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Collaborative practice 1

The video clip shows the SENCO discussing Matthew who stammers and is continuing to make good progress academically. The class teacher has been using Wave 1 and 2 differential strategies that have supported his learning. However in Year 6 Matthew's stammer is now causing him more concern and he appears to be very anxious about his speech problem.

His teacher is concerned about the possible effects of this worry on his learning and behaviour and would like to put some more formal targets in place for him to monitor his development as he approaches the transfer to secondary school. At the moment Matthew has not been placed on 'School Action' but that will be under discussion once the therapist has begun intervention and his parents will be involved in this .The teacher is also interested in setting up oral targets for the whole class and the therapist is prepared to offer advice on this.

In some areas, with parent's permission, the speech and language therapist may see the child within the school environment as is discussed here. The Special Educational Needs Code of Practice guides the school to agree with the parents that the child should be placed on  'School Action Plus' when an outside agency is involved.  This visit by the therapist will be negotiated with the school, probably initially with the SENCO, as in the clip, who has the responsibility for passing on the information to relevant staff. The visit could involve the therapist talking with the child, with or without the teacher or assistant, to carry out the more formal parts of the assessment.  The therapist may then be invited to sit with the class. 

Younger children may be pleased to have the therapist visit the classroom and possibly be quite proud of having a visitor who is interested in what they are doing.  In that case, the whole occasion will be quite relaxed. Older pupils, like Matthew, are more likely to be sensitive to being singled out in front of the others and could need reassuring by the teacher that this will not happen. The therapist will work with other pupils so he feels part of a group.

The therapist will discuss the results of the assessment with the parents who hopefully will already have agreed to share it with the school and involve the teacher in the support for the child.  The therapist can then give the teacher, as well as the parents, practical advice on how they can best help.  As some children who stammer may also have some quite subtle speech and language difficulties, more specific advice may be provided.

The teacher and therapist may decide to put together targets in class oral work for the child and will discuss this with the parents. An Individual Education Plan may be put in place to formalise this. In some schools, teachers may already be keeping records of oral work for all the class using the Primary Literacy strategy to help with planning and the input of the therapist would be generally helpful in compiling these.

By adulthood about 75% of communication is non-verbal and over time stammering may have interfered with the appropriate use of eye contact, facial expression, listening or turn taking as the child may look away when he stammers, and find turn taking difficult.  The therapist may, therefore, also involve the teacher in social skills development.

Summary

  • When a stammer is causing concern a speech and language therapist should be consulted.
  • If the child has an IEP, oral tasks may be defined there.
  • All children benefit from clearer identification and setting of targets for oral work.
  • Once there is intervention from the therapist it is helpful if the pupil is placed on  'School Action Plus' so that additional more specific support may be put in place.