bev chooses songs, music and activities to link into class projects to support our curriculum.
Every Friday lunchtime our Makaton Signing Choir come together to share their signing and signing talents. This is designed to develop our most able students in vocal, signing and communication skills (some pupils use a VOCA). Pupils have performed at singing festivals and The Big Sing at Forest Arts Centre and at the Walsall SEND Conference.