Speech and Language Therapy (SALT)
Many children with social, emotional and mental health needs also have speech language and communication needs (SLCN). These difficulties are not always easy to spot as a child’s behaviour can mask their communication problems.
Speech, language, and communication needs may include any of the following:
- Difficulties putting ideas into words and sentences.
- Difficulties remembering or understanding some of the things people say
- Difficulties making words come out smoothly
- Difficulty knowing how to join in conversations in the right way
- Difficulties with speech sounds and talking clearly
The Speech and Language Therapist visits the school weekly and works closely with school staff to identify and support children and young people with these needs.
Communication Friendly Classroom
At Littlegreen we strive to make each classroom ‘communication friendly’. This means that the classroom environment is set up to encourage better understanding and use of language, for example by using pictures and objects to back up spoken language or working with partners to plan answers before sharing. All staff aim to speak at the right level for each individual child, for example by simplifying instructions, repeating information or giving extra time. An emphasis is placed on vocabulary teaching within lessons, including identifying key words, learning word meanings, and providing opportunities to use new words across the school day.
For some students with SLCN this is all they need to support their needs and make good progress. For other students, additional support is provided through Intervention sessions run by school staff, with monitoring and support from the Speech and Language Therapist. These include:
Robust Vocabulary Intervention
Vocabulary is crucial to learning and socialising with others. Without good vocabulary a student will find it difficult to understand and learn new information in class. They could also find it difficult to keep up or join in with conversations. The ‘Robust’ approach focuses on teaching more abstract vocabulary words (Tier 2 words) that boost a child’s vocabulary skills across different subjects in school. For example, exam words such as compare, evaluate; emotion words such as frustrated, disappointed; or behaviour vocabulary such as cooperate, respond.
The Robust approach uses different modes to help students learn and remember word meanings- the sound of the word, picturing and drawing to remember the word meaning, linking it to what the child already knows and has experienced, and acting it out where possible. The intervention also aims to teach children skills to use across the school day, including saying when they haven’t understood a word, and using their new words in lessons.
Lego Club is based on the ‘Lego Therapy’ approach (Daniel Legoff et al 2014).
It provides a safe setting for students with social interaction difficulties and or language difficulties to work/ play alongside their peers in a collaborative situation. Lego Club can be used effectively with students who are socially anxious or reluctant to communicate with others. It involves 3 students working together, each with different roles, to complete a Lego model according to a set plan.
Lego Club provides many opportunities for the students to practice social communication skills, including working cooperatively as part of a team, taking turns, sharing equipment, negotiating roles, and finding solutions to problems. Opportunities are given to develop skills, such as being assertive without being aggressive, expressing interest in others’ points of view, calmly resolving conflicts for mutual benefit, and providing positive feedback and accepting criticism from others.
Lego Club is a natural way of teaching students to listen and understand others. Students are encouraged to ask for more information or repetition if they do not understand the instruction. They are rewarded for good listening by succeeding with the task. Students get clear, immediate feedback when their communication attempts have been unsuccessful. In Lego Club students have the opportunity to practice repairing communication breakdown in a safe environment. Any misunderstandings can be discussed to increase their awareness and help them to learn for next time.